So This Is Christian Love?

In the aftermath of Jessica Ahlquist winning her legal battle against Cranston High School West, a number of Christians (and run-of-the-mill trolls) have resorted to threatening her and verbally abusing her on Facebook, Twitter, and even the comment sections of various news sites.

Mary and Robert Posey have compiled screenshots from all over the place… it’s one ugly collection of backlash.

Massachusetts state director of American Atheists Zachary Bos has already informed the high school about this just to make sure Jessica’s safe. If you see anyone going after her on the various media sites, though, it wouldn’t hurt to take some screenshots and (calmly, reasonably, intelligently) respond in her defense.

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.

  • Anonymous

    A correction — I was not the one who compiled the screenshot list of threats, just the person who brought that list to the attention of the school authorities (aside from any  communication  coming directly from the Ahlquist family). The list was compiled by Mary and Robert Posey, authors of the JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks blog. They are members, like me, of the “Support the Removal of the Cranston High School West Prayer” group on Facebook, where a lot of impassioned and serious conversation has been happening this evening: http://www.facebook.com/groups/179298715436387/323997144299876/.

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

      I updated the post to reflect that. Thanks!

  • Lisa

    “Help
    us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.”
    How ironic that this is what the banner said and this is how the
    children (who are a reflection of their parents) reacted

    • Anonymous

      Seriously!! It would be funny if it wasn’t so infuriating and quite frankly frightening.  There is no depth too low for them to sink I guess. 

      I was in the fb group but I was booted (maybe accidentally?) I hadn’t commented in ages so not sure if some weird fb bug kicked me, but I asked to rejoin. 
      I hope the school takes those threats seriously and those responsible get punished. Its disgusting what people are saying.

    • Charles Black

      So much for the idea that religion automatically makes people good huh?
      These religious nutcases discredit their cause far better than we atheists can ever achieve.
      Those people making threats ought to be ashamed of themselves & need to be prosecuted for hate speech.

  • Robert

    I wouldn’t have even worried about it if Hemant wasn’t one of my heroes. I can die happy now! 

  • Jett Perrobone

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again here.

    I’m sick of reading about certain Christians posting hateful messages, and I’m also tired of hearing other Christians bleat out that those people aren’t really Christians.  Just because they aren’t acting 100% Christ-like (which, by the way, is impossible to do according to their religion, since mankind is “fallen”) doesn’t mean that they aren’t Christians too.  Besides, the Christ figure in the Bible called his followers to hate their families and their own lives in order to be his disciple (Luke 14:26).

  • Fufufu

    any chance that someone could actually hurt her?

    • Anonymous

      It seems like some of them are from students that go to the school, they talk about her as though they know her personally anyway.

    • EJC

      I would believe so. These xtian types are have a proven track record of violence. 

    • Stephen Goeman

      Online pseudo-anonymity has emboldened their remarks for sure, but I doubt they’re brave enough to do anything (at least her schoolmates). They’ve bitched about Jess for ages on facebook and twitter but this hasn’t stopped them from pretending to be nice to her face when they need to, say, borrow school supplies. Cowards.

      However, that doesn’t excuse the remarks and it certainly doesn’t shake the fear that comes with threats of violence and hate. It would be nice to see some justice here.

      • Demonhype

        Online pseudo-anonymity does embolden people to say things they might not intend to do, but all it takes is a single over-Christianized nutbar to go over the edge.  And the volume of remarks are likely to make such an individual believe he’s a hero and that’s it’s something that needed to be done.

  • Anonymous

    God’s gentle, loving people

    • Charles Black

      Can’t you feel the love er is it hate now?
      If I could name all of the examples of double think in religion I’ve encountered so far I could be blocked by the moderator for making an extremely long post.
      George Orwell would be truly proud if he were still alive to see this.

      • Charles Black

        Correction horrified would be more accurate in this case.

  • Pete Wheeler

    So much for ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘love thy neighbour’.
    You really couldn’t make up this level of hypocrisy.

    • Jess

      Oh that’s just platitudes trotted out to toss at people less pious than themselves.

    • Charles Black

      Oh please most Christians haven’t even read their bible, what makes you think for a second that they’ll heed such sayings?

      • observer

        Actually, such Christians do read the Bible…just the parts they like.

  • Perry Kaufman

    As PZ Myers does when threatened and insulted, she should just laugh in their face. Also, as Malcolm X did, she should buy an M1 Carbine for self-defense (just to be on the safe side)… xD

    • Heidi

      I don’t feel like that did Malcolm much good. :-(

    • Anonymous

      Naw, I hear shotguns are a far more effective home defense weapon.

  • JMQuinn

    Why aren’t there any
    Christian Ministers coming out condemning the harassment and threats and
    sticking up for Jessica Ahlquist? There are some religious leaders who
    support the Separation of Church and State. Where are they? Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the Interfaith Alliance should step up to the plate!

  • Newavocation

    Ok, so now what will the Xians do to ‘save’ our children? It will be interesting to see what  their strategies are. Nobody gives up their privilege easily or quietly. I hope more will find the strength to follow Jessica’s lead.  It would also be nice if the AHA  uses this opportunity reach out and support those seeking or considering alternatives to superstition.

  • Wasd

    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.
    Unlike some people I would say Amen to that, except for the first two lines putting the responsibility for peoples behavior on a heavenly skydaddy.

    • Annie

      “Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.”The prayer was up for how long?  53 years?  And this part obviously hasn’t sunk in.  So even if it were legal to have this prayer hanging in a school, it wouldn’t seem worth the paint if it is so ineffective.

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

        Great comment!

    • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

      It would appear, as I’ve heard a few too many times, that the answer to this prayer was, “No.”

  • Newavocation

    Jessica might be a bud Ingersoll refers to in the following quote “It may be that discretion is the enemy of happiness. If the buds had discretion there might be no fruit. So it may be that the follies committed in the spring give autumn the harvest”

  • Reaching Up

    look around long enough and you can find militant jerks in every group or organization. A bully is a bully no matter what moniker he chooses. True the biggest bullies tend to float around crying out how pious they are, but arrogance and ignorance collide all the time. In other words, this behavior is not exclusive to religion, just humanity. Just sayin…. Disclaimer: I’m an ignorant atheist, but everyday I learn something new and let go of something outdated.

    • Charles Black

      Good point but those “militant jerks” you talk about always seem to use religion as a way to be a dick in the first place.
      Perhaps it’s convenient to cloak yourself as a supposedly religious good person to camoflage the fact that person is a complete d**chebag.

      • Charles Black

        *oneself*

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

          “camOUflage” 

          I think common usage is overriding “one” and “oneself”
          in that context. They are ending up in the “whom”
          dumpster.

          • Charles Black

            Looks like I should use the spellchecker next time.

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

      Bullies flourish in any dogmatic philosophy.

      Tolerance is esp.difficult when you think a god is on your side.

    • Demonhype

      This is true but, as has been said before, religion gives those bullies a special insulation from criticism or correction.  Internally, there is a barrier against self-awareness and they are even less likely to consider that they could be wrong (which is already hard enough, but worse when you think that God is on your side and will be angry if you give an inch to your opponents–one moment of doubt and you lose heaven and gain hell in an instant).  Externally, they are given a special reverence that no other bully or bad idea receives and are considered exempt from any kind of scrutiny or criticism.  When they do something, so long as it is not openly violent (then they’re a Not-True Believer, of  course) it is seen as something that should be let slide and any attempt to disagree is seen as some kind of serious crime.  And that, internally, breeds one hell of a sense of personal entitlement in the believer.

      Religion takes a bad thing and makes it an unstoppable killing machine.

  • Charles Black

    I say lets organise a group of supporters of separate  government-religion to go up to the principal & ensure that they get the principal’s word that no harm comes to Jessica from these religious bullies.
    I fear this is a potential felony in the making if decisive action isn’t taken on this issue soon.

    • Anonymous

      It would be good to know that these threats on on the school’s radar. I’ve called and emailed, and so far, no confirmation that they’re aware of them. I’d like to think they’d want to be responsive to something like this.

      • Matt Penfold

        Jessica’s father has commented on Facebook that he has spoken to the school and to the police and that both are taking the threats seriously.

        • Anonymous

          Uncle, not father, but yes, good to hear that the school board and police are being responsive.

          • Matt Penfold

            Thanks for the corrections

          • Charles Black

            I’m glad to hear that bullying in the guise of religion won’t be tolerated. For some reason these type of bullies really get under my skin more than other bullies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Venhartly/100003164475597 Sarah Venhartly

    It is not just trolls.  Rhode Island State Rep. Peter Palumbo went so far as to call Jessica an “evil little thing” on WPRO 630 Talk Radio! http://www.630wpro.com/Article.asp?id=2371375&spid=

    • http://twitter.com/hsvtattooed William Tillman

      Ahhh…WPRO, home of John DePetro, the Glenn Beck wannabe who called me a “sick perv” for supporting Jessica. glad he is projecting his lust for teen girls onto me.

  • EJC

    Incredible. This brave young woman stands up for EVERYONE’S rights aka The Consitution and Bill of Rights, and the alleged “peaceful christians” respond by calling her a worthless cunt, and threaten her….there is your christian logic for you.

    I may get into mild verbal exchanges here with such people as AXGirl, but for all humanity, that is the extent of it. This disgusts me. Why can’t people disagree without having to resort to threats.

    Thing is, this poor girl and the threats, well, these absolutely need to be taken seriously because these “xtian” types have a track record of violence, and worse…

    Jessica, stand tall girl! You did something great. 

  • Mairianna

    And we are surprised at this…why?  Anyone familiar with the Freedom From Religion Foundation knows that every time the organization fosters an issue, the “christian” trolls come out swinging with their ignorant and profane comments.  They are like little children acting out when mommy takes a toy away or tells them “no.”

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

    Many of these “haters” ask atheists why they are so full of hate!

    In psychology its called “transference”. (Google Univ.)

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

      I wonder if Oprah will have her on her show.

    • Charles Black

      Yes the irony gets more delicious every day doesn’t it?

  • A Hangman on Tyre

    See, now that the prayer has been taken down, they’ve forgotten to “be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win”.  That piece of fabric was the only thing keeping them good – and now it is gone – so now they have no reason to be good people.  Without that to guide them – who knows what depravity they will sink to.

    They are fulfilling their own point of view that without prayer and the bible people can’t be moral……

    What have we done!!!! 

     (please note this was sarcasm!!!!!!)

  • Pluto Animus

    Just spoke to the vice-principal at Cranston High, to let him know about the threat of violence against Jessica that little scumbag Ryan Simoneau made.  He said he is “aware of the situation” and “unable to comment”.  Sounds like little Christian asswipe Ryan is in big trouble.  But just in case, here’s the school’s phone number; ask to speak to the principal:
    401-270-8049.

    • OkayWithThe

      How is swamping the principle with calls going to help the situation?

  • T-Rex

    religion=cult=hate group. Why should anyone expect anything less from delusional bigots?

    • Nordog

      Talk about transference.

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

        Too-shay!

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

    Register at Boston.com (Boston Globe) and give your side of the
    controversy. So far it’s 4 to 1 against Jessica.(I’m the “one”)

  • TiltedHorizon

    When the correct response to a situation is ‘action’ they commit their hands to prayer (i.e. nothing), and when the correct responsive is ‘prayer’ (i.e. nothing) they use their hands as fists. I wish I could say that I am surprised.

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

      In fairness, many religions preach prayer AND good works. 

  • observer

    They bitch about the mural being taken down, yet I’ bet they’d be equally bitchy if a mural prying for Allah was put up next to it.

    This isn’t about their own spirituality being crushed, this is about their egos being crushed. The mural was put there so the Good Christian™ students would “feel” like they’re important.

    Besides which, prayer is something done in private anyway (Matthew 6:6).

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WYDUEA3OICSP5BCK6KZV5Y5Q6A Sk8eycat

      I wonder how all the girls and women (faculty & employees) would react if the school posted the daily Hebrew prayer where all the men thank YHWH for not making them female.

  • http://www.facebook.com/HughesJohnd John Hughes

    Sadly I work at a school full of similarly narrow-minded bigots. I fear for this countries future.

  • Stephen Goeman

    Hi Hemant and others,

    A lot of the tweets and facebook comments expose individual identities (some even stating when they have class with Jess to “jump her” etc). Any chance we can send this compilation to the school for administrative action? Or perhaps start a petition or online movement to pressure administrative action? Perhaps Jess’s case could be a victory for cyber bullying as well as church/state separation.

    Best,
    Stephen

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

      It already has and they said they’re already taking action.

      • Stephen Goeman

        Best news I’ve heard all day. I’ll keep watching here to see what happens!

  • Alex

    Dear Christ on a stick. No, don’t get me wrong, it’s common for kids to be mean to each other, but this is just bullshit. Curb stomped? Rape in the ass with the banner?… Also, how many of those posters were adults (not legally, as in over 18 years of age, but de-facto), I wonder?… Пиздец.

  • Anonymous

    After reading those threats, I’m sorely tempted to wish that public beatings should be the recommended response for school bullies.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy2q

    The quickest way to get Christians to show their fangs is to challenge their unearned, undeserved privilege.  

    • Charles Black

      It’s as though their undeserved religious privilege

      is used as an excuse to be a a**hole towards anyone who for example protects minority rights from the majority.
      I’m going to look forward to seeing their faces when they get prosecuted for mobbing a 16 year old teenager doing the right thing.

      • Charles Black

        Sheesh it gave a blank line even though I don’t want it there.
        *an*

  • Dan W

    I bet most of the people making those threats are Internet Tough Guys (or Girls), and thus would never follow through with what they say they’ll do. Still, best to treat them seriously. A few of these “loving” Christians just might be deranged enough to actually try to carry out what they threaten to do to her.

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

      Let’s hope the Scott Roeder’s out there calm  down.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WYDUEA3OICSP5BCK6KZV5Y5Q6A Sk8eycat

    Just out of curiosity, has anybody ever heard of people like Billy Graham-Cracker or Rick-Rolling Warren receiving any floods of hate mail and/or threats from skeptics, freethinkers, and/or atheists?  I sure haven’t.  I don’t think most of us are haters; we’re more “live and let live” types.  Although I’ve been feeling awfully angry ever since this story broke.

    What is it about religions that make people so nasty?  And doesn’t anyone remember the history of the founding of Rhode Island?  (Doesn’t any school teach American History anymore?  Jefferson?…Texas schools have made him a non-person.  Is James Madison next?)  My nerves!

    This whole brouhaha is making me physically ill.  I feel so much pain for Jessica; being an adolescent is difficult enough withouut the threats, loss of “friends,” and especially adults, who should know better, calling her evil on broadcast radio. 

    I barely have enough money to pay my utilities and feed myself, but I’m definitely going to donate what I can to her scholarship fund.  I hope in 4 years or so she graduates Phi Beta Kappa, and goes on to do more great things.

  • Anonymous

    This doesn’t surprise me in the least.  The bible is loaded with stories and verses of torture, killing, maiming and all sorts of violent reactions.  So for people today to wish pain against someone that “took away their prayer banner” seems in line, even if it’s completely and utterly wrong and goes against all things human.

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

    Jessica’s “carrying the day” at Boston.com (site search –prayer banner).

    Boston isn’t ALL Catholic.


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