Principal: Pride's okay, prayer is not

Principal: Pride's okay, prayer is not

Principal: Pride's okay, prayer is not

The nation's largest non-profit legal organization that defends religious liberty is requesting a public school in Washington allow an interfaith prayer club to meet on campus.

Attorney Kayla Toney says her firm, First Liberty Institute, represents a fifth grader named Laura and her little sister, who both attend Creekside Elementary School in Sammamish, Washington, right outside Seattle.

Laura had reportedly approached her principal with a very simple request to start an Interfaith Prayer Club where she could pray and do community service with her friends.

Toney, Kayla (First Liberty) Toney

"[Laura] felt very lonely as a religious student in fifth grade and wanted to reach out and create a safe place for her and for other students who might be feeling the same way," Toney details. "The principal said no … two different times. She said that Laura could pay to rent space as if she were an outside group, even though there are at least a dozen other student clubs that don't have to pay and are able to use space after school."

The school actively promotes more than a dozen non-religious clubs, including a Pride Club and the Green Team.

Based on that, and the fact that the principal did not respond to Laura's follow-up request, Toney says it is very clear that the principal does not want this prayer club to exist.

"We have asked the school district to change its mind in accordance with federal law and in accordance with the Constitution and the First Amendment," the attorney relays.

After AFN sought comment from the school district, a spokesperson said additional school clubs are "usually not added" once the school year has begun due to a building budget. 

"Please know that our district takes religious liberty seriously," the spokesperson said. "We are investigating this matter and if necessary, we will take corrective action." 

About 70% of Laura's classmates are from other countries, which means many of her friends are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian. Laura, who comes from a Latter-Day Saints (LDS) church, feels motivated by her faith to make the world a better place, and she knows that a lot of her classmates feel that same way. That is why she wants to start an interfaith club in which all of them can participate.

First Liberty has sent a letter requesting the superintendent and principal allow the club to begin meeting on April 29th, which Toney says is an important date because Laura is about to finish fifth grade and wants to get the club started before the end of school.

The school district spokesperson confirmed to AFN it has received the letter and will follow up after spring break is over at the end of this week. 

In a related discussion on Fox News Channel, she said she is not giving up.

"This is something that I am very passionate about," said Laura. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't really want to make this happen, if I didn't think that it would be a great opportunity for everyone."


Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Issaquah School District.