WHEN you’re at the impressionable age of 12, choosing Jesus as your saviour and becoming a warrior for the Lord makes perfect sense, but at 16 one “isn’t old enough to know the meaning of atheism”, let alone embrace it.
That’s the foolish and petulant view of David A Bradley, a man who claims to have written a prayer that was subsequently inscribed on a plaque fixed to the auditorium wall of Cranston High School West, Rhode Island.
There it languished for around half-a-century until an uppity atheist teenager, Jessica Ahlquist, mounted a legal challenge to the thing, and forced its removal.
Bradley was incensed, and penned the following letter to the Hartford Courant, which ran it on March 7 – and spelled atheist wrong in the headline!
I read the article Feb. 26 about a fundraising campaign among atheists to build a $40,000-plus scholarship fund for Jessica Alquist of Cranston, R.I …
How nice of them. Jessica was duped by her ACLU-leaning father and uncle into bringing suit against the city of Cranston over the display of a school prayer that I wrote in 1960.
Dear Jessica isn’t yet old enough to know the meaning of atheism. She was used (and permanently injured) by powers and ideologies in the name of secular liberal progressivism that she can’t possibly understand at her tender age.
I can’t believe The Courant would dignify such an award by such a group and to such a person with a piece on its pages. The R I judge’s ruling in this case and the subsequent headlines fly in the face of all that is decent and moral about the United States and its Constitution.
Furthermore, 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. Where are my donors?
Now here’s a thing! When The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, reproduced Bradley’s letter on his blog yesterday, the following comment, posted by New Zealander Marc Gregory du Pille appeared:
Mr Bradley is being rather overgenerous to himself with his view of his contribution to the banner. The text of the school prayer was identical to one which had already been in use by the school for some years and was broadcast over the school PA until this practice was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court in 1962.
The artwork was almost identical to a similar banner at nearby Hugh B Bain Middle School, except that the school colours were changed from Bain’s to CHSW’s. There was no student artwork involved whatsoever. Mr Bradley and his group’s major involvement was to raise funds for the project. The Creed and the School Prayer Banners were painted and erected by a professional. The whole project was initiated and supervised by the school administration at every stage.
If this is correct – and du Pille later assured readers that this information is contained in court records – it would appear that Bradley is not only an idiot but a liar.
Here’s how Mehta responded to Bradley’s letter:
Where do you even begin with tripe like that?
Jessica’s in her mid-teens now. She became an atheist years ago. I became an atheist when I was 14. A lot of people can tell you that they became atheists at a young age. Whenever we first began to think critically and ask questions — that’s when it happened. (Edit: Obviously, Bradley knew he believed in god at the age of 12, but Jessica can’t be an atheist at 16? Hypocrisy, anyone?)
Jessica wasn’t duped by anyone, nor was she a pawn of the ACLU. This was a decision she brought to their attention, not the other way around.
Oh, and the scholarship for Jessica isn’t for $40,000. I’m still awaiting the final numbers, but it’s more than that.
A lot more than that.
Bradley isn’t entitled to anything. But if he wants to help pay the $150,000+ in legal fees the district owes, I’m sure they’d appreciate his help, considering he’s part of the reason they got into this mess in the first place.