Hold onto your school lunches, a trial date has been set for the civil rights case pitting parents against the Encinitas Union School District over free yoga classes. Their time in court will come May 20.
As a refresher, a lawsuit, Sedlock vs. Baird (school superintendent), was filed earlier this year by two parents claiming the Ashtanga yoga curriculum offered at the district’s schools “unlawfully promotes religious beliefs” and violates the U.S. Constitution, the suit alleges. The yoga program is made possible by a $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation.
Dean Broyles, attorney for the parents suing (and the president and chief counsel of the National Center for Law and Policy, a nonprofit law firm that champions religious freedom and traditional marriage) also had a problem with the White House hosting a Yoga Garden. Via The Wall Street Journal India.
He said many Americans who practice yoga want to be viewed as spiritual but not religious. However, claims that yoga is a mere physical exercise that doesn’t cross the line to Eastern religious beliefs and practices are dubious at best, Mr. Broyles said. He believes that yoga poses are worshipful acknowledgements of Hindu deities and have been shown to have a religiously transformative impact.“Let’s be honest, if the White House was actively promoting a Christian-based exercise program, I am confident there would be a huge public outcry and they would change the program. But because yoga is based in Eastern mysticism, which is not well understood, many tend to try to disingenuously downplay its religious aspects,” said Mr. Broyles.
As a counter, over 100 students from the nine schools at EUSD and their parents that are for yoga in their schools joined together to form the “Yes! Yoga for Encinitas Students” association. Represented by David A. Peck, an attorney from Coast Law Group, the group recently filed an ex parte application March 28 to intervene in the case.
It should be noted that the judge presiding over the case, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer, admitted he’s a regular yoga practitioner which could prove interesting (either way).