California Education Board Faces Legal Challenges To New ‘Ethnic Curriculum,’ Aztec Gods Chant

A Chicago-based law firm is suing the state of California’s Board of Education over its proposed “ethnic studies” curriculum, which allegedly forces students to pray to Aztec gods. 

The Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit on September 3 on behalf of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation — the organization that fought against California’s affirmative action bill — and taxpayers at large. 

On August 26, the Thomas More Society penned a letter demanding that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction remove the Aztec prayer from the state’s curriculum. After no response, the organization submitted its lawsuit. 

The lawsuit alleges that the curriculum is illegal to teach in taxpayer-funded institutions as government aid of religion is “prohibited” in California. 

Paul Jonna, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, said that children should not be forced or pressured to partake in Aztec prayer, especially if their parents have religious and civic objections. 

“Our clients have both a religious and civic objection to the Aztec prayer, and they do not want their children chanting it, being asked or pressured to do so, or risking ostracism if they refuse,” Jonna said. “Under both the California and the United States Constitutions, they have the right to expect all branches of the state government, including the State Board of Education and the Department of Education, to respect this choice. Furthermore, all Californians have the right to expect that tax-supported public schools will not aid or promote this religion.”

California introduced a new “ethnic studies” curriculum in March 2021. The curriculum was promoted by a man who believes that one way to rectify colonialism is to support a “counter-genocide” of “white Christians.” Part of the model curriculum calls on students to “challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist/colonial beliefs and practices on multiple levels.”

The curriculum also has a chant that worships the Aztec gods Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, among others. 

The chant reads in part:

In order to be warriors of love, of love, for our gente, representin’ justice, justice, local to global, global to local, global to local, ecological and social, social, justice, justice. 

Not just thinkin’ and takin’ but makin’ things happen, with agency resiliency, and a revolutionary spirit. 

Transformation, liberation, education, emancipation, imagination, revitalization, liberation, transformation, decolonization, liberation, education emancipation.

Frank Xu, the President of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, claims that the chants signify the state’s “unlawful government preference” towards the Aztec religion. 

“The curriculum’s unequivocal promotion of five Aztec gods or deities through repetitive chanting and affirmation of their symbolic principles constitutes an unlawful government preference toward a particular religious practice,” Xu said. “This public endorsement of the Aztec religion fundamentally erodes equal education rights and irresponsibly glorifies anthropomorphic, male deities whose religious rituals involved gruesome human sacrifice and human dismemberment.” 

Related: California’s Proposed ‘Ethnic Studies’ Curriculum Calls For Stronger Connection To Social Justice Movements 

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