Parents Successfully Sue California to Stop Aztec Prayers, Chants in Public Schools

Photo by Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández on Unsplash
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A law firm representing angry California parents who objected to an ethnic studies curriculum that encouraged students to participate in prayers and invocations to Aztec gods has settled with the state, effectively putting an end to the controversial program.

When California first launched its 900-page Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) it was touted as an ambitious framework to bring the stories of marginalized students to the classroom, but its inclusion of Aztec religious rituals raised concerns.

As attorney Paul Jonna of the Thomas More Society told The Epoch Times, 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 prayers, he explained, “were not being taught as poetry or history” but rather sought blessings from Aztec deities.

The ESMC included a section on “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers” which included invocations to Aztec gods such as Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl.

“The pagan prayers address the deities both by name and traditional titles, recognize them as sources of power and knowledge, invoke their assistance, and offer thanks,” the Times notes.

The plaintiffs assert that the invocations are unconstitutional and amount to a state endorsement of the Aztec religion.

The state, without agreeing on this point, did concede to remove the invocations from the curriculum and to pay the plaintiffs $100,000 for legal fees.

Notices will also be issued at all California school districts, charter schools, and county education offices about the change to the ESMC policy and informing them that the chants and invocations may not be used.

Frank Xu, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CERF) celebrated what he called an “important, hard-fought victory.”

“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 said in a statement.

“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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