Jessica Ahlquist Has Won Her Lawsuit!

***Update 2***: Additional updates can be found here.

***Update 1***: The 40-page decision from U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux can be read here (PDF).

Highlights:

The Court rules that Plaintiff [Ahlquist] has standing in this matter and rules in her favor on the merits of this dispute. The Court also orders the immediate removal of the Prayer Mural from the auditorium at Cranston West.

The Court refrains from second-guessing the expressed motives of the Committee members, but nonetheless must point out that tradition is a murky and dangerous bog. While all agree that some traditions should be honored, others must be put to rest as our national values and notions of tolerance and diversity evolve. At any rate, no amount of history and tradition can cure a constitutional infraction. The Court concludes that Cranston’s purposes in installing and, more recently, voting to retain the Prayer Mural are not clearly secular.

Plaintiff is clearly an articulate and courageous young woman, who took a brave stand, particularly in light of the hostile response she has received from her community.

I began writing a draft of this post back in October. And I think it’s finally time to post it.

Jessica Ahlquist has won her lawsuit.

The religious banner that hangs in the auditorium at Rhode Island’s Cranston High School West will soon be coming down — the school has ten days to comply with the ruling.

The official statement from Jessica won’t be out for a little while and the media stories will surely follow. But for now, we can take heart in that Facebook update.

***Update***: Mark Schieldrop at the Patch says this:

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux issued a decision in the case regarding the prayer banner at Cranston High School West this afternoon.

The court ruling orders the prayer’s removal and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced it will hold a 9:30 a.m. press conference at the ACLU office on Dorrance St. in Providence tomorrow (Thursday).

This is what is was all about:

That 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.

When Jessica saw that banner over a year ago, she knew there was something wrong. She created a Facebook page to rally support to bring it down. For that, she was insulted and threatened by students and strangers. When the ACLU planned to file a lawsuit to bring the banner down, Jessica wanted to be the plaintiff.

In interview after interview after interview, I’ve been struck by how mature, well-spoken, and courageous Jessica has proven to be. Most adults don’t have those traits, much less a 16-year-old.

She’s proven to be a leader, standing up for what she believes is right, despite the overwhelming number of people in her high school who have tried (unsuccessfully) to make her life a living hell for what she’s done.

And if you saw Jessica’s speech at the 2011 Secular Student Alliance conference like I did, you’d understand why we need more student activists just like her.

When I heard about Damon Fowler‘s story, people rallied together on his behalf.

Once again, I’m asking for your support. I think we owe it to Jessica to make sure she can go to a wonderful college — one that respects her in a way that many of the people in her high school don’t — without having to worry about tuition.

I spoke with Roy Speckhardt at the American Humanist Association to see if they would consider holding onto the money in a trust fund (as part of the Humanist Foundation of the AHA) and he gave me an enthusiastic “Yes.”

Let’s show Jessica that we appreciate what she’s done and let’s encourage other students to do the same thing:

Please help spread the word.

And if you’re not a member of the AHA, please consider becoming one.

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.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanfigdor Jonathan Figdor

    Congrats Jessica! Here’s me hoping you choose to spend your scholarship money at my alma mater, Vassar College, when you start college!

    • Anonymous

      Pshaw. She’s going to go to Dartmouth. Keep your muddy, tribalistic loyalties out of this discussion, Figdor.

      • http://twitter.com/jonathanfigdor Jonathan Figdor

        Dartmouth? Please, she wants an education, not beer pong lessons.

        • Anonymous

          Well, I just donated another $25 so she goes to Dartmouth. Money where your mouth is, Figdor. (Man I like saying your last name in that menacing way.)

  • Nevermint

    If that would say School Moto do ya think this would be such a big issue?

    • Caias Ward

      Well, the whole ‘Heavenly Father’ and ‘Amen’ hokum would still be an issue.

      • T-man

         The sad thing is that almost every reply is in support of this supposed
        “religious” infraction. When in fact it’s not about religion, it’s
        about what our country was founded on, and what as the judge unknowingly pointed out, it’s
        becoming.

        Yea, being kind and helpful is pretty screwed up, we need to take that s#$% down immediately. The last thing we want is instilling or encouraging moral values in our youth. I want more kids like Columbine twins…..sigh…

        • Grainosalt

          T-man “When in fact it’s not about religion”
          The banner starts: Our Heavenly Father
          yup, its about religion.

        • Rich Wilson

          Reading the decision it’s pretty obvious that the community members who supported the banner didn’t agree with you.  They did their case no favors by repeatedly and loudly connecting their faith with the display.  If it it was just ‘encouraging moral values’, then why did everyone keep quoting the bible in meetings?

        • Derrik Pates

          If you’re implying (as so many do) that the USA was founded on Christianity, I think article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli would like to disagree with you.

          Specifically, where it says:

          As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…

          I don’t think you can get much clearer than that. And it was passed unanimously by the US Senate, and signed into law by John Adams. No one seems to have had any objection to that statement.

  • http://twitter.com/shanemuk Shane McKee

    What’s the betting they won’t *actually* smile now that they’ve lost? Well done Jessica!
    -@shanemuk 

  • Javier

    Great job Jessica! Way to stick with what you know is right, even in the face of peer pressure!

  • http://profiles.google.com/leeannewrites LeeAnne Clark

    Just contributed to Jessica’s college fund.  We need more clear-thinking young people like her.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reginald-VangleasonThird/100000192082864 Reginald VangleasonThird

      Jessica did this for money?   Oh, I see.

      • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

        Yes, I’m sure that she started this knowing that someone on the internet in Chicago would start a scholarship fund for her. You pathetic troll.

    • http://whatsthatyousaid.net/ BEG

      By the way, where can one contribute to said fund?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

        Just use the chipin link in the post! Or use this link.

  • Josh

    It’s not a bad statement if you would replace “Help us” with “May we”:

    May we, each day, have 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.
    May we be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.
    May we know the value of true friendship.
    And may we always conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. 

    The exact same thing, without the Constitutional infraction!

    • Josh

      Incidentally, when it’s worded like that, clearly Jessica is holding up her end of the bargain :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/ben100 Ben Sweatervest Blanchard

      the “Our Heavenly Father.” and “Amen” are also pretty bad….

      • Josh

        I may have intentionally left those out as well :D

      • Choqueras

        Amen just means let it be,…….. let it be, let it be…it’s a Beatles song! what’s wrong with that?

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          For starters, the religious connotations that have built up around the word. “Amen” is used almost exclusively in religious settings, and occasionally used in a snarky manner elsewhere.

          So, yeah, “Amen” still presents a problem.

          • Choqueras

            that’s your interpretation…  not everybodies…in spanish amen means love…

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

              No, it doesn’t. You’re thinking Amor.

              • Sprachwissenschaftler1

                “Amen” in Spanish is a third-person verb meaning “they love” or in some cases “you (plural-formal) love”. Regardless, Choqueras was simply pointing out that despite current religious connotations with the word “amen”, it’s not exclusively used in a religious sense, and that “common connotation” is not a valid legal argument that the plaintiff and ACLU used.

                • http://twitter.com/liapera Liana Pera

                  Regardless of what you think it means in spanish, or arabic, or any other language- the fact of the matter is that here it’s only ever used in a purely christian context to end a prayer of a specific religion- and that’s exactly what it’s being used for here. Better to make these words acceptable by all people and not just the religious majority of an area. To them, it simply says, “here we do this, you don’t have a choice in the matter.”

                • Choqueras

                  “it’s only ever used in a purely christian context to end a prayer of a specific religion-”????
                  that’s quite a statement! a wrong one if I may say… in spanish countris we use the word amen a lot, but coming from an american who think the whole world revolves around them, I understand….

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

                  So, Choqueras. Is it your assertion that this wasn’t a prayer to the God of Abraham?

                • Yukimi

                  Not in my part of Spain I assure… perhaps in a very ultra conservative part of South America. And as they have already said Amén is different form Amen and in English amén would be amen and amen would be love.

                • Choqueras

                  so where you live in Spain, in spanish literature you don’t use the Imperative o subjuntive of the verb amar when they need to? maybe you don’t know grammar. It has noting to do with conservative or anything is a verb…

                • Tommy Owens

                  Choqueras, you’ve got to be kidding.  Nobody is saying “amen” isn’t used as  some other meaning in another language.  This is not about Americans thinking the world revolves around them.  Have you ever heard of context?   Clearly this banner is not referring to the Spanish definition of “Amen”.  Stop being so dense.  We get what you’re saying, but you are ignoring everything people are saying to you.

                • Choqueras

                  Ok! i will stop here because obviously atheists, except Tim Minchin, do not have  a sense of humour, from being a slighty humours remark ( if you read my firts 2 posts) it has turn in a very serious discussion, never mind…

                • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

                  Tim Minchin himself is defneding Jessica on Twitter.

                • TKS

                  There comes a point where the indent on replies just doesn’t help anymore.

                • Anonymous

                  It doesn’t mean the two words share the same etymology. 

                • Mecha Velma

                  FAIL! In Spanish, the word for Amen is Amén which is not the same word as the Present Subjunctive of Amar (to love), Amen (they love).

                  The use of Amen dates back to the earliest Hebrew texts (meaning “so be it”) long before the spanish language evolved from Latin roots.  Hell, the Hebrew word, Amen, came several hundred years before Latin was first etched.

                  Do you theists ever get tired of being wrong?

                • Choqueras

                  I don’t see an accent on amen in that banner…:)

                • Rich Wilson

                  Maybe because the banner is in English?  And the word is the one used to end prayers?  No matter how much it may sound like a form of the verb ‘to love’ in Spanish, it’s not.  Bringing Spanish into this is like bringing the sound of dogs into a discussion of trees.

                • Choqueras

                  I’m really sorry yoiu are not getting my point. :)

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

                  In this case, it WAS used in the religious sense, as evidenced by the use of “Heavenly Father”. It was clearly a prayer to the God of Abraham, and had no place in a secular public school.

                • Anonymous

                  Words can have different etymologies even though they are spelled alike.  My favorite is the word ‘pallet’.  I’m from the South and a Yankee friend once commented that she didn’t understand why people would sleep on pallets as the wooden slats seemed very uncomfortable.  One definition of the word ‘pallet’ (and as used in the South) means bed and comes from middle english and latin for the word ‘straw.’  Another common meaning of pallet is ‘wooden platform’.  That word seems to derive from the french word for shovel.

                  ‘Amen’ has been used as a religious word for hundreds of years.  Though other languages may have a word that is spelled the same it does not mean they share the same etymology.

            • Josh Barton Smith

              That’s awesome, however we aren’t in a spanish country bro.

            • Guest

              Nope, amor means love in Spanish.

              • Choqueras

                I’m from Spain, amen, means love, it’s :
                verbo Amar, Modo Imperativo o Subjuntivo: Ellos amen
                Learn your spanish grammar well…
                but amén menas let it be…
                anyway, you are not getting it, it’s just absurd this whole deal about a banner in a wall….with other stuff around it….just hang out something else next to it…

                • Paparapuppi

                  yeah but the religious one is “Amén”,  its different. yo tambien soy de españa, deberias saber la diferencia entre un amen (del verbo amar, que lleva el acento en la a) y el amen (usado en la religion con el acento en la e)

                • Choqueras

                  se la diferencia querida, por eso si lees mi comentario digo” I don’t see the accent in amen”  o tal vez no entiendas ingles bien, de todas maneras esto empezo como un comentario ligeramente  humoristico pero hay demasiada seriedad en este foro para esto obviamente..’Lee mis 2 primeros comentarios y tal vez entiendas a lo que me refiero, pero la verdad, no importa…

                • jose

                  You’re being disingenuous, Choqueras. And consciously ignoring a very important part of the word.

                  If you translate “Amen” into Spanish, you have “Amén”, notice the tilde. And it means exactly the same: “let it be”.

                  The word you’re translating as a verbal form of Amar (love) is “Amen”, without tilde… it’s a different word. “Ellos amen — May they love”.

                  Why are you playing this word game at all, I have no idea, but don’t try to fool people.

                • Choqueras

                  Hi Jose. re:”Why are you playing this word game at all, I have no idea…”
                  Maybe I’ve been listening to Tim Minchin too much… sorry I just love him…I’m addicted…sorry  :)

                • Bucheimer

                  Jose….the tilde is the squiggly mark above the ‘n’, like in the first ‘n’ in manana. You referenced the accent mark above the ‘e’ in Amen….

            • evanbartlett

              What do you mean by “in Spanish amen means love?”  Amen is a word from a series of Middle Eastern languages, all of which translate into something akin to “let it be” or “so be it.”  The word has the same meaning regardless of which language you eventually translate it into.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a translation.  

            • http://whatsthatyousaid.net/ BEG

              Spanish speaker here. Nope.  Amen is just amen.  Aman means they love, which is the closest I could get to amen.  Maybe they *sound* alike to you — can’t help you on that one.  But two different words.

              • http://whatsthatyousaid.net/ BEG

                OK, ellos amen — may they love — is similar to amen.  But it’s accidental:
                From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amen

                Amen, meaning “so be it”, is said to be of Hebrew origin [5][6], however the roots of the word can be traced to most Semitic Languages. The word was imported into the Greek of the early Church from Judaism.[1][7] From Greek, amen entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, amen passed from Greek into Late Latin, and thence into English.[8]The Hebrew word amen derives from the same ancient triliteral Hebrew root as does the verb ʾāmán.[9] Grammarians frequently list ʾāmán under its three consonants (aleph-mem-nun), which are identical to those of ʾāmēn (note that the Hebrew letter א aleph originally represented a glottal stop sound, which functioned as a consonant in the morphology of Hebrew).[8] This triliteral root means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.

                “So be it; truly” makes far more sense in the context of the end of a prayer than “may they love”.  May they love what?  You? Me? God?

                In any case, the response to Jessica has been extraordinarily hateful (just check out the responses to her on twitter and facebook), so I’m still gonna guess that amen as a form of amor is wrong. :-/

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M5NCVC2VAHIZOEN7STJN3C4XBI James

                  Quibbling is the first sign of a losing argument. 

              • reg griffin

                What Amen means in Spanish is IRRELEVANT it has NOTHING to do with this topic, can we please STFU about the Spanish meaning of the word & get back to reality?

                • http://whatsthatyousaid.net/ BEG

                  Hey, sweetie.  This was in context of showing why the spanish meaning is irrelevant.  Keep yo’ panties on, you.

            • Trigont

              So your contention is that the banner says this

              Heavenly Farter
              May we, each day, have 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.May we be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.May we know the value of true friendship.And may we always conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. 

              They Love (in a completely different language)

              Yeah, pull the other one

              How you say hunk of bull shit in Spanish?

          • Anonis

            Mexican Spanish speaker here. Amen in Spanish is “amen”. Aman is a conjugation of amar which means “to love”. The “an” suffix added to amor has nothing to do with the word amen.

            • http://www.facebook.com/andshegoesdown Ivana Jiménez Juárez

              lmao thats retarded. im a native spanish speaker and AMEN in that context is purely religious.

              • Dodecadragon

                Could just replace “Amen” with the Battlestar Galactica saying: “So Say We All”. :o)

                • Kyle Delaney

                  Right, because Battlestar Galactica was totally secular.

      • Skenkyj
    • http://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

      While I like yours its almost like you’re asking permission from someone, perhaps something like this?

      Our Scholarly Promise:

      Each day we promise 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.
      To be good sports and smile when we lose, as well as when we win.
      To learn the value of true friendship.
      To conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.

      I was gonna stick a “So Say We All” at the end, just because Edward James Olmos is cool, but it doesn’t really seem fitting to exchange one religious ending with another.

      Still, I’m thinking, that as a gesture of good will one of the organizations that helped Jessica with all this should print up a new secular banner so they can replace the one in the school and start a new tradition.

      • Josh

        Yeah. That’s totally the better way to do it!

      • Mike

        New here, but gotta say it: The only people who should make effort of having any new banner printed and placed should be those who made the mistake of placing a religious banner in a publicly-funded building…not those who opposed it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Mona.Albano Mona Albano

        Interesting concept. It might work if you started a new banner in a new position from a new donor. However, the school was offered the chance to make the banner secular by removing the religious wrapping and they flat-out refused. Obviously the Christian obeisance was more important to them. Now it’s too late and the banner must be removed altogether.

      • Kyle

        Yeah, that sounds good. After reading the banner I thought it had a lot of good stuff in it and so I thought it would be nice to keep that stuff rather than just getting rid of the banner entirely. Shame the school board seems to hate compromise.

        • Kyle

          Hmm, actually I just watched an interview with her and it sounded like she’s the one who didn’t want a compromise. It was actually suggested to her that they just remove the heavenly father and amen, but she said that wasn’t good enough because it still sounded like a prayer. I don’t know if it was ever suggested that they make the changes that are suggested here though.

          • Rich Wilson

            That would be good to clear up.  My understanding was that the school refused any changes, partly from the decision

            Defendants, who have refused to alter or remove the prayer

            and

            At the conclusion of the public comment, School Committee member (and former mayor) Michael Traficante explained that the subcommittee had been instructed to consider three options: 1) keep the Mural; 2) remove the Mural; or 3) alter the display by either changing the text to remove religious references or by
            adding additional banners representing other religions. 
            Traficante reported the subcommittee had decided to recommend that the Prayer Mural be retained as is.  Following another round of enthusiastic applause, the School Committee and administrators had the opportunity to express their views.

            At one point the School Committee approved a marker next to the mural to read:

            …guarantee that student works of excellence be protected and conserved for current and future generations, and for historic and cultural reasons, without promoting any
            ethnic, political or religious content, element or elements contained or perceived to be contained therein.

             

            As for just taking out the “Heavenly Father” and “Amen”, there’s still the problem addressed by the judge:

            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.

            Do you happen to have a link t her interview?  I would like to know what she said, lest in my attempt to spread fact about this case I inadvertently spread fiction.

          • Rich Wilson

            That would be good to clear up.  My understanding was that the school refused any changes, partly from the decision

            Defendants, who have refused to alter or remove the prayer

            and

            At the conclusion of the public comment, School Committee member (and former mayor) Michael Traficante explained that the subcommittee had been instructed to consider three options: 1) keep the Mural; 2) remove the Mural; or 3) alter the display by either changing the text to remove religious references or by
            adding additional banners representing other religions. 
            Traficante reported the subcommittee had decided to recommend that the Prayer Mural be retained as is.  Following another round of enthusiastic applause, the School Committee and administrators had the opportunity to express their views.

            At one point the School Committee approved a marker next to the mural to read:

            …guarantee that student works of excellence be protected and conserved for current and future generations, and for historic and cultural reasons, without promoting any
            ethnic, political or religious content, element or elements contained or perceived to be contained therein.

             

            As for just taking out the “Heavenly Father” and “Amen”, there’s still the problem addressed by the judge:

            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.

            Do you happen to have a link t her interview?  I would like to know what she said, lest in my attempt to spread fact about this case I inadvertently spread fiction.

          • Kyle

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRXLjQZqkdg
            At 24:00
            “Early on it was suggested that the prayer banner might be edited to remove the offending portions.”

            I guess the interview never said who suggested it. And of course just removing the beginning and end wouldn’t do it, but it still could be easily edited to get a similar message across without sounding like a prayer. It doesn’t have to ask for help or anything like that. Jessica didn’t seem open to the idea, but like I said, I don’t know if changing the way the whole thing was worded ever occurred to her.

      • Dawsondarling

        I would just add “and honor” after the word “credit” in the last line to give it a concluding rhythm.

        Regardless of her willingness to compromise, I think this does away with it’s sounding like a prayer via it’s statement of being a scholarly pledge and in its change in structure to that bulletted format.

        I seriously think we should present this to her and see what she thinks, and then as some atheist or secular group offer to the school to have it made, fronting the bill, as a goodwill gesture and good press. In fact I think we should do this sorta with or without her permission. Acting independently.

        For us it promotes the idea that you don’t need gods to be moral, for them they keep some of the banner tradition.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      I like that version.

    • Mark

      Fully agreed. I think that’s what needs to be done. Don’t attach the idea to god.

    • Fer

      STOP WASTING TIME! DON’T BE SO PETTY!

    • Gsitler4

      Josh, I was thinking the same thing…the sentiment is still there without the religion.

    • Derrik Pates

      Too bad the administration refused to consider the compromise option. Now it goes away completely.

    • Alex Fishel

      I admire what she did, but I don’t know why she has to drop names in the speech.  I don’t think that is really neccessary.

    • awsd10

      Woah…. you just blew my mind….. that is amazing……. YAY JOSH

    • Andreastruble

      I agree with you.

  • Sware

    Thank you Jessica!  You are an inspiration!

    • Jon

      Yup, and remember that when someone is burning books teaching evolution you must support them as they are now exercising their right to keep it out also. Its a two way street.

      People just cannot have a live and let live lifestyle. Just leave people alone to their fantasy systems and try to be a good person to others.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

        The teaching of evolution has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with teaching a proven explanation for the diversity of life, and a fundamental principle that is important to many branches of science, especially Biology.

        They can burn books all they want, as long as the books are their own property, and they aren’t doing it on public land.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=771802867 Shane Phillips

        Evolution is a scientific fact, creationism isn’t. Teaching evolution is not there to give Atheists their chance, it is taught because it is a fact.

      • kurt

        As was once said,  if you were to destroy religion as we know it and rebuild it then it would be completely different from how it is now.If you were to destroy science as we know it and rebuild it then it would be the exact same because it is universal fact.  They can try to burn as many books as they would like to but this will stay the same.
        Science is built on facts not fiction, and we are in the information age.  This is a snowball effect of knowledge and they are trying to stop our voices from being heard.  

        Evolution is a proven scientific theory.  This is what education is about, not the teachings of out of date theistic dictatorship. 

      • Sware

        Burning books?  Last story I saw in the news about someone doing that (or rather threatening to) was a Christian wishing to burn a Muslim holy book.  No one is burning anything in this scenario.
        And what does teaching evolution have in the world to do with any of this?  Evolution is not religion.
        If kids in schools want to stop in the hall to pray, no one is standing in their way, in fact if that is their personal wish, I support that.  That is not what was on trial here.  Another poster stated that taxes are paid by more groups than just Christians and so long as tax dollars fund schools they are expected in the legal sense to be secular, not promoting any religion over another or lack there of…end of story.  This young lady stood up for what is right and for that I admire her whole heartedly.  It is your own wild fantasies that lead you to believe that secular = sinister.

        • http://whatsthatyousaid.net/ BEG

          Just so long as I don’t trip over a person who suddenly drops in a Tebow.  And just so long as it’s okay for a muslim student to drop prayer rug anywhere & do his/her thing.

          But that banner was inappropriate.  It removes the choice from people around it, in a way that personal prayer doesn’t.

      • Derrik Pates

        Just ignore that it’s unconstitutional. If you don’t like it, just don’t look at it!

        And I’m sure you’d be saying that if it was an Islamic prayer. Oh wait, you wouldn’t? No, you and the other intolerant Christians would be right there foaming at the mouth to have it torn down immediately.

        There’s a reason certain rights are enshrined into law – because no one should have them taken away. Separation of Church and State is one of them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reginald-VangleasonThird/100000192082864 Reginald VangleasonThird

      Save the scholarship money for a nose job you toucan.

      • http://twitter.com/MicheleSpandow Michele Spandow

        You really are a nasty piece of work.  Nothing constructive to say, so you resort to a personal insult.  Are you a troll or just a mean-spirited person?

  • Rich Wilson

    You made my WEEK!

  • Erik Cameron

    fucking hero

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000603298236 Thomas Spademan

    Donated! 

  • SalvadorArachnor

    Fantastic! I was so impressed by her speaking abilities when I heard her interview on “Freethought radio”… she will make a fine secular leader one day, no doubt about it.

  • wright

    Well done, Jessica. Thanks for persevering in the face of ignorance and intolerance to do the right thing. It is just possible that those who have opposed and ridiculed you may learn something useful from this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RandyJReed Randy Reed

    Woot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=623975600 Ryan J Dunlop

    Here’s my contribution to continuing the education of a bright young secularist. :) (Apparently, it went to Hemant, so let’s hope he puts it in the right place!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/infected Timothy Conard

    Hero.

    • http://twitter.com/Luno Peter

      Heroine, actually.

  • Anonymous

    In bad news, SCOTUS just gave religious organizations a carte blanche to do whatever the fuck they want and ignore any and all laws, so as long as they can make up some vague reason why an employee of theirs needs to be called “minister”:

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/01/opinion-recap-a-solid-ministerial-exception

    • Daniel

      On the bright side, SCOTUS has now given the people involved a reason to not want to be called “ministers”.  I’ve been following the case and wonder how many people working at that Christian school are now feeling some level of anxiety over the fact that they are called “ministers”.  The title “minister” just picked up some more negative connotations and while I’d rather see religious organizations obligated to follow the same laws as other organizations, the idea that at least some of the plaintiff’s co-workers are probably wondering if there is a similar job lacking the title of minister into which they could move makes me smile just a little bit.

      SCOTUS just told every minister in the nation that they and their families are not protected by law if a medical problem arises.  I’m sure there will be several stories about churches treating other ministers poorly, which can only hurt their PR.  Not to mention those who explicitly will only accept hiring if they are not called “ministers”.

    • Strech

      Nope.

      1) It explicitly only covers the employment status of “ministers”.  Violations of law aside from hiring/firing (abuse, hostile work environment, etc) are not covered.

      The case before us is an employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. Today we hold only that the ministerial exception bars such a suit. We express no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits, including actions by employees alleging breach of contract or tortious conduct by their religious employers.

      2) There is no evidence that the status of “minister” is easily abusable.  The person in question became a commissioned minister, underwent ministerial training, and considered herself a minister and some of her duties ministerial duties.  The majority opinion makes no clear stand on the definition of minister, but even the extremely broad definition in Thomas’ concurrence does not allow insincere or pretextual definitions of minister.

      Further, while this is the first application of the ministerial exception to employment discrimination, the exception itself has been around for years.  There is no evidence of churches randomly assigning the title “minister” to get itself out of trouble.

  • Nick Andrew

    That’s excellent. Sanity prevailed.

  • Rr9lb6

    It is nothing wrong with the banner

    • Kevin

      Except being clearly unConstitutional.
      Why do you hate the Constitution? Why do you hate America? Are you a terrorist? A Communist?

      • Tom

        Why are you so quick to judge and so intolerant? Does the Constitution prohibit a belief in faith?

        • Grover C Rockwood

          when said faith is posted on a wall in a school, yes, yes it does.

        • Thomas Farrell

          It most certainly does prohibit government funded public schools from exhibiting a belief in faith. 

  • Dr. Monkey

    I used to admire her until I found how how prejudiced she was against the south.

    • Sara

      Prejudice against the South, or a realization that the South is often more deeply and negatively religious? What are you referencing? 

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Any criticism of the South == “bigotry”, I guess. You know, just like the Confederate rag is a “symbol of their heritage” and not racist at all…

        • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

          LOL You took the words out of my mouth

    • Choqueras

      she is just a rebelious teenager, which is pretty normal….

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Jessica has a promising future ahead of her. Very brave young woman and I think shes proven that she is a force to be reckoned with ;]

  • Drew M.

    Woot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262340724 Rich Clark

    Really very excellent news. I read some of the comments on other articles, from supposed Christians saying that Jessica should just give up all her money because God’s name is on it and other such illogical, nonsecular nonsense. Well, here, try this on for size. At http://www.subgenius.com/bigfist/classic/classics/The-Brag.html is a document known as the Church of the Subgenius’ Brag of the Subgenius, a document meant to inspire terror in every pink soul that I see in this forum, hating against the proper Constitutional decision made in this case. May you all burn in Pink hell when the Alien Sex Goddesses arrive in their Pleasure Saucers come X Day at 7 a.m. on July 5, 1998. Oh, you say it’s 2012? Well, the saucers haven’t come, so the calendars must have been messed about by the Conspiracy of Normal People, those food tubes, somnambulacs, the things in the way at the grocery store, so we’re still awaiting 1998 to get here. So, what I’d like to see is The Brag of the Subgenius hung on every auditorium wall, since it seems to be the only decent, industrial, post modern church, one that ACTUALLY PAYS ITS TAXES, and one that has earned my respect!! Praise J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, and fry in hell, you Pinks. And damn it, put my Brag on every school auditorium wall. It’s the only DECENT thing to do.

    Get the idea now?

  • Criiikey

    What about “We aren’t always perfect, but if we try and replace the bad things we do with good, and the lazy things we do with care and respect for ourselves and others – we can tear down these signs”

  • Choqueras

    why is it anticonstitutional to pray? If you want to pray, pray… and if you don’t want to, don’t do it..
    I’m not familiar with her story, did the school oblige her to pray?
    I believe everyone should do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others in any way….
    She seems a strong woman, but,  was it really neccesary what she did or it’s just a case of teenage rebelion, which I’m totally  OK with, we all have been teenagers some more rebels than others…thou..

    • Anonymous

      It’s not unconstitutional for individuals to pray. Stop falling for the Christian lies. What’s not allowed is the school or teachers officially endorsing religion. Which is what happens when teachers lead students in prayers, introduce religious content into the classroom or when the school displays stuff like this

      • Choqueras

        I think the a more intelligent  option would be for the school to  allow an atheist banner or whatever Jessica feels it’s fair… that’s real freedom…I am not Christian by the way…

        • Anonymous

          This isn’t just about the banner. It’s about religion in schools in general. Your idea would basically allow Christians to take over public schools as long as they give some crumbs to other people every now and then. You just need to look at prayers (or as they call it “invocations”) before political meetings or Christianity in the military to see why that doesn’t work

          • Choqueras

            I, like thousand and thousand of others,  grew up in a fascist country where catholic religion was mandatory, for over 40 years it was like that. Every day we had an hour of religion class, pluss mass etc… Neither me or my friends and thousands of thousands of others practice catholicism in fact we don’t believe in organize religion. These things you make such a fuss about  don’t really affect people the way you think, in fact they become more atheist the more you stuff religion trough their mouth.
            The problem is something else…too long tostart another debate about the real problem underlying all this…

            • Anonymous

              It’s not about that. I can’t imagine that a silly prayer posted on a wall would actually make someone more of a believer, and I expect that nearly all atheists would agree with me on that point.

              The problem is that a government facility is promoting a religious stance, and/or religiosity in general. This is not so much a problem of making children more religious. It is a problem of Christians planting a flag on territory that does not belong to them – sending a message to believing children and parents that they are morally superior (that the school is theirs!), and to non-believers that they do not belong, and that they’d best conceal their non-belief lest they face persecution.

              Your proposal that an atheist token be placed alongside is also problematic because public facilities are neutral ground, not the property of any or even all factions. The only way to treat citizens fairly in spite of a religious power structure is to make the power structure itself unwelcome within the walls of the institution.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262340724 Rich Clark

          Can you tell me: What exactly is an atheist banner? If an atheist believes there is no deity to which one should pray, what use would that banner be? Freedom of religion includes a freedom *from* religion, if one so desires. Removing the banner was the right thing to do. 

    • Anonymous

      You might want to become familiar with the story before sharing your ignorance with the rest of us.

      • Choqueras

        I rather share my ignorance that your rudeness….

        • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

          There’s nothing rude about being told you’re ignorant about something when it’s true.

          • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

            It can be done in a way that is not antagonistic or unwelcoming. Don’t we have enough enemies? Make a friend whenever you can. 

        • TK

          I much prefer rudeness over ignorance.

          • Choqueras

            well , it was rudeness in his part because I did say: I’m not familiar with her story, did the school oblige her to pray?
            He could just answered my question instead of being a smart ass…and rude…

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262340724 Rich Clark

              If you’re not familiar with the story, it might be best to get informed, then shoot off your mouth with comfort that you’re right. Wisdom beats dumbass anytime, and you, sir, are a dumbass. 

            • Anonymous

              Or, you could have just read the links in the original post at the top of the page before spouting your blatant ignorance all over the comment section.

        • Anonymous

          It’s not rude to point out that you ought to read an article before commenting upon it, especially when your comment shows that you are ignorant of the actual issue.

          ‘ignorance’ is simply a state of lack of knowledge – any butthurt you take from it is a product of your own mind.

      • Choqueras

        well , it was rudeness on your part because I did say: I’m not familiar with her story, did the school oblige her to pray?
        You could just answered my question instead of being a smart ass…and rude…

        • SteveD

          If you don’t know the story… why bother commenting on it?  Especially since it is right there for you to read.

        • Anonymous

          Dude…the story can be found via the links at the top.  Why are you expecting people here to do that work for you?  Lazy much?

    • Rich Wilson
      • Choqueras

        ???????????????to do what???????????

        • Rich Wilson

          Sigh.  It was a response to you.  In which you were asking

          why is it 
          anticonstitutional  to pray

          ‘it’ = ‘pray’.  The point is, students can pray in school.  They just can’t waste a ton of class time for their personal prayer.

    • Victoria

      Why do you use the term rebellion? Her parents — who did not raise her Christian, from what I understand — supported her in the lawsuit, which makes this sound like almost the opposite of rebellion. Is it just to minimize her actions because she’s a teenager?

  • http://eskeptrical.blogspot.com/ Eskeptrical Engineer

    I pitched in a little, though I wish it could be more. I can’t imagine having that kind of bravery at the age of 16.

  • Charles Black

    My congratulations go to you Jessica, don’t let religious bullies intimidate you.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani Sharmin

    Congratulations, Jessica, and thank you for standing up about this issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    Jessica rocks! I say let’s use this to the fullest extent that a successful case can be used as legal precedent.  It’s strong.  This could be used to clear up a lot of state/church violations. Jessica rocks!

  • Earth Ascend

    A shame that the whole thing is being removed. Now, please do not get me wrong. I am what any good God fearing person would call a Pagan ( I follow the spiritual teachings of the ancient Celtic civilization. A.K.A a religion that was around loonnggg before Christianity ) and I think having in the context of a Christian prayer is not cool, but if you remove the “Dear Heavenly Father”..and “Amen” from the prayer I think it stands for a wonderful idealism. How about just making it a “pledge” instead of a “prayer” and that way anyone of any faith can say it with pride and still be following their version of their God’s mandate. 

    • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

      it wouldn’t be up there in the first place if it was just a pledge

    • Derrik Pates

      Blame the school administration for being completely unwilling to compromise and just remove the offending language. Jessica, as well as the ACLU lawyers, both attempted to have a dialogue, and were completely shut down. You can’t blame them for that.

  • AntiYouthBigotry

    Most adults don’t have those traits, much less a 16-year-old.

    Um, she is an adult?  Perhaps you mean “legally recognized adult” or “older person”? Neither of which matter to this article.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Troll.

      • AntiYouthBigotry

        Not really – my point is that her age really doesn’t matter here and calling a 16 year old “not an adult” only serves to increase the Bigotry that youth already face.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          Hate to break it to you, but a 16 year old IS STILL A CHILD. The brain doesn’t fully mature until ~25 years of age, either.

          So, no, this ain’t “bigotry”.

          Bigotry is when you’re beat up or killed for being different. Bigotry is when you’re fired (or not hired) because you’re black, brown, atheist, or female. Bigotry is when you can’t marry the love of your life because “The Rules” say you can only marry someone of the opposite sex.

          You, on the other hand, are expressing nothing more than White Whine.

          • AntiYouthBigotry

            The brain doesn’t fully mature until ~25 years of age, either.

            Actually ~29, but we still call people adults when they are 18-29.

            Bigotry is when you’re beat up or killed for being different.

            Alright, maybe my choice of word was wrong but the point is the same nonetheless: don’t base your perceptions of people based on their age.

            You, on the other hand, are expressing nothing more than White Whine.

            I’m a 22 year old black woman but go ahead and believe what you want.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reginald-VangleasonThird/100000192082864 Reginald VangleasonThird

              There is no such thing as a “black woman”.  Felix the Cat is black.  You are some shade of brown…you know…like a turd.

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                Flagged.

          • AntiYouthBigotry

            “You, on the other hand, are expressing nothing more than White Whine.”

            I find it funny that on a blog dedicated to reason we still have people making ad hominem arguments

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

              Because it’s somehow an ad-hom to point out that what you’re complaining about (“discrimination” against children) just doesn’t EXIST.

              • Hannah Taylor

                Um… ageism definitely does exist, and in fact, your post is proof of it!   Good job?

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  Wow, I suppose it’s also “discrimination” to have, say, a person who is developmentally delayed (like, stuck at the mental age of about five) under the care and supervision of another adult, and have that adult making decisions for her… right? Oh, wait, no, that’s “discrimination”. Guess we should just allow her to end up on the streets, abused, raped, and at a high risk of being murdered, because it’s “discrimination” to keep her safe.

                  Because according to you, making a decision for a child — i.e. taking the child in for vaccines, or consenting to surgery for the child, or telling the child to eat what is served, or choosing the child’s outfit, or enforcing bedtime — is “bigotry”. We don’t let children marry or sign contracts — is that “bigotry”?

                  Can you cite me even ONE relevant example of this so-called “ageism” that’s just sooooo rampant?

                  Waiting…

                • Rich Wilson

                  You know I love a lot of what you have to say, but when it comes to kids, I’m just glad you’re not planning on having any of your own.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  Missing the point. The point is that children’s rights (as compared to an adult’s) are curtailed for safety reasons. And y’all are equating “keeping children safe” with “violating their rights”.

                • Rich Wilson

                  The fact that bedtime and eating vegetables exist, doesn’t mean that 13 year olds aren’t strip searched for 
                  ibuprofen.I’ll grant SCOTUS finally ruled in that kid’s favor, but it should never have gone that far, and there are plenty of cases where people under 18 have significantly reduced rights, and it has nothing to do with safety or contracts.  In fact only two countries have not ratified the UN Conventionon the Rights of the Child.  The US and Somalia.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  That’s not proof of “discrimination” against children. They are, by definition, NOT ADULTS, and NEED adults to make decisions FOR them. That is not “discriminatory”, it’s goddamn common sense saving kids from their own damn stupidity!

                • jose

                  Aaand this is exactly why the new comments system sucks.

  • Asdfasdf

    I’d hit it

  • http://andybreeden.com Andy Breeden

    Lookie! This site has a poll…
    http://bit.ly/wqYkP8

    • Anonymous

      Well, that poll is good and Pharyngulated already.  ;-)

      • http://andybreeden.com Andy Breeden

        Heh.

  • http://andybreeden.com Andy Breeden

    This tickled me…

  • EJC

    Jessica,

    Way to go kid!!! Way to go!

    Never give up the fight!

  • BdrLen

    Thank you for posting this, it’s great

  • Strech

    Well done Jessica Ahlquist – not only standing up in the situation, but doing so in a way that makes you a public face of a fight like this takes a lot of courage.Also, wow – reading the decision, another situation where a bunch of townspeople make the sectarian religious effect of the banner clear, whatever the “historical artifact” defense the school board tried to put up.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    *happy dance*

  • Tom

    So what if a prayer banner was on display? If you like it, pray it. If you don’t, ignore it. Why have it removed? I don’t support her. She expects them to be tolerant whilst she is not.

    • Jordan

      Uh, no. The school is a government funded building, it’s public. You probably wouldn’t be singing the same tune if they banner was invoking the one God, Allah, or maybe Zeus. It makes people of other faiths (or lack thereof) feel excluded, and it makes the government seem like it’s endorsing a specific religion.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VCWFCVSUNZDGCCWDCHDQACVPT4 John

      What part of “Congress shall make no law” are you having problems with? 

      Don’t pray in my school, and I won’t think in your church.

    • Rich Wilson

      From the decision:

      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. 

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      So if an atheist group wanted to put up a banner that said “There are no gods and to believe in them is a silly idea, let’s instead rely on ourselves and each other,” you would’ve been perfectly OK with that? This whole “if it bothers you so much, turn your head away from it” bullshit needs to stop. It has no place in a public, taxpayer-funded building such as a public school. Government entities such as public schools have no place endorsing any religious belief.

    • Anonymous

      Try being Christian and ‘tolerant’ in a village full of people who believe the total opposite of you, who prove their way is better by being violently opposed to you, and who continuously tell you how intolerant you are of their fantasy friend.   Militant Christianity is not Christ-like and that is a public school paid for by Muslim tax money, Buddhist tax money, Jewish tax money and Christian tax money, as well as atheist’s tax money and agnostic’s tax money.  The secular version of the ‘prayer’ is just as effective, if the intent was to teach. What the original teaches is an underlying intolerance to nonbelievers; that is what all religions teach and why I oppose them.  (That and their believers usually stop learning at the end of reading a few passages out of a bible…). 

  • Rich Wilson

    Interesting how on page 7of the judgement they have a footnote to explain what an atheist is.  At least it doesn’t say anything about amoral or Satan.

  • Anonymous

    This girl is an inspiration to me.  Braver at 16 than I am in my middle ages.  I support her wholeheartedly – and yes, contribution forthcoming and well deserved.  Bravo!

  • Colby0395

    As an atheist, i don’t really find anything about that poster “offensive”. Telling Christians that they cant share their religion publicly is just as bad as when Christians say things about us being atheist. if anything this just proves that atheists can be as intolerant and close minded as Christians make out to be. as proud as i am for her standing up for herself and entering the court and winning, i just don’t think it was necessary.  

    • BrainRotMenacer

      It’s a public school. Allowing that banner to hang on the wall in a public school is unconstitutional. A group of Christians could say it as a prayer on their own accord at the school, a student could wear it as a shirt, a student could hang it in his or her locker, but allowing the school to put that banner up is not right. It has nothing to do with intolerance.

    • Kalafarski

      Of course Christians can publicly express their beliefs. Anyone can.

      But a public institution funded by the government cannot promote one religion above others.

      • Jeffm123

        by taking it down, doesn’t that promote atheism?

        • Katy

          How do you “promote atheism”? Is a blank wall promoting atheism? Atheism is the default, and atheists fight for equality. The school put up a Christian banner, but it didn’t want to put up a Muslim banner or a Jewish banner, for example, so it’s implicitly saying that Christianity is right.

        • Guest

          It promotes freedom of religion. The banner only represents the Christian religion whereas no banner can open it up for all religions (or lack of).

        • robs

          Atheism is not a religion.

        • Jay

          No.  Taking it down stops the promotion of religion.  A blank wall doesn’t promote atheism.  If you put up a sign pointing out how irrational to believe in gods, THAT would promote atheism.

        • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

          only if replaced by a sign that says “There is no god”

          Secular and atheist aren’t the same thing. Taking it down promotes secularism.

        • Victoria

          No, lol.

          Putting a banner up saying something like “God doesn’t exist” would be promoting Atheism.

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          No, it merely promotes the proper separation of religion from government. When they mix, they corrupt each other, and everyone’s freedom is threatened. That banner was an illegal co-opting of a government agency to promote religion. 

          The banner should never have been put up in the first place. If I remember correctly , it was put up in the early 1960′s after SCOTUS ruled that such things in public schools were unconstitutional. So they knew they were breaking the law.

          • Rich Wilson

            The recitation of the prayer was stopped in 1962 after  Engel v. Vital.  The current mural was put up with funds raised by the Class of ’63.  Obviously using private money to attempt an end-run around the constitution.  However as the court pointed out, obviously the administration would not allow anything it didn’t approve to be posted.  So who actually paid for it was moot.

      • Jimthiem

        Read the first amendment, farski, it prohibits ONLY federal legislators (Congress), “Congress shall make no law…” Period. Public institutions, private institutions, NOBODY but Congress is prohibited promoting or preventing religious practice. Our founders were anti-tyranny by government; they were NOT anti-religion by believers. Got It?

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Apparently YOU don’t get it. Read the many responses to your ignorant and narrow-minded view of the Constitution.

        • Anonymous

          Courts have interpreted that differently for many decades now. This has been illegal since the 60s

        • Zhuge

          The 14th amendment is generally considered (by which I mean the supreme court has consistently ruled) that the 14th amendment applies the bill of rights to the states.  Pluswhich, Rhode Island has its own constitution that also explicitly separates church and state:
          (From section I)

          Section 3.
          Freedom of religion. — Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free;
          and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or
          by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and
          meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in
          their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was,
          as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a
          flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full
          liberty in religious concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person
          shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship,
          place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person’s
          voluntary contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in
          body or goods; nor disqualified from holding any office; nor otherwise
          suffer on account of such person’s religious belief; and that every
          person shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such
          person’s conscience, and to profess and by argument to maintain such
          person’s opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no
          wise diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person.”
           

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

          As with most (but not all) of the rest of the Bill of Rights, the antiestablishmentarian requirement of the First Amendment has been held to apply (formally to the States (and thus, their governmental sub-agents such as municipalities) since the 1947 Everson and 1948 McCollum cases before the SCOTUS. Formally, it’s referred to as the Incorporation of the Bill of Rights by the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reginald-VangleasonThird/100000192082864 Reginald VangleasonThird

        Try saying that in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

        • Rich Wilson

          Wait, your point is that theocracies (not officially but effectively) are bad, so, wait, what?

          Jessica was supporting the separation of church and state.  She was trying to keep us just a little bit further away from the way things are in your examples.  So what exactly is your problem?

    • Anonymous

      Concern Troll.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edan-Burg/1376892010 Edan Burg

      “Telling Christians that they cant share their religion publicly is just as bad as when Christians say things about us being atheist.”

      hmmm i wonder what christians feel about their book telling them not to share their religion publicly

  • Rich Wilson

    Plaintiff is clearly an articulate and courageous young
    woman, who took a brave stand, particularly in light of the
    hostile response she has received from her community.

    • Anonymous

      Betcha the most hostile were the most  ‘christian’.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/shriphani Shriphani Palakodety

    This is like going to court over the last french fry in a bag…

    • P. J. Reed

      No, not really.  Maybe if that last fry was somehow an illegal use of government resources?  Just because you can think of an analogy doesn’t mean it’s true.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Your comment is like a yellow pansy floating in a sea of lava on a basketball thrown by a monkey balancing on a turtle. It makes no fucking sense.

  • Dick Izinya

    All this time and energy wasted when she could have been out perfecting her hand-job and blowie technique…..

  • Grover C Rockwood

    Separation from Church and State is critical. I go as extreme that if a government employee announces they have religious stands that they will use to advance their career, they should be fired immediately.

  • Richard Shapiro

    This girl bothers me greatly, she says she prayed to God for her mother and he didn’t do what she said. This obviously shows how religious and uncommitted she is to Christianity. If her family was really Christian and just weren’t trying to blend in with the other families they would know that not every prayer is answered, if you pray to get a job, it does not mean you will get that job, even if you do, you earned, God just did not give it to you because you prayed. She refers to her other family members as being the only ones like her when she was younger and left out her mother. What I see here is a mother of a family who just moved to a place and wanted to fit in and be accepted so they pretended that they were Christian. Then once the health of her mother declined the other members of the family forgot about this ethic and did not care if they fit in or not. This girls seems like one of those people who wants attention, and she obviously does. She is claiming it is unconstitutional to have a religious prayer in a school, that does not make sense. Yes I understand it is a school and there is a time and place for everything, but I disagree with the ideology of why it does not belong there, that is such a stupid statement. Everyone has their own right to their own beliefs, Catholics believe in praying so therefore they should be allowed to post prayers for all to see( Freedom of Religion). Let’s say you see the ‘Our Father’ on a sign on the side of a building, are you going to sue them to and file complaints because it’s not what you believe in and you want everyone else to conform to your beliefs. It is not like the school said you have to memorize this prayer or else you fail, its just out there to show their beliefs and what they support. 

    • http://michaelleung.tumblr.com/ michaelleung

      So what if she is a Christian? She still recognises that the state is secular and she knows what is right and what is wrong, no matter her religious convictions. I fail to see how her personal religious views somehow debase the fact that she is doing something like this.

      • Richard Shapiro

        The point is she is not Christian and never was, she pretended to be one and thought she knew how the religion worked, she did not, so she just gave up whatever beliefs she had and then preceded to take down and forms of Christianity to get revenge for her prayers not being answered.

        • Rich Wilson

          She has stated her reasons, and they have nothing to do with revenge.  You don’t accept her answer, and prefer to substitute you own imagined reason, which better fits your view of her.

          That’s called ‘projecting’.  You’re entitled to your opinion, but at this point I’ll take her declaration of her motivations over your declaration of her motivations.

        • TK

          What exactly does this have to do with whether or not the sign posted in the school was constitutional?

          • Rich Wilson

            Actually, in afterthought, it’s extremely relevant, and bolsters the plaintiff’s case.  “Under God” and “In God We Trust” have been ruled constitutional.  So there are some religious phrases that pass the Lemon test.  However the fact that everyone kept bringing Christianity into the discussion helped show that the mural did notserve a clearly secular purpose.  When people see it, they, like Richard Shapiro, think “Christ”.

        • Raj Rajput

          LOL !!! Did your GOD tell you all that 
          last night, whilst you were dreaming and your priest was molesting you after drugging you with a date-rape drug ?? Dumb@$$

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

            Flagged.

            • Redmaypril

              Durn I kind of like to read those ones that are flagged cuz they are entertaining :) 

        • http://twitter.com/cockyjeremy Jeremy Lester

          To be fair, no prayers are answered. One of a few things happens, rather you pray to god, a jug of orange juice or nothing at all. The prayer has no effect on anything, other than making you feel better.

  • Richard Shapiro

    This girl bothers me greatly, she says she prayed to God for her mother and he didn’t do what she said. This obviously shows how religious and uncommitted she is to Christianity. If her family was really Christian and just weren’t trying to blend in with the other families they would know that not every prayer is answered, if you pray to get a job, it does not mean you will get that job, even if you do, you earned, God just did not give it to you because you prayed. She refers to her other family members as being the only ones like her when she was younger and left out her mother. What I see here is a mother of a family who just moved to a place and wanted to fit in and be accepted so they pretended that they were Christian. Then once the health of her mother declined the other members of the family forgot about this ethic and did not care if they fit in or not. This girls seems like one of those people who wants attention, and she obviously does. She is claiming it is unconstitutional to have a religious prayer in a school, that does not make sense. Yes I understand it is a school and there is a time and place for everything, but I disagree with the ideology of why it does not belong there, that is such a stupid statement. Everyone has their own right to their own beliefs, Catholics believe in praying so therefore they should be allowed to post prayers for all to see( Freedom of Religion). Let’s say you see the ‘Our Father’ on a sign on the side of a building, are you going to sue them to and file complaints because it’s not what you believe in and you want everyone else to conform to your beliefs. It is not like the school said you have to memorize this prayer or else you fail, its just out there to show their beliefs and what they support. 

    • Youareamoron

      Don’t get mad when I put up islamic prayer banners in your kids’ school then.

      • Derrik Pates

        Here, I’ll start. “To the one and only Holy Father, whose name is Allah (PBUH)…”

    • TK

      Just because you don’t understand the constitution doesn’t mean that it should be ignored.

    • crowepps

      The school district cannot allow use of school buildings to advertise for religions “their beliefs and what they support”.  Advertising religious beliefs is properly done by the religions themselves with their own money on their own buildings, and no one is attempting to stop that.

      There is indeed an absolute right to freedom of religion, but there is absolutely no right to have the government fund any aspect of religion, promote being religious as a good idea generally, or give any religion or group of religions an advantage over another group.

  • GamerLEN

    I’m agnostic and personally don’t mind organized religious symbols so long as they’re not weaponized (Pastor ‘Burn a Quoran’ Jones and the Westboro ‘God Hates Fags’ church for example), but a public school isn’t the place for them outside of a class studying theology and religion.

  • Tim Brown

    It’s stuff like this that makes people hate atheists.  I’m no believer, but I am in no way offended by this stuff.  The ten commandments?  That’s something to bother with.  This stuff?  It’s just gonna piss normal people off because it’s barely an offense at all.  It feels like hypersensitivity.  I’m not saying I don’t understand it, I’m just saying a measured response is always better understood and accepted than a zero-tolerance one, and in the long run this is probably more a loss than a victory.

    • Rich Wilson

      I think a measured response would have been great.  Like replacing it with one of the versions others have posted here.  It doesn’t need to include an invocation to a higher power to be a great statement of principles and goals.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      It’s not that it offended somebody… it’s that it was ILLEGAL. How hard is that to understand? It violates the very spirit of the Establishment Clause, it breaks the laws currently in place regarding school prayer, and it is a clear endorsement of religion by a government entity (public school). What is so hard to understand about that?

      • Jimthiem

        ok, rich person, time to study our Constitution again: “Congress shall make no law…” The prohibition is on government (Congress) legislating, not on schools, cities, states, or anyone else, only CONGRESS. We have allowed courts to turn the founders anti-tyranny efforts into the exact opposite. Thus, one misguided student and a runaway judiciary can overturn centuries of free expression. When the banner is gone, the bigotry will be hanging in its place, and liberty will have died a little more. You’ve been duped by progressive hatred. Study up.

        • http://twitter.com/InspFreethought Mike

           There’s a huge difference between government speech and free speech. To not know the difference is to not know the difference.

          • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

            The same goes for public property vs. private property. I’ll give the [people who could almost be considered] trolls here one guess as to which one you can place religious crap on.

        • Hannah Taylor

          Someone needs to study their Constitutional law.  Past precedent has interpreted the First Amendment to be much more than just “Congress shall make no law.”  It extends to the government ENDORSING one religion, or any religion, over another.  A public school is a part of government.  This has been the interpretation of the First Amendment for at least the past sixty years.
          You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. 

          • Jimthiem

            You reinforced my point about an activist judiciary, INTERPRETING beyond what the words clearly say. This is exactly how we’re allowing judges to devastate the original intent. You don’t know what the hell our founders were talking about. Neither does Mr Wells. Sheeple being led back to tyranny!!

            • Maya9

              How exactly is it that you know the minds of the Founders? Have you been communicating with them recently?

              As far as I can tell, the Framers never intended for us to care about their intent. In fact, I think they’d be shocked to find out that we’re still using this constitution. Do you honestly believe that men who believed that a war should be fought to free the people of the monarchy, men of the Enlightenment Era, really believed that people over 200 years dead should be controlling current law? You must be off your rocker.

              Originalism is not the only way to go about interpreting the Constitution. It isn’t even the most useful. If we relied only on the literal meaning of the text, we wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under federal law because the 14th Amendment only uses the word “States.”

              I think it is pretty funny that people only whine about activist judges when they make decisions with which they disagree. Remember, the decision that desegregated public schools was about as activist as you could get.

            • Derrik Pates

              An “activist” judge, appointed by that dirty liberal activist president, Ronald Reagan.

              Why is it that anytime I see the words “activist judge” or “activist judiciary” I hear intolerant Christians whining like 5 year olds “waah, waaah, WHY CAN’T WE GET OUR OWN WAY, WHO CARES WHAT THE LAW SAYS”? Could you explain that one to me, please?

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                Because that’s exactly what they’re thinking when they go on about “activist judges”.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

          Anything that is funded by the government is funded through laws. So anything that is funded by the government can not respect an establishment of religion. This includes public land. 

      • Rich Wilson

        In fact, she didn’t find it offensive.

        Beyond that, Plaintiff has stated that the presence of a Christian prayer on the wall of her school has made her feel ostracized and out of place.  She has also stated that she doesn’t find the text of the Prayer to be offensive.  The Court fails to find these statements inconsistent.  It is possible to object to the presence of the Prayer Mural without having to find its goals of academic achievement and good sportsmanship offensive.  While her injuries might be characterized as abstract, those injuries are consistent with the injuries
        complained of by other plaintiffs in Establishment Clause litigation, such as Engel v. Vitale and the Schempp case, and readily distinguishable from the cases where the Supreme Court has determined that plaintiffs lacked standing, such as Lujan, Valley Forge Christian College, and Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.

        I recommend reading the decision for details on her ‘injury-in-fact’.

    • JD

      “Normal”?  Are you saying  this young lady is NOT normal?  YOU are normal  starting out with “HATE atheists”?  THAT is “Normal? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=771802867 Shane Phillips

      Yeah, I guess we should just allow anyone to violate the US constitution whenever they feel like it. I mean that wouldn’t be setting a dangerous precedent at all.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Plus, I really don’t see the difference between the Ten Commandments and a banner that clearly says “school prayer”. Why is one OK to fight again, but not the other? Why is one offensive but not the other? They are both religious documents (one straight out of the bible, another written in the same spirit) that do not belong on public (i.e. taxpayer-funded and owned) property, in a public school no less.

      • Jimthiem

        That you ‘don’t see’ is an understatement. Pathetic ignorance of our founding documents underlines your every utterance.

    • Guest

      Barely an offense? Hypersensitivity? Well, okay, I can see that.

      Maybe if the opening/closing were changed from:

      Our Heavenly Father and Amen

      To:

      “Dear Ridiculously Impossible To Exist Omnipotent ‘Sky Fairy’” and “Pass the Ammunition!”

      We’d see just how offended and “hypersensitive” the protesters would suddenly become.  I’d bet five years worth of salary that they would suddenly request that it either A: be taken down or B: be re-worded.

      It’s great that you’re not offended.  Neither was she. She merely felt uncomfortable. If something makes you uncomfortable, do you just put up with it, or do you do something about it?

  • Guest222

    Don’t get hypersensitive when I place Islamic prayer banners in your kids’ school then bro. Show some tolerance.

  • Jon

    Sadly Im not into any faith but I can follow the general idea that was on the wall BUT,
    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.

    Honestly she had to have it taken down as she was unable to follow it. You see you grow mentally by learning and absorbing from others. How was what she pulled in any way kind to her classmates and teachers? She forced her lone belief onto the entire community. How was she a ‘good sport’? It was her way and if she didnt get it she went to court and forced the majority to conform to her belief. And well we can see there wont be a lot of friendships to be found after she brought a simple banner into the news and smeared her school.

    Im more of a live and let live kind of person but then again I grew up as a military brat where the church was shared by all denominations and no one was forced to go. I have dated bible bangers and crazed art majors who thought the gods of galactica were real. What really scares me to the core is the complete ability of a small core group of people to force their agenda on everyone.

    My view on her is she is no better than the D&D book burners I saw in the 80′s acting like jackasses over a fantasy game. She just blew her 15 minutes on a fantasy.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Yeah, you’re absolutely right. The school should have been allowed to continue violating the constitution and religious freedom. Right.

      • Jon

        Wrong, we have all been played by lawyers and other ‘politicians’ on this issue. We were never supposed to establish one religion over another. What has happened is that we are allowing ourselves to be refocused on little battles that mean nothing and drain our community when we should be focused on the larger much more frightening issues.

        Go watch ‘Red State’ and let what happens at the end really sink in.

        • Rich Wilson

          The thing about fiction is, it’s not real.  I mean it could be. Maybe the Ark is in some crate in a warehouse.  Or maybe people can drop goats by staring at them.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

            Or, or, hey, maybe if I stare at this feather long enough, I can levitate it!

            /snark

        • Redmaypril

          Little battles are generally needed to fight bigger battles.

  • Thomas Farrell

    Hemant, please consider running a separate article just about the scholarship fund, with the donation box included, so we can post it separately on Reddit and it will come up there under a title like “Hemant Mehta raising scholarship donations for Jessica Ahlquist”. There are a lot of readers there and it might help improve donations.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reginald-VangleasonThird/100000192082864 Reginald VangleasonThird

      So, Jessy did this for money did she?   

      How calculating and……….predictable.

      • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

        You’re kind of pathetic.

        • Guest

          Such a kind atheist.

      • kurt

        how many christian scholarships are there… too many.  This is being done out of the greatness of peoples hearts.  Not by a corporation known as religion.

    • John

      Agree, needs to be a single post  for reddit to upvote.

      Just use the embed code for now.

      http://widget.chipin.com/widget/id/8d0a74d899b36f56

  • Anonymous

    Well done Jessica!

    As evidenced by the arguments of your detractors here and everywhere, God does always answer one prayer of the atheist: 

    “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous!”
    –Voltaire

  • Anonymous

    Good for her. And It’s about time a clear message was sent out that you can’t hide behind “tradition”. Tradition has never been a viable excuse to do wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.blumhorst Daniel Blumhorst

    She got offended by a poster? What a warrior! Items such as this don’t belong in an institution of learning that teaches anything about the historical or modern philosophical approaches of mankind. That sign only served to confuse and infuriate everyone who saw it. 
    Oh well, she’ll end up in prison for shooting someone for wearing a hat eventually – at which point the only book she’ll get is a Gideons Bible.  
    I salute her bravery in the face of mortal peril anyway. Bravo, Snooky.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

      She wasn’t offended by it. It was illegal to have it up on the wall as it violated the rights of every US Citizen to have a government institution endorsing Christianity. She was simply defending all of our rights, and at peril to her safety. She is truly admirable.

    • kurt

      its comments like this which help justify the fact that she is brave for standing up in her beliefs.

    • Sware

      Oh good you can foresee the future.  Faaaaantastic!  Could you please tell me what the next set of mega lotto numbers will be??? 

  • Stan Parker

    She’s quippy. I like her.

  • beleiver

    “When Jessica saw that banner over a year ago, she knew there was something wrong.”
    I’m sorry, but do tell what is wrong? I mean please, enlighten me. What is wrong to have something there which has good things to aim for, like being polite and being kind to other people,  being considerate, etc.
    Where. Is. The. Issue. Ok, so it’s a prayer, but how misguided and full of yourself do you have to be to file a lawsuit because you don’t like it?
    I don’t have a problem with people who are unbeleivers, what i DO have a problem with is when they act like they have the right to do things like this.

    • Nogard

      How full of yourself do you have to be to have made it a prayer in the first place?

    • http://twitter.com/InspFreethought Mike

      What’s wrong with it? It’s illegal.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      beleiver, (Is that really how you spell it?) Read all of the over 138 comments that preceded yours, and you’ll find several that clearly and eloquently explain why this is an important issue. Believers should be the most eager to keep government and religion from getting into bed with each other, because they make a mess of each other. Your freedom to believe whatever you do is threatened whenever the separation becomes more blurred, and it’s getting worse every year.  Yet the believers of the majority religion are the least interested in keeping the integrity of their freedom, because they naively think they’d be just peachy fine with a government-mandated version of their faith. No, they wouldn’t. If it happens they’ll be the first to complain, but it will be too late.

      Worship whatever you want on your property, on your time, with your money, or on the public street corner if you wish, but don’t use government institutions to pay for or to promote your religion. That would be forcing everyone to pay for promoting your religion. You wouldn’t want to be forced to promote someone else’s religion, would you? What’s fair is fair. 

  • John

    I love how throughout the decision precedents by FFRF are mentioned.

  • Choqueras

    You are deleting comments you don’t like? so much for freedom of speach!

    • Rich Wilson

      Extremely unlikely.  Much more likely it’s the commenting system.  I’ve had comments go astray too.  Hemant only deletes things that are egregiously trolling.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Choqueras, what has been deleted? If something you wrote disappeared, I’m certain it was some screw-up of the Discus software, and not a deliberate deletion by Hemant, who is the only person who could do it. That is not how he operates. He has great integrity.  This kind of glitch happens once in a while. If a comment of yours was lost, please try again.  I usually copy my comments before I submit them just in case they disappear.

    • Dfskj

      speach? Is that like a special peach?

  • Hannah Taylor

    And public schools aren’t government by what logic…?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

    We get your point. We just reject it as irrelevant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reginald-VangleasonThird/100000192082864 Reginald VangleasonThird

    Oh Goody, Goody!  Jessica got her 15 minutes of fame.  The Indian turd helped.  Goody.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Flagged.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536659052 Scott Wells

    Anything that is funded by the government is funded through laws. So anything that is funded by the government can not respect an establishment of religion. This includes anything that happens on public land.Perhaps you should read the Constitution yourself, as well as the Federalist Papers, the Treaty of Tripoli, and the Case Law of the US with regards to the Establishment Clause.

  • Hohoho

    I’m from England and I don’t see what the problem is. It seems stupid for her to have laboured over this just to get one thing taken down. She should have pushed to get something put up to represent her and the people that believe the same as her.

    • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

      Except that that would be just as illegal. Public schools in America cannot be used to promote religious viewpoints.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

        Lotsa luck with PM &Vicar Cameron!

    • Anonymous

      I’m from England as well and I say good for her. Keep your stupid myths in your temples and leave the children alone.

    • Zombieunicorns

      You’re from England, so maybe you don’t understand the Constitution of the United States.  Luckily, our court system does (sometimes) and acted appropriately.

  • http://twitter.com/rmz rmz

    Well, actually I like this banner :-)   A pragmatic fix could be to remove the first two and the last line, that should make it appropriately secular without removing the actual (not particularly religious) substance.

    But that’s just my opinion ymmv ;)

    • Derrik Pates

      And Jessica went to the administration, and even the ACLU went and tried to have a conversation with them about if not removing the banner, at least removing the offending bits. They refused. It’s neither Jessica’s fault, nor the ACLU’s, that the school administration refused to compromise. Now the judge has made his decision, and it’s required to go away.

      Compromise can only happen if both sides are willing.

  • Itcouldhappen1

    it’s not that she is being intolerant.  why don’t you guys see that?  its ILLEGAL.  besides, why should she have to ignore something that is bothering her?
    she wasn’t saying she’s doing this for an atheist stance or whatever, she didn’t say “i hate god”  hell, she did everything exactly right.

    if some girl got refused the chance to put up some kind of prayer in her school, with OBVIOUS religious phrases, she would be touted as a hero for trying to follow her beliefs and blah blah blah tebow blah blah blah, and the courts would be seen as “big evil monster attacking cute girls beliefs”.  she’d get a movie deal and be on the fast track to a presidential campaign…

    good for jessica, i can only imagine the hate sent her way because of this.  98% of it from christians i’m sure.  She stood up for what she felt was right, regardless of the odds against her.

  • http://twitter.com/cockyjeremy Jeremy Lester

    Dear heavenly father, 

    stay out of school and in your church where you belong.

    America

    • Guest

      Yes, aren’t you just clever, speaking on America’s behalf ?
      “God Bless America” CLEARLY makes a mockery of your snooty point.

      • Redmaypril

        hrmm yeah was not a logical argument at all. nice try lol

      • Alsee

        Individuals have every freedom to say “God Bless America”.
        When the GOVERNMENT says that, it CLEARLY makes a mockery of our Constitution.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Horatio-Postlethwaite/708670651 Horatio Postlethwaite

    I wonder if they will be good sports and smile even though they lost…

  • HerbieTheBeagle

    Congratulations Jessica for standing up for what is right.  Those who were against you sought to retain their religious privilege and failed to appreciate the basic principle that public schools should represent all students equally.  

  • Newavocation

    Churches need to be in schools because it’s getting harder for them to get the kids to come to church on Sundays. I just wonder when we will have to establish a buffer zone around schools to keep their proselytizers away, just like the 
    Pedophiles

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edan-Burg/1376892010 Edan Burg

    “Let’s say you see the ‘Our Father’ on a sign on the side of a building, are you going to sue them to and file complaints because it’s not what you believe in and you want everyone else to conform to your beliefs.”

    If it’s on the side of a government building and they refused to allow any other religion apart from christianity or a secular message to accompnay it, then yes I would have a dam problem with government endorsing a single religion and then take the required actions to take on the discrimination

  • Anonymous

    oooo yesss
    wctube

  • Ttoonniigghhtt44

    Dear Lord,

    I prayer for Jessica, for she know not what she do Lord.  I prayer that she will know the true meaning of prayer Lord.

    Amen!   There’s still time to repent Jessica.

    • jose

      “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for
      they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners
      to be seen by others
      But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your
      Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in
      secret, will reward you.”
      Matthew 5You’re one of the hypocrites Jesus was talking about. :-)

      • Nick

        But he wasn’t praying; he was prayering.

        • jose

          xD

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      You gotta be kidding!

  • Achess

    Bravo Jessica!!!

  • Sriplewi

    Why so people get so upset over a simple banner? All it promotes is everyone doing their best. Who cares that it is written as a prayer? I work with A Muslim girl who brings her prayer book with her and leaves it in the drawer where I have to see it, i have Christian faith, but seeing a religious book or statement doesn’t bother me if its different than what I believe. If u don’t believe it, than your belief system shouldn’t be threatened by a simple banner that is there obviously because enough people at that school do believe in god. Get over yourself, your ego, and just ignore it. People in this world are fighting to change the wrong things.

    • jose

      - People get upset because they like separation of church and state.

      - It officially promotes religion in a public school.

      - Individuals and public institutions are not the same. People are welcome to pray to whoever they want. Public institutions can’t promote religion because they’re part of the state, and the state has to be open to all religions or lack thereof.

      - Nobody is feeling threatened by the sign. That’s not why she did it. She did it because she thought promoting religion in a public school is not right. Incidentally, the writers of the Constitution happen to agree with her.

      - Ego has nothing to do with it, either.

      - Ignoring it is not a good strategy to honor the Constitution and get rid of the sign.

      - You’ve failed to argue why official endorsement of religion by public schools is a wrong thing to change.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

        Great response, Jose.

  • Anonymous

    I chipped in to the college fund. Bravo Jessica.

  • http://www.bblss.org/ Miki

    What an inspirational young lady!  :) 

  • Riccardo

    I know you’re not supposed to be happy at other’s losses and all that, but I shamefully admit a bit of schadenfreude in reading (in the 40-page report) that the very insults and threats I read at the beginning of the document, which made my blood boil, were the very reason the court tipped the scales so much in favour of Jessica (not that they wouldn’t have otherwise). The tea I was drinking never tasted so good. :P
    Here’s to Jessica! May many many others like her be born in this world. Cheers!

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      “Schaden” WHAT?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Schadenfreude. Die schoenste freude!

        It’s pretty much finding happiness or humour in another person’s misfortune.

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

          Thanks. Nothing wrong with that if the other person
          is a jerk.

      • Alsee

        It’s a wonderful German word that got adopted into the English language.
        It’s the pleasure you feel when bad things happen to bad people.

        If you read about a man who tried rape a woman and got his penis bitten off by the woman’s dog, and you smile and say “good”, that’s schadenfreude.

        If a school violates a student’s Constitutional rights, and the judge says the school has to pay all the student’s legal costs pursuing the case, and you’re glad they have to pay, that’s schadenfreude.

        • Someguy

          Just to be clear.  It’s pleasure at bad things happening to OTHER people.

          It’s not just bad things to bad people.

  • Rkolegendkiller38

    “I want things to go my way and when they don’t, I’ll stomp my feet like a fucking child who couldn’t get that new toy, until I get what I want.” – Atheist mentality

    People wonder why that one poll showed atheists are basically despised more than a rapist? Well here you go. A kid getting offended (after an entire year by the way, she didn’t even pay attention to it before a friend whined, what an athiest!) by a poster. Have some bad news for you, if THAT offends you, the real world is going to tear you apart. Oh and the “shoved down your throat” thing, I didn’t realize you were forced to your knees every morning with a gun to the temple and made to say the words on the banner. This world is in trouble, serious trouble with people like this “leading the way”.  Generation Pussies we are a go!

    • jose

      It’s fine if you want to abolish the US Constitution in favor or a religious theocracy in which church and state are one and the same (that’s the only way you can legally allow prayer posters in public schools).

      Some other Americans disagree.

      Now, a judge has decided that according to the law, the constitutionalists are right.

      There’s really nothing more to it. Everything has been very civil and every step of the democratic process has been dutifully taken. No screaming, no hate. And the result is simply the proper application of the law.

      You prefer Iran’s system, well, that’s your right.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      Tell it to the judge!

    • BeefSupreme

      “I want things to go my way and when they don’t, I’ll stomp my feet like
      a fucking child who couldn’t get that new toy, until I get what I
      want.” – Christian  mentality (dont forget to add “attack those who disagree with me”)

      she opposed the banner—went to court.
      people who supported the banner—threats of bodily harm, hate speech, heckling, people who opposed it had to be removed for their own safety.

      • Derrik Pates

        She went to them before going to the ACLU, and they were unwilling to even countenance removing the offending bits. It’s not like a more middle of the road solution couldn’t have been reached, if they’d been willing to talk about it, but they refused.

        Why is it Christians always blather about compromise, but when it actually comes to a situation where compromise could be useful, so many of them won’t even consider it? “Our way or the highway” is pretty much never a useful attitude, guys.

    • Zombieunicorns

      Really? The Atheists stamp their feet and throw fits? Because what I’m seeing right now is a lot of Christians throwing temper tantrums over a banner being removed, going so far as to threaten a 16 year old. Is that not childish?

  • Rkolegendkiller38

    Oh and how fitting, wanting to start a college fund for this kid, who again wasn’t even offended by the banner and again didn’t even notice it for an entire year. Pretty fitting you want to give the kid a ride through a crucial part of her life instead of having her work for it, goes well with throwing a tantrum until you get your way. Well done. What ignorance or intolerance was in play here? The KID DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE THIS THING FOR A FULL YEAR. 360 days. Remove “heavenly father” and “amen”. Boom. It goes back to no one caring about it, just the way it had been for 40 years. Atheists – we don’t want to believe in God, please stop making me (even though no one is making you) do so, instead follow whatever I believe in because that’s alright. Shove THAT down everyones throat instead.

    • Rich Wilson

      Remove “heavenly father” and “amen”.

      Lots of people have suggested either changing the banner, or putting up banners for other faiths.  The School was the one who refused to budge or compromise in any way shape or form.  There are probably a lot of other solutions that could have been worked out if people hadn’t dug in their heels and treated it as a religious war.

    • http://felicityk.livejournal.com/ Felicity

      The school was given the option of removing “heavenly father” and “amen”, and the suit would have been dropped. The school refused to do so and instead wasted more of the taxpayers’ money by going to court.

    • Rich Wilson

      Pretty fitting you want to give the kid a ride through a crucial part of her life instead of having her work for it

      So you’re opposed to all non-merit based scholarships?

      Personally, I want to compensate ‘the kid’ for the time and energy she has sacrificed standing up for our rights (yours and mine) to not have schools putting up Crosses, or Star of Davids or Crescent Moons (or Heavenly Fathers).

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      Tell it to the judge!

    • Zombieunicorns

      She noticed it right away and it bothered her for a year. And that is irrelevant. The point is, our Constitution calls for a separation of Church and State, and this banner meant that the school was in violation of this. She had every right to stand up for our Constitutional Rights and have it taken down.  And just because she’s the first to ask for its removal does not mean she was the first to be bothered by it. She was just the first to stand up and do something about it.

       Also, there are 365 days in a year, genius.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I didn’t think I could love Tim Minchin more than I already did… but now he’s defending Jessica on his Twitter page!

    https://twitter.com/timminchin
    “Congratulations, @jessicaahlquist !”

    “@alexmillier Won a case in the US to get a prayer banner out of her school. She’s amazing. See you in a few weeks?”

    “@PaulDBannister @jessicaahlquist A disinterest in secularism is your choice, but cases like this have extremely important ramifications.”

    “@PaulDBannister The US constitution specifically separates church & state. Personal belief is fine, but God in gov’t schools is illegal.”

    “@PaulDBannister “In God we Trust” appeared on notes in 1957, “Under God” appeared in the Pledge in 1954, both should’ve been fought.”

    “@PaulDBannister Small fights (school banner) are worth winning in court to ensure constitutional secularism is upheld.”

    “@PaulDBannister It’s nowt to do with Atheism. Secularism is important to religious people too. Your freedom to personal belief is protected.”

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      Put out the small fires before they become too big to put out.

  • Vince

    Whether you believe in God or not, a banner that encourages being a better person is NOT a problem. It’s some girl who thinks she’s standing up for something–she is not. I’m sure winning this case has really made her feel better about herself, like she is actually doing something. That’s great and all, but there is no way she was genuinely offended by such an inoffensive banner. She is only serving to make atheists look pigheaded and intolerant. It’s nitpicking a few “religious” words. No one is forcing her to believe in God, and the words in that banner are extremely weak.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      Remove a few words and the banner is legal.
      But the school wouldn’t do this.
      Maybe now it will.

    • JTPnorth

      Read the First Amendment, it is very clear, government cannot endorse any religion period end of story.

    • Victoria

      The disgusting Twitter response by Christians to her legitimate protest is making them all look pigheaded and intolerant.   Jessica is simply standing up for the First Amendment by asking that the church and state be kept separate.  Yes, the banner is just a silly school thing, but their refusal to remove the references to religious figures is what makes it illegal and more than just a message for students to try to live by.

  • Michael Appleman

    I finally got around to reading the whole decision by the Judge. His descriptions of the counsel meetings reminded me of a city counsel meeting I went to to get some photos for a photojournalism class. The meeting was about an ‘adult shop’ that was opening up  in town. Let me tell you, all I could do was laugh. Laugh my ass off at how utterly childlike the people who were upset about the ‘adult shop’ were acting. And they were getting up in front of a packed room to do it! It was almost too embarrassing to watch.

  • Anonymous

    Christians are pretty much dense.They won’t get it.They’ve always thought of themselves as victims.I think someone should sell crying towels during Mythmas saying,”I’m a Christian and I’m a victim”.

    • Derrik Pates

      Fortunately there are some who do get it. But not enough.

  • Diana

    I would hate to be Jessica on Judgement Day! Dear Lord, bless us all.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      You actually communicate with the creator of the universe?

      You’re an amazing lady!

      • Redmaypril

        I think if there was a judgement day, god would probably say “good for you, standing up for your beliefs!” 

    • Zombieunicorns

      You really think your god would send a girl to Hell for standing up for her Constitutional rights? I’m guessing no one is making it into your Heaven then, huh?

  • Anonymous

    Wups, it looks like my contribution didn’t work last time (me fail paypal) but I’ve definitely chipped in $15 this time.

  • http://whatsthatyousaid.net/ BEG

    )(OK, you could have the subjunctive form of aman — amen — there.  But honestly, I don’t hear that sort of thing when speaking spanish, though I guess YMMV.)

    But anyway, the resemblence is accidental.  Here’s a summary of the etymology: 
    Amen, meaning “so be it”, is said to be of Hebrew origin [5][6], however the roots of the word can be traced to most Semitic Languages. The word was imported into the Greek of the early Church from Judaism.[1][7] From Greek, amen entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, amen passed from Greek into Late Latin, and thence into English.[8]The Hebrew word amen derives from the same ancient triliteral Hebrew root as does the verb ʾāmán.[9] Grammarians frequently list ʾāmán under its three consonants (aleph-mem-nun), which are identical to those of ʾāmēn (note that the Hebrew letter א aleph originally represented a glottal stop sound, which functioned as a consonant in the morphology of Hebrew).[8] This triliteral root means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amen

    “So be it; truly” makes far more sense in prayer context than “may they love”…

  • Tftss445tst88

    I love athiests.  Everyone should own one.  They are hilarious.

  • Truth

    It’s all fun and games until you’re burning in HELL.  hahaha

  • Waltz707

    Thank you jessica! im going to make an “i support” shirt and wear it to my school, where our school choir has to sing religious music or get kicked out of said class! You are an inspiration: please, become a lawyer and stand up for whats right.

  • Diana

    Dear Davedodobird in England, religion is not a “stupid myth”! If everyone kept the 10 Commandments and followed Jesus, the world would be a better place.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      That’s… nice, dearie, but the rest of us outgrew having an imaginary friend around the age of six. *pats Diana on the head*

    • Rich Wilson

      I’m sure all first responders will be happy to know they can take Sundays off.

    • Zombieunicorns

      People are more than capable of having morals without following a religion. I’m proof of that, as are many of the other people commenting on this.

    • Derrik Pates

      Only 3 of the 10 commandments address actual crimes everyone can agree on. Most of the first 4 of them spend way too many words forcing Christianity down people’s throats. Don’t murder, don’t steal and don’t bear false witness – yes. But where are the commandments against rape and torture? Incest? Slavery? Oh wait, that’s right – there aren’t any. And the last of them starts getting into *thought crime*. That’s your great moral model? I’ll stick with modern, secular morality, thanks.

  • Chase

    I would be endlessly proud to have her as a daughter!  A small gift of education is the least gift I could do.

  • Paul Winkler

    Seems to me these haters have failed to try with most of the provisions of the prayer, so they don’t have a right to opine on its presence or absence,  Threats of rape and violence should be reported to the police.  I hope Jessica gets to go to college free!

  • Wendy

    Can someone help me out?   Someone is telling me that since the banner was donated by a class that it’s student led and that means it’s ok.   That’s not true correct?

    • Rich Wilson

      From the decision: 

      Again, to perform this analysis, the Court must examine the Prayer Mural at three points in time.  When the Prayer Mural was hung in 1963, a reasonable observer would no doubt have concluded that Cranston West endorsed its message, and approved its installation in a place of prominence in the new auditorium.  While the Prayer was authored by a student, and the Mural was paid for by a group of graduates, the School would never have permitted the exhibition of a message of which it did not approve.

      That the money was donated makes no difference.  By allowing it to be posted in the school, the school is endorsing it.  They would not allow a banner saying “There is no God” or an Islamic prayer.

    • Redmaypril

      No not true. 

  • Andy Paul Brown

    Reading Christians’ comments about Jessica’s stand, makes me feel that they have little understanding of what Christianity insists it stands for, tolerance and forgiveness being the principal values absent here. It’s a multi-cultural world and the US, and notably New York, has always proudly presented itself as a tolerant and welcoming society; yet here we can witness one religious denomination being held above all others.

    Christian Facism is not an attractive thing!

  • http://twitter.com/Chumblespuzz213 Kyle Huckins

    Once high school is over you won’t have to see these people ever again anyway.

  • stephen sarbiewski

    Ms. Ahlquist
    Its often very hard to stand up for what is right.  Civil rights, free speech and freedom of religion, including freedom from religion are only represented in our society today because of brave individuals like you.   Ms. Ahlquist represents the very best of America.  Well done, Madam. 

  • Heartbroken

    So – ummm – you guys are HAPPY about this? Well. I am a PROUD Christain, and I feel bad for each and every one of you. I have no idea what put this kind of hatred into your hearts but, unfortunately, without God, you’ll probably never get over it. That’s a shame, and I feel bad for you.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Aaah, feel that “Christian Love”…

    • Guest

      I can’t speak for everyone, nor can I speak for the atheists (since I’m not one, although I’m also not a Christian) but .. I don’t hate Christians. I don’t hate Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.  All that being said, I’m still happy to see that this was the end result.  

      Everyone should have the right to practice/display their own personal beliefs.  I applaud Christians who will pray before eating in a public restaurant, kudos to them for not caring what anyone around them thinks or believes.  Would I do it? No.

      But if those same Christians requested that I join them in prayer, or silence my own conversation for the sake of their prayer, etc. then it becomes a different issue altogether.  Jessica (and in fact, nobody above that I’ve seen) is not saying that the Christians in the school don’t deserve the right to have their beliefs or have their prayers.  What’s being said is that it doesn’t need to be on the wall, big as life, in everyone else’s face.

      • Redmaypril

        Couldn’t have said it better, above Guest. People who don’t want religion in school are not hateful. We’re probably more loving and tolerant than a lot of the so-called Christians in the school. But think for a second, Heartbroken. Pretend that mural was all about Allah and instead of at the end, there was an Allahu-akbar. Would you feel comfortable? I’m thinking probably not. I feel like when people say that religion should be in schools, they mean CHRISTIAN religion, not any other. And how is that tolerant at all? Go on being a proud Christian, Heartbroken, but it won’t change the fact that the U.S. does have a constitution, and there IS a separation of church and state. Thank goodness (not god). 

        • Zombieunicorns

          Exactly what I was about to say! :)

    • Derrik Pates

      I can only suggest you actually read up on the case – perhaps by reading the judge’s decision. No one hates your religion – it’s simply that displays of favor toward any religious belief are specifically not Constitutional. Separation of church and state – it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law. And it’s as good for us (as atheists) as it is for you, believe it or not.

  • Nomax12

    So sorry Jessica that so many terribly immature “Christians” have posted so many hateful things. Christ would never have acted in that way- He died a humiliating and terrible death so all could live, simply by accepting Him for who He is. All those who are called by His name, should act as he did- not like this.

  • Gerbertfloor

    I saw the insults she had to endure and as a Christian I can say that that was awful and immoral, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for her. I don’t agree with her case against what seems to me an innocent prayer, but if it’s her constitutional right then the banner has to be removed. Christianity should be much more like wanting to resemble Jesus, being humble and definitely not being hurtful but loving to others. In holland there are Christian and public schools, a lot of the schools are Christian, while most of the students are not. Christian schools tend to score a little better (don’t know why). All schools get the same funding from the government though. In our school we for example have a bible verse from Micha 6.

    Anyway, although she probably doesn’t and wouldn’t care, I will pray for her.

    • Guest

      I’m not a Christian. It’s not a belief of mine nor is it a path I’ve chosen to take. I have my own belief structure. When I hit a rough patch in my life, or I’m faced with adversity (which, is nowhere near the type of verbal assault this young woman is facing) I will happily accept prayers from my friends who believe it will help.  Even if I don’t believe it will, it always helps to know someone out there is thinking of me, and wants good things for me.

      I appreciate seeing a comment of what I envision is a true Christian, shaming those who hate and threaten in the name of their beliefs. While she might not *mind* you praying for her, please don’t ruin your uplifting, loving, *true* Christian comment by saying she likely doesn’t care. I’m sure positive thoughts and words are the things she cares the most about right now.

      • Gerbertfloor

        Thanks, it is indeed rather arrogant of me that I assume what she cares about. Didn’t think about it in that way.

    • Allison

      I appreciate, as a Christian, hearing another Christian say something that represents the love God intended for us to display. I agree that the insults and bullying she received from “Christians” was wrong. I wish those people would not call themselves “Christians.” They have not exhibited Jesus’ love or sacrificial humility at all. As the old song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” If you’re not seeing love in the life and words of a “Christian,” you’re not seeing a genuine Christian. 

      That said, some of these people truly are Christians, and maybe they lost their job that day, or maybe they bombed an exam, or maybe they got some bad news, or maybe…the list could go on. Obviously this doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it gives us reason to treat them with a little bit of grace. These genuine Christians will look back on the things they said with regret, realizing the impact their words have had. Of course, it will be too late to take them back.

      Please know that there are people out there that DO follow Christ and literally give up their lives and freedom for Him. 
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10900338
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3993857.stm
      There are hundreds of people who suffer like these around the world every day. Most of their stories won’t be publicized.

      In the end, a banner hanging on a wall isn’t what changes the atmosphere or success of a school anyway; it’s the students ACTUALLY praying, which I hope they do. Schools need all the help they can get…

  • http://twitter.com/n2kaja Kaja Malouf

    Hey I just want to let you know that I think you are a modern day hero, don’t let the crap get you down because there are lots of us out here that admire your brave actions.  You did the right thing 
    Kaja from Australia! 

  • Willard1994

     I belive if their is in fact a god he is not the hateful tyrant discribed in the bible. orginized religion just causes trouble, good luck girl you have a bright future ahead of you so forget the haters k you are wonderful and also pretty!

  • Dawglvr

    Jessica you have the support of everyone around you.

  • Chad

    The people that leave threats also claim to be constitutionalists … Maybe they should read it first. Seperation of church and state , public schools ARE state. Religion.. ANY religion has NO place in a public school.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Russell/1458206150 David Russell

    I wrote a song for Jessica. It’s all I have to give, other than my support!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZSi6mba18s

  • http://twitter.com/weenwee Ween Wee

    Bless her heart, from myself (a person of faith) and our family.  
    http://www.geekfamily.co.uk/lord-of-the-flies/2012/01/14

  • daniel cole

    We need more young people like Jessica.

  • Hokk

    Friendly Atheist – now theres’ an oxymoron.

    • Zombieunicorns

      Like Intelligent Christian? …Seriously, stop being so closed-minded. It makes you look bad.

  • Sjkaplan

    The scary thing about most of these posts is their navel-gazing. These posters morphed the discussion of the banner into something about themselves; whose Spanish verb knowledge is superior, for example. While everyone’s entitled to express an opinion, it would be nice if those opinions had something to do with the topic under discussion. Just because you can express an opinion doesn’t mean you should express an opinion, especially if the opinion expressed is (a) vapid; (b) poorly written; (c) self-centered; and (d) off topic. What is clear is that any school authorities posting a banner in their schools that begins, “Our Heavenly Father,” is bringing religious expression into the public schools, which is a misuse of taxpayer dollars and illegal. Less clear is exactly who posted this banner and why taking it down raised such a brouhaha. Kudos to the young woman who fought the good fight and won. But, those who posted their solipsistic “arguments” as a contribution to the discussion, deserve nothing less than the Spanish fig.

  • Sjkaplan

    The scary thing about most of these posts is their navel-gazing. These posters morphed the discussion of the banner into something about themselves; whose Spanish verb knowledge is superior, for example. While everyone’s entitled to express an opinion, it would be nice if those opinions had something to do with the topic under discussion. Just because you can express an opinion doesn’t mean you should express an opinion, especially if the opinion expressed is (a) vapid; (b) poorly written; (c) self-centered; and (d) off topic. What is clear is that any school authorities posting a banner in their schools that begins, “Our Heavenly Father,” are bringing religious expression into the public schools, which is a misuse of taxpayer dollars and illegal. Less clear is exactly who posted this banner and why taking it down raised such a brouhaha. Kudos to the young woman who fought the good fight and won. But, those who posted their solipsistic “arguments” as a contribution to the discussion, deserve nothing less than the Spanish fig.

  • Sjkaplan

    The scary thing about most of these posts is their navel-gazing. These posters morphed the discussion of the banner into something about themselves; whose Spanish verb knowledge is superior, for example. While everyone’s entitled to express an opinion, it would be nice if those opinions had something to do with the topic under discussion. Just because you can express an opinion doesn’t mean you should express an opinion, especially if the opinion expressed is (a) vapid; (b) poorly written; (c) self-centered; and (d) off topic. What is clear is that any school authorities posting a banner in their schools that begins, “Our Heavenly Father,” are bringing religious expression into the public schools, which is a misuse of taxpayer dollars and illegal. Less clear is exactly who posted this banner and why taking it down raised such a brouhaha. Kudos to the young woman who fought the good fight and won. But, those who posted their solipsistic “arguments” as a contribution to the discussion deserve nothing less than the Spanish fig.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001505851234 Luke McCarty

    $16,000 !? That’s amazing!

    Jessica will be thrilled to have such leniency in college, and it’s only been one day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001505851234 Luke McCarty

    He was being kind. At least he didn’t threaten to jump you, mug you, beat you up or kill you (aka, the people who reacted negatively to Jess).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Malorii-Rainwater/694852626 Malorii Rainwater

    That poor girl.  She is so brave though and has a truly strong character, I don’t know if I could stand up to those people.   Heck, I had a hard enough time standing up to bullies in school because I didn’t wear the right “brand of clothes.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001505851234 Luke McCarty

    I don’t believe in God because there is no rational reason to. Not because I “don’t want” to. You’re belittling the critical path one must go down in order to become an Atheist (in the case of those raised in a certain religion).

    She’s not shoving ANYTHING down ANYONE’S throat. In fact, have you seen what Christians have been saying to her? 

    Jess is doing what is right and upholding the law, unlike the school. She could so easily sure them for what she has to g through now (but I doubt she will, I can imagine she’s content with all the support she’s getting).

    And yes, people are often threatening her with her life for not being a Christian. So stop being such an arrogant twat and reflect on the situation properly before posting uneducated bullshit.

  • Keith Jones

    Jessica,

    As a fellow informed Atheist currently residing in the Netherlands, I am very proud of you. With the separation of Church and State, a prayer banner does NOT belong in a public school.

    To all so-called Christians who are sending you hate-full messages, I would like to state that I am very disappointed that you are not behaving very Christ-like. This does not reflect the fruitage of the spirit that Galations speaks of, nor or you following in the foorsteps of the Christ. You expect us Atheists to be respectful of your beliefs, yet you do not respect ours.

    Warm regards, Keith

  • BdrLen

    The text of the decision is well worth reading in its entirety.

  • Karin

    That girl is going to rule the world some day. I wish I were half as brave and well-spoken now, in my mid-30′s, as she is at 16.

    • http://teg.myopenid.com/ Teg

      > That girl is going to rule the world some day

      Ooooh, I hope so!  She would definitely be an improvement on the people we have at present (and a *vast* improvement on most of the offerings).

      Jessica — when I start feeling down and thinking there’s no hope for the future, I try to remind myself of you.  I hope for your sake and for that of the world that you’re able to maintain your energy and vitality as you get older.  (I’m not that much older than you and don’t mean to sound condescending; just the contrary, I admire you and wish I could be more like you.)

  • Kristiwise78

    I am just going to tell you all that do not believe in Our Heavenly Father that I feel so sorry for you and I pray for you all.. if you read the Bible you will see that what is happening today is written.. you are a part of that.. she is a part of that.. you can’t remove Him.. He is real.. He is Risen.. Religion is not everything.. but He is.. if you do not believe that His Son died for all of you it is simple.. you will go to Hell, and that is it! He loves you all.. He just wants the same.. I will not comment or reply again.. so save the rude comments.. use you time to read The Bible.. learn about Him.. He is so truly worth it..

    • Erp

      Actually I suspect many of us have read the Bible or large chunks of it.  I have admiration for many Christian universalists (or those close to that) but not for those who think real love involves condemning the loved one to eternal torment if the loved one fails to return the love.  The Bodhisattvas seem much more attractive (they are delaying becoming buddhas until they have helped all beings to be enlightened), not that I believe in them either.

    • Derrik Pates

      I far prefer:

      “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
       – Isaac Asimov

  • http://twitter.com/Mike_Calhoun Michael Calhoun
    • Christoph Burschka

      > have this dick removed.
      I misread that and thought “wow, that’d be a bit harsh”. =P

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mona.Albano Mona Albano

    I’ve read the decision. And the banner has been covered for now.

  • Grace

    Let’s compensate for the angry athiest girl because she’s mad at God because He didnt help her Mommy. You have no factual & no faith. You seem ignorant and oblivious and somewhat cocky.  This was actually quite annoying to listen to. If you have the right to take down a prayer, I have a right to keep it there. Fair game?

    • Piet Puk

      Grace,
      You seem ignorant and oblivious and somewhat cocky. Did you go to the trouble of actually reading anything here before you typed your contribution?
      Like many people have mentioned here before:” The Constitution calls for a separation of Church and State, and this banner meant that the school was in violation of this.”
      At home you can hang up all the prayer banners you want.
      How is that for fair game?

  • Keith Jones

    To those Christians who feel sorry for us Atheists, I sincerely appreciate your loving concern. I do not mean this wrong in any manner, but 1 Corinthians 15:19 is how we view you. But as long as you are happy with your beliefs, by all means continue.

  • Fafa

    I gave a few bucks, come to Princeton :)

  • Snsuebee

    Jessica, thank you for what you have done. You give me hope for the future. You are a true defender of our constitution and bill of rights, and I hold your action in highest esteem. Hang tough, girl! You are amazing!

  • Chuck

    I’m pasting this golden nugget from Greta Christina’s
    article at Alternet, Jan. 18.  Last night, radio host Mike Malloy clearly quoted from
    this same article, as he read a heaping-helping of the backward, near murderous
    hatred directed at Jessica.   With the contact info from Alternet,
    I’ll be calling “Representative” Peter Palumbo’s office this
    afternoon, and find out if he is _really_ saying that he finds this eruption
    of  ‘Christian’ lunacy to be, somehow, quite alright by him.   I
    hope others will join me.  When Palumbo said, “we’re crucifying Jesus
    again,” he seems confused about the meaning of the name, Jesus.  That
    ‘meaning,’ here, seems utterly devoid of Jesus, and ethics, and morality, to
    the point of actually embracing mayhem, brutality, and calls to murder.  In
    doing so, Palumbo ‘represents’ pure, wicked, SHAME.

    Have courage, Jessica!

    “Even her state representative, Rhode Island State Representative Peter G.
    Palumbo, has gotten into the act. He went
    onto WPRO talk radio to excoriate the ruling (saying, among other things,
    “we’re crucifying Jesus again”), and to mock and vilify Ahlquist,
    calling her a “pawn star” (that’s a 16-year-old girl we’re talking
    about), a “clapping seal,” and an “evil little thing” (later
    modified to “coerced by evil people”). (Slight tangent: It’s bad
    enough when ordinary citizens don’t understand enough Civics 101 to know that
    this ruling was not only correct but entirely uncontroversial. It’s much worse
    when this isn’t understood by a state representative, whose job it is to understand
    the law, and who took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Palumbo’s phone
    number, by the way, is (401) 785-2882, and his email is
    rep-palumbo@rilin.state.ri.us .)”

  • Cgosling

    Jessica, you are a gem. May the rest of your life be as fruitful.

  • Chuck

    Jessica’s position reminds me of another, that is, Sophie
    Scholl and the White Rose.   In their case, they were Christians who
    stood up for the values of the nation and their Christian beliefs,
    pan-religionist as it may have been, but nonetheless that of the Golden Rule. 
    Guess in what position this puts Palumbo and his fury-minions?

    http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/scholl_html/flash.html

  • Chuck

    Twice I have called Palumbo’s office.  No response of any kind. Twice I have sent this e-mail.  No acceptance of any kind.  Maybe his whole ‘system’ has shut down.  Maybe his address — rep-palumbo@rilin.state.ri.us – 

    is all outbox, no inbox.  Maybe his is an electronic variant of, “STFU!”   So, maybe someone closer to the source can forward my earnest e-letter to Representative Palumbo.

    [Subject:  Jessica Ahlquist, American Citizen]Dear Representative Palumbo,

    This below, from Greta Christina’s article at Alternet, Jan.
    18,

    Why Is an Atheist High School
    Student Getting Vicious Death Threats?

    Her state representative has called the student
    “evil” and she has been threatened with violence, rape and death.
    What gives? 

    http://www.alternet.org/belief/153803/why_is_an_atheist_high_school_student_getting_vicious_death_threats/?page=1

    “Even her state representative, Rhode Island State Representative Peter
    G. Palumbo, has gotten into the act. He went
    onto WPRO talk radio to excoriate the ruling (saying, among other things,
    “we’re crucifying Jesus again”), and to mock and vilify Ahlquist,
    calling her a “pawn star” (that’s a 16-year-old girl we’re talking
    about), a “clapping seal,” and an “evil little thing”
    (later modified to “coerced by evil people”). (Slight tangent: It’s
    bad enough when ordinary citizens don’t understand enough Civics 101 to know
    that this ruling was not only correct but entirely uncontroversial. It’s much
    worse when this isn’t understood by a state representative, whose job it is to
    understand the law, and who took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Palumbo’s
    phone number, by the way, is (401) 785-2882, and his email is
    rep-palumbo@rilin.state.ri.us .)”

    Ms. Christina also included something else:

    “Have no doubt — people are
    enraged. Not just disappointed; not just upset. Enraged. Even before the
    judge’s decision, Jessica Ahlquist had been ostracized, bullied, and
    even occasionally threatened over her lawsuit. But when the court ruling
    came down last week, the climate of harassment and hostility against
    her escalated out of control, into widespread vilification, venomous bile, and explicit threats of violence, rape and death. Including the following:

    “Let’s all jump that girl who did the banner #fuckthatho”

    “I want to punch the girl in the face that made west take down the school prayer… #Honestly”

    “hail Mary full of grace @jessicaahlquist is gonna get punched in the face”

    “Fuck Jessica alquist I’ll drop anchor on her face”

    “lol I wanna stick that bitch lol”

    “We can make so many jokes about this dumb bitch, but who cares
    #thatbitchisgointohell and Satan is gonna rape her.”

    “Brb ima go drown that atheist in holy water”

    “”But for real somebody should jump this girl” lmao let’s do it!”

    “shes not human shes garbage”

    “wen
    the atheist dies, they believe they will become a tree, so we shld chop
    her down, turn her into paper then PRINT THE BIBLE ON HER.””

    And it continues.  You can read it, if you dare.

    So,
    here is my question.  Do you actually support these expressions here? 
    If you do not, have you renounced them?  Have you so stated a
    condemnation in a second radio interview, contradicting what you stated
    in the first?  

    By the way, the two calls I made to
    your office today were unanswered, even by an automatic answering system
    that might kick in after, say, two minutes on the phone (2×2=4 minutes
    of awaiting a pick-up).

    I expect your answer on this vital question. 
    Chuck Knowles
    American Citizen

  • Benjamin

    This is just great! Congratulations my fellow “Christians” what next? Lets roast an Atheist for non belief, a Jew as a Christ Killer, Deicide, etc? It is written “”Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21
    Just IMAGINE had those opposed to Jessica’s behavied as Christians are told to in Matthew 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly  whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary
    deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,
    and thou be cast into prison.- a violation always, on one side or the other, of love your neighbor. Do not carry the contention to a court of law.
    Perhaps IF the prayer banner had been presented as a artifact? or something along those lines?
    Otherwise we will have Islamic, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc banners?
    Freedom is not just for those who you agree with but your opponents even more so, otherwise it isn’t really freedom, is it?

  • Ben Doover

    This is just great! Congratulations my fellow “Christians” what next? Lets roast an Atheist for non belief, a Jew as a Christ Killer, Deicide, etc? It is written “”Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21
    Just IMAGINE had those opposed to Jessica’s behavied as Christians are told to in Matthew 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly  whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary
    deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,
    and thou be cast into prison.- a violation always, on one side or the other, of love your neighbor. Do not carry the contention to a court of law.
    Perhaps IF the prayer banner had been presented as a artifact? or something along those lines?
    Otherwise we will have Islamic, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc banners?
    Freedom is not just for those who you agree with but your opponents even more so, otherwise it isn’t really freedom, is it?

  • Kim

    I’m sorry but I don’t think it should have come down. She’s Atheist? Well then she shouldn’t use the “money” from the law suit for it has ” IN GOD WE TRUST” written on it!    People are getting retarded now a days. And the sad thing about it is there’s so many more people like her. There is nothing wrong with encouragement on a banner that’s probably been there long before she was even thought of!!!!! And the people laughing along with her are just as bad. I’m not judging anyone but this is my OPINION which I am most def entitled to! I’m 27  I dont push my Religion onto anyone but who is she to push hers onto an entire community?

    • Kyle Delaney

      Pretty much everything you said has been addressed already. How do you figure she shouldn’t use money? Of course she should use money. She just shouldn’t be okay with the unconstitutional text on it, which she isn’t. That argument is like Pascal’s Wager: overused and stupid to begin with.

      Yes, there is nothing wrong with encouragement on a banner, but there is something wrong with religion in public schools. Religion is divisive and excludes students and makes them feel unwelcome. And people defended the banner specifically because it was religious.

      She is not pushing her religion onto anybody. She doesn’t have a religion, but she’s not pushing her non-religion either. She’s standing up for her rights and getting her community to uphold the constitution by respecting everyone’s beliefs or lack of beliefs.

    • commontator

      She HAS no religion! How’s that stupidity thing working out for you?

    • A Portlander

      “I’m 27″

      What the flopping mankey bollocks does that have to do with anything?

  • Anonymous

    Attention to this comment:
    Plaintiff is clearly an articulate and courageous young woman, who took a brave stand, particularly in light of the hostile response she has received from her community.
    I submit that her community was the one that stood behind her and supported her. That is what community is all about, folks.
    It is time all of us choose our words wisely, to make it as clear as the azure sky, as clear as unmuddied water, that the neurotic, hysterical vituperations of a group of borderline psychotic believers in an adult version of a childhood invisible friend have no friends or allies in anyone who thinks. PERIOD. 

  • Andreastruble

    Why do we have to deny one another freedom of speech and religion or no religion with hate speech for one another? What are we teaching our children. In first grade my daughter was told to bring in her favorite book. It was about the birth of Christ, she was told it wasn’t appropriate. Why not it was her choice. Are we going to micro manage everything?

    • Kyle Delaney

      I certainly don’t think a child bringing a book to school about the birth of Christ was inappropriate. It was not by any means the school endorsing religion. It was just a child following instructions. I have a feeling the teacher would have been fine if it was a book about a minority religion because a sense of political correctness seems to give minorities special privileges for some reason. On the other hand, I think maybe the teacher was afraid things could get out of hand especially if there was, say, a Muslim student or something. And maybe if the teacher was Christian then she was afraid her own beliefs would come out and maybe she would lose her job over it.

      At any rate, the Cranston West banner was unconstitutional and was not a matter of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech applies to people saying things on their own time, not as representatives of government establishments.

  • AmericaUnUnitied

    This country now officially sucks!  I can’t wait until the revolution.
     

  • AmericaUnUnitied

    This country now officially sucks!  I can’t wait until the revolution.
     

  • Shock of Atheism

    This is why I dislike Christianity and fully support church-state separation! 

  • Vmwhitty04

    We need all the help we can get from Almighty God – our Heavenly Father! Take God out of society and what you get is anachy, rebellion and lawlessness which is indeed the case as our society breaks down more and more.  To remove the banner which has words that can only benefit society is such a sorry indictment on us – I am grief stricken. To turn our backs on God will only bring His judgment upon us, not His blessings.  To put the words into practice, we need His help for it is impossible for us to do so without Him.  Try it for a month and see how you go. 


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