Reading the latest issue of Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine, I saw an article that made want to laugh and cringe and the same time.
It’s all about public schools doing mindfulness training and getting sued by the evangelical christian group the ACLJ. The gist of the article is that this group, started by televangelist Pat Robertson and represented by Jay Sekulow (the attorney that sacrificed his integrity to serve as the personal attorney for the most corrupt President in American history) was saying that having kids practice mindfulness in schools was pushing Buddhism onto Christian children unwillingly and violating their religious freedom. Wow. It’s funny how evangelicals only want religious freedom for themselves and no one else.
But the joke is on them. Mindfulness is a basic human capacity, not the sole property of Buddhism. Learning to stop and notice one’s internal and external environments is something that improves learning, lowers blood pressure, and develops self-control (increasing the time gap between having a feeling and acting on it). To protest mindfulness is to make one’s motives suspicious. Why are Christians promoting mindlessness? Why are they so afraid of people stopping and noticing their thoughts and feelings?
To make the practice more secular, only bits and pieces of religious language were eliminated. Problem solved.
All the litigation accomplished was to provide free publicity for a practice that helps people be more sane in a crazy world.
I think Christians are viscerally threatened by children thinking for themselves. As an ex-Christian, I can tell you that independent thought and obedience are mutually exclusive. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. Every Nazi at the Nuremburg trials had the exact same pathetic defense: “I was just obeying orders.” I’ve gone to enough churches to know that obedience is the name of the game.
The antidote to mindless obedience? Mindfulness and independent thought. Churches are scared. I can see why. Be afraid. Be very afraid.