A federal district court has ordered Chicago’s Board of Education and a foundation that sponsored a meditation program in the city’s schools to pay a former student $150,000 in damages and legal fees after the Christian student refused to participate in “mandated” Hindu rituals, attorneys said Wednesday.
Mariyah Green, a student at Bogan High School, said she was cautioned to “pray or don’t play” when she refused to participate in a “Puja initiation rite” that was part of the “Quiet Time” meditation program sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation.
In a news release, the former student’s attorney, John Mauck, called the program “a thinly veiled Hinduistic religious program encompassing the practice of Transcendental Meditation.”
The “Puja” ceremony required participants to “make obeisance” to one of the Hindu deities and invite those deities “to channel their powers through those present” for the ceremonies, the news release said.
“Mariyah Green’s Christian faith and her dedication to Jesus Christ makes worship of others, such as these idols, unthinkable,” Mr. Mauck said. “Therefore, 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.”
Ms. Green said she was told that non-participation in the Quiet Time program would “negatively” affect her grades and her eligibility for the school’s basketball program. She said she had transferred to Bogan specifically for its basketball program and felt she was “forced” to participate in Quiet Time activities.
“This was an egregious abuse of Mariyah’s religious rights,” Mr. Mauck said. “The innocuously labeled Quiet Time was developed by the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace in conjunction with the University of Chicago – both of whom profited from its implementation in Chicago Public Schools.
Throughout its design and conduct, these institutions were all aware of the religious content of the Transcendental Meditation sessions, the like of which had already been removed from public schools elsewhere due to Constitutional violations.”
Neither the Chicago Public Schools nor the David Lynch Foundation immediately responded to requests for comment from newsfeedworld.