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Atheist teen stands behind her position after school prayer banner taken down Comments

A prayer banner at Cranston High School West in Rhode Island, part of the school since 1963, has been covered after a teenage student there complained that it violated the separation of church and state. Student Jessica Ahlquist is standing her ground, since 2010, she's been receiving online threats and has been targeted by bullies for her convictions. Continue Reading

1 - 10 of 46 Comments

  1. Bulbajer
    2 years ago

    Philipmarie, yes, everyone should have a right to express their beliefs, including in public schools. But a school promoting a religion is different than an individual or a group of children promoting religion. Public schools do not and should not teach/promote religion any more than they should promote atheism. Why didn't the girl just put up her own banner? I'm guessing for two reasons: she knew an atheist banner would offend others in the same way she has been offended by this Christian banner, and she knew that a Christian group would object to the school. I agree that the American public is certainly more critical of Christianity today than it was 50 years ago, but I've never heard of an atheist forcing a church to remove religious signs from the church's property.

  2. philipmarie
    2 years ago

    BVM,

    bulbaje, that was a public school and public school represents America; America was NOT made for atheists, it was made for EVERYBODY. No atheist can force a Christian to not do this or that because it 'violates' the constitution because expressing your religion in public has nothing to do with the state enforcing it. There are pro-life groups which are discriminated against by schools and nobody bats an eye yet this little prayer banner's presence is so henious that it needed to be removed? Please. What about the other Christians? How must they feel seeing their religion so blatantly and pointlessly insulted? Why can't Christians have a public prayer mural to encourage them? In fac,t why the hell didn't Ahlquist just write her own memorial and quote some atheist author or someone she admired and asked the school to put it there? Its not very simple but its less discriminatory than spoiling everyone's freedom to express himself.

    Besides, what good did it do? Is removing public displays of religion ensuring religious freedom? Atheists are raising money for that evil thing but nobody gives a damn for the other students or for others who actually deserve the education, you know, like pro-life students who are expelled just because they advanced their beliefs? But its OK if its an atheist who is advancing his views, atheism is not a rleigion and all that rubbish. And unlike Ahlquist who posts the otherwise deplorable, but far from unusual comments of those Christians, I won't reject them and if they came to me asking for help at being better Christians, I'd give it to them instead of laughing them off and treating them as scum. We can all forgive, maybe Ahlquist can do that sometime. If an atheist tries to remove a rleigious display or sues a church for removing their anti-rleigious advertisement which was on the CHURCH'S property, it is seen as an act of charity, but if a Christian were to complain against bullying from atheists or tried defending his positions on gay marriage and abortion, he's labeled as bad and going against the constitution when in fact the constitution decrees religious freedom, not freedom from religion. If the world doesn't find fault with your intentions, it will find fault with your actions.

  3. Charlie
    2 years ago

    An excerpt from the preamble to the Constitution:

    "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union...and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

    The word "Blessings" is with a capital "B" in the document. Maybe the founders were just referring to amorphous types of blessings, like "good luck." What do you think?

    The actual "establishment clause," IN ITS ENTIRETY, that many are referring to in their posts:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"

    CONGRESS, addressed by name. While I get the application of the bill of rights, in general, to the states, how do you apply something to the states that was designed to protect the states/states' citizens from a specific body, the CONGRESS of the U.S.? But, for further discussion, lets assume that somehow that makes sense, the next question is: Did this school, acting as the state, make a law respecting religion? The Supreme Court has butchered the clause by borrowing a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter, while he was President, but written in an unofficial capacity. Justice Rehnquist meticulously details the flawed reasoning of using the phrase to intepret the establishment clause in his dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree, a 1985 school prayer case. In simple terms, the establishment clause was very specifically drafted to address the federalism issue, and was intended to leave such questions to the states - a question such as the one in this case should never come before the federal courts, because Congress has not acted in this case.

    And finally, excerpts from George Washington's farewell address:

    "Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion, and Morality are indispensable supports."

    and

    "And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion."

    I have a volume of Presidential inaugural addresses, from Washington to Kennedy, and each and every one contains some reference or thanks to God, some elaborately, some briefly.

    I do not profess to have all the answers, but it seems to me that a true atheist should not give a hoot what the banners say in the school if she is not being forced to adhere to them, recite them, or even read them for that fact. I would think she would think it is silly, just like she might think Ohio's state motto is silly (With God, all things are possible) as well as the US and Florida mottos (In God We Trust) - incidently, these have withstood constitutional scrutiny and been upheld by the courts!

  4. Simon Ettinger
    2 years ago

    If the Lady does not like the School prayer which is in a Christian country - for the most part - She can leave and go to another school - Truly she rejects God - for whatever reasons - or she has a new belief - But she's out voted Majority rules - and yes those that dislike God the Father will be so pleased if this banning of a prayer suceeds - She can just not say the pray simple as that and leave others alone.

  5. echidna
    2 years ago

    Lorna said "She's a spoilt brat. She's typical of her generation who has a hissy fit whenever she doesn't get what she wants.".

    It's not Jessica who has thrown a hissy fit for not getting her way.

  6. Calladus
    2 years ago

    Nothing about this sign would have changed, nothing about the message given here would be different, if the words, "Our Heavenly Father" and "Amen" had been simply removed. This was one of the options that the school could have done, but refused.

    Because of this, we know that the uplifting and inspiring content of the sign was irrelevant to the school and to its students. No, the relevant words were those three at the beginning, and that one at the end.

    This is why the banner was challenged, and why it is unlawful. Because an entity of the State decided it wanted to extend preferential treatment toward one religion over all others. If that was not their intent, they would have simply removed those four words and let the message of inspiration stand on its own.

  7. Bulbajer
    2 years ago

    Lorna, yeah sure. And I suppose that Asia Bibi just wanted some attention when she stood up for what she believed. I don't care where you stand on this issue: saying such things about a teenage girl you don't even know... you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  8. catholic
    2 years ago

    A message of good will, honesty, kindness, virtue and love for our neighbor. Sign or no sign, the truth prevails. May we flood the Heavens with prayers for Cranston High School, for Jessica and all those dear to her to receive the grace to accept God's love, and for all those who struggle to see God. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

    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

  9. DLL
    2 years ago

    Opinion: The banner has been a part of the school for 49 years. The banner is a part of the school's history. It is a part of the school's past and it former students,not the present day ones. Prayer was a part of the educational 49 years ago,so it isn't now. So What ! Who cares! Is society so much better for the fact that all prayer is banned in public most everywhere,so now everyone MUST be happy these days! RIGHT! Separation of God and Humankind is separation of church and state. That's how it is these days! Silence! Those concerned and so offended! Relax! Be Happy! Over and over the atheist ,agnostic,have made their point. When you protest everyone runs scared,That is POWER for all of your protesting,ALL hear you and government officials,all the government officials,hear you and pay you their homage. If the banner represents tradition and it is removed so much for tradition and values,that is CHANGE today and "Political correctness",satisfied and so enforced upon all.

  10. Lorna Richardson
    2 years ago

    She's a spoilt brat. She's typical of her generation who has a hissy fit whenever she doesn't get what she wants. I bet she's so elated now that she got some attention from grown ups and some days of fame to boot. Did she bother to consider all the past and present pupils who prayed that prayer, and who found consolation in it and a sense of belonging in the school community? Was it really too hard for her to muster up a little self control, walk by the banner and ignore it? It's a pity she can't get herself worked up about poverty, racism, the plight of the unborn..etc .Girl, if you're reading this - do yourself a favor and grow up!


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