For the past five years, about twenty older women (many with arthritis) have met in Central Southland Presbyterian Parish to practice tai chi. It’s a great form of exercise and the space was perfect.
But last month, the group leader was told she needed to get the hell out of the church. Why?
[Parish council clerk John] Willis said while the council understood the programme did not include any religious content, it believed tai chi conflicted with the church’s teachings and threatened the church’s spiritual wellbeing.
“As church leaders we need to look after everyone in the parish, and their spiritual wellbeing,” he said.
“The first commandment is that we must honour God and have no other God before us, and having come from Taoism tai chi is promoting another God.”
So because the church thinks a particular form of exercise makes the Baby Jesus cry, the ladies have to find a new venue. And the leader has to find a new church:
“I’ve been going to church since I was 13 but I won’t be going back — that’s how much this has affected me.
“All the other ladies have had to go home and tell their families. It’s upset so many people and it’s enough to put anyone off the church.“
If faith-based ignorance left a bad taste in her mouth, I’m surprised it took this long for her to leave… but good for her. I hope she finds a more welcoming venue.
In the meantime, maybe Willis should realize how ridiculous he sounds before he gets doubly-embarrassed when boycotting a yoga class.