Some high school students in Pike County, Kentucky believe their religious liberty is being threatened and they say they're not going to allow their rights to be taken away.
Certain lockers in schools throughout the district had been designated as "prayer lockers" for students to submit anonymous requests for prayer. WYMT-TV reports Americans United For Separation of Church and State got wind of the practice and sent a letter demanding the prayer lockers be removed because, the group claimed, there had been some faculty involvement in the organization of the lockers. Advised by the district's lawyer, school Superintendent Reed Adkins asked schools in the district to remove the prayer lockers in order to comply with the law.
"I mean, we weren't forcing anybody to put a prayer in that locker," sophomore Zack Mason told the television station. "I just don't see how anybody could see anything wrong with this...it's just somebody taking a blessing away."
Emily Chaney, a sophomore at East Ridge High School, had organized the original prayer locker in her school. Once that locker was taken away, she determined to receive prayer requests personally and to keep praying for her fellow students. According to WFPL-TV, she announced her decision on Facebook.
"I hope they realize how beneficial this was to so many people," Chaney told Fox News, "I hope they realize they're taking a huge blessing away."
But now students have found a new way to fight back. Encouraged by a local pastor to stand up for what they believe, they're calling on fellow students who wish, to designate their own locker as a "prayer locker."
It's called the "Pray Anyway" campaign introduced to some students by Elkhorn City Baptist Church Pastor Aaron Butler.
"If we can't have one [prayer locker], we'll just have 50 to 100 in every school," Butler told WYMT. "Now we're asking every Christian kid in Pike County – and the country – to make their locker a prayer locker," Butler said.
Some students at East Ridge High School are excited about the plan.
"I think it's amazing. I think that this is the only way we get what we want. It's the only way that we fulfill God's plan," said Mason.
"It's our decision to do it. And it's our right to do it," sophomore Joseph Slone told WYMT. "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."
Adkins says as long as the students lead the way, it's not an issue with him. "As long as it is student-led and does not disrupt the educational process, we will not have a problem at all," Adkins told the television station.
The students told WYMT they plan to "shine His light" through as many prayer lockers as the student body can create.
They believe they're not only helping their fellow students, but also protecting their God-given rights. And they're hopeful what has started in their school will spread to others.
"It's going to be a hard movement to stop," said Mason.