Human sacrifice too far

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In an effort to be inclusive, counter genocide, and decolonize America, last spring the California Board of Education approved an ethnic studies curriculum that includes as a “teaching resource” a prayer to five Aztec gods: Tezcatlipoca ( God of the Night Sky), Quetzalcoatl (God of the Morning and Evening Star), Huitzilopochtli (God of the Sun and of War), Xipe Totek (God of Spring) and Hunab Ku (God of the Universe).

The school curriculum poses both a legal and a political problem. Legally, forcing students to recite a prayer has been unconstitutional since 1962, when the Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vital that a school-sponsored non-denominational prayer violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. If asking the Lord “for blessings on us, our parents, our teachers and our country” is unacceptable, then ask Tezcatlipoca to make students “warriors” for “social justice”, ask Xipe Totek for “epistemologies of healing ”, Or invoke Huitzilopochtli because a“ revolutionary spirit ”certainly cannot be reconciled with the existing constitutional doctrine. If implemented, this lesson plan could not be seen as a pointless historical exercise, as there are still practitioners of the religion, although luckily, as far as we know, not in its historical form. complete.

Politically, Aztec religion included sacrificing humans, cutting their beating hearts, skinning offerings, and wearing their skins as a cloak. At least they practiced two of the three creeds of today: reduce, reuse, recycle. Some parents are not very excited about their children saying prayers to some of the bloodiest gods in human history. Tezcatlipoca and Xipe Totek were particularly, let’s say, demanding. Human sacrifices have apparently been introduced into central Mexico in an attempt to appease Tezcatlipoca. Meanwhile, Xipe Totek, whose name means Our Lord the Flayed, was responsible for some of the Aztecs’ most unfortunate clothing choices. During Tlacaxipehualiztli (literally “flaying men”), the second month of the Aztec religious calendar, Aztec priests skinned human sacrifices, dyed their skin yellow and wore them as “golden garments,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Having students recite prayers to such a creature (how a god like Xipe Totek who has always been depicted wearing carnal flayed skin was converted to today’s religion of social justice is unclear) would be comparable to asking students to pray to Moloch, the Canaanite god of the child sacrifice, as a means of increasing understanding of Semitic cultures.

Naturally, the program was called into question. Represented by attorneys for the Thomas More Society, three parents from San Diego filed a lawsuit in state court on September 3. Their demands are based on the establishment, free exercise and no-aid clauses of the California Constitution. The claims of the establishment and free exercise largely reflect the arguments that would be advanced under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The request for no aid is based on the Blaine Amendment of California which says “No sectarian or denominational doctrine will be taught, nor any instruction on this subject will be allowed, directly or indirectly, in any of the common schools in this state. “. Thus, parents argue that even “the printing and dissemination of the prayer[s]”Constitute”inappropriate government assistance to religion in violation of the California constitution. “In other cases, the Thomas More Society has been one of the harshest critics of the Blaine Amendments, so it’s interesting to see them rely on this clause here. Parents haven’t claimed that students should not be taught on the Aztec religion.It is possible that they welcome even students who learn it in all its bloody reality rather than presenting it in such a sanitized and bogus manner.

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Education, Scott Roark, argued that the state does not mandate the use of this “educational resource.” Others involved in curriculum development have claims that the Aztec gods are invoked as broad “concepts” such as self-reflection rather than true deities. This, however, would be like asking students to recite affirmations to Christ not as the son of God, but simply as a broad concept related to self-sacrifice. It is suspected that the courts would not accept such a request with gullibility. It is also suspected that Xipe Totek, if he existed, would object to being reduced to a mere “broad concept”.

Joshua Dunn is professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.


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