If schools can’t make your kids pray to Jesus, then they can’t make them pray to the Aztec gods of human sacrifice in the name of dismantling oppressive white supremacy, either. That’s the claim being put forth in the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation new lawsuit against the California Board of Education.
If schools can’t make your kids pray to Jesus, then they can’t make them pray to the Aztec gods of human sacrifice in the name of dismantling oppressive white supremacy, either.
That’s the claim being put forth in the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation new lawsuit against the California Board of Education. Spearheaded by Wenyuan Wu, who led the successful ballot measure against Proposition 16 (racial preferences) in California last year, alongside the Thomas More Society, the lawsuit argues that California’s newly passed Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) violates the Establishment Clause of both the California and United States Constitutions that ban government aid of religion.
The ESMC has been highly controversial, even among liberals and moderates sympathetic to minority uplift, for several years. Other authors and myself have written extensively on the topic elsewhere, but the gist is as follows: various racially-based groups and activists have been lobbying for years to make Ethnic Studies a high school graduation requirement in the state of California. Union del Barrio, a self-described “Marxist revolutionary” group, is one of them, having worked with the original authors of the ESMC to draft a curriculum they believe will abolish the American political system, capitalism, borders, and Whiteness, and replace them with an indigenous socialist utopia they call “Nuestra America.
After the California Legislature passed a bill requiring the CDE to create an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, Union del Barrio members and affiliates were handpicked to help draft the resources. The state Board of Education approved a final curriculum in March of this year, which remains highly influenced by Union del Barrio.
One of the most radical elements of the model curriculum, and the subject of Wu’s lawsuit, is the inclusion of chants to multiple Aztec gods. Purportedly included to encourage peace and unity, the chants are recommended for students and teachers to perform together in the classroom.
The curriculum includes the “In Lak Ech Affirmation,” in which students chant to the Aztec god Tezkatlipoka (traditionally associated with human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism). They also chant to other gods, including Quetzalcoatl, to gain a “revolutionary spirit.” The affirmations implicitly tie pagan indigenous religion to the creation of a neo-Marxist “critical consciousness” that teaches students to see the world through a Marxist, oppressed-oppressor lens. Asking children to even voluntarily chant to these gods, even for fun and games, is a violation of the Establishment Clause prohibiting even the encouragement of prayer to various deities in the classroom.
Wu’s complaint further centers around the fact that these chants are not being presented objectively or for purely educational purposes. It would be one thing to teach students the facts regarding how pre-Columbian American societies lived and worshiped. But it is something else entirely to coerce students into acting out ancient religious rituals. The method in which the curriculum approaches these affirmations is not in the spirit of secular education, but that of prayer and religious belief.
By law, the government cannot mandate public prayer or explicitly support any particular religion. Can you imagine the uproar if the state Board of Education required students to pray to Jesus, ask for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, or pray towards Mecca during school?
Beyond the clear violation of the Establishment Clause, the affirmations create a situation in which students could easily be socially ostracized or pressured by teachers to engage in behavior that conflicts with their personal values. Students have a right to be free from this coercion, and parents have the right to inculcate their own values within their families.
Furthermore, ordinary teachers should not be required to become radical activists. Their primary purpose is to instruct our youth and form them into productive, well-educated members of society, not indoctrinate them into “critical consciousness” via pagan prayers.
I spoke with a Physical Education schoolteacher from the Santa Barbara Unified School District who expressed serious concerns about the new curriculum. Beyond sharing many of the concerns already outlined in this article, she also mentioned a teacher training in which Ethnic Studies activist Artnelson Concordia actually made the teachers at her school perform an Aztec chant. She described the experience as “cultish.” Teachers were unwilling to speak up against Concordia, resulting in the entire room of educators praying to pagan gods that demand human blood.
As shocking as the Aztec chants are, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the radical material found in the ESMC. As Ethnic Studies is perhaps on its way to becoming a graduation requirement in California, ordinary Americans should support the lawsuit against the California Department of Education because a victory will reverberate in other states where similar efforts are underway. Make your voice heard, and do not sit idly by.DONATE
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