The devil is as popular of an iconic Christian image today as he was in the Dark Ages. Don’t believe me? Just do a Google search for “demonologist” or glance through the many articles on the Catholic Church’s increased training of “professional exorcists.” But the church has a history of finding evil in many places (a drift of pigs, mental illness, and Harry Potter just to name a few). But now, a former exorcist has declared another thing the work of the devil: yoga.
That’s right; the popular form of spiritual exercise, meditation, and flexibility training is under attack by Father Gabriele Amorth, 86, former Chief Exorcist for the Vatican and author of An Exorcist Tells His Story. What’s so terrible about it? It’s a gateway to belief in Hinduism. “All eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation,” Father Amorth publicly declared this week. “Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter.” And what’s worse is that yoga “can degenerate into a cult of the body.”
Let’s face it; the only exercise of interest to the Catholic Church that doesn’t involve choir boys is lifting your hand to fill and pass the collection basket.
As the founder of the International Association of Exorcists who performed 50,000 exorcisms before retiring in 2000, Father Amorth considers himself an expert at detecting all things demonic. “Satan is always hidden and what he most wants is for us not to believe in his existence. He studies every one of us and our tendencies towards good and evil, and then he offers temptations.”
But Father Amorth isn’t alone in his assault on lotus position enthusiasts. Some blasphemous people have tried to Christianize yoga – there are several books about it – and that seems to have ruffled the feathers of Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Earlier this month, he took to his website to blog about the dangers of yoga’s spiritual side:
“…when the tenets of yoga are included, it’s by definition a worship act to spirit beings other than the God of the Bible.
“A little over a year ago, I said yoga was demonic. My stance hasn’t changed since then… There are not many ways to grow spiritually. There is one way, which is through the power of the Holy Spirit provided through Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross, as part of God the Father’s plan for salvation.”
As always, both of these stances boil down to one basic message: There is only one acceptable belief system in the universe, and that is Christianity. Everything else is evil. And as Father Amorth claims, science can’t explain evil. But never mind the fact that science can’t explain something that doesn’t actually exist in nature; good and evil, after all, are creations of the human mind.