Ruling upheld in Encinitas school yoga program case

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – On Friday, a San Diego judge upheld a ruling that a yoga program offered to elementary school students in Encinitas is secular in nature, and does not infringe upon religious rights.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer had previously sided with the Encinitas Union School District in a lawsuit filed by parents of two students, who contended that the yoga instruction included religious elements and that children opted out by their parents lost state-mandated physical education time.

“After a careful review of the extensive evidence presented in the trial court concerning the nature of the particular yoga program at issue in this case, we conclude that the program is secular in purpose, does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and does not excessively entangle the school district in religion,” Justice Cynthia Aaron wrote.

“Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court properly determined that the district’s yoga program does not violate our state constitution,” the justice wrote, in an opinion in which Justices Judith McConnell and Richard Huffman concurred.

“No other court in the past 50 years has allowed public school officials to lead children in formal religious rituals like the Hindu liturgy of praying to, bowing to, and worshipping the sun god,” said Dean Robert Broyles, president of the National Center for Law & Policy in Escondido.

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