Welsh church bans yoga because it's a ‘non-Christian’ activity

Bishop calls on church council to reconsider its decision after residents threaten boycott 

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The Independent Online

A row has erupted between parishioners and officials who banned yoga from their church because they considered it to be “non-Christian”. 

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) ruled that “non Christian activities” would not be permitted in St David’s Church in Ceredigion, Wales, after plans were announced to turn part of it into a community centre. It followed complaints about a lack of local facilities from villagers. 

The ruling would permit alcohol to be brought onto the premises but not sold, but yoga would not be allowed. 

The decision angered some parishioners, who have threatened to boycott the church as a result.  

Writing to the Tivyside Advertiser, one said he would not visit until “a fair and non-bias community centre is built”. 

"I and no doubt some Blaenporth residents are not at all happy with the view the church has on community activities like yoga, tai chi, taekwondo, cash prize bingo and the like. It is supposed to be a community affair where old and young can enjoy a better quality of life,” the letter read. 

Joanna Penberthy, the Bishop of St David's has also stepped in and urged the PCC to “find out more” before banning yoga. 

"While the Bishop of St David's respects the right of parishes to decide what does or does not take place on their premises, it is clear that many people in the diocese have found practising yoga to be of huge benefit," she said in a statement. 

“To criticise a long standing practice of another religious tradition out of hand without an in depth study and a good theological rationale is unwise. I would encourage the PCC to find out more about yoga before making a final decision.”

The area Dean, Rev John Bennett, who chaired the PCC meeting when the matter was discussed, has also said he thinks the council would be prepared to review the decision, which did not go to a vote but was raised as part of a general debate about what might or might not be acceptable.

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