Jessica Ahlquist is a high school student and atheist who volunteered to act as plaintiff in a case against her high school, which for several years has hung a school prayer on a banner in its gym. I’ve written about her before, and from the public’s perspective, her case has been quiet for a while now.
The story linked above has a nice little poll in it:
Do you agree with the court order for the prayer mural at Cranston West be removed?
Yes – 261 (84%)
No – 48 (15%)
I’m amazed to see the numbers like that, considering how strongly opposed most of Jessica’s town was to her actions. Then again, this is the internet, so I doubt it’s just local folks voting. Disregard the madness in the comments on that story; three cheers for the First Amendment! Go show Jessica some love on Facebook.
I can’t believe I missed these great bits from the judge:
Lagueux states that “no amount of debate can make the School Prayer anything other than a prayer, and a Christian one at that.”
“The Prayer concludes with the indisputably religious closing: ‘Amen;’ a Hebrew word used by Jews, Christians and Muslims to conclude prayers. In between, the Prayer espouses values of honesty, kindness, friendship and sportsmanship. While these goals are commendable, the reliance on God’s intervention as the way to achieve those goals is not consistent with a secular purpose.”
At Cranston West High School in Cranston, Rhode Island, a mostly innocuous banner has hung in the school gym for several decades. The banner, titled “School Prayer,” exhorts “Our Heavenly Father” to make students desire to improve themselves in a number of ways. In full, the banner reads:
Our Heavenly Father, Grant us each day the desire to do our best, To grow mentally and morally as well as physically, To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, To be honest with ourselves as well as with others, Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win, Teach us the value of true friendship, Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen.
Yes, I’m against organized religion. Yes, I think faith can be dangerous. Yes, I think churches tend to be flamboyant displays of silliness.
No, I don’t think a church should ever be defaced.
On April 24 – that is, on Easter – a bunch of unknown thugs took it upon themselves to spray graffiti and obscenities all over the local Christ the King Church and its statues. One of the messages reads “Your God Is Not My Salvation” … so I’m guessing that, unfortunately, it was an atheist that did this, or at the very least someone who wasn’t much impressed with what the church was preaching.
I’m all for freedom of speech. Disgusted with a church’s teachings? Make your voice heard. Go nuts. But remember: your rights end where someone else’s begin. And this is crossing that line in all kinds of bad ways.
Grow up, kids. You’re not helping. Every time an atheist does something like this, their actions outweigh much of the hard work we’ve done to promote our position.