When the Americans United for Separation of Church and State discovered that students and alleged teachers had created “prayer lockers”, the group demanded that the lockers be removed. But that hasn’t stopped these praying high schoolers from praying anyway, according to CBN News.
“I want to let everyone know that being the keeper of this prayer locker has been the biggest blessing to me,” Emily Chaney, a sophomore at East Ridge High School, who started the locker said after being told the lockers were shutting down, Fox News reports. “My church and I have prayed for every need that was placed in this locker … I love everyone and will keep praying because that is my religious freedom!”
Chaney resolved to collect prayer requests personally. But when pastor Aaron Butler of Elkhorn City Baptist Church heard about the situation, he encouraged the students to find a different way.
“We’re asking every Christian kid in Pike County—and the country—to make their locker a prayer locker,” he said. “If we can’t have one [prayer locker], we’ll just have 50 to 100 in every school.”
The students have dubbed the campaign “Pray Anyway.”
“It’s our decision to do it. And it’s our right to do it,” sophomore Joseph Slone said. “It’s the way that we believe. It’s our way of life. And for somebody to just say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that,’ and for us to be forced to abide by what they say, it isn’t right.”
Superintendent Reed Adkins has no problem with the new campaign. “As long as it is student-led and does not disrupt the educational process, we will not have a problem at all,” he said.
Though Adkins believes that the lockers were “a clear violation of the separation of church and state,” Hiram Sasser, general counsel for religious liberty firm First Liberty Institute, disagrees.
“It appears this would be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and blatant viewpoint discrimination to ban students from a clear opportunity to share their faith,” Sasser said. “Indeed, it appears that this violates the Department of Education guidelines on prayer in public school.”
Despite the legal ramifications, the students are marching forward.
According to sophomore Zack Mason, “It’s going to be a hard movement to stop.”
Photo courtesy: Jason Zhang/Unsplash
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.