Parents of California public school children are suing the state’s department of education for requiring students to pray to Aztec gods as a part of an ethnic studies curriculum.
On Aug. 26, a letter was sent to the state superintendent of public instruction asking that the state board of education remove the “In Lak Ech Affirmation” from its Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.
“Although labeled an ‘affirmation,’ it addresses [five Aztec deities] both by name and by their traditional titles, recognizes them as sources of power and knowledge, invokes their assistance and gives thanks to them. In short, it is a prayer,” the letter explained.
Robert Weisenburger, an attorney with LiMandri & Jonna LLP and the author of the letter, requested a response by Sept. 2. When the letter went unanswered, Weisenburger and his colleagues from LiMandri & Jonna LLP, as well as lawyers from the Thomas More Society, filed suit Sept. 3.
“The rituals performed by the Aztecs in relation to these beings were gruesome and horrific, involving human sacrifice, cutting out human hearts, flaying the sacrificed victims and wearing the skin, sacrificing war prisoners, and other inhuman acts and ceremony,” the lawsuit reads. “Any form of prayer and glorification of these beings in whose name horrible atrocities were performed is repulsive to Plaintiffs and to any reasonably informed observer.
“Additionally, the Aztec Prayer is intended to involve all students in the classroom, forcing students to either participate in the prayer or elect not to participate and face the social implications of declining to participate, which represents a violation of such students’ rights to the free exercise of religion under the California constitution,” the lawyers argue. “Printing and disseminating the prayer also constitutes an improper government aid of religion in violation of the California constitution.”
Last spring as the curriculum began making news, theologian and Christian ethicist Richard Land pointed out the irony of requiring students to pray to Aztec gods yet not allowing public Christian prayer in the classroom.
“How does this curriculum not violate the First Amendment’s ‘establishment clause?’” he asked. “If public schools are not allowed to sponsor Christian prayers, why would they be allowed to sponsor prayers to an Aztec pagan idol to whom human sacrifices were offered routinely?
“This is all so comprehensively evil and destructive it is hard to know where to begin criticism of this dangerous, divisive, retrograde cultural vandalism,” he added. “The idea that a tax-supported public school system would, or could, be used to unleash this vicious cultural and spiritual poison into our young people’s consciousness is both extremely offensive and quite possibly illegal.”
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