Transcendental Meditation-Based Quiet Time Program Starts Chicago School Trial
A legal battle for religious rights over transcendental meditation and “quiet time” in the classroom took on new life this week when a federal district court judge reinstated the University of Chicago and the David Lynch Foundation, managed by the director of “Twin Peaks”, as accused with Chicago. public school system.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of technical high school student Bogan Computer Amontae Williams and other plaintiffs, alleges that Chicago Public Schoos (CPS) officials instituted the Lynch Foundation-sponsored “Quiet Time” program through the University of Chicago, despite knowledge of its intention. involve students in transcendental meditation, a spiritual technique in which critics are rooted in Hinduism.
Federal Judge Matthew F. Kennelly of the Northern District Court of Illinois said the University and the Lynch Foundation were aware of the religious motivations behind the “Quiet Time” effort and that it could reasonably be said that the David Lynch Foundation (DLF) specifically targeted students for religious indoctrination.
“The court does not consider this as an implausible allegation with regard to one or the other entity: the DLF would have created the program as part of its mission of” widespread implementation of transcendental meditation “,” wrote Justice Kennelly. “[G]Given its background, it is certainly plausible that the DLF would know of aspects of Transcendental Meditation and the Quiet Time program that would have caused the violation of the First Amendment program.
Noting that the University of Chicago would have approved and helped design the program, “it is also plausible that the university was aware of the same features of the program that would have made it unconstitutional,” the judge said.
The University of Chicago and the Lynch Foundation helped CPS launch the “Quiet Time” effort in 2015 as part of an effort to see if the oriental meditation program once promoted by The Beatles and other celebrities could reduce arrests for violence among young people in the city. Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods are plagued by gun violence and other attacks, and it’s not uncommon for police to report dozens of gun-related attacks every weekend.
The school system ended the program in 2019 when students and parents complained at a school board meeting about the ceremonies and mantras that accompanied “Quiet Time.” Mr Williams seeks compensatory and punitive damages for what he said he was forced to undergo a TM initiation ritual and meditation sessions which left him disoriented. The plaintiffs are also seeking to make it a class action lawsuit, which could pave the way for many more challenges to the program.
“One day when we were due to start a meditation session, I informed my classmates that our mantras were the names of Hindu gods,” Williams said in a statement to the district court. “I also warned my classmates that the TM instructors were lying about the ‘Puja’ [initiation] the ceremony and the song mean nothing. The teacher then took me to the principal’s office to say these things to my classmates.
Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, highlighted what he said to be meditation’s proven health benefits and ecumenical appeal in advocating for the program.
“The Transcendental Meditation program has been learned by more than 10 million people of all faiths and cultures around the world over the past 50 years, including several million people here in the United States,” Mr. Roth told Washington Times.
“It is provided in businesses and hospitals as a health promotion tool and offered in community centers to high risk youth for its significant stress reduction benefits – benefits that have been documented by extensive research and peer reviewed. In fact, the National Institutes of Health awarded more than $ 26 million to evaluate its benefits for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
The foundation, he added, “is confident that any misunderstanding about the nature of this practice will be corrected when properly examined.”
But Mr Williams said he was threatened with suspension for protesting the “Quiet Time” ceremonies and that his forced participation violated Illinois’ Restoration of Religious Freedom Act, which in part states that “the government cannot impose a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by a person.”
Aryeh Siegel, a former senior executive in the US branch of the Transcendental Movement who ceased practicing the discipline in 1981, called the events of this week a “massive victory, which a judge allows the young man to sue the public schools of. Chicago, for these reasons, that there was a coercive practice of religion.
Mr. Siegel said he dedicated a section of his “Transcendental Deception” website to documenting the Lynch Foundation’s ongoing efforts to promote TM in schools across the country.