Priest bans yoga from church hall because it's 'not compatible' with Catholic faith

 (not Cori Withell)

A row has erupted over a priest banning yoga from a church hall because the class was “not compatible” with the Catholic faith.

Instructor Cori Withell said the classes she booked for yoga and pilates at St Edmund's Church building in Southampton were cancelled with 10 days to go.

She was told by the booking secretary of the church that it was because yoga is a Hindu religious activity.

Father John Chandler from the church said that the hall has to be used for Catholic activities and he banned it because it was advertised as "spiritual yoga".

The ban is not Catholic Church policy and decisions are left to the discretion of individual priests. Some Catholic retreats use yoga for relaxation.

Ms Withell, 37, from nearby Eastleigh, said the church accepted the booking two months ago and she paid £180.

She was called later and told that yoga was from another religion so she could not have the hall. A separate pilates class she had booked was also cancelled.

"I had never heard about any religious issue with yoga before but I have looked into it since and found that some other religions feel that when people meditate it could let the devil inside them," she said.

"But there was never any meditation in my class - it was just exercises. Yoga is not religious: spiritual, but not religious.

"I do not object to anyone having a religious viewpoint, but it seemed terribly petty to cancel the classes.

"As a nation we have an obesity epidemic. I was trying to bring some exercise to the community and coming across blocks like this is frustrating.

"I offered to go down and show them the moves and, literally, the shutters came down."

Fr Chandler said the church was "misled" by Ms Withell's booking because he claimed that, at first, the hall was booked for pilates and then he found out it was also for spiritual yoga.

"Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise. Being a Catholic church we have to promote the gospel and that's what we use our premises for.

"We did say that yoga could not take place. It's the fact that it's a different religious practice going on in a Catholic church," he explained.

"On one hand we say to our parishioners 'be strong in your faith', and on the other hand there's this other religious belief that's not part of our faith. It's not compatible. We are not saying that yoga is bad or wrong."

Fr Chandler added he had not researched what Ms Withell's class would have included and he had not spoken to her about the issue because he felt "the relationship had got off to a bad start".

"There are other halls she could use in Southampton," he added.

A spokesman for Portsmouth Catholic Diocese said: "It's not possible for Catholic premises to be used for non-Christian activities and there is a dilemma with yoga as it can be seen as Hindu meditation or as relaxation.

"There is no national policy on this and the decision is for each priest."

In a further statement the diocese said: "The Catholic Church cannot permit activities which have their origins in non-Christian religions to take place on Church premises.

"We sincerely regret any misunderstanding and inconvenience which may have been caused by the cancellation of this booking which was made for Pilates classes but subsequently advertised as yoga-inspired Pilates.

"If yoga had been mentioned when the booking was made, there should have been no misunderstanding.

"If the parish can be assured that the Pilates is not using any of the spiritual aspects of yoga then the booking can go ahead."


Views: 291

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on September 27, 2012 at 5:54pm

That is really stretching it. Some people would bend over backwards for that church !!

Comment by James Cox on September 27, 2012 at 11:16pm

In the persuit of doctrinare perfection, they will sacrifice membership, sanity, openness, and health.

I look forward to the arrival of theism at the moment of perfect crap. Just maybe I will get my sacred bean dip, before they have a 'going out of business' sale.

Comment by Unseen on September 27, 2012 at 11:31pm

It's all very silly, of course, but it's their church. So much for ecumenism, though. I wonder to what extent the instructor really was pushing the spiritual angle, because you can also approach yoga as purely a physical culture.

Comment by Diane on September 28, 2012 at 7:04am

That's where it went wrong with me!  In second grade we were sent outside to find a leaf.  I went on an extended quest to find the perfect leaf.  When the search party found me, I was sitting under a pile of leaves, experiencing what it might be like to be a leaf.  It must have been then that the devil got in.  

Comment by Nina van der Roos on September 28, 2012 at 5:10pm
Lol, the only leg spreading the Catholic Church wants is for the impregnation of of more catholic women, and the only bending over and bending over touching the toes is just for all those lovely little choir boys so that their priests can have easier access !
Comment by James Cox on September 28, 2012 at 5:28pm

Today I noticed a story concerning a tax paid by some folks in Europe, that is collected by the state, but then given to the local churches. There is some indication that folks, that do not pay the tax are denighed basic church services like weddings and furnerals! It is unclear what the status is of this tax, but wait and see!

In the attempt to preserve the church and theism, draconian programs have been installed, just more of the same....LOL


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2019   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service