Amid controversy surrounding a prayer room inside a Texas public high school, a well-known megachurch pastor is defending the room’s presence.
Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, is known for making some contentious claims about Islamic theology, but Jeffress stepped up this week with an intriguing message about the First Amendment, according to The Christian Post.
Jeffress — who defended the prayer room at Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas, so long as students of all faiths have equal access — encouraged Christians not to “pervert the First Amendment like liberals do to use it for their own agenda.” He implored people not to use the same tactics against Islam that he believes some have used to try and push Christianity out of the public square.
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“It has nothing to say about nativity scenes, Ten Commandment displays or prayer rooms,” Jeffress told Fox News. “Christians have been pushed out by an absolute perversion of the First Amendment, but we as Christians don’t have to push down somebody else’s religion.”
Jeffress’ comments come amid a Fox News report that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is concerned that the room could be off-limits for use by non-Muslims. Paxton reportedly sent a letter to the school district on Friday, alleging that any inconsistencies in this area could be a violation of the First Amendment.
Liberty High School created the room back in 2009, with a representative saying this week that people of all traditions and walks of life are welcome to use it or to observe the prayer within. Dr. Jeremy Lyon, superintendent of the Frisco Independent School District, wrote the following in a letter in a response letter to Texas Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie:
As the article confirmed, the reason for the prayer room is to accommodate the practices of students who would otherwise miss two hours of class time to travel once a week to and from prayer. The District is prohibited from failing to reasonably accommodate and/or discriminating against these students because their religion dictates the time and manner of their prayer. Ironically, it appears your office did not notice further examples of accommodations at Liberty High School provided to students of other religious groups. In particular, (a KERA News article) cites a student, who was the president of the school’s Bible study group, who organized a forum on religious diversity. The student provides meaningful insight regarding the need for tolerance and understanding.
Explaining the prayer room’s purpose, Prinicipal Scott Warstler recently told KERA News that the room was created after he noticed that Muslim students were missing up to two hours of school on Fridays, as parents would pick them up for weekly prayers.
By creating a space for the students to pray, he said it’s alleviated that burden.
“They’re not out proselytizing. They’re not out in the lunch periods trying to gain, you know,” Watstler said. “They take care of themselves in their group and they accept those that are a part of their group. And honestly, if others wanted to go in and learn and see and experience that, they’re OK with that.”
(H/T: Christian Post)
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