Friday, January 27, 2012

Atheist teen forces school to remove prayer from wall after 49 years

Image: Jessica Ahlquist, 16, in Cranston, R.I.

            Good Day Humboldt County!

  Today we’re going to look at someone who has chosen the path less traveled. Jessica Ahlquist doesn’t believe in God. But when she forced her school to cover up a prayer in the Gym that has been there for nearly 50 years years, the backlash was immediate.

My question to you: is it fair for one person to force their views on the majority? Is that Democracy to you? It’s troubling to me that a minority can overall a majority in a case of beliefs.

I understand the reasoning for separation of church and state, and agree with the policy. Still, isn’t there times when common sense should prevail? Miss Ahlquist didn’t like seeing the prayer on the gym wall, but she wasn’t forced to recite it (no one was). She didn’t even have to look in the direction of the prayer that occupied a tiny spot on a massive wall. Still, she feels her views are more important than the rest of the community and likens her actions to giving a child a shot for their own good.

Why can’t there be a compromise of some kind? It just rankles me to see a minority over rule a majority. Because one young lady lost her belief in God the whole community pays the price. It hardly seems fair. Read the following article and you decide how fair the whole situation is:

She is 16, the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, a self-proclaimed nerd who loves Harry Potter and Facebook. But Jessica Ahlquist is also an outspoken atheist who has incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city with a successful lawsuit to get a prayer removed from the wall of her high school auditorium, where it has hung for 49 years.

A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion.

In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion.

State Representative Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a popular talk radio show. Three separate florists refused to deliver her roses sent from a national atheist group. The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.

“I was amazed,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation, which is based in Wisconsin and has given Jessica $13,000 from support and scholarship funds. “We haven’t seen a case like this in a long time, with this level of revilement and ostracism and stigmatizing.” (Read the rest here)

Time to walk on down the road…


Anonymous said...

Is it fair for the principal/school board/whoever to impose their views on everybody else? Sticking a prayer on the wall of a presumably public high school does not seem to advance the educational goals of that institution. The "tyranny of the minority" argument may sound seductive at first read--after all, it's just a harmless prayer, right?--but we have a rich history of the majority imposing its will on the minority: racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and the like. Just because this young lady holds a belief that may not reflect the mainstream in her community does not make her concerns any less valid.

Dave Stancliff said...

Thanks for your well-thought input on this subject Anonymous.

You made a valid point.

I just wonder why, after three years of attending the school, she wasn't even aware of that little sign on the wall? She certainly never protested to the school about it until just now.

(I ask this question after reading the entire article and her FaceBook page)

Do you think she was suffering and really felt oppressed by a sign made by a 7th grader nearly a half century ago?
Was anyone making her read the sign?
Was the sign ever read out loud during school activities?
The answer to the last two questions is NO.
No one even asked her to read it. How then can such a simple message be so offensive?

I admit to playing the Devil's advocate here as I don't believe in organized religion myself.

My observations are just that.
My opinion (for what it's worth) is you have a young lady who suddenly got real popular when she forced the school board to do something. Please check out her FaceBook Page to see why I say this.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!