Engel v. Vitale (1962) Forbids Required Prayer In the Public Schools Including Social-Justice Chants To Aztec Gods

Critical Theory Is Not A Secular Theory

California public schools will no longer be teaching students Aztec and Yoruba prayers as part of the state’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.1 Thomas More Society attorneys obtained a settlement on January 13, 2022, in a lawsuit brought by parents and the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, against the State of California, its Board of Education, and Department of Education.

“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. 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 settlement agreement represents a significant triumph for freedom and equality. The lawsuit sought the removal of the prayer components from the state’s Board of Education approved curriculum, challenging their inclusion, as a violation of the California Constitution. The state’s Free Exercise Clause guarantees “free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference,” and No Aid Clause prohibits any government entity from granting anything that endorses or aids “any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose.”

As a result of the settlement, that the California Department of Education will promptly remove prayers (also labeled as chants or affirmations) from the Aztec and Yoruba (or Ashe) religions from the state-approved curriculum and will issue a public notice of such to all California school districts, charter schools and county offices of education. The department, along with the State Board of Education, also agreed not to encourage the use of the two challenged chants in California public schools. Read more»

Thomas More Society | “Aztec Prayers Ousted from California Public Schools Curriculum” | January 16, 2022


1. Chris Rufo writes: “The curriculum recommends that teachers lead their students in a series of indigenous songs, chants, and affirmations, including the “In Lak Ech Affirmation,” which appeals directly to the Aztec gods. Students first clap and chant to the god Tezkatlipoka—whom the Aztecs traditionally worshipped with human sacrifice and cannibalism—asking him for the power to be “warriors” for “social justice.” Next, the students chant to the gods Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, and Xipe Totek, seeking “healing epistemologies” and “a revolutionary spirit.” Huitzilopochtli, in particular, is the Aztec deity of war and inspired hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices during Aztec rule. Finally, the chant comes to a climax with a request for “liberation, transformation, [and] decolonization,” after which students shout “Panche beh! Panche beh!” in pursuit of ultimate “critical consciousness.”


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  1. I know it shouldn’t but it floors me that on the one hand they vehemently froth at the mouth at even the prospect of Christian prayers or religious activity within schools, yet are perfectly fine with allowing pagan prayers to Aztec gods. The repaganization of America is certainly bearing some sad fruit.

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