Last week, I wrote about an affluent suburban school district in California that was being sued by some Christian parents because yoga sessions were being scheduled as part of their physical education curriculum and they felt that this was a subtle way of indoctrinating their children with non-Christian religious teachings.
I said that as far as I could see they were likely going to lose because the school district’s policy did not seem, as least as far as the facts presented in newspaper articles were concerned, to violate the three prongs (purpose, effect, and entanglement) of the Lemon test and/or the endorsement test that are the measures normally used to see if a violation of the Establishment Clause has occurred.
And sure enough, that is just what happened. The judge in the case used the Lemon test and found that no violation had occurred.
In his opinion, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer explained that although yoga is rooted in religion, it has a legitimate secular purpose in the district’s physical education program. He also said the practice, contrary to parents’ complaints, does not advance or inhibit religion.
Finally, Meyer said although he had some concerns about the K.P. Jois Foundation, an organization launched in 2011 that awarded the district a $533,720 grant to start the program, the district’s yoga curriculum does not create any kind of excessive government entanglement with religion. That’s because it is the schools — and not the foundation — that are ultimately responsible for supervising the yoga instructors, Meyer said.
Of course, the Christian parents see this ruling as another example of the rampant anti-Christian bias that pervades the US and are going to appeal in order to protect America from paganism and godlessness.
“It’s absolutely incredible, but it’s not surprising,” said Sian Welch, who pulled her daughter out of the yoga classes offered at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas. Welch said she believed the judge’s decision was at least partly influenced by the money involved in funding the program and by an anti-Christian bias.
“We will have a society very soon where Christians will be the weirdest people,” said Welch, though she said she has no plans to pull her daughter out of the school district. “They will just be touted as crazy.”
Well, Ms. Welch, that’s the risk you take when you believe in weird things.