Washington, DC (November 13, 2018) — In response to a USA Today article on Missouri megachurch pastor John Lindell urging his congregation to stop going to yoga on the grounds that it’s “demonic,” Mat McDermott, HAF Director of Communications, offered the following statement:

“The only thing correct in Pastor John Lindell’s view on yoga is that its roots are Hindu — even if today much of the practice in the West has been secularized, with more than 35 million people of all backgrounds reaping yoga’s benefits. Beyond that, his assertion that yoga is somehow evil or paranormal, that the various asana open you up to demonic power, and that it’s spiritually dangerous to clear your mind through meditation, are a profound display of both theological and practical ignorance. In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Hot Yoga Tallahassee, the manner and timing of the pastor’s statements are especially hateful and irresponsible.”

Contrary to Pastor Lindell’s view on the harmful nature of yoga, the core of yoga philosophy and practice is that the Divine is present in all things, that each one of us has the potential to realize or experience that Divinity, and that our shared Divinity is cause for treating one another with mutual respect.