The secular purpose of the governmental associations with the SCI/TM course apparently is to make available to public school students the alleged benefits of the technique of Transcendental Meditation. Practice of the technique is alleged by its proponents to reduce stress in individuals; the reduction in stress allegedly would result in an increase in educability and sociability among the students taking the course. This purpose appears to be secular. In effecting this secular purpose, however, the governmental agencies did not merely offer a course in the technique of Transcendental Meditation. In fact, the teaching and practice of the technique occupies a minor fraction of the class time of the SCI/TM course. Instruction in the technique takes less than twenty minutes. Aaron Affidavit at 2. Ten or fifteen minutes of each class are spent in practicing the technique, Metropole Deposition at 416. Approximately 70 percent of the class time is devoted to the teaching of the theory of the Science of Creative Intelligence, the focal point of which is the textbook. As stated earlier, the textbook posits that during the practice of Transcendental Meditation the meditator comes into contact with the field of pure creative intelligence, "the ultimate reality; of every object," T at 154. As outlined above, most of the book is devoted to attributing various characteristics to the field of pure creative intelligence and creative intelligence. As demonstrated above, the characteristics which are attributed to pure creative intelligence are parallel to characteristics which are attributed to the supreme being or ultimate reality by mankind. In effecting the secular purpose of reducing stress among public school students, however, the governmental entities have not merely introduced the teaching of a simple technique of meditation whereby the meditator contemplates a meaningless sound. Rather, the SCI/TM course teaches that the meaningless sound is merely a vehicle used by the meditator to contact directly the "perfection of existence," a level of life or being beyond and unmanifest to the mundane universe and observable or knowable solely through direct "contact" as outlined by the textbook,23 or possibly through its manifestations, i.e. the universe. Owing to the religious nature of the concept of the field of pure creative intelligence and creative intelligence, it is apparent that the governmental agencies have sought to effect a secular goal by the propagation of a religious concept, a belief in an unmanifest field of life which is perfect, pure, and infinite. In addition, students wishing to learn the technique of Transcendental Meditation are compelled to attend a religious ceremony, the puja. These means of effecting ostensibly secular ends are prohibited by the establishment clause. Abington School District v. Schempp, supra; Engel v. Vitale, supra.
Applying the second prong of the Nyquist test, the promulgation of a belief in the existence of a pure, perfect, infinite and unmanifest field of life clearly has a primary effect of advancing religion and religious concepts. Abington School District v. Schempp, supra; Engel v. Vitale, supra. Under the final prong of the test, the aid given to the SCI/TM course by both the federal government and the state of New Jersey clearly constitutes an "excessive government entanglement in religion." Lemon v. Kurtzman. 403 U.S. 602 (1971). The course is offered as part of the curriculum at five New Jersey public high schools and the federal government has provided funds to aid in the establishment of the SCI/TM course in the public schools.
The SCI/TM course fails to pass muster under the three-pronged test enunciated in Nyquist and thus violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.24
Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment under Rule 56(a) to enjoin the teaching of SCI/TM in the New Jersey public schools. Rule 56(c) provides in part:
The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
The record before the court on this motion for summary judgment is unusually complete. The court has in evidence the 296-page textbook used in the course, a detailed description of the puja and defendants' translation of the chant sung therein, hundreds of pages of deposition testimony by two people who taught four of the five SCI/TM courses in New Jersey high schools, and other depositions and affidavits. This large quantity of evidence fails to reveal any dispute between the parties as to the operative facts. Defendants, however, argue that the " court cannot and should not grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Defendants advance essentially three arguments in support of their position.
First, defendants argue that a trial must be held to determine the sincerity with which defendants categorize their teachings as being "not religious." For purposes of this summary judgment motion, the court, of course, accepts the sincerity of defendants' categorization of their teaching as not religious and their statement that only a tiny fraction of the more than seven thousand trained TM teachers in the United States view the SCI/TM course as religious, Jarvis Affidavit PP. 16, 23. The reasons why defendants' characterization of their teachings cannot be determinative of the religious nature of those teachings were stated supra at 52-59.
In connection with their first argument, defendants state that "[i]n Theriault v. Silber, 391 F. Supp. 578 (W.D. Tex. 1975) and United States v. Kuch, 288 F. Supp. 439 (D.D.C. 1968) it was determined that certain organizations were not religious because they did not sincerely hold the beliefs they professed." Db at 34. This statement raises a different issue of sincerity, the sincerity with which the alleged adherents of certain activities or beliefs profess those beliefs. Plaintiffs, of course, do not contest the sincerity with which defendants adhere to their teachings, such as the teaching that the practice of Transcendental Meditation brings the practitioner into direct contact with an unmanifest, eternal, pure, and perfect field of life.
Second, defendants argue that the court should not grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment because the court is faced with a novel issue of law in that no court previously has set forth explicit criteria, the possession of which unmistakably denominate beliefs, teachings, or activities as religious within the meaning of the first amendment. The courts have recognized certain teachings and beliefs as religious in nature. While defendants' teachings wear novel labels, the underlying teachings fall well within the concepts which courts previously have found to be religious.
In this posture, it is difficult to see the need for a bench trial. Counsel for defendants indicated at oral argument that the factual record is unlikely to be supplemented by a bench trial. The principal deviser of the Science of Creative Intelligence and the primary teacher of the technique of Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is unlikely to testify at trial.25 Defendants' counsel stated at oral argument that their only anticipated addition to the record now before the court was the testimony of two or three experts on religion. The experts would be called upon to give their opinions as to definitions of the term religion and their interpretations of the SCI/TM course. Defendants' counsel acknowledged at oral argument that the expert opinions could be reduced to writing, and defendants have submitted the affidavits of two experts in religion in opposing plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment.
In these affidavits, defendants' experts point out a long-standing debate among academicians as to "the virtues of a functionalist/inclusive as opposed to a substantive/exclusive definition of religion." Harned Affidavit P. 7. Defendants' experts urge the court to construct a definition of religion which would exclude theories or practices which (1) did not contain certain attributes, such as, priests, houses of worship, symbols, dogmas concerning after-life and salvation, and (2) were not characterized by its adherents as religious. Defendants' experts state no rationale for this court's construction of an "exclusive" definition of religion except that "functionalist" definitions of religion tend to be overinclusive. Defendants' experts also admit that their narrow "exclusive" approach to defining religion is inappropriate under the free exercise clause, but maintain its validity for purposes of the establishment clause. Id. P. 11. See pages 52-59 supra.
The approach to defining religion offered by defendants' experts is directly contrary to holdings of both the Supreme Court and lower federal courts. E.g., Engel v. Vitale, supra; Torcaso v. Watkins, supra; DeSpain v. DeKalb County Community School District 428, supra. The courts never have excluded certain beliefs or practices from the application of the religion clauses on the ground that the beliefs or practices lacked this or that type of teaching or practice which is connected to conventionally recognized religions. In addition, the courts have deemed activities and teachings religious even though the activities did not derive from a particular religious sect. E. G., Engel v. Vitale, supra; Torcaso v. Watkins, supra. An expert's definition of religion never can be determinative and can be of only tangential relevance to the meaning of constitutional terms. The court is interested in the term religion as it is used in the Constitution and has no interest in attempting to decide an academic dispute among theologians as to the best approach to defining religion for their professional purposes. For example, defendants' experts assert that "[e]lements commonly associated with religion," such as, clergy, places of worship, explicit moral codes, are not part of SCI/TM. See Harned Affidavit P. 24; Rao Affidavit P. 23. None of these elements need be present, however, for a court to determine that a practice or belief is religious within the meaning of the first amendment.26 See. e.g., Torcaso v. Watkins, supra.
While expert opinion is invaluable in certain cases, a court, in dealing with a constitutional term, must be governed more by prior judicial findings than by the opinions of experts.27
Since the concepts being taught by defendants repeatedly have been recognized as religious by the courts, see pages 59-64 supra, the conclusions of experts that SCI/TM does not constitute "religion as I know it," Harned Affidavit P. 30; Rao Affidavit P. 27, fails to raise a material issue of fact which would necessitate a bench trial. In addition, the prior judicial recognition of teachings such as those of defendants as religious dispels the novelty of the legal question, and, thus, the necessity of a bench trial.
Finally, defendants argue that plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment cannot be granted unless the court infers that the teachings of the SCI/TM course are religious within the meaning of the first amendment. Defendants point out that all inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts on a motion for summary judgment "must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970), quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962); Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976). The courts in all three cases reversed summary judgments on the ground that "[a] study of the record in this light leads us to believe that inferences contrary to those drawn by the trial court might be permissible." United States v. Diebold. Inc., supra, at 655. In light of the prior judicial recognition of teachings such as those of defendants as religious, no inference was possible except that the teaching of SCI/TM and the puja are religious in nature; no other inference is "permissible" or reasonable, especially because the court is dealing with the meaning of a constitutional term and not with a factual dispute such as was involved in Adickes, supra, Diebold, supra, and Goodman, supra.
Although defendants have submitted well over 1500 pages of briefs, affidavits, and deposition testimony in opposing plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, defendants have failed to raise the slightest doubt as to the facts or as to the religious nature of the teachings of the Science of Creative Intelligence and the puja. The teaching of the SCI/TM course in New Jersey public high schools violates the establishment clause of the first amendment, and its teaching must be enjoined.
Plaintiffs will submit an order in conformity with this opinion with consent as to form within 10 days.
DATED: October 19, 1977.
23 The distinction between teaching that the practice of Transcendental Meditation will bring about certain physiological and psychological changes in the meditator and teaching that the practice of Transcendental Meditation brings the meditator into direct contact with a pure, perfect, and infinite field of life, the field of pure creative intelligence, is illustrated by People v. Woody, 61 Cal. 2d 716. 394 P. 2d 813, 40 Cal. Rptr. 69 (1964) (In Bank). Defendants in Woody were convicted of violation of California laws prohibiting the use of certain narcotic drugs and hallucinogens. Defendants appealed the conviction on the ground that application of the statute to them impinged on their first amendment right to the free exercise of religion because the eating of peyote, a hallucinogen, was part of their religious practices. In addition to, or concurrent with, the psychological changes undergone by a peyote eater, defendants believed that "those who partake of peyote enter into direct contact with God." 394 P. 2d at 817. Although the California Supreme Court recognized the right of the state, pursuant to its police power, to proscribe the use of peyote when taken merely to produce hallucinations and other psychological changes in the user, the court held that the law could not be applied to defendants because defendants believed that partaking of peyote not only produced hallucinations but also brought them into direct contact with God. Similarly, defendants here do not teach that use of a mantra merely will bring about certain beneficial physiological and psychological changes; rather, defendants teach that a mantra is a vehicle which will bring a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation into direct contact with an unmanifest, pure, perfect, eternal, and infinite field of life, the field of pure creative intelligence. The fact that a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation may undergo certain physiological and psychological changes without believing that he is contacting with the field of pure creative intelligence, see e.g., Essrig Deposition at 70, 71, 99, just as an eater of peyote can experience hallucinations without believing that he is contacting God, does not make defendants' teachings any less religious. [ back ]
24 In light of the court's holding under the Federal Constitution, plaintiffs' claims of violation of the New Jersey Constitution need not be addressed. [ back ]
25 Plaintiffs' various attempts to effect service of process on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has been unsuccessful. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has not been present in the United States for approximately two years. Pursuant to Rule 4(i)(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and to Rule 4:4-4(e) of the New Jersey Court Rules, plaintiffs eventually sought to effect service on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the Clerk of this court to be mailed by registered mail, return receipt requested to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the World Plan Administrative Center in Switzerland. The summons and complaint were returned to the Clerk, the envelope stamped "Nicht abgeholt/Non reclamée/Non ritirato." A crossed out signature appears in a box marked "Signature of the employee of the office of destination" on the return receipt, which is taped to the envelope. [ back ]
26 Atheism may be a religion under the establishment clause in that the government cannot aid the propagation of a belief in the nonexistence of a supreme being. See Abington School District v. Schempp. supra, at 225; Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314(1952). [ back ]
27 Courts frequently decide on the basis of the operative facts whether or not certain activities stand within the meaning of terms used in the Constitution. For example, in Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc., 415 F.2d 892, 895 (3d Cir. 1969). aff'd, 403 U.S. 29 (1971), the Third Circuit held that radio and television were within the meaning of the word press as used in the first amendment. In Helfin v. Sanford, 142 F.2d 798 (5th Cir. 1944), the Fifth Circuit held that compelled national service was not involuntary servitude within the meaning of the thirteenth amendment.
Under the doctrine of "constitutional fact," the Supreme Court has held that the courts must decide whether an activity falls within the meaning of constitutional terms. For example, in Pennekamp v. Florida, 328 U.S. 331 (1946), the Supreme Court held that it was not bound by lower court findings that newspaper editorials "were unlawfully critical of the administration of justice in certain cases then pending," id. at 333, because
[t]he Constitution has imposed upon this Court final authority to determine the meaning and application of those words of that instrument which require interpretation to resolve judicial issues. With that responsibility, we are compelled to examine for ourselves the statements in issue and the circumstances under which the were made to see whether or not they do carry a threat of clear and present danger to the impartiality and good order of the courts or whether they are of a character which the principles of the First Amendment, as adopted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, protect.
Id. at 335 (footnote omitted).
Similarly, in Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229 (1963), the Supreme Court held that it was required to examine the underlying facts from which it would determine whether or not petitioner's actions came within the meaning of the "constitutionally protected rights of free speech, free assembly, and freedom to petition for redress of their grievances." Id. at 235. In Blackburn v. Alabama, 361 U.S. 199 (1960), the Court rejected the findings of a lower court that petitioner's confession was voluntary within the meaning of the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment and held that the Court had a duty to scrutinize the underlying facts and determine whether or not the confession was voluntary under the fourteenth amendment. Id. at 205.
In addition, the Supreme Court has held that "the meaning of an armband for the purpose of expressing certain views is the type of symbolic act that is within the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment." Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503. 505 (1969), citing West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette. 319 U.S. 624 (1943); Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931).
The Supreme Court also has held that certain "associational" rights are within the meaning of speech, peaceable assembly, and petition for redress of grievances as used in the first amendment. E.G., United Mine Workers, District 12 v. Illinois State Bar Association, 389 U.S. 217 (1967); NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415(1963). [ back ]
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