Religion by any other name …

Arthur Shimkus’s Yoga class might be mysticism, it may be religion or it may be both, but if no one in the NIU community including the instructor can say for sure that it isn’t, the SA shouldn’t be giving him a dime.

The SA has a strict rule that it won’t fund any religious organization even for secular purposes. It’s a good rule, whatever your position on the separation of church and state.

Once a student government starts allocating funds to religious groups, how does it decide how much, if any, is given to each group? The implications of lawsuits are obvious.

It’s a monster the U.S. government doesn’t want to tackle. So does the SA mean to tell us they can decide what is religion and what’s not? Well, they’re supposed to, but they’ve screwed this one up without a doubt.

The definition of religion is a bit elusive, but this particular Yoga course smacks of spiritual instruction. It deals with the nature of man, the nature of God, the supernatural and as Maria Wathen, a campus minister for Internality Christian Fellowship said “ultimate reality.”

The point is not to bicker over whether the class represents an organized religion or not. It is unquestionably religious in nature and it simply should not be funded with student funds, according to the SA constitution.

The SA had to deny the Wesley Foundation funds to send students to Iowa for a Mississippi River flood relief program, hardly an indoctrinating fire and brimstone endeavor. It was a tough call, but it was the right call. No funding of religion means no funding of religion.

There is a definite double standard here. It might have been a slight oversight, but it’s kind of sad that this oversight has gone on for 15 years without someone speaking up.

SA Treasurer Virginia Welch’s opinion that the class is not religious, although she admitted not knowing much about it, is appreciated but somebody better take a closer look at this deal.