A Christian advocacy group is taking a stand against meditation in public schools, saying it violates separation of church and state by pushing students into “mindfulness” practices that are “clearly antithetical to the Christian religion.”
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), run by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and longtime church/state separation opponent Jay Sekulow, is ironically arguing for secularism because they say mindfulness exercises discriminate against children of Christian parents by promoting Buddhist dogma. However, the evidence shows religion isn’t even part of any public school meditation programs.
The ACLJ said last week that public schools “have started down a slippery slope by incorporating Buddhist meditation practices in the classroom.”
Imagine your elementary school child coming home one night and explaining the actions that their teacher asked them to do that day — to close their eyes and obey an audio recording that tells them to clear their minds, to watch their memories and emotions float away on clouds, and to feel the love and warmth from their connection to the universe. How would you react if this same audio recording is telling your child to look inside themselves to reach inner-goodness and peace? Imagine that day after day, your child is subjected to 15-minute “Mindfulness” sessions that are similar to anciently established Buddhist and Hindu practices.
I would be… fine with it? Sounds relaxing. More to the point, it doesn’t sound religious at all.
It’s not surprising that the ACLJ is using fear to motivate its members, but this isn’t even a good attempt. Kids are asked to remain silent for a few minutes and think peaceful thoughts? As far as Establishment Clause violations go, even Donald Trump‘s unqualified judicial nominees wouldn’t say this is a problem.
Clearing your mind and thinking happy thoughts aren’t unique to any one religion. If you think these common sense practices are an endorsement of complex religious traditions, you haven’t done your homework.
Not that the ACLJ is convinced by that. They started a petition to “stop Buddhist meditation practices in public schools.”
The schools are using curriculums including but not limited to Inner Explorer, Mind Up, and Dialectic Behavior Therapy. An audio is played telling young students: “We’re all connected through nature. And we’re all connected through the universe.” It tells them how to clear their minds, watch their memories and emotions float away on clouds, and connect with the universe.
And the problem is…?
Indoctrinating young kids in public schools with Buddhist meditation is outright unconstitutional.
It would be if that’s what they were doing. They’re not. So no problem.
Keep in mind that the ACLJ says the existence of a Satanic group’s display in the Illinois State Capitol, near a Nativity, is also an attack on Christianity. So their Jesus-dar needs recalibration. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that their fear of “Buddhist” meditation means they’re finally promoting secularism.
Hopefully, their petition won’t get anywhere. It’s a misguided, hypocritical attempt to stop practices that may actually help some kids because it could theoretically be linked to non-Christian religions. If looking inside yourself and finding the goodness within violates your sensibilities, maybe your religion is the problem.