On an almost daily basis now, it seems, televangelist and ultra-conservative Pat Robertson says something ridiculous or insulting on The 700 Club, and Tuesday’s broadcast was no exception. The 84-year-old preacher told a viewer that yoga “tricks” people into “speaking Hindu,” Right Wing Watch is reporting.
A 700 Club viewer wrote to Mr. Robertson to express concern that her family, now living in Santa Fé where there is, apparently, a lot of “New Age spirituality – dream catchers, yoga, veganism,” and wondered what Pat’s thoughts might be on the viewer’s teen daughter taking a yoga class with a friend.
“Along with yoga they have a mantra, and the mantra you say is in Hindu – You don’t know what the Hindu says, but actually it’s a prayer to a Hindu deity and so it sounds like gibberish. So you’re saying ‘kali, kali, kali,’ but you’re praying to a Hindu deity and you don’t want your daughter in that. Stretching exercise is cool, praying to a Hindu deity is not too cool.”
Let’s go over the ways those statements are factually incorrect.
First, it’s impossible to “speak Hindu,” since Hinduism is a religion, not a language. It’s possible to learn so speak Hindi – with an “i,” since Hindi is, in fact, a language.
Second, practicing yoga no more makes you a Hindu than eating bread and wine makes you a Christian. As Rebecca Ffrench of YogaLondon tells The BBC,“It’s got a trace from history of a religious pathway. However, is something religious if you don’t have the intention there? If I was to kneel down does that mean I’m praying – or am I just kneeling?”
Still, many evangelical Christians, including Pat Robertson, seem to believe that yoga’s Hindu roots make it verboten for Christians. The Christian Broadcast Network, for example, has taken that view.
“These are postures that are offered to the 330 million Hindu gods. Yoga postures really are; they are offerings to the gods. If you do these postures and you do this breathing technique and this meditation, then you will be accepted by a god, little “G.” That’s the real danger.”
At least, Pat Robertson is OK with stretching exercises. Reality seems to be another matter altogether.
[Image courtesy of: Americans Against The Tea Party]