Candy Gunther Brown: Is School Mindfulness Bringing Religion into the Classroom?

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In recent years, school mindfulness programs have sprung up across the country, setting off a debate about whether the nominally secular programs derived from religious practices violate laws about the separation of church and state. In her new book, Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools, Indiana University Bloomington religious studies professor Candy Gunther Brown takes a look at the history of the separation of church and state and the mindfulness movement and makes the case that mindfulness programs have overstepped their bounds. While she does not recommend that the programs should be banned, she argues that making them mandatory is unconstitutional and that students must be asked to opt-in to the classes. (Even opt-out options, she claims, place an illegal burden on the students.) Here, Brown talks with Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen about how her view, the legal precedents set from the school prayer debate, and the claims that mindfulness is a form of “stealth Buddhism.” This episode is sponsored by Maitripa College. www.maitripa.org

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