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California drops Aztec prayers from ethnic studies curriculum after parents file suit

High school, classroom, California
IT Support Technician Michael Hakopian (R) distributes computer devices to students at Hollywood High School on August 13, 2020, in Hollywood, California. With over 734,000 enrolled students, the Los Angeles Unified School District is the largest public school system in California and the 2nd largest public school district in the United States. |

The California Department of Education said it's removing two religious chants to Aztec gods from its ethnic studies curriculum in response to a lawsuit filed by parents.

As part of a settlement in the lawsuit, the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education have voluntarily agreed to officially remove the prayers from the state-approved Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, according to the conservative legal firm Thomas More Society.

The curriculum included a section of “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers,” including the “In Lak Ech Affirmation,” which invoked five Aztec deities. Although labeled as an “affirmation,” it addressed the deities both by name and by their traditional titles, recognized them as sources of power and knowledge, invoked their assistance, and gave thanks to them.

“The Aztec prayers at issue — which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces — were not being taught as poetry or history,” said Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society Special Counsel, 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.”

Jonna explained in a statement after filing the lawsuit that the Aztecs regularly performed “gruesome and horrific acts for the sole purpose of pacifying and appeasing the very beings that the prayers from the curriculum invoke.”

He added: “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. Any form of prayer and glorification of these bloodthirsty beings in whose name horrible atrocities were performed is repulsive to any reasonably informed observer.”

While the state has now officially removed the prayers, it continues to “dispute any and all liability,” says the Thomas More Society, which filed the lawsuit last September on behalf of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, individual taxpayers and parents of current and former students.

The ESMC was adopted last May, making California “the first state in the nation to offer a statewide ethnic studies model for educators,” the board said at the time, according to The Epoch Times.

Even after the removal of the Aztec prayers, the curriculum remains “deeply rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical pedagogy, with a race-based lens and an oppressor-victim dichotomy,” Thomas More Society said.

The legal firm said earlier that the curriculum also includes the Ashe Prayer from the Yoruba religion — “an ancient philosophical concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian Vodou or voodoo.”

The co-chair of the curriculum, R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, developed much of the material cited throughout the lessons, in which Christians, specifically those of European ancestry, are viewed as the source of evil to be resisted and overthrown.

White Christians are guilty of “theocide” against indigenous tribes, the killing of their deities and replacing them with the Christian faith, Cuauhtin argues in a chart.

The ultimate goal, according to Cuauhtin, is to engineer a “countergenocide” against whites,  investigative journalist Christopher Rufo wrote about the issue in City-Journal last March.

Frank Xu, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, said the settlement still gives him hope.

“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.”

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

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