Jessica Ahlquist Tells Her Side of the Story

Jessica Ahlquist is a high school sophomore and the lead plaintiff in the Rhode Island ACLU’s lawsuit against the city of Cranston. Her high school is the one that has a School Prayer banner that officials don’t think is religious in nature…

Jessica just started writing a blog of her own and her first post is about how she got involved in this case as well as what has happened since filing the lawsuit:

As I sat down, I said “good morning” to a couple of my peers who did not return the friendly gesture or even acknowledge my existence. During the pledge that morning, the students in my homeroom turned and yelled “Under GOD!” at me. The teacher said and did nothing.

One morning in chemistry class, we went down to the auditorium (so yes, I was required to be in there) to see our Mayor Fung speak about his life as a Chinese-American minority. At the end, he took questions. One student asked how he felt about the prayer banner which was clearly painted on the wall right beside us. He pointed to it and passionately said “I would like to see that prayer stay exactly where it is!” The applause he received for this would probably be comparable to that of the applause for the cure of cancer.

I’m adding her to my RSS feed. You should, too.

  • grazatt

    Unrelated question: What has happened to http://www.freeratio.org

  • http://defendingreason.wordpress.com/ Ben

    I guess Christian charity and tolerance is the thing the rest of us supposed to show, but doesn’t actually apply to Christians. Who knew?

  • ShellyD99

    To be fair, the other students were just obeying the Bible verse, “Thou shalt act like sanctimonious bullies.”

  • http://atheistreadsbible.blogspot.com/ Jude

    It’s so ridiculous to have this as a prayer. My former principal had a similar saying that I liked a lot, so I turned it into a banner when I left. Now he has it on the website: ” Do not do anything that might discredit yourself, this school, or this community.” He’s religious and I couldn’t make inroads against all the prayer and rampant violations of the constitution, but at least he never said it as a prayer.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    Let me guess. Those students weren’t “true Christians”. True Christians would never do that. Yeah.

  • dauntless

    I wonder why you set up a college scholarship fund for Damon Fowler but not for Jessica Ahlquist. Is it a gender thing?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @dauntless — Honestly, I just didn’t think of doing it until I heard the Damon story. I’m a huge fan of Jessica. And when the time’s right, I hope we can all do something for her, too.

  • Amy

    It is my understanding that Jessica’s family supports her, whereas Damon’s parents kicked him out of the house and he has had to relocate to Texas to live with his brother. For obvious reasons they don’t expect any financial help from his parents for his college education.

  • Richard Wade

    Jessica’s schoolmates are not doing a very good job of emulating Jesus of Nazareth, are they? Screaming God’s name aggressively as a weapon, shunning and despising her instead of showing her love and good will, I don’t think their Prophet would be proud of them, but then it seems that most Christians have lost interest in his central teachings, haven’t they? Now it’s all about power. They don’t even pretend to be following the “Prince of Peace.”

    They’re a gang.

    They have so much fear. All that aggression and spitefulness is from fear. Their faith is so fragile that they can’t stand being outside of an environment where everyone and every wall is reinforcing their constantly evaporating beliefs. What a narrow home for narrow minds.

    My very best wishes, Jessica. Pay those childish cowards no mind. Your strength of character and your willingness to stand up for the principle of freedom for all is a great inspiration to many people. People who matter will always be on your side.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    Well said, Robert. I read post a few days ago (cannot remember where) that said these people are using god like their middle finger, just a way of sayng “FU” to people who disagree with them.
    (You, however, said it with more civility & grace…..)

  • madphd

    Jude has essentially said the same thing… the fact is, this is a good sentiment. I wish more people would follow it, and I wish someone would erase the first three words. Then it would be a sentiment for all.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Mayor Fung’s personal desire for the banner to remain (or the desire of every classmate) do not trump the law of the land. It really is as simple as that.

  • The Other Tom

    @dauntless – Damon has been abandoned by his parent and consequently forced to leave his home. Those don’t seem to be the case for Jessica. So yes, she deserves some support for her brave stance, but she doesn’t seem to be in as much need of it.

  • Justin

    “that officials don’t think is religious in nature…”

    lol, except for the part where it says school prayer?

    It’s wholly depressing that the adults in this situation also seem to be either complicit, indifferent of involved in giving this young lady a hard time.

    Religious bullies are gonna bully, I suppose.

  • dauntless

    @The Other Tom
    You can make it as palatable for yourself as you’d like, but Hemant stated that in Jessica’s case, he “just didn’t think of doing it”.

  • sven

    Reading this makes me think of The Third Wave.

  • ckitching

    I can understand the hostility and vindictiveness coming from her fellow students. Teenagers often are like that about almost anything. The behaviour of the adults in question is intolerable, though. The teacher in the first should’ve said something, even if it was a “settle down”. The mayor in the second should’ve known better than to contribute to the ostracism of a student.

    I wish I were surprised, though.

  • SetzerTrancer

    You are inspirational to me. Thanks to you I am considering being a lot more outspoken about my atheism myself. I actually attempted to have a channel about atheism. But due to my lack of charisma I only got 200 subscribers and therefore didn’t make any difference at all. You should start a channel since you have gained some infamy right off the bat and I think you could gain a large following. Good Luck


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X