When students at East Ridge High School in Lick Creek, Kentucky turned a school locker into a prayer locker, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State rushed to stop it. It appears that the idea of students submitting prayer requests other students could pray for was just too much for the anti-religion activists to take. Accused of a supposed "violation of the separation of church and state," the school was quick to pull the plug on the student prayer effort. Yet, one bold sophomore, Emily Chaney, didn't give up so easily.
While her school buckled to the anti-faith bullies after they received a threatening letter, Emily and her fellow students joined a local pastor in a community-wide campaign in support of this prayer movement. As Emily explained on Washington Watch yesterday, the students started to give out "magnets to put on the lockers that said 'Pray anyway' or, 'My locker is a prayer locker.' It was just amazing. All the students put them on all the lockers. It was great."
What motivated this teenager to take such a courageous stand in the face of opposition from a national secularist organization? She said, "We all know that life is hard and it's not something that any of us want to do alone. And I really feel like God called me a head up this prayer locker. And, you know, even if it just helps one person. We're so thankful that God gave this blessing to us. It was just a great thing for our school."
Emily stood up for her own religious freedom -- the freedom to live out her faith though the simple act of prayer. Her courage landed her in the Oval Office to watch President Trump put his signature to updated federal guidance that would protect every student's right to pray in schools.
President Trump's effort to safeguard religious freedom in schools makes it clear that to receive federal funding, schools must protect their students' rights to pray outside of class times, form prayer groups, and engage in religious expression in their assignments.
Emily stands out as an example to others of what can happen when you stand up for your right to express your faith. She didn't let the intimidation and bullying of a national organization stop her. Instead, she pressed on, and her effort in part inspired the Trump administration to make clear students have First Amendment rights, including the right to pray.