In response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of parents, The California Department of Education will no longer be teaching students two religious chants to Aztec gods from its ethnic studies curriculum.
The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), which was adopted last May, featured a section called “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers,” which included an invocation of five Aztec deities called “In Lak Ech Affirmation.”
According to The Christian Post, the affirmations addressed the deities by their names and traditional titles, acknowledged them as sources of knowledge and power, called on their assistance, and expressed thanksgiving to them.
In response to the controversial program, the conservative legal firm Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit last September on behalf of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, individual taxpayers and students’ parents.
“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, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society Special Counsel, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
“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,” he continued.
After filing the lawsuit, Jonna explained that the Aztecs often carried out “gruesome and horrific acts for the sole purpose of pacifying and appeasing the very beings that the prayers from the curriculum invoke.”
“The human sacrifice, cutting out of human hearts, flaying of victims and wearing their skin, are a matter of historical record, along with sacrifices of war prisoners, and other repulsive acts and ceremonies the Aztecs conducted to honor their deities,” he added. “Any form of prayer and glorification of these bloodthirsty beings in whose name horrible atrocities were performed is repulsive to any reasonably informed observer.”
Despite the removal of the Aztec prayers, the Thomas More Society notes that the ESMC is “deeply rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical pedagogy, with a race-based lens and an oppressor-victim dichotomy.”
The curriculum’s co-chair, R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, is responsible for creating most of the material. The Christian Post reports that Christians, particularly those of European ancestry, are largely portrayed as a source of evil that must be challenged and conquered throughout the curriculum.
In an article by City-Journal last March, investigative journalist Christopher Rufo warned that Cuauhtin’s goal was to organize a “countergenocide” against white people.
In addition to the Aztec prayers, the ESMC also includes the Ashe Prayer from the Yoruba religion, which is “an ancient philosophical concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian Vodou or voodoo.”
Frank Xu, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, expressed optimism following the settlement.
“We are encouraged by this important, hard-fought victory,” Xu said in a statement. “Our state has simply gone too far in attempts to promote fringe ideologies and racial grievance policies, even those that disregard established constitutional principles. Endorsing religious chants in the state curriculum is one glaring example.”
“To improve California public education, we need more people to stand up against preferential treatment programs and racial spoils,” he contended. “At both the state and local levels, we must work together to re-focus on true education!”
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.