Christian Outrage Over Military Yoga Training

January 12, 2013

Salon.com is reporting on the latest Christian outrage: Yoga training in the U.S. military:

“Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank that has been classified as a hate group, has flipped out over a “wacky” new initiative being tested in U.S. military training programs. No, it’s not the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” — it’s yoga and meditation classes.
A new Mind Fitness Training program being tested in the U.S. military has integrated yoga, breathing classes and meditation alongside other more traditional training regimes to keep soldiers calm and mentally fit and to reduce depression and use of alcohol and drugs. To Perkins, however, this new initiative is a stand-in for one’s personal relationship with God.
When he heard about the goals of the program — that yoga promotes relaxation, mental calm, productivity and restraint from substances— he exploded:
“What a coincidence–so does faith! Unfortunately, the military seems intent on driving religion out and replacing it with wacky substitutes,” he said on his morning radio program. “They’ve added atheist chaplains, Wiccan worship centers, and now, meditation classes. But none of them are as effective or as constructive as a personal relationship with God. Unfortunately, though, it’s mind over what matters–and that’s faith.”
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The article continues by citing statistics that in 2012 the military averaged one suicide a day – more deaths by suicide than on the battlefield.
Yoga and meditation training appear to allow soldiers to cope with the stress of combat, as this soldier describes:

“But over time, I felt more relaxed,” he continued. “I slept better. Physically, I noticed that I wasn’t tense all the time. It helps you think more clearly and decisively in stressful situations. There was a benefit.”

Perkins should temper his criticism of Yoga considering how Evangelicals have overtly taken over various military institutions:

“Meanwhile, there is already a disturbing pattern of aggressive Christian proselytizing and accusations of government-sponsored prayer in major military institutions, including at West Point and the US Air Force Academy, which some say is more divisive than healing. A Yale Divinity School study voiced “concern that the overwhelmingly evangelical tone of general Protestant worship encouraged religious divisions rather than fostering understanding among basic cadets.”

Not suprisingly, the military has dabbled in alternative psychology in the past. You can find a review I wrote about Jon Ronson’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats” from 2007. Ronson’s romp through the military’s working group of psychic spies was later fictionalized in a hilarious movie of the same name, but the book brings up the amazing tactics the U.S. military has explored.

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2 Responses to Christian Outrage Over Military Yoga Training

  1. Bob Patterson on January 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    They should stick to reconciling “blessed are the peace makers” with their mostly pro-gun stance. Idiots.

  2. Zacky Chan on January 16, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Wow, more deaths by suicide than combat. That’s crazy. I wonder how that relates to past militaries. Something tells me this is a largely modern phenomenon. Surely suicide has been around as humans have had lives, but more deaths by suicide than combat? Again, that’s crazy.

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