The US state of Alabama has blocked a yoga bill that would have lifted a decades-old ban on the ancient Indian practice of physical yoga in public schools. This is after objections from conservative groups who feared that followers of Hinduism might start conversion amongst kids doing yoga. We wish this was an April Fool’s joke, but we respect the official window for news pranks, and a prank it ain’t.
The Alabama Board of Education in 1993 had voted to prohibit yoga, along with hypnosis and meditation in public schools in the southeastern state.
Last year in March, the Alabama House of Representatives voted 84-17 to pass the “Yoga Bill” which was moved by state legislator Jeremy Gray from the Democratic Party.
The bill was then moved to the state Senate for approval, paving the way for it to become a law and end the 28-year ban in schools.
However, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday deadlocked the bill after a testimony from Christian conservatives, including representatives of former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, who claimed it would lead to proselytising in public schools by followers of Hinduism, Tuscaloosanews.com reported.
For the last 25 years you were breaking the law in Alabama if you chanted any mantra, your fingers accidentally fell into the shape of a mudra or you doodle a mandala on a piece of paper…
..you were not allowed to say (wait for it)….Namaste…
Opposing the bill, conservative activist Becky Gerritson said that yoga is a very big part of practicing Hindu religion. “Yoga is a very big part of practicing Hindu religion,” said Becky Gerritson, a longtime conservative activist based out of Wetumpka. “If this bill passes, then instructors will be able to come into classrooms as young as kindergarten and bring these children through guided imagery, which is a spiritual exercise, and it’s outside their parents view, and we just believe that this is not appropriate.”
Gray, who had moved the legislation for its approval, dismissed the notion that it would lead to proselytising in public schools by followers of Hinduism.
Yoga ban no good for athletes
“I’ve been doing yoga probably for 10 years now. I’ve taught classes for five years, and I can tell you I still go to a Baptist Church every Sunday,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
The bill, aimed at giving Alabama public schools an option of offering yoga as an elective, requires activities to have English names and bans “chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings.”
The Alabama State Board of Education banned yoga from public schools in 1993 amid allegations from right-wing organisations that hypnosis and meditation techniques were being used in public schools.
Gray, an athlete, said his own yoga practice has led to mental and physical benefits, and questioned why it should be kept out of public schools.
“Athletes do it at Alabama and Auburn universities. People do it at Methodist Churches. So many people do yoga, why is Christianity the dominant religion in Alabama? So much of this is asinine,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Tom Whatley immediately moved to reconsider the vote and carry the bill over, which means it can be voted on again, Tuscaloosanews.com reported.
In a supreme twist of irony, and an indication of how insane the US has become, there are the violent enemies of Christian Conservatives on the Left who deem Yoga as ‘cultural appropriation’ and seemingly support the ban from the wholly opposite side of the fence.
Watch this space…and remember, popcorn only 2 and half minutes in the microwave otherwise it chars.