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Pastor slams yoga; claims its roots are ‘demonic’
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OZARK, Mo. (AP) — Springfield’s yoga community is speaking out after a pastor at an Assemblies of God megachurch warned Christians to avoid the popular activity because he claims it has “demonic roots.”

Pastor John Lindell told worshippers last month at the James River Church in Ozark that yoga positions were “created with demonic intent” and called Hinduism demonic, the Springfield News-Leader reported. The church is known to have a congregation of more than 10,000, according to a 2016 report.

On the Sunday before Halloween, Lindell’s sermon was “paranormal themed,” warning of the spiritual dangers of fortune-telling, Wicca, a form of paganism, and yoga.

“Yoga is diametrically opposed to Christianity,” he said. “....Christians should stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots.”

But many in the Springfield yoga community have expressed disappointment, anger and concern over Lindell’s sermon.

Amanda Davis, a yoga instructor for 12 years, said the pastor didn’t have a proper understanding of yoga.

“Yoga doesn’t prescribe to any religion, and I don’t think people understand that so they get false ideas about it,” she said.

Davis said calling yoga demonic is ignorant.

“It’s hate speech,” she said.

Stephanie Wubbena, who owns Live Pure Yoga in Springfield, posted a video criticizing Lindell’s sermon on Nov. 1, saying that it’s hurting small businesses.

“One yoga studio lost over 10 members the Monday after the sermon,” she said.

Wubbena told residents to think for themselves and research yoga’s history.

Reggie Harris is a Christian who has been practicing yoga for five years as a way to alleviate muscle tightness from football injuries.

“I know my relationship with the Lord and my relationship with him has gotten deeper through yoga,” Harris said.

He said Lindell’s sermon made him feel hurt and angry.

“Yoga transcends religion. Yoga brings people together in a heart of unity and love,” Harris said. “You’re teaching people to hate something that may help them physically, emotionally, spiritually.”