SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, June 26, 2013 (Union Tribune): Lengthy closing arguments in the trial challenging a yoga program in Encinitas public schools pushed back a ruling to Thursday at the earliest, a judge said Tuesday. The case is believed to be the first of its kind to test whether yoga is a secular exercise or a form of Hindu-based religion.
Dean Broyles, who represents parents in the Encinitas Union School District who oppose the classes, spent nearly five hours Tuesday wrapping up his clients' case. He said the introduction of the program "sets a horrible precedent for other religious organizations to buy influence ... at the expense of religious freedom."
The elementary school district began offering yoga as part of physical education at all of its schools in January. The program is funded with a three-year, $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation. On its website, the Encinitas-based foundation said it promotes a children's health and wellness program that includes yoga, meditation and proper nutrition.
Broyles, however, said the group has "transparently religious goals" to indoctrinate students with Hindu-based yoga. During Broyles' closing remarks, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer questioned the attorney 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," Meyer said at one point, referring to Broyles' comments about a worldview being taught.
Defense attorneys are expected to complete their final remarks this morning. Jack Sleeth, who is representing the school district, told the judge late Tuesday that the yoga classes are nothing more than "stretching and breathing."