Religion

Prayer Rooms In Public Schools Are Unconstitutional

| by Jeff Smith
Liberty High School's Muslim students gather to pray in designated classroom provided for them.Liberty High School's Muslim students gather to pray in designated classroom provided for them.

On March 17, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton published a letter drafted to Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas, addressing concerns regarding a designated prayer room on their campus.

In 2009, after noticing that Muslim students missed over an hour of school every Friday to go to the nearest mosque to pray, Liberty High School established a space for students to pray without leaving the school's grounds. Years later, Deputy General Attorney Andrew Leonie, along with Paxton, stated in this letter that the prayer room violates the First Amendment if it does not welcome all students from every religion, Fox News reports.

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These attorneys lose credibility in the letter, as they stated that so long as all students from every religion are allowed to pray, it does not violate the amendment.

Yet allowing for any space of worship in a federally funded institution violates the constitutional clause insisting on a separation of church and state.

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This incident is tantamount to all discussions regarding religion within the classroom. The same way schools are bound to teach biology and evolution and students must take a test on the covered material, regardless of religious beliefs, all students should be required to go through the same process of leaving class prayer at their preferred place of worship -- regardless of their beliefs.

The debate regarding the role of religion within the public education system is not a new one, and a thick line must be drawn between the two;  as the Constitution insists: Separate church and state.

With federal funding given to our public schools, taxpayers should expect and insist that each student is given fair and equal treatment.

Right now, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, laws are in place to ensure that students will always have permission to miss school for religious purposes. It is through these laws that all students are allowed to miss school for their religious holidays. For example, Jewish students are not given consequences for missing school for Yom Kippur, arguably their most holy religious holiday. Similarly, Christian students benefit from this law on Ash Wednesday. Muslim students in America have every right to expect no consequences for having to miss a part of class on Fridays, their holiest day of the week, to pray in their private institutions.

This is equality. This is a clear and undeniable separation of church and state.

Schools are starting to blur the lines. Even if they accommodate equally, such as allowing all students to pray in the middle of the day at a designated classroom on campus, they are still violating the First Amendment for allowing such a room to exist.

The letter, which was published online without any attempts to reach out to the school previously, states that action was taken following complaints that the high school prayer room excluded non-Muslim students, KXAS reported.

It is in this moment that the attorneys lose sight of the First Amendment, which ensures a clear separation of church and state.

A prayer room does not belong in a federally funded educational institution because religion does not belong in schools. 

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Fox News, KXAS, US Department of Justice / Photo credit: Lara Solt via Kera News