Christian Leader Calls Jessica Ahlquist a Brat and Bully While Telling Her to Just Ignore Prayer Banner

You might have said something like this to conservative Christians before:

So what if you don’t like gay couples? Nobody is forcing you to approve of their relationships, support gay marriage, or pay any attention to them at all.

But if you said that, they would whine and cry about how that’s ridiculous and how a gay couple’s love will (somehow) ruin all of society… they’re protecting the institution of marriage, dammit!

So you have to laugh at how Bryan Fischer (Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association) uses virtually the same argument against Jessica Ahlquist — while tossing around some ad hominem remarks of his own:

This small-minded and vengeful brat has managed to override the Constitution’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion and free speech just by being noisy and mean. She is the newest religious bigot in America.

Hey Jessica: if you don’t like the banner, don’t look at it. Nobody is forcing you to notice it, read it, agree with it, or pay any attention to it at all.

He also called her a “little atheist bully,” which I suggest Jessica take as a badge of honor. If you’re making someone from the Religious Right that angry, you must be doing something right.

Meanwhile, just imagine how Fischer would be reacting if the Prayer Banner didn’t begin “Our Heavenly Father,” but “Allahu Akbar” instead. He’d be flipping out, revising every argument he makes in this article — basically, doing everything but ignoring it.

Jessica is a young atheist hero. Fischer can’t handle that. The fact that she riles him up this much is just beautiful to watch. Why Christians approve of his comments is amazing. (What? You’re a Christian and you don’t support what Fischer says? Then say so on your blogs or in the comments on this page.)

(Thanks to Chas for the link!)

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://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

    So, ‘noisy and mean’ is the latest euphemism for ‘using established channels to uphold the Constitution of the country of which a person is a citizen’? Duly noted.

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

      …Also, this guy got to be a director of a (sadly) well-known organisation, and he’s intimidated and bullied by a 16-year-old? Seriously?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    All this talk about the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause…it makes you wonder why the lawyers for the School Committee never raised a Free Speech/Free Exercise Clause defense? Probably because they would have been laughed out of court. 

     A government entity may exercise this same freedom to express its views when it receives assistance from private sources for the purpose of delivering a government-controlled message. See id., at 562 (opinion of the Court) (where the government controls the message, “it is not precluded from relying on the government-speech doctrine merely because it solicits assistance from nongovernmental sources”); Rosenberger, supra, at 833 (a government entity may “regulate the content of what is or is not expressed … when it enlists private entities to convey its own message”).    This does not mean that there are no restraints on government speech. For example, government speech must comport with the Establishment Clause. The involvement of public officials in advocacy may be limited by law, regulation, or practice. Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (in the Supreme Court of the United States)

  • T-Rex

    Coming from a hate group like AFA, this not surprising in the least. I just don’t understand how such a hateful group can use the word “family” in their name or have many supporters based on their beliefs and the stances they take against everyone that is not “them”.

    • Matto the Hun

      Don’t you know by now? Having “family” in the name is a pre-requisite for right wing Christian hate mongering groups.

    • Ggsillars

      The word “values” has also been appropriated by these guys:  “We’re values voters.” So those of us who don’t agree with them have no values?  When did arrogance and dishonesty become values?

      • Matto the Hun

        around the time they put the Bible together.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

        They throw God into it so it’s automatically good.

        • Anonymous

          That’s exactly what they believe.  I had a professor flat out say that God is defined to be good, so that really works out to “don’t bother asking any further questions, because this is the answer”.

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    Fischer – this is the same guy who says that gays should be jailed, right? He’s definitely among the most offensive of the Christian right. But nevertheless, done and done.

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

      Oh lovely. Because there’s nothing mean or bullying about jailing people for their orientation. Nope, not a bit!

  • http://twitter.com/weezmgk weezmgk

    The school could not raise a  ‘free exercise’ claim because it is a government funded public school. The banner was displayed prominently on school property, by school officials. As such, the banner constituted a government endorsement of Christianity, forbidden under the Establishment Clause. 

    • Anonymous

      I Totally Agree !  Even tho’  a student authored the prayer, he did so as an assignment from a staff member.  A gov’t employee has no business writing an official school prayer, or directing a student to do so.  The prayer was originally recited as a daily part of the school day.  (It replaced the daily recitation of the Lord’s prayer)  So those who say that no student was ever required to say it, ARE WRONG.  Those who say that this is PURELY a student expression of faith ARE WRONG.  (and that student no longer attends the school, so why does HE get to continually express his views at the school anyway ?????  )  And I REALLY doubt that plastering this government initiated, government sponsored school prayer on the wall as a “gift” from the students was an entirely student led, student initiated idea.  I read the judges ruling, and in there it stated that the administration was part of the planning process for creating and installing this SCHOOL PRAYER every step of the way.  I DON’T THINK it was a big co-incidence that this prayer was literally plastered on the wall, the year that the Supreme Court declared teacher led recitation of prayers in public schools illegal.  Looks to me like the administration was trying to make an end run around the constitution. The GOVERNMENT SPONSORSHIP of prayer is the issue here.  Jessica NEVER took issue with a students individual expression of faith. 

  • Jett Perrobone

    American Family Association

    Why is it that the word “family”, when used in the name of an organisation, is always a code-word for “conservative evangelical heterosexual Christian”?  It’s like there is no such thing as a secular family. :/

    • george.w

      It’s because you really need some serious blinders on to co-opt a word like “family” that belongs to all of humanity.

    • Demonhype

       Because there is only one construct that “deserves” to be termed a “family”:  that of a proper Christian nuclear family with the Pants-Wearing Man at the Head and the Wife and Children under his thumb–or the back of his hand, should they refuse to submit.  Any gays or atheists who have the audacity to exist should at least keep their mouths shut and adhere to the rules of this proper Christian nuclear construct, or else the proper Christian nuclear construct cannot be blamed for the violence that will ensue because the  victims simply brought it on themselves.  And it’s all to protect “values” and “tradition” and “Jesus”, you know, the All Important things that they alone define and control, which makes any actions totally justified.  Any attempt by undesirables to obtain or maintain their supposed “rights” will be seen as Oppression of Christians and Persecution of Christians and Outright Meanie Ole Poopy-Pants Bullying of Christians.

      At least, that seems to be how they see it.

  • David McNerney

    “I have created the American Association of Religious Bigots…”

    At least he recognizes that he has a problem.

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

      Pity they couldn’t add the word ‘anonymous’ to the name.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    “But if you said that, they would whine and cry about how that’s ridiculous and how a gay couple’s love will (somehow) ruin all of society… they’re protecting the institution of marriage, dammit!”

    - Yep, gay marriage has turned Massachusetts into a place indistinguishable from a Lord of the Flies scenario: relatively low unemployment, low divorce rate, high education standards. It’s horrible I tellz ya.

    • http://justdfacsmaam.wordpress.com/ MarkNS

       You think Massachusetts is bad? Take a look at what legalizing gay marriage has done to Canada!

      • FSq

        Oh you god-damn snowbacks are just a caldron of immorality and decay….personally, I blame Tim Horton’s and The Mackenzie Brothers…..
        ;)

      • cog

        just cos we live in igloos and eat poutine doesn’t mean our society has crumbled cos we allow gay men and women full equal rights.
        if y’all join in i promise you your own poutine and maple syrup. i can’t offer igloos cos we trademarked them.

  • Anonymous

    It takes some serious cognitive dissonance to say things like that.  Apparently, he’s a master at that.

  • guest

    there is no comment field on his page..

    • Taxihorn

      If there was a place for comments, it’s gone. Shame. I did find a link to another post where Jessica is called a “little atheist tyrant”. Don’t these people hear themselves???

  • Anonymous

    The next time, how about, since this is a “freedom of religion” issue, we try to get an Islamic prayer up there; a Hindu prayer. As many different prayers from as many different religions as possible. They won’t have a problem with that, right?

  • WBWolfe

    Is it sad that I started reading Fischer’s article laughing, thinking it was satire?
    I think the biggest laugh here is that he’s only 12 in, and he’s already padding his numbers: Pres. Obama was granted membership twice (#5 & #10). We need to check the bylaws of the AARB and see if that means he gets to vote twice or do we have to clone him?

  • Anonymous

    If I had a whole lot more money and influence than I do I would go to a deep red part of the country, where many of the people crying “free speech!” reside and I would prank the living daylights out of them.

    I’d take a local school and redecorate. Prominent above the door would be the list of the 5 pilars of Islam. There would be frequent crescent moons as decoration around the school. In the auditorium, a Muslim prayer would feature prominently. The message would be entirely benign, but there would of course be a reference to Allah. I’d ship in busloads of kids of Muslim families and post a notice about there being a restructuring of the student body.

    Somehow I think they’d suddenly understand the difference between religious expression and government endorsed religious expression rather quickly.

    • Bramkaandorp

       Sadly, I don’t think so. I think they’d be complaining even more than now about how “the country is going to hell”.

      A double standard does that to people.

    • Anonymous

       No. They are immune to any hint or irony. They’d scream that you’re wrong and probably take it as proof for the fact that schools need more Christianity – instead of all those other religions

    • Marguerite

      Nah, they wouldn’t understand the difference. Underlying their sense of privilege is the belief (or delusion) that this is a Christian country, that God gave it to European settlers, that it was founded on Christian values, and that the Constitution is based on the Ten Commandments and the Bible. Therefore it’s perfectly fine to shove Christianity down nonbelievers’ throats, but no other religion or lack thereof should have a voice (and even a complaint from nonbelievers or members of other religions is seen as an attempt to suppress this country’s noble Christian heritage). Since they believe the USA to be Christian, then naturally it’s perfectly all right from their perspective to have Christian symbols/prayers/monuments plastered all over public land and buildings, but Muslim or Wiccan or other religious symbols must be fought tooth and nail.

  • Eric

    I took an ethics class once where the professor said, “The most common definition of integrity/character you hear is - doing what you believe is right when no one else is around.”  But, he said this isn’t correct.  “The true test of integrity is doing what you believe is right when you are surrounded by everyone else, saying you are wrong.”

    I think Jessica is a perfect example of that definition.

    • FSq

      Well said.

      I had an ethics professor talk about very similar things when I was an undergrad. Many of those things he talked about have stayed with me through life.

      Funny story – years later – almost two decades worth – I bumped into the professor in Haines, Alaska and I was able to help him solve some problems during his vacation! Felt great! (I grew up in Alaska)

    • Anonymous

       According to that Bryan Fisher is a paragon of integrity and ethics

  • Nordog

    The fact of the matter is that Jessica was (and is) right.

    The banner had no business in a public school.  It’s the law of the land.

    As a proponent of federalism I don’t like how  it became the law of the land,  ven though I’m glad that it is.

    In any event, this guy is off base.

    P.S.
    Never heard of the American Family Association, or whatever it’s called.

    • Anonymous

       What method would you prefer it to become the law of the land?

      • Nordog

         Yeah, that’s a tough question.  Constitutional amendment perhaps.

        • Anonymous

           The 14th amendment is how it came about, that is found section 1.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    Because it’s been up for almost fifty years? THAT is your argument? You know what else was up for years and years? Um, the Confederate flag (which still flies smugly in some southern cities), and how about all those “For Colored” and “Whites Only” signs? THOSE were up for sooooo long, why did the courts make you take those down? Ass.

  • FSq

    How can these son’s of bitches look at themselves in the mirror and even remotely think they are moral or upstanding? They simply cannot grasp the hatred they spew and the hurt they casue. Scumbags.

  • Anonymous

    She’s a brat for getting the constitution upheld? I wonder what he’d have to say about Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, and the rest of our country’s forebrats.

  • Erp

     I suspect the many Christians that disagree with Fischer over the prayer banner disagreed with him and the AFA a long time ago over other issues.   The SPLC has labelled the AFA as a hate group for its views on gays. http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/american-family-association

  • http://www.facebook.com/miltown.high Miltown High

    Calling a 16 year-old noisy, mean, a bully, a brat and a bigot doesn’t sound like any set of family values I’ve ever heard of!

    • Ndonnan

      ha you dont have a 16yo inyour house do you lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    “News flash for Jessica and the FFRF: the Constitution hasn’t changed since 1963.”Umm yes, it has. Four times actually, most recently in 1992.

  • http://andybreeden.com Andy Breeden

    He took the comments down. Last time I checked, all but one were opposed to his post.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve posted some follow-up questions about deletion of the earlier posts. Guess what? They were deleted within about 15 minutes. I just posted another question specifically asking if Mr. Fischer if he would explain why he is doing so. I’ll let you know if there is any response (other that deletion).

      • Anonymous

        wow – that was fast. Deleted already.

        • Anonymous

          Gone.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Bryan Fischer, has repeatedly stated that the constitution only applies to Christians, because Christianity was the only religion around (in the US) at the time.  (Well, except for those Heathen Natives whom BF say had no rights either because they weren’t Christians)   Just remember folks, in America, all men (and all MEN is exactly what conservatives like BF mean),  all men are created equal, but some are more equal than others.  (borrowed from George Orwell’s Animal Farm)  Congratulations Jessica, if BF is your enemy, than you SHOULD be very proud.

    • Nordog

      “Congratulations Jessica, if BF is your enemy, than you SHOULD be very proud.”

      Apparently, from my brief reading at the link provided, this is quite accurate.

      It’s bad enough for an adult to carry on that way, but it boggles the mind that he would carry on that way with his comments directed at a child.

      And the whole thing about the Constitution not changing since 1963 is so stupid it borders on frightening.

  • IH8JessicaLundquis

    Because of Jessica Lundquist I will make it a point to discriminate against at least five gay people this week and I hope to get at least one gay person fired from where I work. If Atheist can discriminate against Religion then I can discriminate against gays. Fair is Fair

    • Silentbob

      You literally couldn’t be more wrong.

      Ahlquist’s action wasn’t discrimination, it was against discrimination.

      Hanging a banner endorsing Christian faith while ignoring students of other faiths or no faith is discrimination.

      • Demonhype

         Very much so.  It turns my stomach to hear such a vile view.  “Well, my group was prevented from discriminating against atheists by using government endorsement to bludgeon them with my religious faith, so I’m going to go out and try to persecute and hopefully cause some serious harm to gay people in protest.”  Not only is that evil, bigoted, and full of willful ignorance, it makes no sense at all.  Group A pissed off Group B, so Group B is going to go out and take a crap on Group C–yeah, that’s sane.  Do these people knock a tooth out of their kids when their spouse gets on their bad side?  Or their boss?

        The sad thing is that it doesn’t surprise me at all.

    • Demonhype

      Sorry, but no religion is entitled government sponsorship or endorsement for their faith, on or off government property, and that includes Christians.  Jessica was upholding a right that has existed since the dawn of this nation, one that is possibly the most definitive characteristic of America then and now, while what you are proposing is simply childish bigoted persecution of those you don’t like because your kind didn’t get treated like privileged first-class citizens (for once).

      Not giving religion a special exemption to the rules of fair play that apply to everyone else is not discrimination, though I know it can seem that way when you belong to a group that has enjoyed a privileged status (one that it enforced violently for generations, I might add, before it became the norm).

  • Anonymous

    I went to the article and there were plenty of comments, MOSTLY against his hateful diatribe.  If anyone knows how to do a screen shot, please do so.  I have a feeling the AFA will pull this article and all comments, just like they did with his nasty piece praising the genocide of Native Americans.  I am to technology challenged to save this before the AFA scrubs it off.

    Anyone here savvy enough to preserve this before it disappears ?

  • Antoinette

    A question for you Mr Mehta, which I hope you would clear up for me.
    -  Is this young girl, Jessica Ahlquist, An atheist or a non-Christian?
    Many thanks in advance for your reply.

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

      Jessica is an Atheist.

    • Erp

       As she is 16 I wouldn’t call her a young girl.    She is old enough to marry in a few states (though usually requiring parental and/or court consent).  Old enough to take adult responsibilities if she were Jewish (bat mitzvah, age 13); old enough to choose baptism if she were baptist; old enough to be confirmed if she were Catholic or Episcopalian.   She is an atheist  though she was apparently baptized in the Catholic church so some might consider her an apostate from the Christianity.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X