Sunday, September 19, 2021

Suit Challenges California's Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum

Suit was filed earlier this month in a California state trial court challenging a portion of the state's Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.  The complaint (full text) in Californians for Equal Rights Foundation v. State of California, (Super. Ct., filed 9/3/2021), alleges that the chair of the committee that developed the model curriculum has shown in his writings an animus toward Christianity and Catholicism, and reflects this by including in the model curriculum various prayers based on indigenous religious principles. the complaint continues:

The ... ESMC Lesson Resources section contains a prayer entitled the “In Lak Ech Affirmation” .... The Aztec Prayer invokes the names of five beings worshiped by the Aztecs as gods or demi-gods.... The names of these Aztec gods are collectively invoked 20 times.... They are honored and praised by repeatedly invoking their respective names...

The ancient Aztec religion is not a philosophy, dead mythology, historic curiosity, general outlook on life, or mere symbol. Rather, it is a recognized living faith practiced today both by descendants of the Aztecs and by others..... The fact that it is not large, institutional, or well-known does not change its status as a religion.

The complaint also contends that the curriculum also includes the Ashe Affirmation taken from Yoruba religion of Nigeria. The complaint asserts violations of the establishment clause, free exercise clause and no-aid clause of the California constitution. Religion News Service reports on the lawsuit.