January-February 2020 – In October, East Ridge High School in Pike County, Kentucky, succumbed to external complaints about a prayer locker initiative started by sophomore Emily Chaney. On the front of an officially assigned locker, Chaney invited fellow students to deposit anonymous prayer requests. Chaney and others diligently prayed over the requests – until a letter of complaint was sent by Americans United for Separation of Church and State to County Superintendent of Education Reed Adkins, who immediately halted Chaney’s prayer initiative.
Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, believes the school district was misled since it was a student led initiative. “Indeed, it appears that this violates the Department of Education guidelines on prayer in public schools,” he said.
Chaney saw the locker removal as the loss of a beneficial practice. “I hope they realize they are taking a huge blessing away,” she stated.
Chaney’s sentiments echo a study done by Pew Research Center in the spring of 2019 on religious activity within U.S. public schools. Surveying 1,800 teens ages 13-18, Pew found religion is a routine part of the school day for about 40% of students. Though statistics varied across four regions, 53% surveyed wear religious clothing or jewelry to school, 39% pray before sporting events, and 26% pray before lunch.
pewforum.org, 10/3/19; foxnews.com, 10/11/19;