Here's one claim about yoga poses: "They were designed, they were created with demonic intent, to open you up to demonic power because Hinduism is demonic..."
It may be possible to dismiss Rev. Lindell as an extremist except, we find other leaders in other Christian groups (e.g., Catholic) have said the same thing. (Lindell is an Assemblies of God pastor).
But is yoga just really exercise like walking? Isn't it possible to move a body in certain ways whilst a person is engaged or not engaged in a variety of religious thoughts or experiences?
Long ago, in the unwritten antediluvian past, humans evolved skeletons that supported their ability to stand on two legs. No more scampering about like chimps. Ancient humans learned to stand up, look around, and use their hands for all sorts of activities while walking.
The Lindell sermon page refers to various scriptures cited to support the pastor's view that Christians ought to be wary of the devil. There's a list of "8 Things We Know About Satan."
That concept of "We Know" is of course a matter of how Christians interpret the Bible texts and use their reason to apply old texts to modern life--matters like yoga and meditation that are not mentioned in the Bible.
Who cares about one man's sermon? Well, those who practice yoga in the Ozarks care. Early reports indicate some businesses were negatively affected. But Lindell is not alone in his views.
According to Relevant Magazine, Clergyman Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, preached a sermon titled, "Jesus and Demons." Driscoll also denounced yoga as demonic (seattlepi).
Go back a few years and find a story in the Independent about an Irish priest, Father Roland Colhoun, who warned people against a path leading into "the bad spiritual domain" and "Satan and The Fallen Angels."
An even stronger position against yoga is that of Catholic leaders (See Amorth note below).
Father Colhoun is not alone, within the Catholic Church, in his suspicions of Yoga as a potential source for evil. In 2011, the Vatican’s own chief exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, told The Telegraph that it leads to a belief in Hinduism, and that "all eastern religions are based on false belief in reincarnation"."Practising yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter", he added.
And the late former Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, warned Christians that yoga, Zen, and other forms of transcendental meditation could "degenerate into a cult of the body" that devalues prayer.
Choosing to avoid yoga or other practices linked to various religions should cause no concern in countries where there is freedom of religion and where the rule of law protects people and their religious practices from those who might attack people of minority faiths as perceived enemies.
A different warning. Guiding followers in how to practice their faith is certainly a part of freedom of religion. But responsible leaders must be mindful that some demonizing and proclamations of evil can incite people to action against the perceived enemies of Christendom or another faith. It's happened before. It can happen again.
I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's advice to Christians worried about eating meat sacrificed to idols.
Avoid yoga if you wish. But consider that not even God sent "his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17; NIV). Oh, and don't forget that previous, and oft quoted verse, John 3: 16-- the one about God loving the world. In this case, it would be a good idea to love those who believe and behave in different ways.
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