Students Are Told to Chant to Aztec Gods of Human Sacrifice as Part of Calif. Ethnic Studies Curriculum

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Monday, March 15, 2021
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Students Are Told to Chant to Aztec Gods of Human Sacrifice as Part of Calif. Ethnic Studies Curriculum


A new statewide ethnic studies curriculum under consideration by the California Department of Education encourages teachers to lead their students in chants to Aztec gods in what one critic of the curriculum says is a clear refutation of the “Christian god.”

Christopher Rufo, the director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty, criticized the proposed curriculum in a column last week, saying it “advocates for the ‘decolonization’ of American society” and even “elevates Aztec religious symbolism.”

The curriculum, he said, promotes “left-wing political ideology.”

Part of the curriculum spotlights the Aztec gods, Rufo wrote. 

“The curriculum recommends that teachers lead their students in a series of indigenous songs, chants, and affirmations, including the ‘In Lak Ech Affirmation,’ which appeals directly to the Aztec gods,” Rufo wrote.

The Aztecs ruled a large empire in Mexico in the 15th and 16th centuries. Human sacrifice was common in their religion.

“Students first clap and chant to the god Tezkatlipoka – whom the Aztecs traditionally worshipped with human sacrifice and cannibalism – asking him for the power to be ‘warriors’ for ‘social justice,’” Rufo wrote, describing the curriculum. “Next, the students chant to the gods Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, and Xipe Totek, seeking ‘healing epistemologies’ and ‘a revolutionary spirit.’ Huitzilopochtli, in particular, is the Aztec deity of war and inspired hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices during Aztec rule. Finally, the chant comes to a climax with a request for ‘liberation, transformation, [and] decolonization,’ after which students shout ‘Panche beh! Panche beh!’ in pursuit of ultimate ‘critical consciousness.’”

The clear implication of the chanting, Rufo wrote, is the “displacement of the Christian god.” 

The curriculum regularly cites the book Rethinking Ethnic Studies, co-authored by R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, Rufo said. That book “argues that the United States was founded on a ‘Eurocentric, white supremacist (racist, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous), capitalist (classist), patriarchal (sexist and misogynistic), heteropatriarchal (homophobic), and anthropocentric paradigm brought from Europe.’”

California parents should be concerned about the proposed curriculum, Rufo said.

“Under the guise of ‘equity’ and ‘empowerment,’ activists within the public education system have developed this radical new curriculum in order to transform California schools into factories for left-wing political activism,” Rufo wrote. “They have recast the United States as an oppressor nation that must be deconstructed and subverted through politics.” 

The Aztec portion of the curriculum is “almost certainly” unconstitutional, Rufo said. 

“Public schools are prohibited from leading state-sanctioned Christian prayers; they would presumably be similarly prohibited from leading state-sanctioned chants to the Aztec god of human sacrifice,” he wrote. 

The state Department of Education is expected to vote on the curriculum this week.

Photo courtesy: Taylor Wilcox/Unsplash


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.