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Friday, June 2, 2023

Senate stalls bill lifting Yoga ban in Alabama as Christian conservatives fear spread of Hindu Dharma

Alabama Senate has stalled a bill reversing the 28-year-old Yoga ban in the state due to pressure from Christian conservatives who feared the spread of Hindu Dharma if Yoga was allowed to be taught in public schools.

The Alabama House of Representatives had earlier overturned a decades-old ban on Yoga in Alabama public schools. The bill had authorized schools to decide whether they want to conduct yoga classes in K-12 schools and was approved with 73-25 favorable votes. However, even that bill had delinked Yoga from Hindu Dharma despite the fact that yoga has its roots in and is inherently connected with Hindu Dharma.

This is a classic case of Hindumisia where even mere practice of Yoga has triggered fears of the spreading of Hindu Dharma. The decision to stall the bill came after two conservative Christian groups objected to the bill during a hearing by the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee. The groups raised concerns about the Hindu roots of Yoga while registering their objections to the bill.

OpIndia says “according to reports, the bill came to a split, with 4 votes going in favor of the bill while 4 going against it. However, Senator Tom Whatley, chairman of the committee, decided to carry the bill over so it wouldn’t die in the committee. Responding to the Senate’s decision, Gray said he was disappointed but hopes the bill will pass the next time it comes before the committee”.

Constitutional lawyer Eric Johnston who is working with Christian groups opposed to the bill opined:

“If you pass a law that says you can do stretches and sit in positions and so forth, that’s fine but to say you can teach yoga is an entirely different thing because yoga is an exercise of the Hindu religion.

“Children at that age are very tech-savvy and if they are taught yoga, all they have to do is Google it and they will immediately find information on the spiritual aspects of it and look at it,” he said. “And if they look at it, it might lead them to believe that’s something they should be involved in.”

Johnston and others put forward the argument of children being impressionable as the reason for their objecting to the lifting of the ban. As former diplomat Kanwal Sibal pointed out a country that calls itself a liberal democracy fears Yoga simply because it is rooted in Hindu Dharma.

The insecurity of Christian conservatives is amply apparent in this case. However, the same groups wouldn’t bat an eyelid before supporting Christian evangelism in Bharat. While they want fellow Christians to proselytize in Bharat, they are scared of even something as harmless as Yoga.

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)

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