The California Department of Education (CDE) agreed last week to remove two religious chants from a state-approved curriculum following a lawsuit filed by the Equal Rights Foundation, individual taxpayers and concerned parents.
The disputed program required students to pray to Aztec gods.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Society announced Thursday that the CDE will issue a public notice to all California school districts, charter schools and county offices of education, and the State Board of Education (SBE), agreeing not to promote use of the chants in California public schools.
CBN News previously reported that the curriculum reportedly features its own "ethnic studies community chant" and recommends teachers lead students in a series of indigenous songs, chants, and affirmations, including the "In Lak Ech Affirmation," which appeals directly to the Aztec gods.
In addition, the curriculum includes the Ashe Prayer from the Yoruba religion. Yoruba is an ancient spiritual concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian Vodou or Voodoo.
"We filed the lawsuit after we discovered that California's Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, a resource guide for local school districts, included prayer to Aztec gods – the same deities that were invoked when the Aztecs worshipped with human sacrifices," said Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society Special Counsel.
"The Aztec prayers at issue – which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces – were not being taught as poetry or history," Jonna said. "Rather, 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 curriculum, which is rooted in critical race theory and critical pedagogy, claims that these activities can "bring the class together, build unity around ethnic studies principles and values" and "reinvigorate the class following a lesson that may be emotionally taxing."
The Aztec Prayer, in particular, repeatedly conjures, makes requests to and gives thanks to five deities, such as Tezkatlipoka (God of the Night Sky), Quetzalkoatl (God of the Morning and Evening Star), Huitzilopochtli (God of Sun and War), Xipe Totek (God of Spring) and Hunab Ku (God of the Universe).
According to the Thomas More Society, the prayer has actually been located within classroom instructions in the San Diego Unified School District and Salinas Union High School District.
"We are encouraged by this important, hard-fought victory," announced Frank Xu, President of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, who joined parents in the lawsuit. "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. At both the state and local levels, we must work together to re-focus on true education."
Additionally, these chants have a clear significance: a shift away from the Christian God to the establishment of native 'gods' in the so-called social justice hierarchy.
"Today is a day of relief," said Jose Velazquez, one of the parents who filed suit against the state. "To know it took a multi-racial coalition of individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs to move a mountain to challenge the state education apparatus. It is up to courageous parents, citizens and organizations to stand up for what's right."
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