Texas school does U-turn on student prayer ban

A Texas school has backed down after it told Christian students they would have to pray where no-one could see them.

When Hannah Allen and her friends were found praying during their lunchtime in the cafeteria at Honey Grove Middle School, they were told by the Principal “don’t do that again”.

If they wanted to continue, they were told they would have to go to the gymnasium, pray alone outside, or move behind a curtain in the cafeteria.

Legal protections

Hannah’s mother contacted First Liberty Institute for advice, and the religious freedom organisation wrote a letter to the school district, demanding the students be allowed to pray publicly.

In the legal analysis provided in the letter, the organisation explained that “the First Amendment protects Hannah and the other students’ right to pray while at school”.

“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 to 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.”

Freedom of religion

The school district quickly responded and the school backed down, agreeing to allow Hannah and her friends to continue praying at lunchtime in public.

First Liberty Institute attorney Keisha Russell said the students would no longer be forced “to hide or go into isolation to exercise their faith.

“And I think that’s important for their peers to see – their friends being free to exercise their religion, and also voice whatever speech they feel is necessary.”

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