Alabama Upholds Ban on Yoga in Public Schools Amid GOP Concerns Over Rise of Hinduism

A decades-long ban on yoga in Alabama public schools will remain on the books after a legislative committee deadlocked on a bill to overturn it, The Montgomery Advertiser reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee split on a bill introduced by Democrat Jeremy Gray to reverse the ban, which was imposed in 1993.

The ban came after a push from Christian conservatives, including members of former Alabama chief Supreme Court justice and accused sexual predator Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law.

Christian groups claimed that “hypnosis and meditation techniques were being used in public schools,” at the time, according to the report.

One woman who testified to the State Board of Education claimed that a meditation tape made her son “visibly high.”

The ban also includes “hypnotic states, guided imagery and meditation,” according to the report.

Bill required English names for yoga poses:

HB 246 would have overturned the ban and allowed schools to offer yoga as a physical education elective.

The bill would have required all yoga poses to have English names and would ban "chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings."

The bill passed the state House 73-25 before being stalled in the Senate.

Gray, a former football player at North Carolina State, touted the practice.

"Athletes do it at Alabama and Auburn universities," he said. "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."

Opponents worry about Hinduism:

"Yoga is a very big part of practicing Hindu religion," conservative activist Becky Gerritson argued. "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."

John Eidsmore, a lawyer for the Foundation of Moral Law, said yoga could be allowed if parents sign permission slips that “state that they understand the Hindu origins of this."

"The very breathing and stretching, these are the essence of Hindu religion, and they're the means by which the energy of the gods flow into us and through us and united us with themselves," he said.


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