A number of lawyers from First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s leading defenders of religious liberty, recently challenged the decision made by a Texas high school principal to isolate students who wished to gather and pray with one another when they had a break from classes.
“In other words, the students were told that they could not pray in view of the other students,” First Liberty clarified.
Keisha Russell, who serves as associate counsel for First Liberty, had this to say in regard to the situation: “Students should not have to hide or be exiled to pray for each other. School officials need to remember that students don’t lose their First Amendment rights at the school house gate. We’re hoping this issue can be resolved quickly and easily.”
A letter was sent to Honey Grove Independent School District Superintendent Todd Morrison early last week, describing the series of events that took place.
The legal team disclosed that it was representing Carrie Allen on behalf of her eighth-grade daughter, Hannah stating, “In early September 2018, Hannah and a group of other students decided to pray for one of their former classmates who had recently been in an accident. During lunch when students are permitted to talk and move around the cafeteria, the students walked to an empty table, held hands, and quietly prayed with one another.
Almost immediately after, Principal Lee Frost walked over to the students and told them in response to the student-initiated, student-led prayer, ‘Y’all don’t do that again.’”
In the letter to the school district First Liberty said, “By mandating that Hannah and the other students hide when they pray, Principal Frost sends a message to Hannah and all the other students in the school that prayer is illegitimate, disfavored, and should not occur in public. By quarantining the praying students as if you shield the other students [from] an infectious disease, Principal Frost acts with religious hostility impermissible under the Constitution and demeans the religious beliefs of Hannah and her friends.”
The Department of Education points out: “Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational [programs] that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities.”
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