Religion

Texas School's Prayer Room Sparks Concern (Video)

| by Michael Allen
Liberty High SchoolLiberty High School

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office sent a letter to the Frisco Independent School District on March 17 raising concerns about a prayer room that is used by Muslim students at Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas (video below).

According to a press release from Paxton's office, the prayer room may exclude students of other faiths, which might violate the religious liberty guarantee of the First Amendment.

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Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie penned the letter, on behalf of Paxton's office, to Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon:

Liberty High School’s policy should be neutral toward religion. However, it appears that students are being treated different based on their religious beliefs. Such a practice, of course, is irreconcilable with our nation’s enduring commitment to religious liberty.

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Lyon's letter added that "one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another," and instructed the school to make sure that students of all religious faiths can use the prayer room.

In response, school district spokesman Chris Moore said the prayer room is open to "students of all walks of life," reported The Associated Press.

The news service said the prayer room, which is empty during part of the afternoon, has been used by Muslim students since 2009.

The Dallas Morning news reported that school principal Scott Warstler talked about the prayer room in a video that was posted by the school news site, Liberty Wingspan, on March 3:

It kind of started with a core group of students who were leaving every Friday for Friday prayer, parents would come pick them up, so they may miss an hour and a half to two and a half hours of school every Friday.

So, I met with those students and a couple of the parents and suggested, "Hey would you be OK if the students led the prayer here at school as a group, and we gave them a space to do that so they didn't have to be in a car traveling 30 minutes each way on a Friday missing an hour, hour and a half, of class?"

The story was picked up by a local news station, KERA, which likely prompted the attention from Paxton's office.

Paxton appeared on "Fox and Friends" on March 20, and said he had not heard back from the school regarding their policy on the prayer room. Paxton insisted that his office had not accused the school district, but rather asked them to clarify their policy.

Paxton said he was not discouraging a prayer room, which he thought was a "great idea," but wanted to make sure it was open to all students.

Sources: Texas Attorney General, AP via Fox News, The Dallas Morning News / Photo credit: Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)/Wikimedia Commons

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