A conservative Christian watchdog group is concerned over “forced Buddhist meditation” popping up in public schools around the country and has started a petition to have the practice stopped, according to Newsweek.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) claims public school students are being “indoctrinated” by mindfulness programs being taught in an “outright unconstitutional” practice.
“We’re launching a multifaceted legal campaign including representing parents of these students, sending demand letters, state FOIA requests, and if necessary, litigation,” the petition reads.
Launched Wednesday, it has garnered almost 50,000 signatures on the evangelical group’s website as of 7.30 a.m. ET Saturday.
The group accuses schools in at least 12 states of "forcing" students to listen to mindfulness audio tapes, including those produced by Inner Explorer, Mind Up, and Dialectic Behavior Therapy.
Despite the connection between meditation and Buddhist practices, the school programs are sold as secular in nature.
“Mindfulness is not a religion,” Inner Exploration’s website states. “It is a set of simple attention practices that promote full awareness of the present moment. These attention practices allow students to develop the capacity to sustain focus.”
Though mindfulness methods have been a tool of psychologists since the 1970s, the concept has permeated popular culture in recent years as companies have commercialized the techniques, Newsweek noted.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques were developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Used to help students improve their focus and concentration, their wider benefits are the subject of ongoing clinical investigation.
But ACLJ view the mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques used in some schools as a danger to children. The organization condemned audio recordings it claims say, “ We’re all connected through nature. And we’re all connected through the universe.”
ACLJ’s chief counsel, who also happens to be President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, mentioned the issue on his radio show recently.
“We’ve got millions of people listening to this broadcast,” said [Jay] Sekulow, per Lion’s Roar. “Find out what’s going on in your kids’ schools… We will contact the school board on your behalf, dispatch lawyers as necessary.”