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Religion Last Updated: Jun 22nd, 2006 - 09:42:30

Beware the Yoga Demon! The Christian Right�s fear of self-realization and spirituality
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 22, 2006, 00:39

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They�re still at it. Those paranoid Christian fundamentalists are again attacking yoga.

This is not the first time they�ve done so. On September 6, 2005, the Christian �news service� Agape Press carried an article titled �School Yoga Fitness Programs May Be Unhealthy Alternative, Author Warns.� The author cited was Dr. Walter Larimore, who wrote Alternative Medicine: A Christian Handbook. Dr. Larimore argued that because yoga has spiritual roots outside Christianity, the practice can be dangerous. He argued that �involvement with Eastern spiritual practices is known to cause psychological and emotional problems in some people.�

In all probability those �some people� had psychological and/or emotional problems before even considering taking a yoga class. Or perhaps Latimer defines �psychological and emotional problems� as questioning the no-thinking-allowed dogma of Christian fundamentalism. The billions of people worldwide who have practiced yoga for centuries certainly do not support Larimore�s preposterous claim.

On June 15, 2006, Agape Press carried this article:

Author Wants to Enlighten Christians About Yoga's Demonic Influence

Christian author Dave Hunt, co-founder of the Oregon-based ministry, The Berean Call, has written a new book called Yoga and the Body of Christ. In it, he contends that yoga is a spiritually dangerous practice designed to expose people to demonic influences.

Mr. Hunt is quoted as saying, �If you want to benefit yourself physically, then do exercises that were designed for that. Do not get into things that were designed for self-realization . . . If you want to do some exercises, please don�t call it yoga, because as soon as you do, you�ve put a certain connotation on it.�

Why would Mr. Hunt fear �self-realization�? Why would he advise �Christians� to avoid it?

Could it be that if people achieve self-realization they will recognize the sinister mind-control techniques of �ministries� such as The Berean Call? Could it be that they would also realize that if they develop a �personal relationship with God,� there is no need for ministries? The clergy would become little more than �middlemen� who, like all middlemen, leech off others for their own self-aggrandizement. In fact, the clergy would become �demonic influences� interrupting, twisting and poisoning one�s personal relationship with Divinity for their own power and profit.

Matthew 4:8-9 comes to mind: �The devil took him [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you,� he said, �if you will bow down and worship me.�� The socio-political message of the Christian Right to Americans is exactly the same, especially at election time.

�Please don�t call it yoga, because as soon as you do, you�ve put a certain connotation on it.� Why does Mr. Hunt fear the word �yoga�? Is he saying that the word alone invokes demons? If one intones the word �yoga� does Mephistopheles appear in lotus position?

Aside from centuries of spiritual healing, the health benefits � both physical and mental � of yoga are well documented. What really seems to be at the heart of Dr. Larimore�s and Mr. Hunt�s warnings is a desire to prevent Christians from knowing about or exploring other belief systems and the self-realization true spirituality brings. But that Machiavellian �Christian� message � and the call to ignorance � is a common one.

One place it can be heard loud and clear is at, which isn�t a university at all but part of James Dobson�s Focus on the Family media syndicate. Dobson is the �religious� middleman who has set �himself up as the moral authority of the nation.� TrueU frequently offers �lectures� explaining why Christianity is the only true religion and why Jesus is the only �God� and, by implication, why those who wish to avoid thinking for themselves as well as self-realization should enroll in TrueU, which is actually Focus on the Family Institute.

One TrueU lecture, �Choosin' My Religion� by J.P. Moreland, claimed to offer �objective principles to guide one in choosing a religion.� The oxymoron is obvious: religion is anything but �objective.�

Why Believe That Jesus Is The Only Way?� by Douglas Groothuis presented incestuous, self-serving �biblical evidence for Christ�s lordship� [italics added]. Groothius also offered �Learning From an Apostle� in which he argued �Unless we establish a Christian worldview . . . people will likely place Jesus into the wrong worldview, taking Him to be merely a guru or swami or prophet, rather than Lord, God and Savior.�

Eastern religions are a favorite target for these middlemen profiteers, as one of the books promoted by TrueU attests. Jesus Among Other Gods: as the TrueU promo stated, �Ravi Zacharias� latest work is a brilliant defense of the unique truth of the Christian message. Exposing the futility of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism . . ."

In another �lecture,� Denver Seminary professor Groothuis �explained� why Islam is false: �Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?� His �reasoning� bore a striking resemblance to the �thinking� of Pat Robertson � who called for the assassination of the Venezuelan president and blamed Hurricane Katrina on the choice of (lesbian) Ellen Degeneres to host the Emmyson Islam (and other �false religions):

Under no circumstances is Jehovah, the God of the Bible, and Allah, of the Koran, the same. First of all, the God of the Bible is a God of love and redemption, who sent His Son into the world to die for our sins. Allah tells people to die for him in order to get salvation, but there is no understanding of salvation. Allah was the moon god from Mecca. That is why Islam has the crescent moon. The flag of Turkey has a crescent moon with a star in it. Well, the crescent moon is because Allah was the moon god, and that is the deal. But we don�t serve a moon god. We serve the God of creation, the Creator of everything.

They are not the same. To translate Allah as God is wrong. When you see something in there and it says Allah, you translate it Allah. Don�t call it God because it is different. God is Elohim. He is the Creator, the Jehovah God, Yahweh. Yahweh of the Old Testament was the Father who brought forth Jesus into the world.

Organized religion is, by definition, predicated upon bigotry and discrimination: the �my God is better than your God� mentality. As a direct result, the fundamentalist dogma of organized religions is responsible for the torture and murder of millions of people throughout human history.

Even today, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, some Christian fundamentalists continue the call for hatred and the violence that inevitably follows. Although not calling for their execution, Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the rabidly homophobic Traditional Values Coalition, has claimed gays and lesbians need �an exorcism� and has called for their segregation into �cities of refuge� (aka �concentration camps�).

Another notorious homophobe is Dr. D. James Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries. His former vice president, George Grant, wrote Legislating Immorality, a sermonic tome that included a fire-and-brimstone rant on America�s abandonment of a Scripture-inspired death penalty for homosexuality.

And then there�s Michael Marcavage of Repent America, a radical fundamentalists organization, who claims he�s not calling for the extermination of gays, but some take his words to mean just that. At least fellow �Christian� crusader and certified wing-nut Rev. Fred Phelps � of �� infamy � is blunt about his desire to execute gay Americans.

Fanatical Phelps has much in common with other dogmatic monotheists, such as Muslim cleric Yusuf Qaradawi who couldn�t decide whether gay people should be �throw[n] from a high place� or whether �we should burn them.� Not surprisingly, Yusuf Qaradawi is also a vocal supporter of suicide bombers.

It must be noted, however, that the Eastern spiritual philosophies that spawn yoga do not advocate hatred toward or the murder of gays, or anyone else. Indeed, the Dali Lama supports �gay rights.� When�s the last time you heard a yogi call for the execution of gays, or doing harm to any living creature?

So feel free to join the estimated 30 million Americans who practice yoga, and beware those who argue against self-realization and thinking for yourself.

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