PODCAST: Chicago Public Schools Promote Hindu Religious Practice of Transcendental Meditation

Next time you hear some arch-defender of the a-constitutional “wall” of separation between the church and state whose knickers are in a twist because a school allows ten seconds of silence during which students may pray, remember this story, reported last summer by the Chicago Tribune:

Students at a Chicago high school were led into a room with shades drawn and door windows papered over, lit only with candles and scented by incense. They were handed flowers and told to pay attention to instructors, according to one student’s account.

Jade Thomas, an incoming sophomore at Bogan Computer Technical High School, said instructors “chanted in a foreign language” and “threw rice, seasonings and oranges in a pan in front of a picture of a man.” She described the ritual, which she said involved a “secret mantra,” to a rapt audience at a Chicago Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

At one point, Jade said, “they tell us to place the flowers in the pan with everything else, and they ended the song. I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t know what they were saying or who the man was in the picture.”

Jade Thomas’ discomfort was entirely warranted. The program to which she was objecting is called Quiet Time, a euphemistic name that conceals from parents that it’s the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM), which is Hinduism repackaged (and trademarked) for Western audiences.

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