Live-blogging Cranston decision

I’m not on the ground, but I’ve done everything I can to get in contact with various people on the ground.  I’ll be updating this post as I get new info.

Seems that #prayerbanner is the hashtag that’s stuck on twitter if you want to monitor things there.  Good luck, Jessica.

The people willing to let the students of Cranston pay for their culture war are out in droves.

Here’s the kicker: they have an eight-year-old passing out “Appeal” signs even as they take steps that will hinder his future education.

That’s ok, losing money on principle is more important.

Thanks to Randomfactor Art Vandelay for these pics.

Here’s another pic.  The appeal crowd has banners bearing the American flag.

So strange.  How many of these people have read the judge’s decision?  How many of them do you think have read the Constitution?

But boy, they sure love America…

WPRO, the Cranston radio station that has been nothing but horrible to Jessica makes the following tweet.

RT @WPRO_newsroom: Change of location for Jessica Ahlquist at #prayerbanner meeting tonight: she’s in the back instead of front row, crouching way down #WPRO

These are adults, and they’re acting like they’ve achieved some form of noble triumph when a young girl who has endured an environment of threats and is probably worried for her safety is trying to stay out of the line of fire from a crowd that doubtlessly contains some of the people who have threatened her.

Fucking bullies and their religion of love.

I have a report from someone on the ground.

[Jessica] looks so completely unfazed by all of this. It’s like she’s at the movies with her friends.

Wishful thinking on the part of WPRO.

Art Vandelay tells me they’re now passive-aggressively singing “God Bless America”.  I can only assume the song will be retired as false advertising if the board decides not to appeal.

Large segment of the crowd just stood and yelled the pledge of allegiance at Jessica.  I’m sure she realized the error of her ways and decided these people were right and became a Christian.

That or she’s sitting silently realizing that bullies are pathetic, that the law does not change with the magnitude of their racket, and that there’s no way these people can come out on top.  The only question is whether or not the students of Cranston West will lose.

Oh no!  Our side is doomed!  Lisa French is back!

Who is Lisa French?  Only the most passionate orator in the history of Cranston!

Ok, the committee is coming in.  Let’s do this.

Pledge recited, “Under god” yelled obnoxiously.  One can only wonder if god is so concerned why he didn’t show up himself.

Here’s a group of unfortunate people.

If they do the right thing and obey the law, these true, true believers will turn on them.  If they cave, they’re going to hurt the education of the children they’re obligated to look out for.  They can’t win.

I hope they at least elect to do the right thing as they go down in flames.

The first rep is talking and it’s not good.  They said Lageaux wrong because nobody ever recited prayer and 10 commandments gets to stay in public because it’s secular.  Saying it’s not a prayer, but a gift from the class of ’63.  As if the class of ’63 couldn’t possibly have gifted a prayer.

Awfully funny they put “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen” in their non-prayer.

Hrm, just saw this tweet:

Attorney Joseph Cavanagh says the fees of a #prayerbanner appeal could run up to a half million dollars

That seems awfully light.  These things generally run in the millions.

All the same, the City Attorney is strongly pushing against an appeal.  Who wants to set the odds that the believers will listen to the lawyer on the subject of law?

Chris Young just got his final warning for outbursts before he will be removed from the hall.

Who is Chris Young? Either follow the link above to read me taking him down a peg or watch this gem.

God dammit.  Apparently the City Attorney spoke reasonably about why they should not appeal then closed by saying how much he disagrees with Jessica and talked about turning the anger over the banner into a movement to get prayer back in schools.

Yes, fight for something you’ve already got.  Brilliant.  Unless you mean prayer mandated by the school.  For that you’d need to overturn the first amendment.  Good luck with that.

Council member Frank Lombardi just read an online comment that was not written by Jessica and said “you all know who said this, but I’m not gonna dignify her with using her name.”

The comment called the school board dumb.  They were dumb.  We’re about to see if they’ve gotten wiser since last time.

Maybe it was an honest mistake, but even if it wasn’t these people only have intimidation to work with.  They do not have the law, they do not have reason, they do not even have god.  They can only bully, and Jessica is too strong for it to work.  The mob has probably realized this over the last year and a half, but they have no other weapons to use.

And we’re off!  Cranston residents are up first.  This is the part where the committee spends a lot of time listening to people who aren’t lawyers but who think they have the best damn legal advice around.  Grab your popcorn.

First up is the class president of the class of ’63 who says they should get the say in what happens to the banner.  Nope!  Being in the class of ’63 doesn’t mean you get to break the law.

Now they want them to alter the banner.  Remember the time that option was on the table – and for free no less?  Yeah, that ship has sailed.

But I’ll tell you what.  I’ll come into your school, take down the banner, and even touch up the wall…and I’ll do it for less than half a million dollars.

I’m a little worried that all WWJTD readers in attendance will fall asleep!  Art Vandelay just sent me this droplet of wisdom from whomever’s at the podium.

“If we ever forget we are one nation under God, we are one nation gone under.”

Citation needed.

I’m told that so far anti-appeal speakers are about even with pro-appeal speakers – and these are the locals that get to go first!  Once you get to the people outside of Cranston it’s over.  We may turn the tide on this one, and without wearing signs around our necks.

Apparently one of the speakers just said they’d be proud if their kid had done what Jess did.  Rock the fuck on!

Twitter user jaberard gives us this.

The mob wants appeal. People who signed up to speak are against. What does that tell you? #Atheism #Cranston

It tells me reason prevails, even if the one side has it’s hand on the volume control.

Don’t worry though!  There’s still plenty of delusion swimming about.

One guy just argued that the banner isn’t a government document so therefore they’ve done nothing wrong. Also the ACLU is a cancer that needs to be defeated.

What about the school?  Isn’t that a government building?  These people think they’ve got this whole situation figured out but haven’t so much as read the first court decision.  Religion of humility my ass.

Oh now they’re coming out of the wood work.

This person just said “I just can’t imagine why you wouldn’t see this through until the end.”

Remember that time at the beginning when the lawyer said you’d almost certainly lose and the school would pay half a million dollars for the privilege?  How about you start there.

Another one said “If you simply don’t like the prayer don’t look at it…This prayer isn’t even religious.”

This prayer isn’t religious?  Yeah, except for the beginning and the end.  Are these people really that delusional or are they lying?  It’s really hard to tell.

Yet another says  “If this remains, no doubt people will continue to go after the pledge of allegiance and take our motto off our money.”

You mean we’ll take it back off our money?  And…who cares if we did?  I’d say good riddance.

Man, WPRO is cranking the prayer-love up to eleven on twitter.

Student from Cranston West says the #prayerbanner has nothing to do with religion, but is instead about morals #WPRO

That’s so funny, because the school was offered the chance to keep the moral message without the religious stuff.  They didn’t want to.

Seems to me it’s about the religious stuff and this person either didn’t read the ruling, or doesn’t think “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen” are religious terms.

Just got a text from Art.

“We have to appeal for the sake of humanity.” I really wish I was making this up.


What does this guy imagine is going to happen?  Is that banner keeping the Daleks at bay?  It’s a piece of cloth.  Get some god damned perspective.  There are some real freaking travesties in the world: starving children, terrorism, earthquakes, people fighting our Constitution because they think god commands it, and that piece of cloth has zero effect on all of them except one, and it’s not a good effect in that case.

Another speaker just said “We need to stand up and appeal!”  Stand up to what?  The Constitution?  None of these people give the first shit about where that money is being taken from.  Hell, it ain’t theirs.  Religion of compassion my ass.

They do not seem to get that standing up and appealing only means getting knocked on their ass harder – several hundreds of thousands of dollars harder.

Oh boy.  New guy says, “This is a virus won’t stop…these people, the ACLU, are tearing us down”

That virus you talk about is the Constitution.  USA!  USA!  Amirite?!

Twitter user rapidoTV200 dressed for the occasion.

All sources report that talks are still about 50/50.  Much better than I thought we’d do.  Things are looking up!

Tee hee hee!

Oh man, we’re approaching Godwin status.

@JohnDePetroWPRO Police harass supporters of the banner. Cranston becomes soviet union.

Yes, it couldn’t be that they’re angry and getting riled up and the police are trying to maintain order.  Naaaaaaaaah.

You guys remember John DePetro, right?  He’s the creepy radio show host who bullied Jessica on twitter in ways that made the old man from family guy look like a prude.

There’s now a guy arguing that the police should arrest everyone in this auditorium with money on them because if the banner is illegal so is money.

Remember the time I said they’d use that shoddy argument?  Am I a prophet or what?

Well sir, in the United States the people in black robes get to be the arbiters of what’s legal.  Perhaps they’ve never heard this phenomenal argument of yours, but maybe you should go tell the and stop asking the high school to break the laws you don’t like?

I wonder if this is one of the shops that refused to deliver flowers to our favorite evil little thing…

And holy cow, John DePetro brings a smile to my face with every tweet.

#prayerbanner so sad. Cranston seems over. Taken over by ACLU . #wpro

Yes, Cranston is over.  Over!  When that banner comes, the city will soon be in cinders.  The school will be ruined…except for their ability to keep paying their teachers, of course…

And apparently the guy who “got hassled” by the police, you know the one who made John DePetro think we were the Soviet Union, refused to leave the podium at the end of his time and just kept screaming.  He was escorted back to his seat.

It must suck living with the kind of paranoia on display by the pro-pissing-money-away crowd.

Now we’ve got a priest arguing saying he didn’t see it as a prayer and he’s a priest so he should know.  When he runs mass they must conclude prayers with “He looked 18, officer” instead of “Amen.”

New tweet from WRPO:

Cranston West student testifying says Jessica Ahlquist has never been bullied #WPRO #prayerbanner

The armed guards that accompanied her to class for the last few weeks?  Those were in case too many people tried to hug her.  Or what about the squad of police in the auditorium right now?  Do you think they’re worried Jessica is going to hurt the mob?

Now we’ve got a…

“Jesus loves her despite what she’s doing”

Make up your damn minds!  God will smite her!  No, Jesus loves her!  But she’ll burn forever!  Jesus forgives!

If god loves Jessica, he and his followers have a very strange way of showing it.

Another winner from WRPO.

One resident says Jessica Ahlquist had a choice and could have transferred to Cranston East if she was offended by the #prayerbanner #WPRO

Yeah!  When she saw something illegal that marginalized a whole class of people she could’ve just looked the other way and been a good minority.

Fuck. That. Noise.

New lady says Jessica isn’t being bullied: her kids tell her so!  This stuff is just kids being kids.  Next week it’s their turn to walk around to class with police protection.  It’s fun!

I can’t help but wonder why these people think the outcome of an appeal would be different.

Some guy just said that not appealing this means his children won’t be able to have the same values as him.

Yup!  Unless that prayer is on that wall, your kids will start dancing in clubs and studying civics just to spite you.

The guy after him said that the attack on religion by Mr. Obama is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.  Reading bible quotes now.  Oh and appeal or this is a communist country.

Think that’s some inconsequential nut?  Nope!  It’s Peter G. Palumbo, a state rep in Rhode Island, and a Democrat.  And they applaud!  FML.

I’ll bet these people even have paranoia on their pizza.  Don’t worry, religion makes people better… *gag*

Now the pro-banner people are trying to band together to see if they can finance the appeal themselves.  Half a million dollars at minimum.  Good luck with that.  At least it’ll be their own money they’re pissing away (after trying to piss away the school’s, of course).

I think they’re starting to realize that this appeal is probably not going to happen.

Alright!  Five more people and then they cut the speakers off and we get a decision.  What kind of odds are we thinking?

Mary Posey of JesusFajitaFishsticks hits the nail on the head.

Whining about how it’s not fair that they can’t violate the constitution anymore = testifying? #prayerbanner

Also, someone just got up and said part of the reason they de-converted was due to the hypocrisy of the pro-banner crowd.  w00t!

Last speaker is pro appeal.  Did she give a legal argument?  Of course not you silly!  She said they didn’t have to worry about money because the lord will provide!  One can only wonder why he has allowed us to get this far if we can count on him to provide…

And if he doesn’t?  Well, sucks to be a student.  The lord may provide, but the bill still gets sent to the school.  I suspect most of the pro appeal people aren’t worried about money because it ain’t theirs.

It’s been turned back over to the committee.  Decision forthcoming.

Jame Croft tweets…

Lombardi doesn’t mention students ONCE in his response. He is a school board committee member, doesn’t mention students. #prayerbanner

He also just pledged $1000 of his own money toward the appeal.  The other $499,000 at minimum can come from the school, I guess.  But it’ll be nothing if we win, he says.

And if/when they lose?  Oops…

2-1 in favor of appeal at the moment…

2-2 now…

3-2 good guys!

IT’S OVER!!!  WE WON!!!!!!!  GO JESSICA!!!!

The mob is reportedly screaming at the member who cast the fourth vote.

Lose with grace…just like the banner said.

Last vote came down on the side of the students. 5-2 is the final tally.

Jessica is still there but she says she’s safe. Will let you know when she’s away, which is when I’ll let myself relax.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Mike Egnor

    The ACLU has already threatened the school with much higher legal fees if they appeal (and lose).

    A shakedown. “Nice school you got there. Shame is something happened to it”.

    • JT Eberhard

      If you lose these suits, you pay legal fees. You can’t try to break the law and expect full charity forever from those stopping you.

      The RIACLU was very generous the first time around and didn’t hit the committee with fees as hard as they could have, not by a long shot, with the presumption that the committee had learned its lesson. Hopefully they’re quicker on the uptake and now more versed in the legalities of these matters than you, Mike.

      • R Johnston

        I think the RIACLU made a mistake here. They should have requested full attorney fees and then offered to reduce the fees to $173,000 if the school district settled the case by accepting full implementation of the judge’s decision and not appealing. The reduced fee request made a frivolous appeal more likely.

        Anyway, we’ll see what happens soon.

        • TychaBrahe

          I think that would have been called extortion.

          • Allie

            No, it would have been standard legal practice.

    • passerby

      Aside from the fact that the side that loses the suit has to pay for the fees, I think it’s less of a ‘shakedown’ and more of the spirit of the law.

      Also, is it really worse than the closed-minded ignorance of people saying “That’s a nice First Amendment you have there. Shame if something were to happen to it…”

    • Randomfactor

      The ACLU already gave ‘em a discount. That won’t happen a second time.

    • DaveL

      Mike, a shakedown is when someone uses threats to get you to pay them money. When your computer guru tells you it would be a very expensive mistake to clean out your old files using a wire brush, he is not shaking you down.

      • jamessweet

        More relevant to the current context, it would be considered a legal “shakedown” if one side was trying to outspend the other side, regardless of the merits of the case. This happens sometimes with big companies trying to push around little guys, especially over intellectual property: The little guy might very well win the case if money were no object for either side, but she will be bankrupt before the case is decided. THAT’S a shakedown.

        If, money being no object, your side is going to LOSE, then you can’t cry shakedown. Doesn’t work that way.

    • John Eberhard

      “much higher legal fees”……yeah, the normal going rate.
      Some shakedown.
      Anytime you don’t get a discount it is a shakedown, right?

      • Robert B

        You know what else is a shakedown?

        Lightning rods on churches. You don’t need those! God would never hit a church with lightning. But if you don’t put one on a steeple, the tallest thing in the area, the insurance agents want even more money.

    • LeftSidePositive

      I’m beginning to feel we might need to amend a few laws to make public servants who abuse the public treasury personally accountable when they flagrantly violate laws that we, the taxpayers, have to pay for. I’m not saying that should be go-to policy, but that judges/juries should be able to make additional recommendations: “One, you totally lose this suit. Two, your violation of the relevant laws egregious you owe legal fees to the other side. Three, your violation of relevant laws and flagrant disregard for well-established case law means the taxpayers cannot possibly be held accountable for your incompetent stewardship of public funds…” Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for school board members trying to break laws, NYPD, Davis PD, Portland PD et al pepper-spraying innocent people, hundreds of taser deaths, etc., etc.? Yeah, these school administrators were happy to play with the school’s money, but if they had to put their house and retirement plans on the line they might think twice about it!! As a bonus, the good people at the ACLU wouldn’t have to work for cut-rates for feeling bad about taking money from a school–rather, they could get it with the utmost moral justice from the greedy, self-entitled assholes who perpetuated such an egregious school policy.

    • Rory

      Egnor, have you ever in your life said something that wasn’t amazingly stupid? Ever?

    • Seamus Ruah

      Ah, a little does of Egnorance.
      Clean up, aisle nine!

      • Seamus Ruah
  • Randomfactor

    Hey, JT, don’t thank ME for the pictures. I’m three time zones away from the meeting….

    • JT Eberhard

      D’oh! Fixed. Thanks!

      • Randomfactor

        For later, I’m credited twice more for status updates, in error.

  • John Eberhard

    Looks and sounds like the next best thing to a lynch mob to me. Bullying and Harassment R US

    • JT Eberhard

      No, no, no…that’s good Christian love.

      • Randomfactor

        All they need is a stake and a pile of wood.

  • passerby

    I wish I could have been there. I would have set up my camera and gorilla pod and UStream’d the event.

  • JT Eberhard

    And since Egnor hates intimidation, any second now I’m sure he’s going to get around to condemning the threats and intimidation Jessica’s put up with for the last year and a half.

    Any tie now…

    • passerby

      *Commences holding of breath*

  • Randomfactor

    Awfully funny they put “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen” in their non-prayer.

    Underneath the header which says “SCHOOL PRAYER”.

  • Greg du Pille

    Does anyone have the original of the “dumb” remark that Lombardi quoted?

    • James Croft

      I can’t find any documentation of it.

  • DaveL

    First up is the class president of the class of ’63 who says they should get the say in what happens to the banner.

    Hey, if any of them wants to put it up at home, more power to them!

  • Cuttlefish

    FYI, the hashtag #Cranston is also being used.

  • Randomfactor

    Sure about that, Cuttlefish?

  • Reasongal

    Are there any signs of pro-Jessica supporters there?

  • echidna

    #Cranston is being used by a few people.

  • Markita Lynda–Happy Darwin’s Birthday!

    There’s a Facebook group called “Support the Removal of the Cranston High School West prayer banner” which has photos of the banner plus a number of alternatives. Someone created an image macro using the banner and various people created them. If you sanitize your font by pasting it into a plain text file first, you should get the same font as the original banner, more or less.

  • echidna
  • echidna
  • Pteryxx

    I’m bookmarking this post, for the next (jillion) times someone says Christian majorities are such peaceful friendly tolerant sorts who totally don’t bully queer or atheist kids.

    • LeftSidePositive

      I know–I was thinking, can’t these people’s behavior, especially EXPLICITLY citing the pledge and currency motto, be used as evidence for why “ceremonial deism” is bullshit and the state endorsement of even broadly-sectarian (because, no, “God” is NOT “nonsectarian,” motherfuckers!!!) language causes demonstrable harm to nonbelievers and furthers their marginalization, discrimination, and harassment?

      • Pteryxx

        I just read about Plessy vs Ferguson (the separate-but-equal bill that kicked off Jim Crow laws) and Brown vs Board of Education (which ended legal segregation fifty years later). From the decision in 1954:

        Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system… We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place.

        Seems a relevant precedent to me. Permitting ceremonial expressions of religion by government entities definitely has detrimental effects on atheist and queer kids, and denotes them as inferior with the force of law. It even applies to women and girls.

  • Marshall

    This is absurd! I don’t know what they think they’re going to accomplish by screaming about irrelevant (and desirable!) future scenarios in which we DON’T trust in god, at least not economically, and delusional doomsday futures where humanity collapses, presumably due to God’s wrath or the banner being the only thing that held the universe together. You would think at some point someone would try to make a case using, you know, LAW, and citations of BOOKS about LAW, and preferable a few cases that establish precedent.

  • Marshall

    This is why it gets me when Christians ask “why do you care that there was a prayer on the wall?”. YOU care. You apparently care enough to waste money on this appeal, and you aren’t even TRYING to make a good case. Why do YOU care so much that you’ll risk your school losing a fairly huge amount of money? Why aren’t you doing something other than screaming about it? WHY NOT MAKE AN ACTUAL ARGUMENT?

    • R. Johnston

      One of the things about having religious faith is that it makes mindless screaming look like a pretty damn good argument in comparisons. I assure you that these people think they’re making real arguments.

      • Marshall

        Oh, I know, that’s the real horror of it. That’s why it so often leads to far worse things than mere ‘screaming’.

    • LeftSidePositive

      ITA. I care because it reinforces the majority’s religious privilege, treats others like outsiders and makes them terrified of speaking up, normalizes further church-state violations, and emboldens religious thugs to harass nonconformists because they perceive the government has their back.

      But, not to worry, if I just look away from the banner, all those systemic problems with discrimination will just go away!!!!!


    • Deen

      Indeed, this gets to me too. Basically, they’re saying that it’s OK for them to care about it, but not for us.

  • TV200

    I am watching this evening with bated breath. I really hope that the board accepts it’s loss and moves on. I hope they really consider what best serves the students. Loud is not indicative of being correct.

    Not that it matters much since I don’t post much here, but @RapidoTV200 is TV200 here. I just really wanted those WPRO jerks to see the shirt. Ha!

  • JT (Generic)

    Wow, that’s fairly impressive that a whole town manages to poe everyone.

    I have to think that because I can’t accept that they’re actually serious.

  • greensage

    Dude…these people just don’t get it and deserve whatever they get. It’s just too bad that they’re taking the education of Cranston’s children down with them.

    • Zinc Avenger

      They’ll grow up to be just like mommy and daddy! Intolerant of minorities, and convinced that if Jeebus loves you, the law doesn’t apply to you.

  • John Eberhard

    Did anyone ever speak against the appeal?

    • passerby

      From what I’m seeing on Twitter, there were quite a few. One woman said that ‘It would be an outrage’ if they took one dollar from the education of their kids for appeal. Roger Williams, the founder of RI, has also been used on both sides of the aisle.

      Of course, Mr. ‘evil little thing’ was there, sounding like someone overdosed on kool-aid and Alex Jones.

  • I’m_not

    Who the hell is John DePetro?

    • Gayle Jordan

      He’s the asshole talk radio guy = douchenozzle

    • DM

      John runs a local radio show. He practically stalked her to get an ‘interview’ and has been posting crazy things on twitter tonight. A few gems (that no one else has noticed, oddly):

      -the guards are forcing communism on the people of Cranston

      -Atheists joked about urinating on a priest


      • I’m_not

        He’s been the highlight for me, he really has. Jeez, these people…

  • Pteryxx

    I’m imagining a rousing chorus of “I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)” when this is all over.

    • Marshall

      I suppose the Dead Kennedys’ cover will suffice should the appeal be approved?

  • jamessweet

    Now the pro-banner people are trying to band together to see if they can finance the appeal themselves. Half a million dollars at minimum. Good luck with that. At least it’ll be their own money they’re pissing away (after trying to piss away the school’s, of course).

    And I want to make clear that I have absolutely no problem with this. I posted to Facebook awhile back that, regardless of one’s position of the legitimacy of the prayer banner, you should be hella pissed at the school district for ever letting this turn into a lawsuit, and you should be opposed to appeal. This is well-established case law, not some nebulous gray area. Now, you can think the case law is wrong. (FSM knows there is lots of established case law in the US that I think is wrong…) But it falls to private citizens and advocacy groups to challenge well-established case law, not public school districts. Public school districts should adhere to well-established law, right or not. It’s that simple.

    • I’m_not

      What’s the prize money for the Pulitzer John DePetro will surely earn after tonight’s performance? Will he be willing to donate it?

  • articulett

    If the school is smart and decides not to appeal the pro banner folks can spend their money on prayer t-shirts, bookmarks, and other chothkies that show their savior just how much he means to them.

  • evilDoug

    All the goddy singing and dancing kind of undermines the people trying to insist the banner isn’t a prayer.

  • Ibis3, denizen of a spiteful ghetto

    What I don’t get is why all of these true believers aren’t clamouring to get rid of the Establishment clause. At least that would have a point, even if it turns out to be a fruitless endeavour.

    • Deen

      Because that would go against their second religion, the worship of the Founding Fathers. The best they can do is to pretend the Establishment clause doesn’t mean what it says it means.

      • Pteryxx

        Well… “worship” as in using them as justification while ignoring what they actually did and said.

        “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”

        “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.”

        “…the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro’ the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists.

        The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

        –Thomas (F**kin) Jefferson

        • LeftSidePositive

          Well… “worship” as in using them as justification while ignoring what they actually did and said.

          Why not? It’s exactly the same thing they do with God and Jesus, after all!

    • Allie


      Some are. Or they deny that the Establishment Clause means what the Court has interpreted it to mean–that’s it’s all activist judges and Jefferson’s personal letters and not-the-Constitution. They HATE the Establishment Clause.

  • articulett

    I can’t help but think “breathtaking inanity” when I hear the pro banner folks…

    • Efogoto


  • R. Johnston

    Lombardi apparently doesn’t realize that the school district has to foot its own legal bill, win or lose.

  • jufulu

    I’m going to pull out the oft used definition of insanity, doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. Do these people really think that they have a super secret method that no one has ever thought of that will allow them to win the day. SSDD.

  • articulett

    They really need to take it down now… if they appeal, it’s going to stay up and covered– and people will see they can survive fine without it and then they are still stuck going forward with an unwinnable case long after the momentum has died out and kids have graduated.

    Shame on Polumbo for making people think this was winnable.

  • Marshall


  • DM


  • articulett

    Woot! No appeal!

  • Lou Jost

    Congrats for excellent reporting! Congrats Jessica!!!Congrats Cranston school committee!!!!!

  • articulett

    Bravo to Bloom too!

    History class will be more interesting in Cranston now, eh?

  • TV200

    Yay! Hooray for Jessica Ahlquist.

  • Pteryxx

    youtube link to “I Fought the Law”


    Now Jessica just has to get out of there in one piece…

  • Ze Madmax


  • Tara

    Way to go Jessica!

  • ashleybone

    Thank you Jessica. Your courage is an inspiration.

  • Rasmus Odinga Gambolputty de von Ausfern….of Ulm

    I thought for sure they would give in to the religious pressure. What a nice surprise.

    The mob is reportedly screaming at the member who cast the fourth vote


    Thank you to everyone involved with the updates!

  • Zinc Avenger

    Good result.


    How low we have fallen when a public school not sacrificing $500,000 of education money in the name of their favorite god is worthy of acclaim.

  • NotAProphet

    For heaven’s sake, phase don’t take God’s name off the money! He’s doing so well with the economy right now!

  • Liam

    I for one am in awe of Jessica who sacrificed the joys of a ‘normal’ teenager to do what was right.

  • evilDoug

    Any estimate of how many people in the crowd? What fraction of the population of Cranston? Relative to the number of students in the school?

  • Cafeeine

    Do we know if there is any video of the event forthcoming?

  • Pteryxx

    Re your twitter “No, it’s coming down.” They just voted not to *appeal* the court decision, right? The school could still defy the court order?

    • hotshoe

      They won’t. Five board members were smart enough not to waste money on an appeal doomed to failure – even though the members have all been threatened by the Cranston crazies. Really, they aren’t going to suddenly get stupid all over again and waste money on defending themselves from contempt of court charges which they know they’ll incur if they leave the banner up. And the ACLU, who courteously charged them less for legal costs than was justified, might be inclined to bill them for the balance if they misbehave, and the ACLU would have the support of the court in doing so. It would be really expensive stupidity and they’ve proved they’re not that dumb. They’ve probably got a week or two grace period, but it will be removed/painted over this weekend while the kids and cameras are away. Just wait, you’ll see.

      • dianekinney

        it will be removed/painted over this weekend while the kids and cameras are away.

        If they can find someone who’ll actually do the paint-over…I have no doubt they’ll get some “conscientious objectors” who will then sue if they’re disciplined. And if they do paint it over, I give it 2 weeks before someone re-paints the banner over THAT, and then others try to convince the school they can leave it because now it was not put there by anyone in charge.

        No shame in their game. Though certainly there should be.

  • Art Vandelay

    I can’t relive this! It’s too soon!

  • Markita Lynda–Happy Darwin’s Birthday!

    Hotshoe, the ACLU had ten days to file its expenses. I don’t think it gets to increase them. They did say that they had omitted hundreds of hours of pro bono work by various people, mindful of the school board’s financial straits. I’m beginning to think that was a mistake. Perhaps they should have filed for the whole amount, you know, $750,000 or so, and then offered to settle for less if there was no appeal.

  • seaurch

    The people of Cranston are exposed as sad and pathetic bigots, hovering jealously over their tiny, powerless god.

    Good job, Ms. Ahlquist! Not sure I would have had the courage she displayed…

  • Randomfactor

    /nit/ ACLU had 20 days. The city had ten to reply. /unnit/

  • timberwoof

    TerranRich, that’s pretty neat. Nicely done.

  • Michael

    I’m tearing up right now. I wish I could have the pleasure of knowing a person as great as Jessica. This is a real victory for the Constitution.

    p.s. damn chivalry making me all worried and stuff. I really hope miss Ahlquist is safe.

  • zacharybos

    Over at the Boston Atheists blog, I’ve posted a report of the tweets I sent from my seat last night in the Cranston High School East auditorium, as residents of Cranston for and against an appeal in the case of Ahlquist v. Cranston. I intend to write a fuller account of my impressions of the evening — the flashes of good will, the disturbing spectacle of hostility — but it was a long night and that will have to wait.

    I didn’t include in my Twittering any mention of how audience members referred to secular citizens and secular activists as a plague; a toxic; a poison; an evil; a threat; the enemy. We know who we are.

  • Deen

    Yet another says “If this remains, no doubt people will continue to go after the pledge of allegiance and take our motto off our money.”

    Not so much an argument for keeping the banner, more of an excellent argument for taking God off the money and out of the pledge.

    • R Johnston

      The problem with the pledge is the pledge itself much more that the “under god” part of it. The pledge, with or without “under god,” is a fundamentally religious devotional to the state.

  • turtleseverywhere

    Great news!

  • Katie Tims

    Good job! Do we get to see a picture of the wall without the banner so we can all have a good old victory screech? ^.^

  • truthspeaker

    Some guy just said that not appealing this means his children won’t be able to have the same values as him.

    So that guy just admitted that he’s completely incapable of teaching his children values at home.

  • Ouabache

    Anyone got a better picture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster sign? That’s an Epic Win right there.

  • Anteprepro

    The guy after him said that the attack on religion by Mr. Obama is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Reading bible quotes now. Oh and appeal or this is a communist country.

    Think that’s some inconsequential nut? Nope! It’s Peter G. Palumbo, a state rep in Rhode Island, and a Democrat. And they applaud! FML.

    What the fuck is wrong with Rhode Island? I thought New England states, especially Democrats in New England states, were above this kind of brainless fundie bullshit, to say nothing of the anti-communist paranoid ramblings. But I guess no part of America is truly free from the ideological scourges of strict Christianity and slackjawed conservatism.

  • Kat In AZ

    What I find amusing is the last sentence of the prayer banner… Did no one read that? I agree that they should have just altered the banner to take off the words “School prayer”, “Our heavenly father” and “amen” instead of starting their own religious war.

    Glad that Secularism won, and at least a couple school board members realized that they did get a cut-rate deal on the cost of the first legal battle and didn’t want to spend more money on a second. They can use that money to buy more updated Science and Civics text books!

  • Martin Stone

    Let me say it plainly and clearly: To those who put their supernatural beliefs, holy books, or scripture above our shared Constitution and Bill of Rights and would supplant our secular form of government for a theocracy, you are what the Constitution refers to as “domestic enemies”. You are tyrannical, theocratic and treasonous. You belong in the middle-ages, when darkness and religion ruled the world. You are an anachronism. You are neo-Medievalists. You are willfully ignorant and proud of it.

    To those who value our secular birthrights and who know those freedoms must be protected in every generation, we have the Constitution and Bill of Rights on our side. We can and will use the legal process, which is not militant. It’s American!

  • Markita Lynda–Happy Darwin’s Birthday!

    Thanks for the correction, RandomFactor! I should know better than to rely on a used memory.

    The school had to remove the banner (which is taped to the wall) if it lost or paint over the wooden covering if it appealed.

  • benjdm

    FWIW, I don’t believe the religious nut at that meeting was Peter Palumbo. They announced 2 representatives that were there and neither were Palumbo. I’m only aware of 1 representative speaking (Lima – ). I tried to listen for every name in case it was Palumbo and didn’t hear his name announced.