In all my years as a student, I have never had a prayer room in my school or on my campus. Not in grade school, high school, or in college. It wasn’t something that I noticed, because it wasn’t something I personally needed.
As a Christian in the United States, I had Sundays off from school. My winter and spring breaks usually freed me up for Christmas and Easter (plus Easter is on a Sunday, and at one point we even got Good Friday off too). And we pledged allegiance to “one nation under God” every morning. That seemed to give me free license to pray when and where I wanted.
But many Muslim students cannot take for granted what I, as a Christian, was able to take for granted.
Recently, in a letter to the Frisco Independent School District, the Texas attorney general’s office raised concerns about the constitutionality of a Muslim prayer room at Frisco’s Liberty High School, based on the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
The AG’s office is overreaching with this formal letter and question to the district: Do students of other faiths have access to the prayer room? The answer is “yes.”
So it is hard to see the letter as anything more than political hot air. But it does raise more relevant questions about how neutral public schools actually are — or should be — toward religion.
I saw the situation from a non-Christian point of view when I decided to join students from my college’s Muslim Student Association for jumah — a prayer service held on Fridays just after noon.