Last December, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defended a school nurse’s right to have a Christian Bible verse on her door as part of a Christmas display and won. The year before, he joined fifteen other states in a suit brought by an atheist group to prevent prayer before school board meetings. He stated, “These concerns are not surprising in an age of frivolous litigation by anti-Christian interest groups.”
One might get the impression Ken is a big believer in religious freedom, but he is a Texas Republican. He proved himself a huge hypocrite recently when he heard about a prayer room at another local school.
Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas, has a spare classroom it has allowed teachers to use for grading and students of all faiths to use as a prayer room, including Muslim students, for seven years. It has not been a problem until recently, when Ken the Fundamentalist found out about it. Rather than contact the school for clarification like a grown up, the Attorney General’s office sent a formal letter and issued a press release simultaneously. Presumably the AG needed some attention from his right-winged base.
“It appears that the prayer room is ‘dedicated to the religious needs of some students,’” a deputy attorney general wrote in the letter, quoting an article written by an 11th grade student, “namely, those who practice Islam.”
In a news release the same day, the attorney general’s office went further: “Recent news reports have indicated that the high school’s prayer room is … apparently excluding students of other faiths,” the release said.
That would be a constitutional violation, the Texas AG’s office noted.
And totally untrue, according to Frisco Independent School District officials, who say state officials didn’t even ask them about the prayers before the letter ended up in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s tweet: “The Texas Attorney General is looking into the Public School Prayer Room issue many of you have questioned.”
We “recently became aware of Liberty High School’s prayer room,” Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie wrote to the schools superintendent — about two weeks after the room was profiled in the student newspaper. “Our initial inquiry left several questions unresolved.”
It sounded like the state had been investigating the matter, but school officials said they were blindsided when reporters started calling on Friday.
“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. (Tribune)
The week prior, the principal from Liberty High was interviewed on the local radio station; he invited all students to use the room. Frisco school officials were still stumped over the weekend as to what the specific issue was and what caused it to suddenly emerge.
People like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton see the separation of Church and State as an attack on Christianity, or at least pretend to. That leads to problems just like these, when an attorney general is fighting for one religion but against another. This cannot be an “either or” scenario. It must be all or nothing. Otherwise, according to the AG himself, it is absolutely a constitutional violation.