$150,000 penalty for school accused of forcing student to worship idols

November 10, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A Christian student who accused her public school of forcing her into idol worship has been awarded $150,000 in a religious discrimination lawsuit.

The student, Mariyah Green, explained to Fox News Digital that she was ordered, by Chicago Public School staff members, to meditate during a required "quiet time," bow to a "deity" she didn't recognize, and internalize mantras to reach "zen."

Such rituals are common in Hinduism.

But she told Fox News, "I'm a very strong Christian."

She explained her surprise, and concern, over the instructions.

"Like, I'm in school right now, why are we learning how to meditate in this way? I just knew it wasn't right. So that's what made me take the initiative and go home to tell my parent and my auntie, who was my pastor at the time, that I didn't feel comfortable with what they were enforcing on me at school," she explained.

"The only time I kneel was when I was at the altar at church when I'm praying and I'm kneeling down for God because that was a way that we were taught, but not the kneeling to that idol. It was inappropriate."

The lawsuit against the school charged that the required rituals violated her faith.

The district said it did not violate any student's constitutional rights, but it abruptly ended the program in 2020.

It did admit using a "meditation-based social-emotional learning tool" called Quiet Time.

Fox reported, "The program encompassed the practice of 'Transcendental Meditation' and the repetition of 'mantras,' which were 'fundamentally religious in nature,' according to the complaint. The students were informed the mantras were 'meaningless words,' but after Green did some research she found they were actually 'the names of Hindu gods,' according to the lawsuit."

Students also were warned not to tell anyone about their "mantras," the report said.

The complaint accused the school of doing "Puja" ceremonies in class, insisting students participate "by placing various items before the image of Guru Dev or to kneel before that image."

Green explained further she didn't know why school time was being used for Hindu rituals when she wasn't being taught "enough to be at her best footing for college."

"Some kids also they can – they are put in a situation where we can be manipulated... Because who knows what the chant could have meant and what I was putting in my mind, and [then] channel into myself or you know my life. So you just got to be careful because… like the devil will come in different ways," she said.

The case was resolved through a "resolution between parties" that the district said was "akin to a settlement," but the district continued to deny any liability.

That solution allowed the district to end to dispute without a judge or jury formally finding liability.

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