Atheist student a NYT hero

Court cases often provide story ideas for profiles of individuals and motivations behind church/state battles, but profiling one side can risk making everyone else look like the monster out to get the hero. For instance, it’s hard not to feel bad for Jessica Ahlquist, an outspoken atheist who successfully sued to get a prayer removed from her high school auditorium after reading the New York Times profile. After all, a state representative called her “an evil little thing,” according to the story.

Here’s how Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta promotes the piece.

The New York Times‘ Abby Goodnough has a summary of Jessica Ahlquist‘s lawsuit in Friday’s paper and Jessica comes out of it looking exactly like the hero she is. (Her opponents, not so much.)

Atheists don’t always get positive coverage in the media, so it’s an encouraging sign, especially after everything Jessica’s been going through:

The thing is, shouldn’t coverage be fair to both sides, at least in theory? It shouldn’t be a win for the atheist community if it’s a poorly written story, right? In making Ahlquist into a hero, the story pits her against the not-so-thoughtful opposition:

Brittany Lanni, who graduated from Cranston West in 2009, said that no one had ever been forced to recite the prayer and called Jessica “an idiot.”

“If you don’t believe in that,” she said, “take all the money out of your pocket, because every dollar bill says, ‘In God We Trust.’ ”

There an image of the prayer, but why doesn’t the story quote the full text of the prayer, since it’s the subject of debate?

“Our Heavenly Father,” the prayer begins, “grant us each day the desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically, to be kind and helpful.” It goes on for a few more lines before concluding with “Amen.”

“It goes on for a few more lines…” (Blah blah blah) What a weird way to skip over the whole point of the story.

Speaking of photos, the images of Ahlquist all look defiant, strong, hero-like, when the photo of the principal makes him look concerned, doubtful, or something, though it’s unclear if he has taken a personal stance on the issue.

Remember the time when I said that apparently all it takes to get the Times‘ attention is building a Facebook fan page? Here we go again:

She also started a Facebook page calling for the prayer’s removal (it now has almost 4,000 members) and began researching Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious freedom.

Why not add a little bit more background on Williams, a theologian who started the first Baptist church in America? And an additional section of the article made me pause.

New England is not the sort of place where battles over the division of church and state tend to crop up. It is the least religious region of the country, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But Rhode Island is an exception: it is the nation’s most Catholic state, and dust-ups over religion are not infrequent. Just last month, several hundred people protested at the Statehouse after Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, lighted what he called a “holiday tree.”

Sure, New England is no Bible Belt, but I might assume that would make church/state cases even more likely. Using data from Pew about the religiosity of the region doesn’t necessarily help measure church/state battles are higher or lower than other parts of the country. At the very least, Massachusetts and Connecticut have recently dealt with a number of cases.

Superhero image via Shutterstock.

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  • Stan

    I don’t understand why you think this story is not fair. Both sides of the issue are represented. Should the reporter have expended greater effort to quote the people who made death threats against the young woman? The student government representative who is opposed to Jessica condemned the death threats and gave his own view. Who else should have been interviewed? Those who said they were in favor of keeping the prayer because it represented their “secular” views? Both sides seem to me to be fairly represented, but you seem to want the reporter to somehow cast this young woman in a negative light. It seems that you want the reporter to editorialize.

  • JH

    She also thinks Catholics “whine” too much among other things!/JohnDePetroWPRO/status/163014639691644928/photo/1

    WHich is fine but it seems to reinforce the mention by the SGA person she mocks a lot of people’s faith online.Which heck so be it.

  • sari

    Had the school removed the first line (Heavenly Father) and the last (amen) and reworked the rest to “we will try to”, the prayer would have ceased to be a prayer and become a school motto (or whatever). It’s hard to believe anyone could have difficulty with the overall sentiment, which boils down to being a good person (unlike the verse from Timothy scotch-taped to the gym door at my child’s current H.S., which is clearly religious). I’d want to know if either the school or Jessica’s backers (she was the front for the lawsuit originally filed by an adult) were willing to find some way to compromise.

    Like Stan, I found the article fairly well balanced. Local demographics were relevant and addressed by the reporter; people on both sides were interviewed. Are we to expect reporters to interview, interview, interview until they can find equally intelligent and articulate persons to represent each side? No matter what Jessica’s stated views on religion, death threats render the situation morally unequal, especially when the threats come from people who are supposedly religious.

    The florist incidents are telling–all three of them. Years ago my father sought to rent an apartment, was given a tour and told it would be open a week’s time. It remained open until the manager saw our last name, at which point he discovered, off the top of his head, that it had already been rented. We left. I asked and my Dad said that the man didn’t want to rent to Jews. This kind of blatant discrimination happens all the time. It is not the media’s responsibility to sanitize the news to make it palatable to force it to conform to societal expectation.

  • Beate

    The whole prayer:

    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.

    I was curious when I read the original article why the whole thing wasn’t printed. Definitely would make good motto material.

  • Jerry

    There an image of the prayer, but why doesn’t the story quote the full text of the prayer, since it’s the subject of debate?

    I found “goes on for a few more lines” clunky and badly worded. But the full text is there as a side-bar image Maybe your editorial choice would have been to eliminate the sidebar image in favor of including the full text, but it’s a minor point to me.

    said the threats were “completely inexcusable” but added that Jessica had upset some of her classmates by mocking religion online.

    “Their frustration kind of came from that,” he said.

    I want to know what they believed was mocking religion? That’s a critical point missing from the story. I would have eliminated the New England paragraph to include more about this point.

    I do agree the story focuses more on Jessica compared to the lawsuit. You would have clearly preferred a story focusing more on the lawsuit rather than Jessica. What frame of reference to use in writing a story is an interesting question. And I can see why the choices that were made in this case bother you.

  • Tally Isham

    The article is well balance.

    When one side is clearly in the right and standing for settled constitutional law, and the other side is a mob that starts making death threats and intimidating a 16 yo girl because they can’t formulate a coherent argument, a journalist can only go so far.

    Jessica’s detractors (elected officals, students, faculty, even the florist) obviously did not read the First Amendment. They didn’t read the values on the prayer they feverishly defend either.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    I want to know what they believed was mocking religion?

    Check the twitter link above.

  • bradjebje

    This is a non-story. The whole issue has been in the press for well over a year. Everyone has spoken endlessly. Where have you been?

    The issue is one of law. Those claiming to be “Christians” have been ghoulish and an insult to Christianity. THAT is what you should focus on.

  • Passing By

    Three commenters have referred to ”death threats”. The article refers to ”threats” and ”threatening comments”. Is there another source of information which describes and validates the alleged threats?

  • Greg du Pille

    re sari’s comment above @3

    The answer is that both Ms Ahlquist and the ACLU offered the School Board the compromise of removing the religious aspects of the Banner, i.e. “School Prayer”, “Our Father”, “Amen” and also wanted appeals to supernatural intercessors removed “Grant Us … etc”.

    The board declined the offer, preferring to keep the religious aspects intact.

    Re Passing By @ 9
    Many of the threats and offensive comments may be found at

  • MikeL

    In one of these stories, I’d be interested in the reporter delving into exactly what the the claimant (is that the right word) finds so offensive that the prayer banner (or statue, creche, etc) finds so troubling or offensive that it must be removed? Why is it that the offending object that is so compelling it can’t be ignored? That’s an angle I’ve never seen in one of these reports, and I’m genuinely interested.

  • Greg du Pille

    re MikeL @ 11

    Here’s an extract from the court’s decision which should provide some answers for you. Re being “offended” or not:

    “This Court is satisfied that the Supreme Court, were it to
    analyze Plaintiff’s standing herein, would determine that her status as a student enrolled at Cranston West is sufficient to confer standing in a dispute about a prayer displayed at her school. Like the student in Lee v. Weisman, she is a captive audience. Beyond that, Plaintiff has stated that the presence of a Christian prayer on the wall of her school has made her feel ostracized and out of place. She has also stated that she doesn’t find the text of the Prayer to be offensive. The Court fails to find these statements inconsistent. It is possible to
    object to the presence of the Prayer Mural without having to find its goals of academic achievement and good sportsmanship offensive.

    While her injuries might be characterized as abstract, those injuries are consistent with the injuries complained of by other plaintiffs in Establishment Clause litigation, such as Engel v. Vitale and the Schempp case, and readily distinguishable from the cases where the Supreme Courthas determined that plaintiffs lacked standing, such as Lujan, Valley Forge Christian College, and Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.”

    As to ignoring the object, let’s not forget that its an 8 foot tall, 4 foot tall object with 3 inch high lettering placed in “a position of honor” next to the clock in the school auditorium. Whilst many of the messages contained in the prayer are uncontentious and laudable, what is contentious to her is the fact that it’s a Christian Prayer, starting “Our Heavenly Father”, headed “School Prayer” which entreats readers to ask an outside (supernatural) agency to “grant” her something, which clearly both excludes her and anyone like her.

  • Chris

    Is the story balanced? My only comment would be that the story mentions the reasons behind Jessica Ahlquist’s opposition but only the actions (i.e. death threats) and epithets of her opposition.

    Therefore the picture painted is reason vs rage.

  • Chris

    I went to “JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks” to read about the “offensive ” comments. I have to acknowledge a deep sense of irony when I read this on their “Who are we ” page :

    “We will most likely offend you.”

  • MikeL

    Greg – thanks for the info, but I was more curious to hear from one of the complainants themselves, to hear about it in their own words. I haven’t seen anything like that in any of the articles I’ve read over the years, and think it might be a fresh take on the topic.

  • benjdm

    I’ve complained about church-state separation violations before, so in a mild sense, I would be a complainant. The National Motto is my personal pet peeve.

    Having a school prayer means that the school’s official position is approving of prayer. It makes everyone who holds religious viewpoints that don’t include a ‘heavenly father’ to be ‘others.’ ‘Others’ are tolerated only as long as they accept their status as others and don’t insist on their own views being equal to the official view. This is entirely unacceptable. The government doesn’t get to establish that religious views with a ‘heavenly father’ are better than other religious views.

  • sari

    Having a school prayer means that the school’s official position is approving of prayer. It makes everyone who holds religious viewpoints that don’t include a ‘heavenly father’ to be ‘others.’ ‘Others’ are tolerated only as long as they accept their status as others and don’t insist on their own views being equal to the official view. This is entirely unacceptable. The government doesn’t get to establish that religious views with a ‘heavenly father’ are better than other religious views.

    Exactly, benjdm#16. It is tantamount to institutionalizing and privileging one religion to the exclusion of all other belief systems. While I, as a theist, had little problem with such a non-denominational prayer (Jesus, for instance, is not mentioned), it is clear how it could make non-theists and members of other religions uncomfortable, especially if they were expected to recite it at school or school events. For that reason alone, given that it is a public school paid for by public dollars, the sign should have been amended or removed.

    To Passing By: the NYT quote below suggests threat of physical harm.

    Raymond Santilli, whose family owns one of the flower shops that refused to deliver to Jessica, said he declined for safety reasons, knowing the controversy around the case.

    Willing to harm the florist but not the girl? A police escort for her to attend school? These are unneighborly behaviors.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    That the florist worried about violence doesn’t mean his worries were real. And dragging the police along also doesn’t mean there was a real threat. The New York Times didn’t describe any actual “unneighborly behavior”, only alleged threats and concerns.

    Now, reading the tweets and so on from the link in #10, a couple of them do, in my opinion, rise to the level of “credible” threats (although one guy’s “threat” was to hack her Facebook page). For most of them, I could definitely go with “unneighborly”, noting they were picked by“JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks” for that characteristic. Reading the link in #2 (her likewise “unneighborly” comments), it’s clear that we have a group of smug, self-righteous, obnoxious teenagers, not much different a crowd than I knew 40 years ago, except with more colorful language and access to the internet. I’d read how terrible teens are to each other on Facebook; apparently it’s true. Forty years ago the people who didn’t like you surrounded you at your locker and called you names, or just beat you up in the locker room. Ask me how I know.

    One last point: indeed the prayer is nothing like a “Christian” prayer, although it is theistic. As a Christian, I have no fondness for that sort of civic religion which was popular in the 50s. It’s clear from the article the prayer is a last gasp of that era, probably spurred by the Supreme Court decision against school prayer. So one act of adolescent rebellion is now met with another act of adolescent rebellion, the difference being the first act was more in line with the local community.

    No, one more point: how the heck did the reporter not catch this:

    Jessica said she had stopped believing in God when she was in elementary school and her mother fell ill for a time. “I had always been told that if you pray, God will always be there when you need him,” she said. “And it didn’t happen for me…

    Are people in New York too stupid to catch the contradiction in that?

  • sari

    What contradiction?. Please explain.

    The situation as described seems to have gone way past adolescent misbehavior. The florists refused orders to deliver flowers to Jessica’s house. Two possible reasons come to mind: they’d taken sides or they feared for their livelihood/well-being. Either way, including this information allowed the reader to see how the issue transcended the school environment and polarized the community.

    Given the demographics of the area, it would have been good to interview local clergy, both as to their position(s) on the issue and to how they’d counseled their congregants.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    What contradiction?.

    Her mother got well. She prayed, her mother got well. To connect the two is a matter of faith – people get well when you don’t pray, and sometimes you pray and they don’t get well. But to say, definitively, that “God wasn’t there” is not supported by the facts.

    Something is missing. Are her parents atheists? Do they go to Mass? What do they think about their 16 year old daughter partnering with the ACLU in a very public lawsuit? I assume their consent was legally required. Was their consent required for the NYT to interview her? The parents are definitely a critical element missing from the story. Maybe they refused to be interviewed? Why?

    I agree about interviewing local clergy, particularly the local Catholic pastor. It’s an element not as critical to the story as the parents, but would be helpful. In general, the religious complexion of the area could use a bit more explanation. Rhode Island is 63.5% Catholic as of 2004, roughly what it’s been since the “Catholic Golden Age” of the 50s ended. That’s interesting, given the connection Sarah Bailey notes to the Baptist origins of the state.

    The fears of the florist interviewed might be realistic, or maybe not. I’m not saying they aren’t reasonable, but we don’t have the facts, only his fears. Did he receive threats? Why did the other two refuse to deliver?

    gone way past adolescent misbehavior

    Not really. I had a kid hold a knife on me in Sunday School, ca. 1964. But this area had “chain gangs” back in the 40s and 50s, and gang violence is a fairly constant element since. It’s overplayed in the media at times (though ignored until it hits predominantly white schools), but it’s real. DISCLAIMER: I live and work in what passes for “inner city” here, so I have a particular POV on community violence.

    A subset of teens are generally mean, hateful, and controlling (and will be as adults), but all teenagers are going through an emotionally, physically, and socially turbulent stage that intensifies their experiences of life. That hasn’t changed in 40 years. Or more. The social media has given it new legs, of course, as well as the greatly expanded news media, which highlights selected facts that pander to their preferred clientele, magnifying the concerns (and the prejudices) of that clientele. Save the time responding: yes, that pandering happens across the political, religious, and social spectrums.

    But good journalism does more.

  • sari

    My youngest is a senior. My oldest had severe developmental delays. One of my sibs teaches remedial math in a Title I H.S.; many of those students are seventeen year old freshmen with major, unaddressed behavioral issues. My mother is in her 70′s and still teaches; in addition, she parented nine children. I am VERY familiar with the behavioral problems associated with puberty and adolescence, and with the dynamics of middle and high school. Still, the lawsuit impacted adult behavior and moved out of the school and into the community. I feel like you are downplaying the community’s response–the adults’ response.

    Yes, Jessica’s parents should have been interviewed. They might have been or they might have refused. All we know from the article is that Jessica was baptized Catholic.

    Re: prayer. She prayed that G-d would be with her, presumably that His presence would give her strength. No mention was made of a petition for her mother’s recovery. At face value, she felt her prayer went unanswered.

    I don’t know why we should expect the journalist to ignore, condone or downplay the effect of very bad behavior on behalf of classmates and community. This is like school admin saying, “Kids tease”, when bullies torture their classmates.

  • Ray Ingles

    Passing By – What would a journalist have to do to establish that someone’s fears of violence were justified? What kind of “facts” would you want to see that would make you think someone reasonably felt threatened, or might be threatened?

  • http://!)! Passing By

    I feel like you are downplaying the community’s response—the adults’ response.

    Well, how you feel you how you feel, but it would nice to have facts. You seem ready to accept allegations and behaviors from one side without question; I’m not. There is a good bit of internal evidence that this story is, like Sarah said, written from one point of view only. That would be propaganda, not journalism.

    I would be glad to talk about the adults in this story, but I need more information than anyone seems interested in providing. Something like information from both sides. For instance: those school board meetings have minutes, and are possibly recorded. Who said what is readily available and I suspect those people would submit to an interview if asked they side of things. I know that actually talking to Christians give them a sort of credibility, but it should be endured anyway.

    I don’t know why we should expect the journalist to ignore, condone or downplay the effect of very bad behavior on behalf of classmates and community.

    You would have to ask that of The New York Times.

    Why did they ignore Jessica’s hating on Christians, as linked in #2. By the way, I found, then lost, a site of interchanges between Jessica and others. It was pure adolescence, which is what I expect of teenagers. They are all a bunch of brats.

    Why didn’t they ask the florist if he actually received threats? Why did two other florists refuse to deliver?

    Ask and I shall find: here’s a little actual information. The other florists didn’t have much to say, except “It’s my shop, my decision” or words to that effect. The Times therefore gets a pass on that issue. But here’s Santilli’s full statement:

    “We refused the order because we really don’t want to cross lines,” said Raymond Santilli, owner of Flowers by Santilli.

    Santilli says the foundation told him the delivery person might need police protection and to show identification to gain access to the home. He stands by his decision not to deliver.

    He said he had his own personal feelings about the issue, and because it’s his shop, he can choose to deliver or not deliver to whomever he wants.

    “If I send flowers there, somebody may get upset with us and retaliate to us,” said Santilli.

    See, no actual “unneighborly” behavior cited. Unless you want to peg it to Santilli. Feel free.

    I ask again: where are the parents? It would be easy to say: “they refused to be interviewed, but state they support their daughter” (if they do). Disclaimer: a couple of lifetimes ago I worked with disturbed kids, so I tend to look at child behavior in terms of family systems, family dynamics, and that sort of thing. So you can understand that I am really interested in the absence of the parents from all of the many stories I looked at.

    Hey, here’s a worthwhile bit of info: the police investigated harassment. What was the results? The Daily Mail didn’t tell us, but maybe the New York Times will do a follow up, unless it contradicts their narrative.

    The judge called the prayer a “Christian prayer” when it clearly isn’t. I was ready to accept his claim that the school board meeting was “a religious revival”, but if he thinks that’s a “Christian” prayer, then I have a new set of questions, like whether his ruling merits overturning. His animus appears directed against Christianity in particular, and not theism. Where’s the Constitution on that? Jessica, btw, called it a “Christian-Catholic” prayer, which rather tips her hand I think. Still, she’s a child, and a very angry one at that (those family again!). I’ve already said I hold no brief for this prayer, nor school prayer in general. I certainly don’t want kids learning faith in the public schools. But biased judges don’t help the cause, do they.

    Hey, I hit the treasure trove: local news. It answered one of my key questions, which is whether the community is currently up-in-arms about this, or whether it’s old news. It’s current. I do tend to trust local news over self-important entities such as the NYT. It takes careful reading, of course.

    See, sari, isn’t that easy: question, answers. See how I went and found answers. It’s really easy these days. Questions don’t have to be scarey. It doesn’t have to threaten your worldview and it’s so much more interesting than sheep-like following the New York Times herd. It’s ok to have your cage rattled once in awhile.

    My last point: looking at a lot of links, it’s clear atheists are making hay while the sun shines. Which is fine. And they seem ready to use this as a club to wield against Christians and Christianity. That’s also fine, except, of course, they are tagging the badly behaving people as Christians. Some are, certainly, self-identified. But the tweets posted by Jesusfetus-etc. are not identifiable as coming from actual Christians.

    Now I have no problem seeing that some Christians behave badly. Nearly the first words at Mass are “I confess…that I have sinned… through my fault.” But the willingness to tag all bad behavior to all Christians is appalling, especially considering how atheists refuse to acknowledge the body count associated with atheism in the 20th century. It’s the hypcrisy. Of course, I’m not saying all atheists are liars and hypocrites. I’m sure many are really as moral as their billboards say they are. But when atheists own up to their own murderous history and stop acting like articulate Klansmen, I’ll perhaps quit being so cynical.

  • Passing By

    Ray Ingles -

    My last post should answer your question. It’s not a very high bar.

  • sari

    Nothing in the articles you linked contradicts what was written in the NYT. In fact, tidbits like the mass of people who left the school board meeting after being told they would not be allowed to speak for/against retention of the prayer corroborates it. Yes, the issue polarized adults in the community.

    Here some relevant quotes:

    But the committee did not allow public comment at the meeting and School Committee Chairwoman Andrea Iannazzi informed the crowd that they would not be able to speak on non-agenda items, prompting the vast majority in attendence to get up and leave.

    School Committee Member Janice Ruggieri expressed frustration towards the departing crowd, noting that they were walking out of a budget hearing — one of the most important jobs the committee does in a calendar year.



    Taylor Grenga, a junior at Cranston West, said she thinks that although the banner contains “a good moral message,” that is not a reason to keep it because the school already has a school creed hanging in the auditorium.

    Grenga was booed by some members of the audience, which prompted Nero to scold the crowd for not setting a good example, he said.

    “The last few days, we’ve seen attacks — some of them which we have no control over, which are on blog sites. And you wonder where everybody’s getting down on kids for saying these things but you folks who boo — you’re setting the example for these kids,” Nero said. “We have not sent a good sample and you folks need to set a good example.”


    In the same article we are told that Judge Lagueux is a conservative Catholic, which suggests that he knows a Christian prayer when he sees one. And, given Cranston’s demographics–overwhelmingly white and Christian, odds are that that prayer and the folks who want it retained self-reference as Christians.

    The police investigated threats and provided a police escort, made available not just to Jessica but to people who sought to visit her house (per the florist). The florist intimated that serving Jessica might impact his livelihood, again highlighting bad behavior by a significant portion of the community.

    Lastly, no one said all or most Christians are bad. On my part, the behavior described jibes with what I’ve experienced or observed over fifty plus years. I, my parents, and my grandparents (may they rest in peace) had similar discussions with school personnel. The difference was we chose not to engage in lawsuits, because we anticipated precisely the response engendered by Jessica’s lawsuit.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    sari -

    It’s usually helpful to read what people actually write before responding.

    Yes, the issue polarized adults in the community.

    Oddly enough, I made that point above, after I did some research of my own. That is, of course, not the same thing as saying the NYT article isn’t written from a specific point of view and with a specific agenda. It was.

    Judge Lagueux is a conservative Catholic

    As a Catholic myself, I can assure you that doesn’t mean he’s not an idiot. Lots of us are. But upthread, you were saying the prayer isn’t specifically “Christian”. Which is it?

    The police investigated threats and provided a police escort,

    The police investigation was concluded two days ago. Any idea what they concluded? The escort was sometime before that. Of course, there was a newspaper article of Jessica being escorted to school by a police officer. Of course, she was also being escorted by a photographer and probably a reporter. The officer may have been necessary; he was definitely useful.

    Actually, the florist was told by a “Freedom of Religion” worthy he needed police assistance. You seem determined to believe that it was needed. I don’t disagree – maybe it was – but I do see other possibilities. Ambiguity is a hard thing, isn’t it.

    Lastly, no one said all or most Christians are bad.

    Well, I provided one link to someone who did. And I read far too many atheist sites last night to agree with you. The hate and rage directed against “religious” people in general and Christians in particular is disgusting, all the more so since it’s perpetuated by people playing the victim and puffing themselves as the intellectual (“Brights”) and morale elites of society. I’ve been dismissing Miss Jessica’s prissy “I’m superior” schtick as a 16 year old brat seeking attention, but when I read the same thing from adult websites, it’s amazing.

    Now I’m done. Atheist rage has infected me. Clearly, atheism is capable of nothing but destruction and ripping apart the social fabric. Atheists don’t seem able to build anything but gulags.

  • sari

    I said the prayer wouldn’t bother me, because it did not mention Jesus, was not a verse from Christian Scripture, and was not a known Christian prayer (e.g., the L-rd’s Prayer). However, if a Catholic judge refers to it as a Christian prayer, I, as a non-Christian, am more than willing to take his word for it.

    One problem I see with ALL the articles is that there’s a lot of borrowing. The same phrases and quotes crop up again and again, which makes it hard to determine who interviewed whom and who simply borrowed from the newswire.

  • Passing By

    Interesting : as I said, it does bother me. But then, I grew up on the civil religion of the 50s. As a Christian, I find no religious meaning in it.

    I agree about the stories. It’s that lock-step mentality and content that always makes me suspicious.

  • sari

    It doesn’t bother me enough to make a stink. I would object to my child being forced to recite it, just as I refused to recite the communal L-rd’s Prayer in the the public H.S. I attended. That said, enough rulings have been passed down to make the judge’s decision easy and predictable. The problem here lay with a community that felt it was above the law.

    I agree about the stories. It’s that lock-step mentality and content that always makes me suspicious.

    I feel the same about the people involved in the dispute. Little independent thought or concern for the other side.

  • Ray Ingles

    Atheist rage has infected me. Clearly, atheism is capable of nothing but destruction and ripping apart the social fabric. Atheists don’t seem able to build anything but gulags.

    Ah, speaking of “hate and rage”, “playing the victim”, and “disgusting”… that passage has exactly what do with journalism?

    You seem to be conflating blogs and commentary with the coverage Sarah referenced. I assure you, if you want to include blogs and commentary, I can point to plenty of examples of theists getting their hate on. Heck, as you conceded, there were plenty of examples of Christians doing just that in this case.

    If you want to vent, this isn’t the site for it. If you want to discuss atheism and its consequences, this still isn’t the site for it, but you can hit me up here.