After two churches banned yoga classes, causing comment and puzzlement in the United Kingdom, a Catholic priest and school principal in India has declared that British clergy who describe yoga as a “sham,” a “false philosophy” and “un-Christian” are uninformed about the practice - report Kodiyattil Varghese and Daniel Blake on the 'Christian Today' evangelical website (http://www.christiantoday.com/).
“They know nothing about yoga,” commented Father John Ferreira, the principal of St Peter's College in Agra, one of India's oldest educational institutions.
“They should first study and experience the benefits of India’s ancient science before commenting,” the 57-year-old priest told the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) during a recent interview (http://www.eians.com/).
A few weeks ago, the Silver Street Baptist Church and St James’ Anglican Church refused to allow a children’s exercise class to meet on their premises because it teaches yoga.
Leaders of Britain's Hindu community expressed disbelief and outrage at claims that the meditative exercise is a 'sham' and not compatible with Christianity.
"I have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, about the reported actions of the two men," Anil Bhanot, general secretary of the Hindu Council UK, told Ecumenical News International (http://www.eni.ch) earlier this month.
The Hindu council's spokesperson on yoga, Amarjeet-singh Bhamra, noted: "It is very disappointing that such medieval-like irrational prejudice is still allowed to flourish in the Christian church in 21st century multicultural Britain."
Although the Baptist church originally granted Louise Woodcock’s Yum Yum Yoga class for toddlers use of its hall for a children’s group activity, the Rev Simon Farrar withdrew his consent after discovering it was for yoga.
“We are a Christian organisation and when we let rooms to people we want them to understand that they must be fully in line with our Christian ethos,” the Baptist minister explained.
Catholic principal Ferreira, who says that Yoga healed him completely from his sickness since 1981, conducts a half-hour yoga class attended by over 1,500 students, teachers and office assistants everyday.
“When I started these yoga exercises a month ago, there were natural reservations and opposition from students as well as parents. But I persisted. Now they all congratulate me because some have stopped suffering from colds and allergies while others are feeling more energetic,” commented the priest.