The Texas Attorney General's office has raised questions about the legality of a Frisco high school providing a prayer room for Islamic students, but Frisco's superintendent says the attorney general's inquiry appears to be a politically motivated publicity stunt.
The Frisco Independent School District Superintendent Jeremy Lyon responded in a letter that the classroom was open for all students and that the school was complying with the law - including the Texas religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires it not to "substantially burden" a person's free exercise of religion. "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".
The letter asks that the room be accessible to students of all religions, citing religious liberty protected by the First Amendment.
Governor Greg Abbott backed Paxton up with a Friday tweet that read: "The Texas Attorney General is looking into the Public School Prayer Room issue many of you have questioned".
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However, the school district's spokesman Chris Moore insisted to NBC the prayer room is open to all of the school's 2,100 students.
The school first made the room available seven years ago, noticing some Muslim students disappeared for an hour every Friday - the holiest day of their week - for mandatory afternoon prayer at their mosque.
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".
Every day at lunch, a handful of teenagers in Frisco, Texas, would pop into room C112, face a whiteboard and kneel for one of their five daily prayers.
Today, they are able to stay and hold their prayer on campus. "It is important to note Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents, and community in danger of unnecessary disruption", the superintendent wrote.
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"Religious discrimination towards Christians has become a holiday tradition of sorts among certain groups", Paxton said in a statement following the court's ruling. "To Frisco ISD's knowledge, it has not received any inquiry from the OAG on this issue", Lyon wrote.
"Sometimes there will be other students in there praying", said Moore.
Using language much like that of the First Liberty Institute, Leonie described freedom of religion as the "first liberty", because it is the first freedom mention in the First Amendment.
Lyon pointed out that the OAG claimed it was responding to an "initial inquiry" but that there was zero evidence the office had ever reached out to the district over its apparent "concerns". "Your willingness to guarantee the freedom of student-led religious groups is laudable", the letter states, but also points out the words of the U.S. Supreme Court: "'One religious denomination can not be officially preferred over another'". He added the district would've liked the opportunity to clarify the confusion before the letter was sent out.
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