Pat Robertson Warns Yoga Will Have You Speaking Hindu

Pat Robertson, the notorious and influential television evangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, is not new to the yogaphobic maelstrom that has been brewing for as long as Western Europeans and North Americans have been familiar with yoga. In the last couple of decades, largely in response to the widespread popularization of yoga, yogaphobia has shot to mainstream attention as socially conservative, high-profile Protestant evangelicals and Catholics have voiced unnerving warnings to Christians about how yoga threatens their religious commitments and could even lead to Satanism.

Robertson’s yogaphobia has gone hand-in-hand with his Hinduphobia. In his apocalyptic novel, The End of the Age (1995), Robertson wrote about a devotee of the Hindu god Shiva who joins forces with the Antichrist to murder the President of the United States. And, in a 2007 episode of his popular program, The 700 Club, Robertson homed in on yoga, describing some aspects as “really spooky.”

Robertson has taken his yogaphobia to a whole new level in a recent 700 Club episode in response to the following question from one of the show’s viewers:

My family recently moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico because of my husband’s work. There are a lot of people interested in New Age spirituality in our new neighborhood—dream catchers, yoga, veganism, that sort of thing. My concern is that my teenage daughter is now interested in taking yoga classes with one of her friends. She says it is healthy and will help her flexibility. I worry because it is not based in Christian faith; it is a Hindu practice. Should I worry? Do you think it is okay for Christians to practice yoga?

Robertson replied that, although stretching exercises are terrific, yoga amounts to a Hindu trap:

But along with yoga, they have a mantra. And the mantra you say is in Hindu. You don’t know what the Hindu says, but actually it’s a prayer to a Hindu deity, and so it sounds like gibberish, and so you’re saying, you know, ‘Kali, Kali, Kali,’ whatever, but you’re praying to a Hindu deity. You don’t want your daughter in that. Stretching exercise is cool, praying to a Hindu deity is not too cool.

Yogaphobic moments like this rely on a homogenizing, ahistorical, and fear-inciting vision of yoga as well as identity politics meant to prevent social, political, and religious boundary crossing. Historians have shown that the countless interreligious and intercultural exchanges—between Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Christian, and other religious traditions, as well as between South Asian yoga advocates and the Western European and North American physical culture movement—throughout the history of yoga all problematize the identification of yoga as Hindu.

One can only come to understand the various meanings of yoga, furthermore, through careful and responsible consideration of each of the many individual contexts in which it takes unique forms.

Yet, just as modern religious fundamentalism developed as a response to increasing religious pluralism (in addition to challenges to religious orthodoxy such as the historical-critical study of religions and Darwin’s theory of evolution), so contemporary yogaphobia flourishes in direct proportion to yoga’s increasing popularization.

In other words, as yoga becomes more and more a part of the norm in places, such as the United States, where it only underwent popularization in the last few decades, the social and religious conservatives will voice their opposition more frequently and in increasingly ominous ways.

Be afraid, they will warn, for the yogis will have you speaking Hindu in no time.

  • Jim Reed

    Don’t worry too much about it. When the list of insanities from Pat Robertson is written, this will be way down the list if it even makes it at all.

  • whitemellon

    I have heard it can lead to cases of camel-toe.

  • George M Melby

    I would much sooner fear a meltdown and takeover by Moonglow Robertson than any yoga instructor! Robertson… UGH!

  • apotropoxy

    “PAT ROBERTSON WARNS YOGA WILL HAVE YOU SPEAKING HINDU”
    _______________

    Apotropoxy warns you that Pat Robertson will have you speaking rubbish.

  • Craptacular

    “…so it sounds like gibberish, and so you’re saying, you know, ‘Kali, Kali, Kali,’ whatever, but you’re praying to a Hindu deity.” – Pat Robertson

    I thought that god judged you for what is in your heart, correct? So if you are mumbling some sounds that have no meaning for you, how can your heart be in it?

    This sentence, like most of the other ignorant statements that spill out of Robertson’s piehole, makes no sense. Prayer comes from the heart, not from the lips, at least that was what I was taught when I was a believer. However, I am not convinced Pat has a heart (or a shred of human decency), so it is probably difficult for him to remember things like that. He is too busy spreading fear and hate to scare his sheeple into sending more money to be bothered with the technicalities of prayer.

  • MarkS2002

    Dear Mr. Robertson, I have been struggling with trying to teach myself Spanish for a couple of years. Is there an exercise regimen that might help me with this? Perhaps riding out as a knight errant, tilting at socialists, invoking the name Franco, Franco, Franco? Gracias.

  • NancyP

    Now THAT would be a miracle – the notoriously monolingual Americans suddenly speaking a second language.

  • tiger

    Fear not, ignorant Christians and other fools. No-one can speak Hindu – it’s not language. Hindi, on the other hand, is.

  • Marshalldoc

    हाँ? तो क्या?

  • Sailingsoul

    It makes the list easy. Hindu is not a language so the ignorance of his words is more so.

  • Northern_Witness

    Hindu is not a language but Hindi is. Yoga theory and all related aspects including scriptures were written in Sankrit. In addition, “Kali” is not a mantra.

  • Northern_Witness

    The article claims that religious fundamentalism is a response to (1) increasing religious pluralism, (2) the theory of evolution, and (3) challenges to religious orthodoxy. Another way to look at religious fundamentalism, without disagreeing with the author’s ideas, is that it is merely the degenerative tail end of Christianity that can be said to have started with Martin Luther challenging the dominant Roman Catholicism of the time but which actually started when the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD tried to standardize and therefore dumb down Christianity by excluding certain scriptures and viewpoints.

  • Margaret Placentra Johnston

    Robertson exemplifies the
    faith of the past, a type of belief system that can only face further decline
    and ridicule as civilization progresses. Contrast him against Sister Joan
    Chittister, who exemplifies a faith for the future, something our civilization
    is emerging toward: http://www.oprah.com/app/super-soul-sunday.html.

  • apotropoxy

    Robertson also revealed that if you play hopscotch, you’ll wind up speaking Scottish.

  • Murmur1

    Best comments ever!

  • ncp170

    There is nothing surprising about it .On the last occasion when he came to India some ten or fifteen years back ,he described the Hindus as the ‘accursed spawns of the devil’ and told them to repent and accept Jesus as their savior and they are still considering the matter.

  • Duck

    Those on the outside see the hilarity in this but many Christians take this stuff very seriously. It’s very sad as it leads them to a more and more restricted lifestyle (those that take it to heart). This is the face of religion.

  • आपका प्रश्न चिह्न गलत दिशा में सामना कर रहे हैं।

  • Marshalldoc

    ‘बिंग अनुवादक’ को दोष… मैं बात नहीं है या हिन्दी लिखने 😉

  • Edward Frederick Ezell

    Andrea Jain says that “high-profile Protestant evangelicals and Catholics
    have voiced unnerving warnings to Christians about how yoga threatens
    their religious commitments and could even lead to Satanism.”

    That statement seems a serious over reach at least regarding high profile Catholics.

  • Duck

    Rather arrogant of Robertson to go to another country and tell the people how they should think. I think Hindu’s probably view Christianity the same way as Robertson views them. In both cultures there Is an alarming lack of concern for their brother by the imposing of strict religious rules.

  • swami

    “The article claims that religious fundamentalism is a response to (1) increasing religious pluralism, (2) the theory of evolution, and (3) challenges to religious orthodoxy.”

    I would call these contributing factors to religious fundamentalism, while the phenomenon itself is a psychological need that wraps itself in religious garb.

  • khughes1963

    Not quite, as Detroit’s archbishop Allen Vigneron hosted a conservative Catholic conference in which speakers warned of the “dangers” of yoga.