California parents are challenging a program that forces their children to pray to Aztec gods.
Lawyers for the Thomas More Society filed a temporary restraining order with the California Superior Court on September 24. The injunction asks the Department of Education to stop Aztec prayers in classrooms.
“Our clients have no objection to students learning about different cultures and religions, including the practices of the Aztecs,” noted Paul Jonna, Partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “But the California State Board of Education-approved Model Ethnic Studies Curriculum goes much further by inviting students to pray to Aztec deities. This part of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is not only offensive, but patently unconstitutional.”
A lawsuit was filed last month on behalf of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, individual taxpayers and parents of school children. It came after the state Superintendent of Public Instruction chose not to respond to a letter containing legal demands. The letter asked the highest educational authority in the state to remove the Aztec prayer from the curriculum.
CBN News previously reported that the program would feature its own “ethnic studies community song” 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” according to the City Journal website.
In addition, the program includes the Ashe prayer of the Yoruba religion. Yoruba is an ancient spiritual concept that is the origin of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Voodoo or Haitian Voodoo.
Dr. Alan Sandstrom, a professor of anthropology at Purdue University, says he supports the program’s goals, but the use of chanting is a “mistake”.
Dr. Alan Sandstrom, a professor of anthropology, says that although he supports the aims of the model program, the use of chanting is a “mistake”. “The claim as presented amounts to religious activity which I believe has no place in public schools.” https://t.co/Pr2IIuLqTE pic.twitter.com/5cjRiWYW5f
— @ThomasMoreSoc (@ThomasMoreSoc) September 29, 2021
The Aztec Prayer “invokes five spiritual beings revered by practitioners of the Aztec religion,” the lawsuit states. Students can also participate in an “Ashe” chant by repeating the name “Ashe”, which is the “divine force as recognized in the Yoruba religion”.
“Children are asked to repeat this name, along with other words, in response to various questions, so as to form the phrase ‘Ashe, Ashe, Ashe, Still I rise, Ashe,'” he continues.
The program claims that these activities can “bring the class together, build unity around the principles and values of ethnic studies” and “reinvigorate the class after a lesson that can be emotionally draining.”
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