If you read this blog (or any atheist media) and you haven’t heard about Jessica Ahlquist‘s lawsuit win yet, then you probably live under a rock.
Jessica, an insanely courageous 16 year-old high school student, did what some of us only dream of having the strength to do – standing up for what is right in the monstrous face of adversity and being the verbal punching bag for those who have no idea how to spell “constitutional” let alone know what it means.
Since U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux ordered the removal of the prayer banner on January 11th, I’ve been keeping up with the news surrounding it as best I can. There has been quite the negative backlash, as we all expected. And although we have seen all of the nastiness that can come from the Christian side, I was still deeply, deeply saddened by many of the loathsome responses. Some comments even made me gasp audibly.
Perhaps because I am a mother, I’ve let this story get to me more than a lot of other stories. Or, perhaps it’s because I still cannot grasp the fact the people are so ignorant and cruel, especially when those people are also kids.
Despite the adult venom being spewed towards Jessica (here, here, and even by her own Rhode Island State Rep., Peter Palumbo, here), she has had to endure the snide comments and horrific death wishes from kids at her own school. Someone even posted her address publicly, endangering the safety of both Jessica and her family.
The comments made my stomach turn. I’m used to hearing the diabolic judgment from adults, but I could not be more disgusted than when it comes from the mouths of children. These are the things they have learned… from their parents, their family, the people who teach them how to treat people. These families are doing a piss-poor job at teaching and raising minds to evolve in this country.
Our family takes values to heart. We teach respecting other people’s rights. We teach how to converse with others of different viewpoints. And we allow our kids to come to their own conclusions, especially in the religion/philosophy department. I have one non-believer and one believer. And this is okay.
What isn’t okay is being a hateful person and infecting the young impressionable minds in your care with your misdirected, uneducated, ignorant, bigoted hate virus.
And for those Christians who may think they have a “revelation” for us, let me stop you there. Before you enlighten me, I bet it sounds something like this:
I am shocked that people would say those things.
Those aren’t true Christians.
This is a rare occurrence.
I’m sure most, if not all, of those comments are fake.
Those people aren’t to be taken seriously.
To which I’m going to respond by quoting a man we honored yesterday:
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
These vile thoughts, however entitled people are to them, are an abhorrent representation of our past, present, and future… unless we can start teaching otherwise. The common denominator when it comes to hate speech aimed at Jessica is religion. And, yes, we are all fully aware of the good people and good deeds that also happen to be ascribed to religion. But those “goods” do not outweigh the “horrors” nor do they deserve to be pardoned. Until more people are able to realize that religious beliefs create this hate, people of strength and honor like Jessica will continue being the minority and continue being threatened undeservedly.
January 2012’s Epic Role Model is Jessica Ahlquist. Her parents are doing it right and I hope to raise kids as intelligent and articulate as she. Even as an adult twice her age, I could not be more humbled and in awe of her. I look forward to meeting her at The Reason Rally.
In case you’re wondering who might fall short of being an Epic Role Model, we can definitely cross these people off the list:
- The people who have said wretched things about Jessica as a result of her victory.
- Rhode Island State Rep. Peter Palumbo
- Every Christian who gets out of the way of the jeers pretending it’s not their problem.