A former student at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has received a settlement of $150,000 after alleging her former high school, Bogan Public High School, forced her into what she called “demonic” religious practices through their Transcendental Meditation program, which was facilitated through the schools as a Quiet Time program through the David Lynch Foundation. Christian student Mariyah Green, now 21, attended Bogan from 2018 to 2019 in order to play basketball and volleyball. She alleged that the school’s Quiet Time program was presented to her as “pray or play.” The Quiet Time program involved a Puja Initiation Rite, and allegedly, the ceremony involved students making obeisance to one of the Hindu deities displayed in a room “to channel their powers through those present,” according to Green’s attorney, John Mauck. He called the program “a thinly veiled Hinduistic religious program encompassing the practice of Transcendental Meditation.”

Green described how a transcendental meditation instructor would take 3 to 5 students aside and bring them into a darkened classroom to show them how to meditate. “As I go into the classroom, the setting was very uncomfortable for me. The lights were off in the classroom. There was a picture of a man, and at the moment, I didn’t know from what religion it was. I just knew it wasn’t my religion, and I’m a Christian,” Green recalled. She was given a mantra to recite without being told what any of the words meant. After some research, Green found that some of the words were Hindu gods. She was also told not to share the mantra with anyone, including parents, as it might diminish its effect. “That gave me a red flag. I’m not comfortable not being able to share this with my parents. They never gave me a consent to give to my parents. I was a minor at the time,” she said. She pretended to have a knee injury to avoid bowing down to the statues. “I don’t kneel down for idols and pictures and things of that sort,” she said. She alleged that her participation in the Quiet Time was linked to her grades, and that could have affected her ability to play sports. 

With the settlement, Green will receive $75,000 from the David Lynch Foundation and another $75,000 from the district. Both have denied any wrongdoing. “Those are unproven allegations. And those have been denied, and the court has never made any findings that they were accurate. The settlement was entered into in the interests of judicial economy and to put an end to this without everyone spending a lot of time and money in litigation,” Bill Goldstein, an attorney for the David Lynch Foundation, told The Christian Post. “The District has always denied and continues to deny, any liability as a result of Quiet Time, and there has not been any finding of liability in this case by a judge or a jury,” a spokesperson for the District said. The district discontinued the Quiet Time program in 2020. “This was an egregious abuse of Mariyah’s religious rights,” Mr. Mauck said. “The innocuously labeled Quiet Time was developed by the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace in conjunction with the University of Chicago – both of whom profited from its implementation in Chicago Public Schools. Throughout its design and conduct, these institutions were all aware of the religious content of the Transcendental Meditation sessions, the like of which had already been removed from public schools elsewhere due to constitutional violations.” Mauck stated that Green is not the only student to have sued, with a Muslim and Christian student also alleging violations of their rights. Green said she was happy with the resolution. “I feel good because it’s bringing attention to what they tried to force on me and make me do as a minor in school. Everything happens for a reason,” she said. 

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