New York Times Editorial Supports Jessica Ahlquist

Today’s edition of the New York Times includes an editorial that defends Jessica Ahlquist‘s lawsuit:

The anger and hatred directed at Ms. Ahlquist — she was called “an evil little thing” on talk radio by a Cranston state representative — helps explain why the judge, responding to her brave lawsuit, did his duty under the Constitution and ordered immediate removal of the prayer, which begins “Our Heavenly Father” and concludes “Amen” and was visible throughout the auditorium.

… Recent meetings in Cranston about the prayer involved the kind of “excessive entanglement with religion” the court has warned against, with prayer backers reading from the Bible. The meetings showed why what believers consider a harmless request to respect a prayer can feel like coercion to nonbelievers.

The kindness, friendship and other values the prayer champions are universal, but a statement of religious belief has no place in a public high school auditorium.

The fact that her story is getting such coverage on a national scale shows that this isn’t just about some local banner. It’s symbolic of how Christians love to force their views on everyone else, sometimes in illegal ways, and then cry foul when someone calls them out on it.

Jessica’s scholarship fund, by the way, has raised over $36,000 on her behalf. Some college atheist groups have told me they’re raising funds for her, some donations have been made directly to the American Humanist Association, and t-shirt sales still need to be included in the total amount. What you’re all doing for her is truly amazing.



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/CoboWowbo Cobo Wowbo

    I’m curious how much has been raised so far. We at least know it’s $36k +

  • Justin Miyundees

    We’ve contributed, but maybe we can do a little more.  Definitely want a t-shirt, but in the meantime, I’ll match the next $100 in pledges made on this thread with the comment:  Matching Undees. 

    • key_player_88

      Hey Justin, count me in for $50. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for Matching Undees, but by godless, it’s worth it. Thanks for the match!

      • Justin Miyundees

        Coolorama Key_player_88.

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    OK, Justin, I just made a $25 donation to your Matching Undees campaign.  How the heck do you track that, or do you just trust me?  

    I did include it as a comment with the donation.

    • Justin Miyundees

      Definitely going on the honor system.  I see $75 so far.  When it hits $100 so I’ll go to Chip In and make the donation.  Thanks for playing along!  Go Jessica!!!!

  • RealtAlk

    How bout instead of a scholarship the money goes to paying the legal fees this case has brought to the cash strapped city.  

    • Daniel Krull

      Maybe because it’s the school’s fault for continuing this fight when they were clearly in the wrong? Most of the money that has been raised has come from individual donors, who gave because they wanted to support Jessica. They didn’t offer their money to help the side that was foolish enough to stand against the Constitution.

    • Anonymous

       Because the school had a losing case from the start.  Time and time again, courts have ruled that clearly Christian displays in public forums are illegal.  Not just the word “God” which is not specifically Christian. The school was told they would lose. The refused to listen to allow the school to proselytize their Christian message. They have only themselves to blame. 

  • rickflick

    “What you’re all doing for her is truly amazing.”
    What she did for all of us is truely amazing too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    Can we get shirts that say “Godless little thing”? 

  • ctcss

    “The fact that her story is getting such coverage on a national scale
    shows that this isn’t just about some local banner. It’s symbolic of
    how Christians love to force their views on everyone else, sometimes in
    illegal ways, and then cry foul when someone calls them out on it.”

    I do wish there could be an honest recognition that this isn’t about Christianity (the theological  concepts taught by Jesus) loving to force it’s views on everyone any more than the Penn State scandal was about how college sports is all about sexually abusing children. Both issues (and many others like them) are simply about humans in a position of privilege taking advantage of their intrinsic power and willfully abusing it.

    The high ideals of sportsmanship do not teach or condone bad behavior any more than the high ideals of Christianity teach or condone bad behavior. As a devout, non-mainstream Christian, I am very aware of how my own group is often despised and condemned by others simply because we do not “fit in”.

    This isn’t a Christian problem, it is a human problem. If it were a problem intrinsic to Christianity, I would be out there heaping abuse on Jessica like those others. Instead, I was appalled by the actions of people who should have been exemplifying a much higher level of thought and action towards others.

    Please, let’s call out people by their actions, not by their labels.

    • Justin Miyundees

      Just like Jessica Ahlquist is an innocent, Christianity labels newborn children to be sinners.  It’s the same thing and it is done to assert authority.  “Original sin” is an “evil little thing”, so it’s not just the blatant hateful tirades, it’s playing along and accepting authority – putting children down from the very beginning of their lives and I’ll wager it was done to you.  

      • ctcss

        And you’d lose that wager because that was never part of my theological upbringing. And as a Sunday School teacher, I never taught such a concept to my students. And that was my point. When people judge by labels rather than by actions, they are most likely to be mistaken. Adhering to, and acting on, a toxic form of theology is an action and can be judged as such. Speaking and acting contrary to high religious ideals is also an action and can be judged as such. But judging someone just because of a label is not something that is either just, wise, or kind. (I’m a Republican, too, but not the kind that most people seem to dislike these days.)

        Judge by actions, please, not by labels.

  • Justin Miyundees

    I’m going to go on Chip In now to match the $75 from key_player_88 and TychaBrahe.  

    I’ll keep checking back and will match the remaining $25 whenever it comes in.  

    • Justin Miyundees

      I can’t find the link!!  What happened to the Chip In link??  I’ve looked for it at several sites.  I assume it’ll be up later?  

      Anyone know what’s going on?  

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

        It should be there, barring some issue with ChipIn… try again later! Or perhaps try a different browser?

        • Justin Miyundees

          Thanks Mehta,  

          I noticed other issues (with Youtube – no play button – go figure) so I rebooted my computer and it’s back.  

          I’m “Chipping In” $75 now.  

          Offer is standing tho – someone out there’s got a sawbuck and a fin for Jessica!!  Even your $5 or $10 will go twice as far!  You can double that with Matching Undees!

        • Justin Miyundees

          Sorry – Mr. Mehta.  I’m a putz!

  • Waquilante
  • Iredia Uyi

    Technically speaking, she was right to sue for the removal for that prayer banner.


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