Cranston High School West Prayer Banner Taken Down

Remember this?

It has finally been taken down.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the prayer banner at Cranston West High School has finally been taken down.

The action comes seven weeks after a federal judge ruled the banner unconstitutional and ordered its immediate removal. The Cranston School Committee voted not to appeal.

The school district has scheduled a press conference at 4 p.m. today to address the issue and to give media outlets a chance to photograph where the banner used to be displayed.

The images of the “new” wall aren’t available yet, but I’m sure empty space has never looked so good.

***Update***: And we have an image of the prayer-less wall!

(Steve Klamkin - WPRO News)



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.

  • Micah

    It. Is. Finished.

    • Anonymous

      Mostly.   The town has not settled with the ACLU on the reimbursement of legal fees.  

      But time to celebrate?  YES!  Congratulations Jessica! 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

         They have now.  $150,000 to ACLU.  (And, I suppose, $25 to Jessica.)

        • JohnK

          The ACLU has a good racket! They are like the ambulance chasers of free speach!

          • Derrik Pates

            Oh yay, another know-nothing whiner about the ACLU. If you actually followed the story, you’d know Jessica and the ACLU *both* gave Cranston West plenty of opportunity to avert this – it’s Cranston West’s administration that insisted this should go to court. Blame the people who made this necessary.

  • Bill

    Let’s burn it!   :)

    • Bob Becker

      No.  Let’s not.  
      Best result:  If Canston has a town museum and it’s run by a real historian,  he or she should request it be donated by the schoolboard to the museum. It’s now a genuine historical artifact and should be housed in the town museum where it could/should be the centerpiece of a display on the role it, and the town, played in the continuing battle to preserve the separation of church and state in the United States as well as the free exercise of religion.  

    • Anonymous

      No.  Let’s not burn things just because we disagree with them.

      • Bill

         I’m such a troll…just really excited to be first in the comment thread, so I thought I’d get the townspeople to light their torches and follow me.  Yeah, it should be preserved as an iconic object in the c/s separation fight.

        • Anonymous-Sam

           Then when we move beyond material reminders of our sordid past, then we can burn it. ^_^

  • Heidi

    About damned time. 

  • wright1

    Bravo to Ms. Ahlquist for her perseverance.

  • Beaux

    Bill, I wanna hang it up in my house.

  • Marguerite

    A press conference? So they can whine some more about the injustice of it all, I imagine. Bleah.

    • Derrik Pates

      Agreed, but at least it’s done now. So they did it grudgingly – at least they did it.

  • Matto the Hun

    But… but.. how will the children learn morals?… now that their religion has been taken away from them… what will stop a school shooting… that Godly banner has stopped all the school shootings at Cranston in the past… by proof that there haven’t been shootings and the banner was up… but now? 

    What’s that I hear… somewhere, off in a distant manger… little baby Jesus is crying *sniffle*

  • Nicole

    Well done Jessica!

  • Ggsillars

    The problem is that undoing all of these longstanding violations of the Estatblishment Clause make us look like the aggressors, like the bad guys.  It’s neither fair nor accurate, but it comes with the territory if you want to make positive change.

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

      WHo cares if we look like the “aggressors”. Our cause was right and justice was served

      • Theman777ishere

         why didnt they just mind there business and if u dont like it dont look at it .This country is a country of people who can have watever beliefs they want so why do you athiest mind ur bussiness and go on with ur lives if u have one

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

          The banner’s gone, so now NOBODY has to pretend that the school isn’t violating the Constitution.  Much easier.

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

          Uhhh, I’ll mind my business when you christians quit knocking on my door, passing out pamphlets, and preaching on buses. It seems you guys are the ones with either no life or no sense of MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

          • Derrik Pates

            Or just a slightly skewed idea of what constitutes “minding [one's] own business”.

        • bismarket

          Just in case this isn’t a Poe (Poor grammar & spelling) may i say i completely agree, we are allowed our own beliefs (Yes even Atheists) but we are not allowed to promote those beliefs to children in a public school who get no choice.

      • IndieThinker

        They just didn’t get it. It takes time. Or maybe they never will. Sometimes we have to be aggressive:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16R4aeYBXww

  • Roger

    Anyone want to take bets as to how long before someone graffitis the empty wall with a Christian message?

    • MattyX

      Bravo! People should not be given free expression of faith in public. Ever! Free expression of faith leads to all sorts of bad things, so we must squash it wherever we see it. Even if people want it up, take it down, because atheists know best! We need strict rules of behavior that cannot be deviated from, tradition be damned! If anyone deviates, sue them, and make them do what you want. 

      • Pureone

        I think you are thinking of whatever religion is the dominant religion in a region does to others, not what atheists do….

      • Ndonnan

        The same should also apply to sexuallity,those gay pride marches through the city,ahh.Leads to all sorts of things like aids,stds,that also should be squashed,very strict rules of behavior should apply,also those athiest billboards and newspaper adds,freedom of speach be damned,…and those sickos with little fluffy dogs,,,disscusting,should be made to get real dogs…. at least thats what i want them to do;   signed Athiest Taliban

        • Anonymous

          The sign in the school is not an instance of someone expressing free speech in a public forum, paying to put up an advertisement, or dictating what kind of pets people have in their homes (although there are restrictions on that).  The sign in the school is an endorsement of a religion in a government building.  You call atheists the Taliban, but you fail to realize how backward your analogy is.  The Taliban is a group that thinks government should be religious, not secular.  Those who want that sign in the school are the ones whose beliefs could be more closely paralleled to the Taliban, although I personally wouldn’t stretch the analogy that far.

          • Ndonnan

            No actually i was calling this indervidual the taliban.His views compared to the average on this site from my perception anyway are a good example of why the general public would trust a thief more than an athiest as per Hermuts post a few months ago.Those who want the banner up are people who want to remind the kids what they try and achive and the sort of attitude they should have towards other people,hardly a threatning extreamist,unlike Mr X

          • MattyX

            So all you are saying is that your viewpoint is superior to someone elses. Don’t you see that your argument is just as good or bad as the other? Plenty of evil governments touted secularism as the solution, and believe me, it was not.

            • Anonymous

              No.  What I’m saying is that government shouldn’t intervene and tell us that one viewpoint is superior to another, rather just stay out of it.  Secularism has worked quite well for the vast majority of western Europe.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

        A high school is a government entity.  You can shout all you want on the street corner, I can walk away.  You can’t have something like that up in a public school with a captive audience.  As per the judge’s ruling (all 40 pages of it, you should read it) the banner was an endorsement of Christianity and as such had no place in a public school. 

        It’s Constitutional Law.  I’m sorry if the founding documents of our country offend you so.

        • MattyX

          first Amendment says that we have a right to free expression of religion. You guys only focus (and mis-read) the first part, which says that government can “Make no laws.”

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

            We misread?  How so?  We’re misreading the exact thing that the Supreme Court has said more than once?

            • Derrik Pates

              We “misread” because we didn’t totally agree with his (clearly incorrect) interpretation. Duh.

      • Donalbain

         People should have free expression of religion. In America, agencies of the state do not.

        • Anonymous

          This is exactly the point that many seem to miss.  No one wants to deprive any individuals of the right to their religion.  What we’re trying to prevent is endorsement of (a) religion by the government.

  • Anonymous

    Someone should offer them a substitute, non-religious banner with essentially the same message–one which lists the same virtues without invoking anyone’s higher authority.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

       A blank wall is a better message.

    • Derrik Pates

      They already have one. It’s the school creed. And that’s still posted in the school, I believe on the other side of the same room, if I’m not mistaken.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

    Now would be a great time to let the art department have a go and put up some great, non-religion endorsing piece of art made by the students.  Maybe even include some of the lines from the original banner (the bits that aren’t all godly).

    “Do your best!

    Learn and grow in all ways!

    Be kind and helpful to all!

    Be good sports!

    Value true friendship!”

    Those are FINE to have up on the wall.  Just cut out the religious crap.  Let the kids now come up with something to help the community learn to work together, respect each other, and close this whole fiasco on a brighter, more hopeful note.

    • Anonymous

      Great idea!

      BTW… Hi Gloomie!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

        Hey, hey! Fancy seeing you here! :)

        • Anonymous

          Small world!  Sent you a tweet too.  Hit me up.

    • lleblanc

      Saying “just cut out the religious crap” ?  and then “:learn to work together” ?
      Alot of the students were devote Catholics. Your remarks do not get things off to a good start. It is what you say ” respect each other” ? 

  • Justin Miyundees

    I agree – it’s an artifact and one that caused a goodly amount of ruckus – the issue is ongoing and it can be presented in context in a museum.  Heck – in a church would be cool.  It simply never belonged in a government building.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com/ GDad

    Has anyone considered that it might have blocked a portal to some hell dimension and was integral in keeping the town safe from diabolic incursion?  Wouldn’t that be ironic?  Checkmate!

    In all seriousness, though, best wishes to Jessica and her supporters in the town, and best wishes for personal growth for her detractors.

    • Anonymous

      Everyone knows that the Hellmouth is more likely to be located under the Library and not on a wall.

    • Anonymous

      Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

  • Anonymous

    But wait!
    If the prayer isn’t up there anymore, how will the students of the school ever learn to “be good sports and smile when we . . . lose as . . . well as when . . . ” – nevermind

    • Derrik Pates

      They still have the school creed posted elsewhere. Which says pretty much the same thing as this did, minus all the god-bothering business. Which is sort of funny, given all the moaning about removing something with good values.

  • Zeggman

    Thus ends 50 years of non-stop contempt of (Supreme) Court.

    Go Constitution!

  • Guest

    I just saw that the 336 million dollar powerball winner was in Cranston…an 81 year old lady. A sign from God, maybe? I bet the school board hits her up for money.

    • Derrik Pates

      They should be hitting up the administration members who insisted this go to court. If you want to be a member of a school board administration and try to endorse religion, you should pay with your own pocketbook, not the taxpayers’ money.

  • Jason

    Seven weeks is immediate removal? Cranston students should keep that in mind when the have an assignment due immediately.

  • Keulan

    It’s about damn time. I wasn’t aware that the definition of “immediate” was in several weeks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

      Shrug.   It was covered, the school had decided not to appeal.  Apparently  the payment of legal fees was still up in the air, and the banner’s removal was somewhat conditional on THAT.

       I prefer a short delay to cutting the damned thing down “immediately” and stirring the ignorant up still more.   Over a weekend, with no fanfare, suits me just fine.

    • MattyX

      Wow! So you not only got your way, but you want it done immediately. Do you cry and stomp your feet a lot when things don’t work out exactly as you hoped? F’ing baby.

      • Feudal Serf 6680

        In the spirit of “being a good sport when we lose as well as when we win,” the creator of that banner has said, “I’d like to think that, as the author of the
        moral and upstanding school prayer in question, I’d be entitled to ten
        or a hundred times as much money as Jessica has been awarded for having
        torn it down and repudiated decency and morality in our schools.”  Talk about being a good sport!!!

  • Anamica

    Even though I am an agnostic, I think this fight was unnecessary.  This whole notion of a secular state is a fairly new concept, may be a couple of hundred years old.  As a result, most countries have a religious past which are in turn represented in their historical monuments and in other national symbols.  Should all of them be brought down since they violate the separation of church and state ?  And, if so, then how better are we compared to the talibans who brought down the centuries old statue of the Bohemian Buddha ?  I think there are much better battles to be fought like the instances where the Church is creeping into the legislative and the executive branch.  Instead fighting these symbolic battles are futile exercises which are going to win no one’s hearts.

    • Ndonnan

      Yyes this has been a futile exercise indeed.An emotional petty victory that achieves nothing but disention in a community,well done,somthing to be proud of.What it will do is encourage the christian community  to fight even harder battles like secular humanists creeping into the legislative and executive branches.That will get them a lot more influence and authority

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      You are aware America is only a couple hundred years old, yes? America is a nation formed on secular ideas – the Founding Fathers were largely deist, theist, Christian, and maybe atheist – and they knew the problem with having a religion established by the state, so they wrote that down and etched it in our Constitution.

      It’s the Christian majority in this country who, feeling superior to the rest, chooses to lie and say how we’re a Christian nation. By majority, yes. By conception, no, no, a million times no.

      This fight needs to be made, not just a prayer mural in a school, but also a Ten Commandments display in a court house, “In God We Trust” on our money, a cross at the site of a memorial to people of different faiths, and the numerous ways that Christian “morality” tries to foist itself into our society’s laws – whether it’s body autonomy for women, the rights of gay men and lesbian women to be married, the chance for transgenders to become who they are, the opportunity for students to receive proper education, and the legality of worship taking place in government business.

      If we don’t fight the small things, we lose the big things.

      • Nik

        Couldn’t have said it better.

      • alpha beta

        My previous post was a generic one about countries that have a separation of church and state (which would include most western countries), not just about America.  I would guess U.K. has a much longer history and has a christian past.  Does that mean that all historic monuments with religious symbols should be brought down ?  Wouldn’t that mean rewriting history ?

        My point is making sure that executive policies and bills passed by the legislature are not colored by the Church’s beliefs is much more important than these symbolic fights.

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          The UK doesn’t (as far as I know) have a rule about separation of church and state. The United States was built on it. Does that mean that all religious symbols should be taken down? Not necessarily. If the religious symbol has an historic or chiefly secular value to it, then fine, keep it up (an old chapel in a national park, for instance.)

    • MattyX

      if the atheists are someday in control, I am quite sure they will engage in Taliban-like efforts to erase Christianity from our midst. The reason? They not only disagree with it, they acyually hate it. 

      • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

        Atheists don’t hate Christianity. I hate what Christians try to do with this country.

      • Ndonnan

        Thats so true,if you dont belive in the spiritual realm,fine,why the bill boards andoffence at a banner or somone praying, its hatred.If that ever has authority you can garentee religious cleansing to begin

        • Derrik Pates

          But it’s perfectly okay to have billboards proclaiming “if you don’t believe what we do, you’ll burn in hell”? Well, thanks for clarifying.

          • lleblanc

            An athiest billboard was recently installed in an orthodox jewish community.  Very insensitive.
            An example of “shoved in your face” by atheists.
            Just wanted to point out some hypocracy before pointing fingers.

            • Feudal Serf 6680

              Well, no, not exactly like “shove it in your face.”  More like “shove it BACK in YOUR face!”

  • Donalbain

    What would be nice is if a bunch of atheists created and donated a plaque or banner with the exact same sentiments as the offending one, but without the religious parts:

    Let us all 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,
    Let us endeavour to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,
    Let us teach other the value of true friendship,
    Let’s remember to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.

    That is quite a nice thing to have on a wall in a school, and if the gesture came from atheists, it might help to heal some wounds.

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      I’d donate money to put up a banner like that. It’s a fantastic message. They would’ve been able to keep the banner up if they removed the overtly Christian parts in it.

    • Derrik Pates

      They already have a plaque or banner up elsewhere that says pretty much that – that’s almost dead-on for their school creed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    When this was being argued about didnt someone from the leave it up side say it would ahve cost $60,000 to have it removed and the wall redecorated to cover up where it had been?

    From that picture, which shows a very bad cover up, it seems they spent $6 on a single tin of white emulsion and told the janitor to do it.

    I guess they spent the rest of the money on covering their now considerable legal bill.

    As we say over here in Thai….. Som Nam Na!

  • Roseofsharon7797

     The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. Psalm 81:15

    • Anonymous

      “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” – The Call Of Cthulu by H.P. Lovecraft

  • Jblow55555

    You vile invading piece of sh*t.

  • INGODWETRUST

    Do you really have nothing better, more productive to do in life than try to go after every little thing that relates to Catholicism, in any way? You pay for your shin digs with money that says IN GOD WE TRUST.  Clearly, you are looking for meaning in life and find it only in bringing controversy to an otherwise stable society.


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