Jessica Ahlquist, a young Rhode Island high school student and professed atheist, made headlines earlier this year when she won her case in Rhode Island district court against her high school. In Ahlquist v. Cranston, presiding judge Ronald Lagueux ruled in favor of Ahlquist (represented by the American Civil Liberties Union) and ordered that Cranston High School West in Cranston, Rhode Island, remove a prayer banner from display in the school on the grounds that it violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and existing case law. It ran particularly contrary to the 1962 Supreme Court ruling in Engel v. Vitale, which banned schools from composing prayers and encouraging students to pray them.
In the case of Ahlquist’s school, the prayer had been adopted in 1960 and was recited until the Engel v. Vitale ruling in 1962 but the banner remained on display in the high school.
For the record, the prayer that was at the center of the Engel v. Vitale ruling in 1962 read as follows:
Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen
By contrast, the prayer that had been composed by the Cranston student council in 1960 and displayed for over fifty years read:
“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.
Now, however good these prayers might be, they are, nonetheless, clearly in violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. As I’ve explained in previous posts, public schools are government owned and funded and serve the general public, which includes people of many different religious faiths. Whether or not the prayer banner was recited or not, it was still showing favoritism to one religion over another, which is inappropriate in that type of setting. Some Christians have a really, really hard time understanding this, as Ahlquist has become acutely aware.
In many cases, it isn’t clear whether or not the hate mail she’s receiving is coming from “Christians,” but, in any case, I find it fascinating that anyone would feel so strongly about displaying a prayer banner in a public school that they would feel it appropriate to send violent and sexual hate mail to the person who fought to uphold the law and have it removed. Here’s another winner from some moronic “believer” that Jessica posted on her website.
The following video is a webcast of someone reading hateful posts to Twitter and Facebook and from the bizarrely-named Christian website JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks.blogspot.com.
I’m going to be rather bold in saying that people who do stuff like this are not a part of the Christian faith. They are something else, their minds sickened and perverted. For what it’s worth, Jessica, I support you and I apologize for the way you’ve been treated by people who claim to have Christ in them. It’s apparent to me at least that they don’t.