Parents, teachers revolt over Buddhist meditation pushed in schools

Parents and teachers in several states, including Colorado, are pushing back against schools requiring kids to perform Buddhist-like meditations in schools.

The American Center for Law and Justice is looking to end these “mindfulness” sessions that are happening in public schools.

(Photo by John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Students are instructed to close their eyes during these mindfulness sessions. An audio recording is then played that tells the kids to empty their minds, float away on clouds and feel their connection to the universe around them.

ACLJ first began this journey last year when they discovered that a Colorado school district was implementing these mindfulness sessions into elementary schools under the name “Inner Explorer.”

ACLJ is calling the “Buddhist meditation” sessions the beginning of a “slippery slope.”

“Going a step further, imagine that the only opt-out resolution the school offers is to place your child in the hallway unattended until the mindfulness session has finished. This is the new reality for parents across the country. … The ACLJ is already working to protect your child from the unconstitutional religious influence of state-funded schools,” the group said in a public statement.

The group has also made it clear that they aren’t just trying to protect student’s rights. They are also trying to protect teachers from being required to take part in the sessions.

“As the mindfulness revolution continues to sweep our nation, students are not the only ones whose rights are being infringed. Teachers and other public employees, alike, are being forced to attend mindfulness and meditation training and/or are under significant pressure to participate in such practices despite their stated religious objections,” the group said.

“We have received inquiries from public employees who want to know whether it is within their rights to opt-out of or refuse to participate in mindfulness and meditation trainings and practices,” they continued. “Forcing a teacher to participate and be trained in the mindfulness curriculums, when it is against his or her religious beliefs, violates federal law.”

Though the sessions are pitched as secular in nature, ACLJ argues that they are clearly aligned with Buddhist philosophy. If they can successfully make that argument, then the sessions would violate a law prohibiting religious discrimination in the workplace.

“Generally, teachers who are required to attend a mindfulness training program may go to the human resources department and find out the curriculum for the program. After reviewing the program, they may inform the employer of any parts that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. Legally, if the training or practice violates an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, employers must allow the employee to opt-out. And public schools are no exception,” ACLJ said.

Colorado being at the center of this controversy is no surprise. The state is home to some of the oddest legal battles around. One city in the state just ended its legal battle to defend a ban on female toplessness. Other cities in Colorado allow for female toplessness in public, and Fort Collins joined the list after spending more than $300,000 defending themselves from a discrimination lawsuit.

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