By Mary Mack
A Christian pastor in Ozark, Missouri, has come under fire in mainstream and social media for expressing several truths about yoga. Non-Christians are expressing outrage that Pastor John Lindell’s sermon on October 28 caused many in the congregation of James River Church to discontinue yoga classes at various local fitness establishments.
“Yoga is diametrically opposed to Christianity,” Pastor Lindell said in his sermon. “Christians should stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots.”
Yoga practitioners (known as yogis) are up-in-arms after Lindell’s Halloween sermon on paranormal activities, and have interpreted his words as hate speech, inflammatory, divisive, and detrimental to the community; in particular, causing a negative impact on the livelihood of yoga teachers with small businesses. However, individual free will is still an American right and yoga teachers cannot force customers to return to their classes; yogis have therefore focused their ire upon the Christian principles that Pastor Lindell espoused from the pulpit.
Stephanie Wubbena, owner of Live Pure Yoga in nearby Springfield, Missouri, agreed with Pastor Lindell that yoga does indeed have pagan origins, and accused Lindell of “blatant hypocrisy,” claiming that the Easter and Christmas traditions also have pagan origins.
Wubbena’s declaration—that Christianity’s most sacred holy days are rooted in paganism—is blatantly inaccurate. The pagan traditions attached to Christmas and Easter were sponsored by pagans, not Christians. Pagans worship Santa Claus instead of Jesus at Christmastime and entertain giant, egg-laying rabbits on Easter Sunday, but Christians are clear about the true meaning behind each holiday. We celebrate Christ, whose birth and death proved God’s love for us and granted us eternal salvation. The pagan twist is not Christian—it is pagan. Pagans latch onto our holy day because they want to enjoy the celebrations without the responsibility of adoring a deity. As a matter of fact, the word ‘holiday’ is a contraction of ‘holy’ and ‘day’.
In ancient times, pagans were heathens; followers of polytheistic religions; druids, witches, and goddess worshippers. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, today’s pagans are people who have little or no religion and who delight in sensual pleasures and material goods; they are irreligious and hedonistic.
Naturally, obeying Almighty God and adhering to a set of Commandments severely curtails the hedonistic pursuit of sensual pleasure and the ruthless accumulation of material goods.
It is understandable that modern pagans would object to the tenets of Christianity, especially when it might deprive them of potential income from Christians who chose God’s law over the god-selfhood of yoga doctrine.
The yogis who complained about Lindell’s sermon have three main problems with it:
- they worry that such teaching might make them lose customers,
- they claim that such “inaccurate” rhetoric is ignorant and divisive, and
- they fear that “the church’s anti-yoga message” might cause misguided Christians to shoot up yoga studios in imitation of the November 2, 2018 tragedy at Hot Yoga in Tallahassee, Florida.
A motive in the Hot Yoga shooting has not been officially declared. The gunman killed himself at the scene of the murder and didn’t leave a suicide note. However, he had a history of harassing young women, according to a report by Reuters which was published on November 4, 2018. Police records show that the shooter was arrested in 2012 and 2016 on charges of grabbing women’s buttocks. Both cases were dismissed.
Vibe Magazine, an American music and entertainment magazine founded by music producer Quincy Jones, transcribed a video in which the Florida yoga class killer said, “I don’t think a female can ever understand the societal pressure that’s put on an adolescent male to unburden himself of this stigma that society’s put on him,” he said. “This virginity burden.” He described asking women out on dates and being consistently turned down.
What societal pressure was he talking about? I have no doubt he was referring to the continuous onslaught of sexual temptation that pervades society. Movies, TV programs, commercials, and fashion trends all flaunt women’s sexuality in public.
I applaud those women of the Suffragette Movement in the 1920s. They unmuzzled women and gave us equality of citizenship. I applaud the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s. They did away with the remaining cultural restrictions and freed women from the burdens of dresses, pantyhose, and aprons. I applaud the #MeToo Movement. They are currently fighting for wage equality in the workplace. But some go too far. They want to place the naked female body on a pedestal to be venerated and respected while doing everything in their power to undermine that veneration and respect. However, men are not allowed to look, or lust, or react in any masculine manner, or they’ll may be hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit before their temperature even cools.
When society strayed from God’s unalterable biological laws and mocked the principles of modesty and sexual purity; when militant feminism sought to emasculate men; a recipe for disaster was created.
Anyway, back to Pastor Lindell’s sermon. He was 100% correct. Yoga is the vehicle by which yogis reach the Supreme Cosmic Spirit, the Ultimate Reality in the universe, otherwise known as Brahman. Brahman is an essential aspect of Hinduism and was incorporated into the oldest of the Hindu holy books, the Vedas, which date back four thousand years. In light of the modern attempt to deconstruct the human male, it is interesting and relevant to note that the word Brahman is a gender-neutral term. This is unusual in a language where nouns are always either male or female. The Hindi Language website says this: “Hindi nouns have two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. There is no neuter gender in Hindi.”
The Veda book Taittiriya Samhita says, “…of the Word Brahman, there is no end.” Brahman is ‘the Word’ and is infinite. The Upanishads are the sayings of the great Hindi sages throughout time. Several of the Upanishads describe Brahman as “I am Brahman,” or “The Self is Brahman.” The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies (Volume 3) by Karl Potter, explains that the Brahman is the origin and end of all things. The attempted correlation between Brahman and the God of the Bible are unmistakable. Yaweh God is called “I Am” and is the Alpha and Omega.
Yoga is a metaphysical artform essential to the Hindu religion and in direct conflict with the precepts of Christianity. Yoga is said to be a way to reveal the god inside us. Yogis believe that the human soul is part of the universal soul. This is where the concept of reincarnation comes from; the belief that our souls are constantly being recycled. The ultimate goal of yoga is to teach participants how to achieve a state of Moksha, or Nirvana, and break free from the endless cycle of reincarnation. A verse from Bhagavad-Gita says that by practicing yoga, one “attains the bliss of Brahman, becoming Brahman.” (Hymn 5.24) Therefore, yoga teaches that we can become God.
The University of Sedona, Arizona, offers classes in Holistic, New Thought Metaphysics, as well as Transpersonal, Transcendent, and Theocentric Metaphysical forms of spirituality. The school’s founder, Dr. Paul Leon Masters, illustrates the New Age concept of individuals being gods, in the following statement:
“I am the presence of Universal Mind and Spirit, having individualized into human form. I express the wisdom, power, creativity, peace, love, and harmony of my universal origin as I go through this human life, for this realization of my true God-selfhood. I give thanks that it is so, AND SO IT IS!”
—Dr. Paul Leon Masters
Yoga opposes Christianity in most of its crucial concepts but sugarcoats the anti-Christian tenets by proclaiming peace and knowledge as its outward goals. Pastor Lindell was absolutely right to warn his congregation to avoid yoga. It is not just a harmless way to tone your body and calm your nerves. The spray-on yoga pants and seductive gyrations should have clued you in. Take a karate class instead.
God’s First Commandment is “I am the Lord your God; you shall not have false gods before me.” Christians should not search for the “god” that is within them; they should not empty their minds of the Holy Spirit when in search of enlightenment; they should not bow to a Hindu sun goddess by performing the sun salutation yoga pose; they should not participate in the sacraments of a religion that denies the existence of Yahweh God.
To send a message of support to Pastor Lindell’s congregation, send an internal email on their website https://jamesriver.org/contact-us or call the church office at 417-581-5433.
Mary Mack is an award-winning screenwriter (Table Read My Screenplay contest, Best Fantasy Screenplay, 2015) and has taught screenwriting workshops for the California Writers Club. Mary is the Editor of The Mohahve Muse, the official newsletter of the Mohahve Historical Society, and Assistant Editor of The Inkslinger, the newsletter of the California Writers Club (High Desert). As a freelance editor, Mary has earned a reputation among her clientele as an insightful story consultant and eagle-eyed proofreader. As a freelance graphic designer, she creates logos, book covers, business cards, letterhead, and promotional material for clients across the world. Contact Mary at www.MaryMackBooks.com