Friday, January 13, 2012

Lovin' Like A Christian

The school prayer that hung in Cranston High School West asked god to give students the desire to be kind and helpful to classmates, and to help them be good sports and give them the ability to smile when they lose. Yet when Jessica Ahlquist, a 16 year old student at the Rhode Island high school, challeneged the legality of having a school prayer, they turned on her like a pack of wolves. Heck, a pack of starving wolves would probably have shown more restraint. There was an outpouring of hate on Twitter and Facebook directed at her and nasty doesn't even begin to describe many of the comments.

Jessica Ahlquist had shown enormous courage in speaking out against the unashamedly blatant Christian message in strongly Catholic Rhode Island. She knew that the school was not doing the right thing by promoting the Christian faith over all others and asked the administration to take the prayer down. She said that the prayer was divisive, offensive to non-Christians and made her feel ostracized. It was only after the administration refused that she approached the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to reason with them. But as is so often the case, when god knocks on your door, reason leaves through the window and the ACLU did no better than Jessica. The issue eventually went to court with Jessica as the plaintiff represented by the ACLU. The lawsuit -- which had no raison d'ĂȘtre in the first place if the school administration had shown even a modicum of rational thought -- was presided over by Judge Ronald Lagueux, a Reagan appointee.

In what was an open-and-shut case, Judge Lagueux said that the prayer was without a doubt religious in nature. He said that it was a government endorsement of religion and therefore unconstitutional. The Constitution of the United States calls for a separation of Church and State and having a Christian prayer displayed prominently in the school is a clear violation of the law. He ordered that the prayer be taken down immediately and decided that the legal fees should be provided to the plaintiff. The school officials had the chutzpah to argue that the paryer is secular and its purpose was more traditional and motivational than religious. But it's clear as day that a prayer when it starts with 'Our Heavenly Father' and ends with 'Amen' is nothing but secular. That being the case, any unbiased layperson can clearly see that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Like a testimonial to Christopher Hitchens' book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, the abuse flowed soon after Jessica took issue with the constitutional violation. Even if you have the stomach for vitriolic comments, the vile nature of many of those the so-called children of Jesus hurled at Jessica will make you do just that -- hurl. Abuse from her peers, though inexcusable, can be attributed to a lack of maturity, but when adults in her city who are supposed to be more reasonable and rational stoop to such low levels, it is utterly disgusting. She was constantly harassed, insulted, belittled and ostracized for doing nothing more than standing up for the constitution. It is shameful that fighting against a blatant disregard of the law can leave you fearing for your own life.

State Rep. Peter Polombo called her "an evil little thing," a "clapping seal" and a "pawn star" on WPRO, a radio station station in Providence, RI [1]. Other students in school threatened to beat her up. Somebody who obviously knew her posted her home address on the Internet in the hope that other haters, aka Christians, would harass her. The comments on the Internet range from 'I want to punch you on the face' to 'getting shit thrown in her face' (her classmate). Somebody even said that god is going to f**k her in the ass with the banner.

JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks took screenshots of this appalling behavior. You can read some of those here, but be warned, it will make you cringe.

This widespread 'love' shown by Christians in Cranston, Rhode Island, the United States and probably the whole world is a perfect example of the hypocrisy that is rife among followers of Christ. Even us godless 'immoral' atheists couldn't bring ourselves to abuse a 16 year old girl. If this is the Christian definition of the word 'moral', I'd rather be immoral, thank you very much. When the god they so love causes them to do such abhorrent things, how do they expect atheists to even want to believe in him?

Bodily harm, rape and death threats are what Christians wish upon Jessica. So much for the love and tolerance that they preach. They are tolerant of rapists and murderers who repent and come back to Jesus, but will spit on an atheist no matter how good they are. It is a sad but true fact that many Christians think they have carte blanche to do whatever they want, break any laws as long as they do it in the name of Jesus or god. I'm not saying that all Christians participated in the abuse, but a majority did and that is absolutely sickening.
Hemant over at the Friendly Atheist has started a fundraiser for Jessica Ahlquist's college education. You can read more about it here. According to Hemant the proceeds will be given to the American Humanist Association. Please contribute if you can.

Jessica Ahlquist is a hero for defending the Constitution in the face of such brutality. She has shown immense courage in standing up to these monsters. Her strength of character will hopefully be an inspiration to other young atheists to speak up. After witnessing this torrent of abuse, the more humane among us stood up in support of Jessica. Here is a sampling of some of those heart-warming comments:

Now if anyone tells me I have the courage of a 16 year old girl, then I'll be flattered because of @jessicaahlquist
     - Paul Anskat

@jessicaahlquist If my daughter grows up to be half as strong as you, I've succeeded as a father. Well done.
     - Eric Thornber

@jessicaahlquist Tune off the disgruntled souls, you upheld the constitution. You should be handed a medal, not death threats.
     - Celeste Rousselot

There's a tag for letting @jessicaahlquist know that her efforts are appreciated. Thanks, Jessica! #ThankYouJessica
     - Patrick May

@jessicaahlquist You're a hero, these people sending insults will only be remembered for showing the world what "christlike" really means!
     - james boggs

Jessica Ahlquist, we are proud of you. Don't let those damned Christians say anything else.



  1. Thanks for putting all of this together in one article and thanks for the link :)

  2. You're welcome, but thank you for putting all those hateful comments together and alerting us. Thanks to your efforts, when I searched Twitter for jessicaahlquist last night, most of the comments were in support of her.