New York Community Debates Yoga In Public School

Parents at an upstate New York public school are worked up over a new yoga program being developed by the school board.

The Massena School District Board of Education put the yoga program on hold after receiving complaints from parents that their children were being indoctrinated in Hindu rites.

“Yoga, even in its most basic form, is tied into Hinduism,” said the Rev. Colin J. Lucid of Calvary Baptist Church in Massena. “My concern is separation of church and state. I am not against Hinduism.”

Lucid, a parent in the district, claimed several members of his congregation felt teaching yoga would only confuse children who are being brought up in Christian or other faiths. Although the program is voluntary, he said students who chose not to participate would feel ostracized.

The teachers developing the new yoga instruction will demonstrate the breathing and relaxation techniques at the next school board meeting so members can assess whether the program is religious in nature. Since the program is voluntary for both students and teachers, board approval isn’t necessary for the program, Board President Julie L. Reagan told the Watertown Daily Times.

“I am truly committed to seeing that the program continue,” she told the newspaper. “I am firmly of the belief that this is not a hidden religious program.”

She continued, “It’s a propaganda affront. In my opinion, it’s Christian fundamentalism and nothing more than this.”