We are an education law firm in San Francisco California. My clients are of modest means but want to take this case to trial due to the principle involved.
ABOUT THE CASE
Christian family brings lawsuit against CA school over religion
This case is about a lawsuit brought by a Christian family under the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States constitution challenging the practices of a teacher in a California school district which included meditation with religious music and mantras and breathing techniques, and an experiment about praying to water.
The First Amendment enshrines the separation of church and state and forbids religious practices from being established in a public setting. This protects all religious faiths, and also those who believe in no religion. This lawsuit is brought by a middle-class Christian family in Thousand Oaks California over Eastern-based religious practices in their daughter’s fourth grade classroom that grew concerning and ultimately alarming to them.
Because this lawsuit involves a minor, we must protect her identity, and therefore will not be referring to her by name.
Imagine your 4th grade daughter coming home from school, and to your surprise, she has memorized a verse of one of the primary texts of a religion other than your own. The verse she memorized, and was able to sing to her father who recorded it, was from the “Gayatri Mantra,” one of the most important mantras in the Vedic and then Hindu religions. For an example of the mantra, review this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SarlTxrAbIY
Upon questioning his daughter, the father learned that the Gayatri mantra was played frequently in the classroom during a daily 11-minute meditation period that included breathing techniques. Although the mantra itself is in another language, the basis of the mantra is that its power supposedly arises from it tonal or sound vibrations. The mantra is clearly religious in nature.
On top of this meditation to music using a religious mantra, the teacher introduced the students to the teachings of a Dr. Emoto, who claims that positive and negative thoughts can influence the structure of water. Positive thoughts, which Dr. Emoto calls “prayer,” allegedly have a certain effect on water, causing it to crystallize. Negative thoughts allegedly have a detrimental impact.
The teacher in our case, after showing the students a video and reading from books about the “Secret of Water” then had the students prepare two containers with rice and water. One container was given positive thoughts, or “prayer” as our client believed she was doing, and the other container was to be given negative thoughts. The students were to do this over a period of weeks and then observe the results. The teacher claimed this was a scientific experiment, although no “control” was used, in other words, a container that was given neither positive nor negative thoughts. Our clients, once learning of the “experiment” and reading about Dr. Emoto were obviously deeply concerned on how this idea that one could affect water simply by praying to it interfered with their Christian beliefs. Dr. Emoto stated in his book that he hoped to “convey the power of prayer.”
My clients are bringing this lawsuit for the purpose of underscoring the importance of the First Amendment’s establishment clause which forbids religious practices from the classroom.
Any money contributed will be used to pay for an expert witness in religion to discuss the significance of the Gayatri mantra, and the other practices in dispute, along with trial expenses and attorneys’ fees to bring the matter to trial for a full hearing of these issues.
-By Jay Jambeck
“The Strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it”. – Albert Einstein