Sedlock v. Baird
Sedlock v. Baird
Chapter 6 interrogates Sedlock v. Baird (2013; 2015), the highest profile state court ruling on public-school yoga. California Superior Court Judge John Meyer found that yoga is “religious” and Ashtanga yoga is the “cornerstone” of “EUSD yoga,” but because a reasonable child would not perceive EUSD yoga as endorsing or disfavoring religion, the program is constitutional. Meyer’s primary example of how EUSD removed “religious, mystical, or spiritual trappings” is that EUSD relabeled Lotus as “criss-cross applesauce” (though it did not). An appellate court found that Hinduism is a “religion” and expressed “little doubt” that public-school Ashtanga yoga is unconstitutional—but determined that EUSD yoga is not Ashtanga yoga because EUSD subtracted Sanskrit and cultural references. This chapter explains how, for financial, conceptual, and procedural reasons, evidence crucial to understanding EUSD yoga was deemed irrelevant, lacking credibility, or inadmissible. Sedlock turned legal precedent on its head—concluding that schools may encourage children to perform religious practices if schools do not teach about the history and context of religious beliefs. The chapter argues that Sedlock illustrates how legal precedent built upon an incomplete documentary record and narrowly doctrinal understanding of religion may, ironically, make religious practice more acceptable in the public square.
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