The Wayward Willis My Life Without Faith

19Jan/128

Jessica Ahlquist, Patriot

I haven't weighed in on the Cranston prayer banner ordeal yet, but I'd like to take a moment to recognize this young lady as a true patriot and an American hero.  Jessica Ahlquist took a stand, not for her beliefs, but for the beliefs of every person in this country against an overwhelming tide of ignorance and hatred.  She saw a divisive, sectarian prayer hung in a public school and asked that it be removed so that students and educators of all faiths (or none) could feel equally represented and respected.  Jessica knew that this country was not founded on Christian principles but a desire to get away from an oppressive religious regime and allow everyone the freedom to choose what and how they'll worship.  Jessica knows this.  Christians do not.

Jessica Ahlquist, Patriot

Ever since Jessica took her stand and won an appeal to have the banner taken down, Christians have been fuming and frothing at the mouth, trying to get a piece of her.  These rabid dogs hunting Jessica down are the same people who thought this prayer, hung in the school gymnasium, represented the way they want to live their lives:

Cranston school prayer.

Cranston School Prayer

"Grow morally?"  "Kind and helpful?"  "Good sports and smile when we lose?"  Guess what, Christians?  You just lost.  Smile and move on.  The people who supposedly subscribed to this prayer are now hurling insults, threatening bodily harm, and generally being bad sports.  How does that work, exactly?  You can't have it both ways.  You can't say, "I'm living my life in harmony with everyone else," and then turn around and say, "If you take down a banner that represents only my faith and excludes yours, I'll kick your ass!"  Seriously, you can't do that.

It has been the argument of these sore losers that the prayer banner was "tradition" and had been hanging there for 50 years unmolested.  That may be so, but there are plenty of traditions that have, over time, fallen by the wayside because they were deemed harmful, divisive, or just plain stupid.  It takes time for society to catch up with these things but when it does it almost always comes out the better for it.

It's been said (by a psychic, no less) that Jessica was "49 years too late" on asking that the banner be removed.  Maybe so, but Jessica isn't 50 years old and wasn't there to contest it when it was put up.  She's just doing what she can in her lifetime to make this world more comfortable for people who have differing beliefs and may not be sitting comfortably in the majority like the "kind and helpful" Christians.

In addition, seeing the reaction of the "kind and helpful" Christians who are incensed that a banner was taken down (you'd think Jessica was asking to have Jesus re-crucified), it's no wonder that somebody hadn't spoken up before now.  They probably would have gotten hanged or dragged behind a truck 50 years ago!  Why would someone want to make waves in a climate like that?  Luckily, non-belief is gaining acceptance and prominence in our culture and people like Jessica can stand for what they know is right without worrying (or, at least, without worrying excessively) that they'll die for it.

Taking down a banner is not the same as taking away your right to be a Christian.  Taking down a banner is not the same as "removing prayer" from school.  Christian students can still pray, same as before.  What does taking down the banner mean?  It means that Christians in the school and the school district cannot exert their will over all of the non-Christians by prominently airing their beliefs to the exclusion of all others.  That's what it means.

Jessica, I salute you.  You are a hero and a patriot.

Posted by Jon

Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. This girl is a disgrace not a heroe. If you dont belive fine let it go do not force your hatred or non belief on us. America was founded on christian faith and principals not your deluded escape from religion. The wished to practice there own faith. Yet the athiest grop push there hatred and self serving anger over our choice. The board voted and it stayed if you dont like it leave. I will do anything to support freedom to worship your belif christian, hindew, buddism whatever it may be or non belief but stripping people of faith and there history to make you feal better is a selfish disgraceful moraless person. Gee just discribed her and most of the athiests. You are all selfish loathing people with no moral compas .

    • Thanks for stopping by. Before I respond to your comment in earnest I just want to say that I can’t believe you’re for real. You’re either a really bad Poe or you’re just blowing off steam. In either case, the first thing that struck me about your comment (aside from the fact that your spelling and grammar are atrocious) was the complete lack of factual basis for any of your assertions. Let me break this down for you (as if you’ll actually read this anyway):

      1. This girl is a disgrace to whom, exactly? America as a whole? Not hardly, and if you really read my post you’d know why. The United States is founded on a Constitution that protects the people from religious groups creating a theocracy every bit as much as it protects religious groups from government encroachment on their freedom to practice their religion how they see fit. By recognizing an infraction of this Constitutional mandate and fighting to see it upheld, Ahlquist has actually protected religious people like yourself (assuming you’re not a Poe) every bit as much as the “disgraceful moraless[sic] persons” you describe above.

      2. Nobody is forcing non-belief on anybody, and this is precisely what Christians seem to be unable to grasp in this and every other case like it. Taking down the prayer banner at this school was in no way impeding or restricting any Christian’s right to pray or worship. Removal of the banner is not, in any conceivable way, equal to (or even remotely resembling) an authoritative mandate to end the Christian faith. People can do what they’ve always done; they’ll just have to do it without a huge, sectarian banner hanging on the wall of a public school.

      3. America was founded on no such thing. The founders of this country were refugees from a theocratic state and wanted, above all else, to ensure that this new country would never become what they had just escaped. That’s why the First Amendment to the Constitution was written, and that’s why we don’t have a state religion or a king. And that’s precisely why you’re free to practice your own faith and I’m free to practice none at all. If you honestly believe that this is a “Christian Nation™” then you’ve deluded yourself into believing a history that never existed.

      4. If you want to see hatred you ought not to be looking at the atheists; you should look at your fellow Christians who are hurling insults, threats, and vile bigotry at Ahlquist. If removing a decoration from a wall is all it takes to make the real “Christian” come out in these people, then it’s very clear that your accusation of a lack of a “moral compass” is misdirected. There is real hatred in this case but it’s not coming from the atheists, Don.

      5. Yes, the board voted and yes, the banner was erected. The point that the courts just made clear is that when the board voted they did so illegally and unconstitutionally. Their decision, whether they knew it or not and whether you like it or not, was wrong. It was wrong then and it’s still wrong.

      6. “If you don’t like it leave” seems to be a mantra of a failing mentality. Because you have absolutely no solid ground on which to base any of your views, you resort to closing the discussion like a third-grader with nothing more than, “Shut up!” Shame on you.

      7. If removing a decoration from a public school wall is akin to “stripping people of faith” then faith is completely devoid of meaning or worth. Are you honestly trying to tell me that faith is so shaky and sensitive that it can be broken, battered, and stripped simply by not having a banner on a wall? I feel so sad for you right now. That’s a horrible thought. Then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing! Perhaps there’s hope for humans after all in that when every unconstitutional display of religion has been removed from public schools and government property we’ll have fewer Christians spewing their ignorance and bigotry.

      8. We’re selfish? Because we want to remove divisive, sectarian displays of religion that exclude not only atheists but every other faith that doesn’t share your Biblical views we’re the ones who are selfish? I think you need to look the word up in the dictionary, man. You obviously have no idea what “selfish” means. Then again, it’s very clear from your comment that what you mean by selfish is precisely this:

      Any action or speech that makes it difficult or impossible for Don Wilker to always have his way with impunity regardless of who it may exclude, offend, or harm.

      Good day to you, sir.

  2. I find that most people who talk about the constitution haven’t read it. I’m not saying that you haven’t, but for the purposes of discussion, let’s make sure everyone knows what the first amendment says about this:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

    Now, please explain to me how citizens erecting a prayer mural in a public space equates to congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion.

    Furthermore, seeing that erecting a prayer mural is clearly both speech as well as an exercise of religion, please explain how requiring its removal is not actually prohibiting the free exercise thereof and also abridging the freedom of speech.

    Remember that that there are no constitutional provisions protecting anyone from being offended or seeing anything–how did you put it?–that is divisive and sectarian. The Bill of Rights acknowledges that we have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    I suppose many people feel their intentions are in the right place when the wage these little wars on free religious expression. But while they think the are defending the constitution they are actually destroying it.

    • Your premise is false. The citizens weren’t erecting the prayer mural in a public space. The school board erected the prayer mural while acting in an official capacity. That is, as agents of the government. I understand that the school board isn’t Congress and I understand that the school board’s decision isn’t considered “law.” However, the First Amendment has been interpreted (as illustrated by this court ruling and years of legal precedent) to mean that any act of government or of government agents promoting or advancing one particular religion or a particular religious view (in this case, Christianity) is prohibited.

      This isn’t abridging the freedom of speech because if it’s censoring anyone, it’s censoring the school board. The school board isn’t a private citizen and as such has no protections from the government as to freedom of speech. These freedoms apply to citizens, extended and protected by the government, not the other way around.

      You’re playing the victim card calling these “wars on free religious expression.” They’re really not wars and nobody cares about limiting your religious expression. You’re free to express whatever religious views you want. The school board is not.

      • There have been many comparable cases around the United States where similar expressions of faith have been displayed in public schools by students. The reason we are aware of them is that they lead to this same type of controversy. Following your reasoning you would be in support of these displays, yes?

        Or are those wrong as well?

      • I think it depends on the context. If the students put up posters announcing the meeting of a religious student group that would be fine, so long as no other student groups (religious or otherwise) were barred from doing the same. If the students posted poems or paintings with religious content that were part of a school project that would be fine.

        If the students took it upon themselves to erect some sort of religious decoration or tribute on school property that had no relation whatsoever to any school work but was intended to be a symbol of praise or worship to their chosen deity it would not be OK. The students would be free to erect such displays at their homes and churches or any other private property they wish, but not on public school property. The school is not anyone’s billboard for advertising faith (or lack thereof).

  3. It amazes me more and more every day that compromise will never be viewed as a solution by any side of the aisle.

    Removal of the top two lines and the bottom line would no longer make this a prayer, but rather a statement. It would not exclude people of a particular faith. I would not exclude people of no faith. It would simply be a statement that, in my opinion, is positive.

    Sure the banner would still be up, and sure the MEMORY of those three lines of text would still be in the minds of some, but they would not be on display for the students. The ones stuck on tradition can remember that those likes were once visible, and the banner is still in place. The ones who feel they are being excluded can look upon it without fear.

    Instead, this had to be fought out in courts of law. This had to become a battle cry for some, and a focal point for what is wrong with the human race for others.

    I’m curious as to how both people in the above conversation view what I have said (as it appears that both people are from opposing schools of thought on the matter). From the (very little) information I have read about this incident, it does not sound like a compromise was even in consideration by either side of the fence. If that is the case, I find that deplorable.

    • It’s my understanding (and I’ll gladly accept correction) that the option was presented to the school board by the ACLU to remove the religious verbiage and leave the rest of the banner in place. From what I understand the school board declined, making it an all-or-none proposition.

      I’m in 100% agreement that the banner contained very good advice for being a good sport and responsible citizen. I’d have loved to see it stay in place without the superstitious mumbo jumbo and have foregone all of this hostility. I don’t know about the other side. It pretty much seems from everyone who has commented that the prayer belonged there and that’s that.


Leave a comment

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

No trackbacks yet.