Jessica Ahlquist, School Prayer, and People Who Shame the Christian Faith

Jessica Ahlquist. (Photo: edited from Facebook)

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.
Amen.”

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.

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5 thoughts on “Jessica Ahlquist, School Prayer, and People Who Shame the Christian Faith

  1. Pingback: Maria Grosso’s Blog Post #4: Popular Source « eng111miami – Ahlquist v. Cranston (2012)

  2. its only a fallacy if I am saying that a will lead to b. This is not what I am stating. I am saying that this is the sort of stuff your current rational covers. Of course, not just rational on this post, but on the other posts about government and religion as well.

    • It’s fallacious by virtue of the fact that you’re attempting to apply my “rational” in this post to other questions concerning the relationship between government and religion, American History, and various other issues. Since you have no way of truly knowing what I think about a lot of these other topics (because I haven’t discussed them), you’re drawing inferences in a way that is consistent with slippery slope. There’s also an element of straw man here, in fact, and for many of the same reasons.

  3. Maybe they should take down some of the capital buildings statues and paintings that have religious language and figures. Maybe the religious faith of certain individuals and the movements in American history should be taken out of text books of college high school as well. World History classes should avoid all talk of any religion. religious student organizations should be banned from meeting on campus, even though they are student initiated, I mean, its our tax dollars for the lights, and all they do is proselytize. When teachers are asked about whether they have any particular faith, they should not have the liberty to respond to students, and they should not appear to be praying during any ‘moment of silence’, since the teacher is a government representative they should be absolutely banned from speaking about or showing any signs of religious commitments on school property. Furthermore, university campuses that have religious organizations should not be allowed to discriminate concerning persons of different religions and sexual orientations as a part of the organizations leadership or membership, even if it is apart of the organization’s constitution or purpose – this should be a protected part of membership in the organizations. Student Religious organizations should not have the right to advertise for meetings in the same way that other groups do, I mean other groups do not bring people into religious faiths. Finally no classes should be provided by public schools (even if they are electives) in studying any specific religious faiths. This goes for public universities and especially high schools(that’s what private/religious universities are for anyways). Concerning High Schools, this includes classes like ‘Literature of the Bible’ (even if it covers many of the writing and reading goals of the state), and ‘the Bible as a part of Western Intellectual Tradition’ (even if it covers parts of world and American history). Furthermore, the prayer at the beginning of the Congressional meetings should be dis-banned, and the President should stop posting Youtube clips wishing people ‘Happy Chanukkah’, Merry Christmas, or ‘Hag Sameach’, as this shows preference to the religious communities of America.

    A prayer like this, although non-denominational obviously encourages prayer, and forces a violation of conscience by simply seeing it. Blatantly: students should be protected from all forms of religion on any public property/school/institution(it does not matter if it is voluntary or student lead, or other types of non-religious organizations do the same type of things).
    *******************************************************************************************************************
    In another point, I honestly think it is terrible what certain people have written to her. This is obviously not a part of the Christian faith.

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