Court Rules Chicago Board of Ed Violated Student's Rights by Forcing Her to Practice Hindu Rituals
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An Illinois Circuit Court has ruled in favor of a former Chicago public school student who was forced to participate in Hindu rituals by her school, directly violating her Christian beliefs.
Mariyah Green was awarded $150,000 in damages and legal fees by the Illinois Circuit Court last week for violations of her First Amendment rights by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation, over mandated participation in Hindu rituals while attending Bogan High School.
Students were required to participate in a program called "Quiet Time," which was a Hinduistic religious program encompassing the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
Green and other students participated in a portion of the program that required them to engage in a Puja initiation rite. This ceremony included reciting statements recognizing the power possessed by various Hindu deities and invitations to channel their powers.
Those who did not want to participate in the "Quiet Time" program were warned that their failure to participate could impact their grades and disqualify them from participating in their respective graduation ceremonies.
Green was told that her grades - and thus her eligibility to play basketball - would be negatively affected if she did not participate in the "Quiet Time" program.
Green felt pressured to participate in the ceremony because she felt she needed to maintain good grades to stay on the team.
"Mariyah Green's Christian faith and her dedication to Jesus Christ makes the worship of others, such as these idols, unthinkable," explained Green's attorney, John Mauck. "Therefore, on the second day of this training in Transcendental Meditation, Mariyah told the instructor that her knee was injured in order to avoid kneeling before the image of a man in a photograph on a table in the middle of the room, that she described as looking like Buddha."
"This was an egregious abuse of Mariyah's religious rights," Mauck said in a statement. "The innocuously labeled Quiet Time was developed by the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace in conjunction with the University of Chicago – both of whom profited from its implementation in Chicago Public Schools."
He added, "Throughout its design and conduct, these institutions were all aware of the religious content of the Transcendental Meditation sessions, the like of which had already been removed from public schools elsewhere due to Constitutional violations."
Mauck thanked the court for recognizing the "critical Constitutional issues at stake."
"Mariyah Green's concerns have been justified, her voice has been heard, and the offending parties have been held accountable," he stated.
"Spiritual Meditation was terrible beneath its masks," Green recalled. "I am happy that the legal system allowed a judgment totaling $150,000 to be issued against the Lynch Foundation and the Chicago Board of Education, compelling them to admit that forcing Hindu worship on me caused me harm."
She added, "I am sorry that Chicago Public Schools did not publicly challenge the Lynch Foundation or the University of Chicago for their involvement in forcing Hinduism on me and about two thousand other pupils."
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