Jessica Ahlquist’s Upcoming Trial

Jason Bachand at A Bright Blog has a nice interview with Jessica Ahlquist in anticipation of her upcoming trial to remove the religious banner from Cranston High School West.

ABB: Let’s talk about the growing phenomenon of atheist bullying. As more young people come “out” about their atheism, there’s been a concurrent rise in hateful, often violent responses from their communities. (The case of Damon Fowler from Louisiana comes to mind.) What has been the lowest or most difficult moment in your battle over the past year?

JA: Bullying is definitely a real thing that does a lot of damage to a lot of people. Outspoken atheists do seem to commonly become the victims of harassment in both society and on the internet. For me, the insults and feeling of ostracism began at the very beginning, when I attended my first subcommittee meeting back in November of 2010. One event that stands out in my mind was this one day at school when Mayor Fung came in to give a talk about minorities for “Diversity Week.” At the end of his talk, there was a Q & A in which a student asked for his opinion on the school prayer. He pointed to the prayer and declared in front of hundreds of students that he wanted to see the prayer stay where it was and that it was perfectly legal. Almost everyone in the auditorium stood and applauded him, cheering him on. This was hurtful and extremely upsetting, especially after the mayor had just given a speech about how important acceptance of minorities is.

Separation of church and state shouldn’t be subject to a popularity vote, and Jessica’s taking a huge risk by being the plaintiff in this case. She has the law on her side, but some vocal support would be great, too. If you’re in the Cranston, Rhode Island area, please consider attending the trial on October 13th and showing your support for Jessica.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Newavocation

    Jessica is a gutsy “true” American. Our founding fathers would be very proud of her!

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    I live very close to Cranston and just messaged Jessica via Facebook, asking her where the trial would be held. I need to dust off my seldom-used blog and write an article about it after I attend!

  • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Bachand

    Hemant, thank you for the mention. I will be present at the trial on 10/13 and hope to get a few photos and comments from all involved. A report on the day’s events will be posted to my blog. 

  • Anonymous

    When I saw the headline, I thought Jessica was going to be put on trial for something. I’m sure it will feel that way for her. I wish her the best of luck. Go Jessica! You are awesome and we love you!


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