Jeffress: Texas School's Prayer Room OK If There's 'Equal Access'

Posted March 21, 2017

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is making national headlines after his office sent a letter to a Frisco, Texas High School inquiring about a prayer room used by students.

Liberty provided an empty classroom for Muslim students who previously had to miss hours of school each week and pray at the mosque several miles away.

Frisco Independent School District Superintendent Jeremy Lyon questioned the sincerity of a letter Paxton's office sent him.

"Liberty High School's policy should be neutral toward religion".

In that article, Liberty Principal Scott Warstler says, "As long as it's student-led, where the students are organizing and running it, we pretty much as a school stay out of that and allow them their freedom to practice their religion".

The letter references a March 3 article in the Liberty High School Campus Wingspan - the school's student-run news outlet - that says the prayer room "addresses the religious needs of some students".

Speaking to Fox News, Pastor Robert Jeffries, leader of a large Baptist church in Dallas, said he believed the room was not a First Amendment issue provided it is accessible to all students at all times. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also tweeted that the attorney general was "looking into" these concerns ― which, according to school district spokesman Chris Moore, were largely non-existent before Friday.

Frisco ISD did not provide an official statement regarding the letter, but a district representative told WFAA that it is in communication with the attorney general's office to clarify that the school is in compliance with state and federal laws.

The brief story on the prayer room, penned by high school junior Marisa Uddin, began: "At many public schools, religion isn't talked about openly".

Lyon also chided Paxton and company for attempting to use the high school's prayer room just to whip up controversy, noting this kind of "inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the district, the students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption".

In his letter, Lyon quotes Warstler about whether all students have access to the prayer room: "if others wanted to go in and learn and see and experience that, they're OK with that".

"It's not a prayer room". He turned up on Fox News over the weekend and again insisted that the prayer room must be open for all students, disregarding the fact that it already is.

"It's not just a room for Muslim students", he said.

"What initial inquiry are you referring to?" the superintendent wrote in his reply to Paxton's office, asking for evidence that the school was breaking any rules, and whether the state had made any attempt to find out before going public. Lyon asks. "To Frisco ISD's knowledge, it has not received any inquiry from the OAG on this issue". Paxton helped the nurse's aid sue the district, the principal, the superintendent and the school board, and they won the case.

Lyon said he learned about Paxton's letter through the media on Friday.

The Post asked Paxton's office what led the state to become concerned about the prayer room, and what inquiries state officials had made after learning about it. "The letter from your office ignores the District's obligations in this regard".