Christian High School Student Vindicated After Allegedly Being Forced to Participate in ‘Hinduistic Rituals’

Christian High School Student Vindicated After Allegedly Being Forced to Participate in ‘Hinduistic Rituals’

Score one for religious liberty. And if it happened to come at the expense of public education, all the better.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly has awarded $150,000 in damages and legal fees to Mariyah Green, a Christian and a former student at Bogan High School in Chicago.

Before graduating in 2020, Green felt coerced into participating in what her attorney, John Mauck, called “a thinly veiled Hinduistic religious program.”

The program in question — called “Quiet Time” — involved “transcendental meditation” during school hours. It also featured a “puja” — a ceremony during which Sanskrit-speaking instructors chanted “statements recognizing the power possessed by various Hindu deities and invitations to those same Hindu deities to channel their powers.”

Significantly, Green learned that her participation in the program would affect her grades. Thus, she felt “alone and angry,” cornered into what she properly regarded as a betrayal of her faith.

Green’s lawsuit named the Chicago Board of Education and the David Lynch Foundation, which developed the “Quiet Time” program, as defendants.

In a statement, a Chicago Public Schools spokesperson described the judge’s ruling as a “voluntary resolution between the parties akin to a settlement” and said the program “did not violate any student’s constitutional rights.”

Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, defended the program.

“Transcendental Meditation has been learned by over 10 million people over the past 60 years,” Roth said, according to WGN-TV. “It is not a religion, philosophy or a change in lifestyle.”

The foundation also insisted in a statement that all students “voluntarily chose to learn the meditation technique with their parent’s consent and were free to opt out of the program at any time with no negative consequences.”

Of course, Green’s lawsuit and the resulting settlement suggest that she did not feel “free to opt out.” After all, if her grades hinged on participation, then she could not have refused without “negative consequences.”

Furthermore, her attorney explained that the program’s religious elements appeared fairly overt.

“On the second day of this training in Transcendental Meditation, Mariyah told the instructor that her knee was injured in order to avoid kneeling before the image of a man in a photograph on a table in the middle of the room, that she described as looking like Buddha,” Mauck said.

“Mariyah Green’s Christian faith and her dedication to Jesus Christ makes worship of others, such as these idols, unthinkable,” he added, according to the Sun-Times.

If such “training” involved even subtle elements of coercion, then Green’s constitutional rights were unquestionably violated. Thus, whether by settlement or verdict, this case reached the correct outcome.

To place this situation in context, imagine a public school pressuring students into kneeling before a cross. The howls of indignation would take years to subside.

Coercion aside, this story does have a heartening element.

Many young people come of age professing a nominal Christian faith. Perhaps their parents drag them to church. Or they attend a Christian school. But these experiences do not always produce spiritual commitment or even serious thought. In short, they learn the language and practices of the faith but go no deeper.

As a result, when challenged by external forces, they cannot defend their faith because they have nothing to defend.

Green, however, clearly can defend her faith. In fact, her “dedication to Jesus Christ” inspired her to fight for the freedom God gave her.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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