We told you so

Atheists and secularists alike have long pointed out that Christians would quickly object if their rights were ever trampled upon in the same way they frequently trample upon the rights of others. From marriage equality to other basic rights to the building of holy centers, the Christian majority would freak if they were prevented from all these things. But does that stop them from doing it to others? Does that stop them from introducing creationist intelligent design bills? Have they ever ceased in their desire to weasel prayer into public schools? Or to keep it, a la irrational Communist fears, on our money? Of course not. But now that yoga is being taught to kids…well. Now we have a real problem:

Mary Eady, the parent of a first grader, said the classes were rooted in the deeply religious practice of Ashtanga yoga, in which physical actions are inextricable from the spiritual beliefs underlying them.

“They’re not just teaching physical poses, they’re teaching children how to think and how to make decisions,” Ms. Eady said. “They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort. They’re using this as a tool for many things beyond just stretching.”

Ms. Eady and a few dozen other parents say a public school system should not be leading students down any particular religious path. Teaching children how to engage in spiritual exercises like meditation familiarizes young minds with certain religious viewpoints and practices, they say, and a public classroom is no place for that.

This all, of course, came out of discussions at Evangelical churches. The hint of even the remotest of threats has spurred Christian parents into action.

As it so happens, these parents aren’t entirely wrong. It does appear that Hindu practices are being promoted, especially given the religious source of funding for the program. However, that doesn’t mean the practice needs to stop all together. I’ve never done yoga and I don’t know much about it, but it appears to me that there are plenty of yoga classes and techniques out there that are basically secular in nature. I don’t see why the school couldn’t simply amend the class to reflect the fact that they’re a public institution.

All that said, it really doesn’t surprise me that we have Christians up in arms over something like this. If there was some sort of way they could not-so-slyly promote a uniquely Christian praying style, I’m sure we would hear every excuse in the book about how harmless it was. Then, when the practice was banned, we wouldn’t hear the end of how persecuted Christians are in America.

I just wish the Encinitas Muslim community would express their disapproval of this practice. I’d be curious to see the Christian reaction then.

When theory becomes practice

When Christians make a stink about their religion being targeted, it is often put to them how they would react if the religion in question was Islam or Scientology. (See the teaching of creationism.) Alternatively, when another religion is seeking to do something which Christians don’t like, it is often put to them how they would react if it was their religion in question. (See the Ground Zero mosque.) The usual response is to either ignore the question or pay it lip service. The former is what I most commonly see, but every so often Christians will give the latter a little air time. I’m sure it is genuine for some, but most are so oblivious to their majority status in everything except science that they’re just espousing principles they pretend to hold but really ignore in practice.

One place where Christians often fight to keep their special treatment is at legislative meetings. They’ve become accustomed to beginning their sessions with Christian prayer. Moreover, elected officials rarely, if ever, reflect the actual population; it isn’t often a state or federal senator will challenge the idea of prayer before commencing (secular) lawmaking. What this means is that people assume they have a legitimate podium for promoting Christianity. However, since they do not, this is often one of those places where it will be put to Christians, What if the religion in question is something other than Christianity? What if Islam is being espoused? And, again, the response is usually to either ignore the question or pay it ever-so-empty lip service.

But there is a third, a-historic option.

This strategy is to claim this is a Christian nation by way of the values encoded in our constitution and the intention of the founding fathers. It is a demonstrably false claim, but it is made nonetheless. And it goes further. In addition to stating such falsehoods, Christians will follow through on their poor grasp of history and actively seek to prevent equal treatment of other religions and non-religious groups. Don’t believe me? You should:

(This is a few years old, but it was recently brought to my attention.)

This sort of thing doesn’t surprise me. It isn’t that people are merely acting like dolts in the name of religion. They are doing it at the behest of religion. It is fanatical shows of theater like this for which religion calls its sheep. Luke 17:3, for instance, tells followers to rebuke evil. Titus 1:10-16 tells believers that non-Christians can’t do anything good and should be, once again, rebuked. I’m sure if I wasted more of my time reading a book which has failed to provide a shred of evidence for its primary thesis I could find several hundred examples without problem. The point is, this is what Christianity (and most other religions) command of its followers. Spreading the word and shouting down ‘evil’ is half of the point. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when Christians and other religidiots do exactly that.