California Drops Aztec Prayers From Curriculum After Parents File Lawsuit

children studying in school
children studying in school |

California's education department has decided to remove chants towards Aztec deities from its ethnic studies curriculum after a lawsuit brought forth by parents demanded their removal.

Parents have filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education over its Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum's (ESMC) inclusion of two religious chants to Aztec gods. The curriculum featured a section of "Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers," in which the "In Lak Ech Affirmation," which invoked Aztec deities.

"The Aztec prayers at issue - which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces - were not being taught as poetry or history," Paul Jonna of the LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society Special Counsel said in a statement to the Christian Post.

Jonna added, "Rather, the ESMC 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."

As per the curriculum, the "affirmation" addressed the Aztec deities by name and their traditional titles, affirmed them as sources of power and knowledge, sought their assistance, and gave thanks to them. Jonna argued in a statement after filing the lawsuit that the Aztecs regularly performed this "affirmation" in conjunction with "gruesome and horrific acts" to appease the same deities being prayed to in California's curriculum.

Jonna explained that historical records showed how Aztecs would conduct "repulsive acts and ceremonies" such as human sacrifices, cutting out a human's heart, flaying victims, skinning them and wearing their skin, as well as sacrificing war prisoners. He argued, "Any form of prayer and glorification of these bloodthirsty beings in whose name horrible atrocities were performed is repulsive to any reasonably informed observer."

As part of the settlement, the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education have agreed to remove the Aztec prayers from the curriculum. However, the Thomas More Society, which filed the lawsuit against them in September in behalf of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation and concerned parents and individuals, said that they continue to "dispute any and all liability."

Thomas More Society alleges that even after the California Department of Education has removed Aztec prayers from its curriculum, it is still "deeply rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical pedagogy, with a race-based lens and an oppressor-victim dichotomy."

Meanwhile, Frank Xu, President of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation expressed his delight over the "hard-fought victory" to remove Aztec prayers from students' curriculum, CBN News reported. He lamented how California had "simply gone too far" in promoting "fringe ideologies and racial grievance policies."

Xu encouraged more people to "stand up against preferential treatment programs and racial spoils." The report also highlighted the significance of the Aztec chants as a "shift away from the Christian God to the establishment of native 'gods' in the so-called social justice hierarchy."