A Christian influencer’s warning that a Yoga Barbie doll could lead to children being “possessed by demons” has become the butt of thousands of jokes online.
Yasmeen Suri shared a photo of the doll in a cross-legged pose on May 3. The Barbie was sealed in a plastic box that read “Breathe with me Barbie” and advertised sound effects to “5 guided meditations.” Suri’s Facebook post has garnered 56,000 reactions and 36,000 comments.
“‘Yoga Barbie’ is at Target on the shelf,” wrote Suri. “Satan always comes as appearing innocent. He will never come with horns and a pitchfork.”
The Christian speaker and author, who has written books including Beautiful Deception and The Fake God Reference Guide, went on to claim that yoga and Hinduism were inextricable.
“You cannot separate the poses from the religion,” she said. “Each pose is designed to invoke a Hindu deity in the spirit realm. I have seen children get possessed by demons.”
Suri warned that Satan was “after the children” whom he intended to “use,” “indoctrinate” and “destroy.” As the result of playing with Yoga Barbie, she told her audience their children “will get rebellious, depressed and many will be suicidal.”
According to her website, Suri was born in India and became “delivered from many New Age beliefs and false religious doctrines” after an encounter with Jesus Christ.
The internet flocked to her Facebook post, with quips and wisecracks flooding the comments section.
“My daughter has recently been doing yoga, it’s been really good for her. Enjoying the red tint in her eyes too, brings a nice ambience to the room,” wrote Trudie Macfarlane.
“I want my money back! I never got demon possessed at yoga class. What a rip off!” added Jaime Elliott.
Controversies about the relationship between yoga and Christianity have sprung up on social media before. In 2018, conservative commentator Matt Walsh argued that the physical activity of yoga was inseparable from “Hindu worship” in a Daily Wire article titled, “Yoga is a Pagan Ritual. Maybe Christians Should Find a Different Workout Routine.”
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archdiocese of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, addressed the “Catholic position” on yoga in 2015.
“The Vatican has not felt compelled to tell Catholics that yoga is totally out of bounds,” said Archdiocesan Theologian Dr. Brett Salked. “Many arguments Catholics tend to use against the practice of yoga are, in fact, unCatholic—even superstitious.”
Mattel, the toy company behind Barbie, has expanded its doll line in recent years to include gender-neutral Barbies, Barbies with vitiligo and hair loss and a Barbie honoring the Mexican holiday Día De Muertos.
Newsweek reached out to Suri for comment.