Encinitas yoga trial: ‘There’s a worldview being taught’

It turns out, Wednesday is not going to be the final day of the Encinitas yoga trial.

According to reports, the plaintiff’s attorney, Dena Broyles of the National Center for Law & Policy, spoke for five hours during his closing statements. Yes, five hours.

And so today the defense will get its chance, and a ruling by the judge should come Thursday.

Here’s a little from the local PBS station:

In his closing argument, Broyles said district efforts to remove possibly religious language from classes was confirmation that religion was there in the first place.

“The names of some of the poses were changed,” he said. “Big deal. They stopped using some of the Sanskrit terms. Big deal. They stopped posting the Ashtanga tree on the wall. While that was concerning, it doesn’t fundamentally change what they taught.”

During a break, Jack Sleeth, an attorney with Strutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, who is representing the district, said his closing argument would focus on showing that the district’s health and wellness program has no religious component.

“The district didn’t strip out religion,” he said. “The district started without any religion. But when parents objected, the district attempted to accommodate the parents’ concerns and remove those things the parents thought might be religious.”

The biggest takeaway I have so far — and I really was waiting for everything to end before writing this — has been how poorly it seems both sides have presented their cases. Perhaps the school district will hit a home run today during closing arguments, but if this case continues to a higher court — and certainly the plaintiffs have suggested they would keep going if they lose — both sides are going to need to step up their games.

Of course, all this is based on the coverage I’ve read. So there’s that caveat.

However, the witnesses have not been very compelling or authoritative. Cathy Brown, the religion professor who testified against the yoga program, seemed so clearly a biased and not exactly on the topic expert. There’s this from the U-T San Diego:

During Broyles’ closing remarks, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer peppered the attorney with questions about whether his statements were backed up by testimony or evidence in the case.“There’s not one witness (from the school district) who has said that,” the judge said, referring to Broyles’ comments about a worldview being taught.

“This is all Dr. Brown’s opinion,” the judge added, referring to the plaintiffs’ expert witness, Candy Gunther Brown, a professor in the religious studies department at Indiana University.

The initial yoga teachers called by the defense didn’t come across as especially compelling, and the teacher involved in the program certainly had a stake in its outcome. Perhaps the strongest witness was on Monday, for the defense. An elementary school principal reported only seeing “stretching and breathing” when she observed the class, according to various news reports. That’s the type of third-party perspective both sides needed — and may need again if this trial isn’t over when the SAn Diego judge rules.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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