Jessica Ahlquist’s High School Now Has a New (Secular) Mural

Nearly two years after Jessica Ahlquist fought — and won — a legal battle against her high school over a religious mural, Cranston High School West has finally found a suitable replacement.

Just as a reminder, this is the mural that was in the auditorium for nearly 50 years:

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.


Jessica sued the school (with the help of the ACLU) in April of 2011. This was a constitutional violation with its endorsement of religion and the debate over how to handle the mural divided the community. The school board eventually decided they would put up a fight, a decision that ultimately led to them owing the ACLU $173,000 in legal fees. The pushback and threats from other students also led to Jessica not returning back to Cranston for her senior year.

Yesterday, the Class of 1963 — the group that gifted the school with the original religious mural — gave the school a new one as part of a celebration of their 50-year reunion (as well as another matching banner with the “School Creed”). This one, thankfully, is secular and constitutional:

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Atheist Ireland to Develop a Course About Atheism for Young Students

Atheist Ireland launched an important new initiative yesterday in which they will be “financing, developing, designing and piloting Ireland’s first primary school course about atheism.”

As it stands, the grade levels that Americans would consider “elementary” already teach kids about religion. (Most schools are denominational, after all.) But atheism isn’t mentioned in the curriculum and it’s barely touched upon even when the kids get older.

This project will help fill that void:

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Pastor Punishes Gay Church Member Because Other Members of the Congregation Are Bigots

Pastor Mark Brewer of Crosspoint Wesleyan Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick had to deal with a potential crisis this past week.

One of the finest members of his church, 20-year-old Colin Briggs, had been a camp counselor and church volunteer for a couple of years. He even went on a mission trip to Haiti in 2011.

But he’s gay. And there was a chance that some of the older members of the congregation wouldn’t take that news very well if they ever found out.

So Brewer met with Briggs a few days ago to let him know that, if the church members ever bothered him about his sexuality, Brewer would offer his support and defend Briggs’ character. That’s what their church’s mission was all about, after all: becoming “fully devoted followers of Jesus.”

I’m just kidding. Of course I’m kidding. You know I’m kidding.

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What is the Cosmological Argument?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: What is the Cosmological Argument?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]

A Misguided History Lesson from a Fundamentalist Christian Pastor

In a strange sort of anti-war, “Don’t be friends with other nations” sermon, Pastor Steven Anderson explained the history of World War I in a way that was supposed to show how the number of allied countries on both sides made things even worse (and, therefore, the U.S. should not make promises to defend its allies even if invaded).

What’s striking about the short sermon isn’t the rhetoric, but the mishandling of the WWI facts.

@VeritasKnight on Twitter was kind enough to listen to the sermon clip and provide analysis on where Anderson got things wrong. Turns out there’s a lot of misinformation, so I’ll just quote Anderson, then quote @VeritasKnight.

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