Interesting story from Britain:
A Hindu organization in Britain is planning to challenge the ban on yoga classes by two churches on the grounds that it breaches the country’s Equality Act 2006.
Last week, priests at the Silver Street Baptist Church and St James’ Church of England in Taunton, Somerset, had banned yoga classes for children by branding it as a “sham” and “un-Christian”.
Now, the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) is actively considering challenging the ban. Lawyers of the organisation are exploring whether the comments by the churches indicate the priests acted contrary to Britain’s ‘Religion and Belief’ section of the 2006 legislation, which makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods, facilities and services, the management of premises, education and exercise of public functions.
“These priests might appear to be advising Christians not to practice yoga because they believe it is based on a ‘sham’ and a ‘false
philosophy’, but what in effect they mean is that Hinduism is a false religion,” said HCUK General Secretary Anil Bhanot.
HCUK is also considering asking the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to investigate whether the comments by the priests amounted to “instructing or causing discrimination”, Christian Post reported.
Let’s start by establishing what the priests meant. I am not sure why Secretary Bhanot tried to contrast their statements with how he interpreted them. There is no doubt that the priests were saying that Hinduism is a false religion.Yoga is based on Hinduism, and the words “sham” and “false philosophy” leave little room for equivocation.
So what’s the problem? Not wanting your building used to teach kids doctrines about reality that you believe to be false and dangerous to their souls is eminently reasonable, something any British law forbidding you to act on such sensibilities clearly is not.
As for the threatened investigation into “instructing or causing discrimination,” there are at least two ways to look at it, depending how you define the term “instructing or causing discrimination.”
We could point out that instructing and causing discrimination is what all teachers do and to get rid of it would be to end education. The goal of education is to instruct children (and everyone else) about the nature of reality and how to conform their lives accordingly. Through education, students learn how to properly discriminate between truth and falsity, good and evil.
This is inescapable. Whether they admit it or not, everyone practices this theory of education. The HCUK, for example, in fighting against the denigration of Hinduism, is trying to educate people to accept this proposition about reality and act accordingly: “The priests are wrong. Hinduism is correct in its assertions about the nature of our existence and the practice of yoga is beneficial to people’s lives.” The HCUK is clearly trying to get people to discriminate between right and wrong, truth and falsity, as these concepts are understood by the Hindu worldview.
Even those who claim to believe that objective truth and falsity (and therefore objective good and evil) don’t exist practice this theory of education. They spend their time trying to convince the rest of us that a particular objective truth claim about the nature of reality (“There is no objective truth to be known”) is correct and that the right thing to do would be to stop saying that any act is the right thing to do.
Another other way to look at the issue of “instructing or causing discrimination” would be to define discrimination as “causing harm to another person.” (This likely gets more to the spirit of the British law against discrimination.) In this case, if telling a person that the worldview they believe in is false is discrimination, what harm is the British government trying to legislate against? Hurt feelings? Low self-esteem? The idea that a simple propositional claim about the truth or falsity of a religion can be construed as harmful discrimination is ridiculous.