I know this is a little late, but I've been on holiday:
It's all kicked off about yoga, that uncomfortable-looking way of sitting and lying around.
It started at the end of August, when a Church of England priest decided that the yoga class that had been using the church hall for some years should no longer be allowed to take place on church property.
The yoga teacher couldn't understand that permission had been withdrawn from two different churches in Somerset.
The more reserved of the two Somerset priests said, “If it was just a group of children singing nursery rhymes, there wouldn’t be a problem but she’s called it yoga and therefore there is a dividing line we’re not prepared to cross.”
So an exercise regime based on Hinduism is fine if you omit the Hinduism part? Fair enough – perhaps that's why some christians have recognised the popularity of Yoga and the indifference of many to the Hindu roots of the practice. So they've created a christian alternative to Yoga called "Praise Moves":
But whilst one of the priests was at least open to the idea of compromise, the other wasn't. How exciting!
“Any alternative philosophies or beliefs are offering a sham – and at St James’s Church we want people to have the real thing. Yoga has its roots in Hinduism, and attempts to use exercises and relaxation techniques to put a person into a calm frame of mind – in touch with some kind of impersonal spiritual reality.
“The philosophy of yoga cannot be separated from the practice of it, and any teacher of yoga, even to toddlers, must subscribe to the philosophy.
“Yoga may appear harmless or even beneficial, but it is encouraging people to think that there is a way to wholeness of body and mind through human techniques – whereas the only true way to wholeness is by faith in God through Jesus Christ.”
My personal view is that since the Church of England is tax exempt, I'm theoretically paying higher taxes and therefore subsidising a "public service" that I cannot use. I live with this, because I don't claim dole money or a lot of other public services, but I don't expect to be denied access to their Services or related services. The Church's doors are open to unbelievers, but their schools are closed, as if to say, "We welcome you if you might potentially become a customer, but you can forget access to the schools you pay for". This is one of the many reasons why I think faith schools are a terrible idea.
But I couldn't help my eruption of bemusement and amusement at the news that the Hindu Council UK is considering challenging the ban. Said Anil Bhanot:
"These priests might appear to be advising Christians not to practice yoga because they believe it is based on a 'sham' and a 'false philosophy', but what in effect they mean is that Hinduism is a false religion,"
Well, of course they do! They're not polytheists who believe in reincarnation: they're Christians!
So I think this bleating about being referred to as a false religion is pretty laughable and the Hindus claim the Christians are wrong and the Christians claim the Hindus are wrong. There's always a silver lining to every cloud. In this case, I can happily say that I agree with both of them!