PJI Files Brief in Forced Religion of Yoga Case

Encinitas, CAPacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed an amicus brief this week in support of a case that seeks to bar the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) from forcing children to participate in yoga classes. The class, which is funded by an outside organization, teaches Ashtanga yoga which promotes the Yogic belief system of eight limbs—or eight goals which bring unity with God.

EUSD claimed that the practice of yoga is constitutionally permissible because their practice of yoga has been “stripped” of all of the religious trappings. However, many of the practices taught by yoga teachers at the schools urge children to perform distinctly religious acts, such as praying to the sun. Since the Supreme Court has excluded teacher-led prayers from the public school classroom, the brief calls on the court to treat other religious practices, like Yoga, the same way.

“By all means, Pacific Justice Institute is here to protect the religious rights of inpiduals and families,” said Brad Dacus, President of PJI. “This school district has essentially adopted a state religion and is forcing it upon our young children by requiring this class to be taken. These actions violate the fundamental right of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs, and they disregard the Constitution that this nation was founded upon.”

A San Diego County Superior Court judge ruled that the class was religious in nature, but was still permissible at an elementary school. The plaintiffs, who are parents of children from the school district, are appealing this court’s decision to California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. They are represented by the National Center for Law and Policy.

The author of the brief, PJI’s Southern California office staff attorney, Michael Peffer, said, “The secular world has worked hard pushing Christianity from public schools. In supporting this lawsuit, PJI is saying, ‘we are not going to stand by and watch purportedly secular schools engage children in religious practices of any nature.’”

Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights. 

P.O. Box 276600 Sacramento, CA 95827-6600 
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