Aztec Prayers Booted from California ‘Ethnic Studies’ Curriculum

Pupils meditating on classroom desks and Aztec image
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Students attending California public schools will no longer be required to learn Aztec prayers following a settlement reached as a result of a lawsuit by parents and the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation.

Thomas More Society attorneys obtained the settlement Thursday in the wake of the lawsuit challenging the state of California, its Board of Education, and its Department of Education.

“We filed the lawsuit after we discovered that California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, a resource guide for local school districts, included prayer to Aztec gods – the same deities that were invoked when the Aztecs worshipped with human sacrifices,” said Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society special counsel.

Jonna elaborated on the central issue:

The Aztec prayers at issue – which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces – were not being taught as poetry or history. Rather, the curriculum instructed students to chant the prayers for emotional nourishment after a “lesson that may be emotionally taxing or even when student engagement may appear to be low.” The idea was to use them as prayers.

The settlement requires the California Department of Education to immediately remove prayers, chants, or affirmations from the Aztec and Yoruba (Ashe) religions from the state’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

“The state’s Free Exercise Clause guarantees ‘free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference,’ and No Aid Clause prohibits any government entity from granting anything that endorses or aids ‘any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose,’” a press release at Thomas More Society explained.

California’s controversial Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is steeped in Critical Race Theory (CRT), instructing children that capitalism is a “system of power” and “oppression,” equal to “white supremacy,” “patriarchy,” and “racism.”

According to Jonna, the state agreed to the settlement “while continuing to dispute any and all liability.”

“Nonetheless, we’re pleased that the prayers have been officially removed from the curriculum,” he continued. “Our team of attorneys will aggressively pursue civil litigation against any local school district that violates the Constitution and incorporates these Aztec prayers in class – particularly now that the state has excised them from the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.”

“Today is a day of relief to know it took a multi-racial coalition of individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs to move a mountain to challenge the state education apparatus,” said parent Jose Velazquez.

He added:

Both the ‘In Lak Ech’ and the ‘Ashe’ affirmations repetitively invoke religious gods or deities, which should be deleted from any public education curricula because our education system is not above the law. It is up to courageous parents, citizens and organizations to stand up for what’s right.

Frank Xu, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, said California “has simply gone too far in attempts to promote fringe ideologies and racial grievance policies, even those that disregard established constitutional principles.”

“To improve California public education, we need more people to stand up against preferential treatment programs and racial spoils,” Xu asserted. “At both the state and local levels, we must work together to re-focus on true education.”


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