Steve Ahlquist is a writer, artist and current president of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. He also maintains the blog SteveAhlquist.com where almost all his writing can be found. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

His photos and video are usable under the Creative Commons license. Free to share with credit.

Email: atomicsteve@gmail.com
Twitter: @SteveAhlquist

38 responses to “Girl at the Center of the Cranston “Prayer Banner” Case targeted by Cyber-Bullies”

  1. Brad.Feaker

    It is very revealing to see the vitriol spewing from the mouths of ‘Christians’ over this matter.  Jesus (if he existed at all) would be spinning in his grave to see how his followers are behaving.  One would have hoped that people would learn a little about Constitutional law during this process, but I seems that Christians seem to believe that the first amendment only applies to them when it works to their advantage.  Truly sad.  And kudos to Jessica for standing up for what is right – we need more young people like her.

    Cheers,

    Dr. Brad Feaker 

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  2. Lopekal

    “This from people defending a Christian Prayer on the wall of a public school. A prayer that says, in part:

    “Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,”

    That’s irony.”
     
    Actually, its not irony. Its hypocrisy.

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  3. Frymaster

    I’m offering even money that these kids or their parents cry “censorship” within the next 24 hours. Classic move from Righty!

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    1. Frymaster

      http://bit.ly/yMkdIw <— Scoreboard! Those who bet the under get a payout of $2.10 on a $1 bet. Those who took the straight bet get $1.75.

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  4. b-girl

    One of the stupidest things about this is that most of the kids who are saying horrible things about her probably never actually pray and complain if their parents make them go to church. An awful lot of people call themselves Christians but have never read the Bible or even thought about whether they actually believe. It is time for everyone in this country to actually examine their beliefs and why they believe (“Does this actually make sense or do I only believe it because it is what I was taught from the time I was a toddler?”).

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    1. Brad.Feaker

      b-girl,

      So true…little monkeys reading from mommy and daddy’s script.

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  5. donroach

    I think it’s important for me to post here. One, I’m a Christian. Two, this young woman should not be bullied nor should anyone have to suffer bullying for whatever reason. As someone with the last name of Roach and being a bit socially inept as a youngster, I’m quite familiar with bullying.
    I support the banner and think that it is a step in the wrong direction to take the banner down. The Constitution says we have a freedom ‘of’ religion, not freedom ‘from’ religion. Further, every day students state a pledge of allegiance and purchase their lunches in words and items that reference a being greater than oneself. I find that 21st century ACLU and/or ‘defend the Constitution’ types tend to have a revisionist history perspective. Our country was founded by a bunch of Christians, yes Christians, who wrote that these beliefs should be defended. They also called people with my skin tone 3/5ths of a person. Point being is our history is a lot more colorful and a lot less perfect than people tend to realize.
    If this young woman were in my class, I know exactly the type of conversation I’d have with her. I’d call her courageous for having the gall to challenge the banner and then I’d argue vociferously for the right for the banner to stay up. That’s what I was taught. Respect others opinions but be ready and prepared to defend your own. From some of the preceding comments it seems that some of you might not respect the Christian opinion much at all…that’s too bad…but I am posting here to say I do respect the opinion of the young woman in this case. I am Christian too. So before painting us all with the same brush – before saying that Christians believe purely because that’s what they were taught sans examination – feel free to ask one of us.
    In so doing, you might just find that there are a group of people who honor the Constitution but disagree with you and isn’t exactly the type of discourse we want in a democracy?

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    1. Brad.Feaker

      donroach,

      You may ‘honor the Constitution’ but you do not understand it.  The ONLY way to insure complete of religion is to also guarantee freedom from it.  One of the reasons (IMHO) that you and many others suffer from this fallacy is you do not really understand what atheism is.  Atheism is simply not believing in any supernatural god(s).  That is all.  We are just a free to do this under the constitution as you are to be a practicing whatever(insert religion of choice here). And I do not paint all Christians (your religion of choice) with a broad brush – you are all different…which, by the way, is one of the reasons I reject all religions.  And we atheists tend to all be different – vive le difference.  But when I get a take from a theist – they all tend to cluster together in favor of religion – any religion – but keep the atheists out.  All we are asking for is a level playing field.  Christians today are fighting this tooth and nail as they are used to having the upper hand – check out David Barton for instance – he is on the same level as holocaust deniers.  I am sorry, but who made your arguments and beliefs immune from critical examination?

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    2. Craigart14

      I expect most people in America were some kind of Christian in the 1780s, but many were lapsed; roughly about 20% of Colonials were church members.  As for the Founders, I expect most of them were some kind of Christian as well.  Franklin was a Deist for much of his life, Jefferson died a Unitarian, Washington never took communion and did not allow any clergy to enter the room in which he lay dying, and Madison hated the intolerance of his father, an Anglican minister.
      But all this arguing over whether the founders or the citizens were Christian is a red herring.  If most of America’s leaders and most of its citizens were Christians and therefore (many Christians assume) intended a Christian nation, why didn’t they say so in the laws of the land?  Why does the Constitution not reference Christ at all?  Why does the Bill of Rights forbid the Congress from making any laws regarding the establishment of religion?  Why does the Constitution prohibit the use of any religious test for the holding of public office?  In short, creating a Christian nation through the ballot box should have been easy if everybody, as Christian leaders seem to think, wanted a Christian nation.
      The answers may not be as simple as either side would like.  Many of the colonies had official state religions: Maryland and Virginia were Anglican states, while much of New England was Congregational (an evolved version of Puritanism).  Massachusetts was the last of the 13 original states to drop its established religion in 1833.  It’s clear, though what the Founders intended.  Jefferson’s famous letter to the Baptist congregation of Danbury, Connecticut, promised the Baptists that they would not be persecuted by the Congregationalists, but would be protected by the Wall of Separation.  The religious freedom statute he authored in Virginia guaranteed freedom for all faiths, including Muslims and Hindus, as Jefferson later wrote.  Jefferson also wrote that it didn’t matter if his neighbor “believed one god, or no god, or many gods.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  And the treaty of Tripoli states unequivocally that the United States is “in no way founded on the Christian religion.”  The establishment clause, which originally limited the power of Congress so as not to infringe on existing state religions as well as individual rights, has been interpreted since 1833 to mean that no arm of government may endorse any religion nor inhibit any religion, and the 14th amendment guaranteed due process, meaning that states cannot infringe on individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  Public schools are part of the government and therefore cannot endorse any religion, regardless of how many students and employees follow that religion.  The principles in the Constitution are not subject to a referendum in a local school district.
      Of course, people can pray in school, but privately, which is the way Jesus said you should pray.  Group prayers, teacher led prayers, prayers that disrupt education (do you want Muslims to stop classes to pray toward Mecca five times per day?), even team prayers on the football field have been ruled unconstitutional.  It’s not up for a popular vote.  The tyranny of the majority is still tyranny.
      By the way, I teach in a historically black college, and I haven’t met anyone there who knows much about the Bible.

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  6. Greg Greco

    One particularly concerning comment that was mentioned was Representative Peter Palumbo calling Jessica “that evil little thing.”  There isn’t one progressive in Cranston that will primary this guy?  I don’t care if he’s decent on economic issues, he is a hate filled man who targets immigrants and bullies 16 year old girls who live in his district.  He is a disgrace and needs to go!  I think the progressive community should do something rather large to let Jessica know that she has the full support from those of us who actually value freedom and the separation of church and state.  Any takers?

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  7. wavesmalone

    @donroach

    The constitution does not say we have freedom of religion. If you’re going to tell people what the constitution says, read it and get it right.  There are two clauses in the constitution that deal with religion. The first is the “establishment clause.” It reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”.  It goes on to read “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, which is known as the free exercise clause.

    Because the banner was hangling in a public school, which is a facet of the government, it was clearly an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The was not a difficult decision for the court. Those claiming the banner should not have come down either disagree with our constitution, do know what it says, or do not understand how it works. 

    Removing the banner does not impede anyone’s free exercise of religion. Everyone can still pray literally whenever and wherever they want.  What was unconstitutional was a religious banner hanging in an official capacity on government property. That was a clear-cut case of government endorsement of religion.

    It does not matter that lots of people are upset that the banner came down. We do not vote on what is constitutional; the constitution does not mimic popular opinion. It was designed to protect certain rights from the meandering opinions of the masses. 

    The claim that “Our country was founded by a bunch of Christians, yes Christians, who wrote that these beliefs should be defended” is simply incorrect. It’s a common assertion, but it is incorrect. Some of the founding fathers were Christians, and many were not. Who “wrote that these beliefs should be defended”?  Where did they write that?  That is an empty and unsubstantiated claim. If they wanted Christian beliefs to be defended, why did they include the establishment clause in the constitution? Why did Thomas Jefferson write that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli?  

    Your post makes it clear that you haven’t put much thought or effort into formulating your opinions. Try taking a couple minutes to check whether or not what you think is true actually is true, and do some thinking before you determine what you believe. 
     

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    1. Brad.Feaker

      Well said…

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    2. Sully

      “We do not vote on what is constitutional; the constitution does not mimic popular opinion. It was designed to protect certain rights from the meandering opinions of the masses.”
       
      Justice Scalia, is that you?

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  8. Frymaster

    Don Roach, you are awesome. You know I don’t agree 100% with on stuff, but you do it right. 

    I personally see how you can take the perspective that you have. For me, this is a really difficult space that needs frequent rebalancing. Ultimately, I side with the majority here that the minority right should prevail. The establishment of religion doesn’t just mean a national law; the imprimatur of the dominant religion appearing as permanent installations in the civic space is de facto endorsement. 

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    1. Sully

      Frymaster:
       
      Per its website, the mission of the Center for Inquiry “is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.” One could, arguably, claim that this mission  and Humanism in general – is a religion in the sense that it is “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects” (via dictionary.com’s second definition of “Religion”). A religion based on something other than a belief in a “higher being”, but based on science, logic and humanist values, no less.  If that were the case, then wouldn’t purging our public institutions of these more traditional-religious symbols/artifacts be, in itself, an endorsement of a religion/belief structure? Wouldn’t the more “constitutional” approach be to include more traditional (Christian/Jewish/Muslim) and contemporary (Humanist) prayers/symbols/artifacts, then the elimination of any references to traditional religion.  

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      1. Frymaster

        Vous coupez le cheveux en quatre. (You cut the hair four ways.)

        Instead of approaching the core of the argument, you take the low road – equivocation. The point here is the jurisprudence of civic spaces vis á vis the dominant faith. The thing hung there for four freakin’ decades – plenty of time for this, that or the other to have happened. But neither this, nor that nor the other actually did happen.

        Instead, what actually happened is that it hung unopposed as an expression of dominance. “We all know what separation of church and state means, but we dare anybody to counter our authority.” And, as soon as somebody actually did challenge their authority, their authority turned out to be none too authoritative.

        The law looks at what is, not what could be. And de facto endorsement is what is.

        Unless you’re a justice, your opinion, or mine for that matter, doesn’t really matter. The jurisprudence on this issue is crystal clear. 

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        1. Sully

          Maybe I am splitting hairs. The issue to me isn’t whether the sign violated establishment clause jurisprudence, the school committee’s pandering statements on the issue clearly demonstrated that, the issue is how to best deal with establishment clause violations. Perhaps I just don’t want to see my sons school plays reduced to http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103765/fa-la-la-your-la
           
           
           
           
           

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  9. Cwill81

    No True Scotsman arguments about the people making the comments does not deal with the fundamental issues involved. And that theology in general and the religions of Abraham(Judaism/Islam/Christianity) are built on tribalism. Just as Christianity uses biblical words to denigrate gays. The bible says that unbelievers are evil, incapable of good, etc. Add a pince of history and you have a recipe for institutionalized hate.

    The fact that modern Christians ignore some of the more unsavory parts of the Bible is a result of changes in modern thinking, not because Christianity is intristicely not filled with those messages.

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  10. pbfared

    Hi Steve,
    This is horrible treatment of this girl, and it infuriates me watching from AZ. I have to ask about the adults who put the banner up to start with? Why didn’t they know better?
    As for Palumbo, he is disgusting, and I hope you rid yourselves of that bully as soon as is feasible. His joining in the bullying is inexcusable.

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  11. DogDiesel

    I’m not a practicing Christian but I fundamentally agree with Don Roach and totally abhor the treatment of this girl. As a practical matter, I think Cranston should have removed the banner and let the opposition fight to have it put back. I know I will get slammed and don’t mistake this for excuse making but didn’t Jessica’s family anticipate this backlash? As a parent I would have been more concerned for her than a 40+ year old banner that she may have to tolerate for 4 years as a child. I don’t care how many people praise her for her courage and maturity, I just see her as paying a price for being a pawn of adults.

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    1. Frymaster

      So, DD, there are three possible ways to interpret your conclusion. One is to presume that teenagers can’t get a bug up their arse all on their own. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that you either have no kids or have little ones. I’ve got FIVE teenagers, and it’s a remarkable day when one of them DOESN’T freak out about this or that (actual or perceived) injustice. Example:

      Me: Can I make you a sandwich?
      Them: YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE!

      The other interpretation is that kids are reflections of, or in your rhetoric, pawns of their parents. I think that’s largely true, but it would then take in, well, everything ever done by anybody who had parents.

      The last way, probably the way you meant it, is that her parents pressured her into doing this. Again, based on parenting experience, this seems far-fetched. It’s just not what parents – or at least *good* parents – do. Gotta say, looking from the outside, I’m not buying it.

      I vote for option #1.

      Also, you presume that she and her parents didn’t expect the backlash. What in the record makes you say that? It’s one thing to be surprised and shocked by the level of hatred and vitriol, and another thing to be surprised that this occurred. And who wouldn’t expect a backlash? 

      So, in the end, this kid probably did this on her own, and even though they knew it was coming, everybody is rightly shocked at how horrible the comments are.  

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  12. DogDiesel

    My kids are grown adults. I  don’t believe the parents pressured the girl but I also don’t believe the parents adequately counseled her as to what to expect. I get your me/them analogy. I’ve been there. My problem is that she’s 14 or least she started this journey at 14. Maybe the parents should have told her to save her battle for a time when she is more capable of handling all that comes with taking a stand on such a controversial issue. I certainly do not believe that celebratory appearances at rallies is a wise idea. I think it leaves the impression that this was an adventure in attention. This opinion is from the heart with all politics aside.

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  13. donroach

    Oh wavesmalone…
     
    Jefferson also wrote in the Declaration of Independence the following:
     
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”
     
    Perhaps Jefferson’s religious views evolved between the writing of the declaration and your quote, that happens. But, it’s historically inaccurate to think that Christianity was not the dominant religion of the day and that the purpose behind not establishing a ‘state religion’ was not to proclaim a religion outside Christianity held equal sway amongst the founding fathers but that none of their individual Christian sects would receive federal sanction.
     
    You need to prove that the Constitution was not written by Christians. Just be aware that I have an excel spreadsheet with all the signers of the Constitution and their religious affiliation at the time of the Constitution’s signing. But feel free to give it a go could be interesting.
     
    My error was not in misunderstanding the text of the Constitution but in not clarifying my point. I used a colloquialism “freedom of religion’ that you were able to misconstrue and equate to a lack of understanding. Indeed, you dismissed my subsequent points because of my alleged ignorance of the Constitution. Suffice to say, you did not identify the critical piece of the amendment that calls out Congress. No mention is made of states and some states had established churches at the time of the Constitution’s writing. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that this clause came to apply to states. Again, rewriting history doesn’t make it historically accurate.
     
    I’d argue that just because the school is an arm of the state government doesn’t mean, in my opinion, it falls within the limited interpretation of the amendment. We could debate that point ad nauseum and it has been argued…with the Supreme Court saying yes it does. See just because the Supreme Court doesn’t agree with my interpretation doesn’t mean I’m going to say it does. That’s not factual, but at the time of the writing of the Constitution plus an additional 150+ years my interpretation was the prevailing thought.
     
    But I would again bring up our Pledge of Allegiance and the monetary instruments we use. Don’t give me another quote because for every quote you show demonstrating Christianity was not part of the foundational fabric of America, I can produce ten that shows it was. And address the preceding two items in the context of American history. The religion amendment was alive and present when both the pledge and money was printed/minted. Was that merely an oversight? Where was the atheistic minority, or to use something less charged, the agnostic minority decrying such depictions of religion on government produced media?
     
    Where?
     
    Like I’ve said here and elsewhere, people like to create revisionist history to suit their own needs. Me, I don’t like to do that. I’d love to say all the people who signed the constitution were non-slave owning people who valued my worth…but that’s not true. I can live with that. But in dismissing my comments as those made by someone who has not examined the context or content of what we’re debating is foolhardy in my opinion and only supports the point I was making.
     
    I think you should take another look and not just focus on my use of the paradigm ‘freedom of religion’ versus ‘freedom from religion’. In other words, you got my point.
     
     
     
    Frymaster,
     
    You have to have girls to go from sandwich to ruining her life. No way your teenage boys do that. No way! Still I think Dog Diesel’s point shouldn’t be totally discounted. Definitely there would be backlash. If my kids were at the school, and they were sufficiently perturbed by what was happening to their beloved banner, I would have suggested they offer to debate the young woman at school. Perhaps debate is too harsh a word, maybe have a discussion amongst the students about the issues involved. Maybe they could discuss them with more civility than their adult peers, meh, you never know.
     
    I know I would have cared less about the backlash, but I think my wife probably would side with DD and not necessarily want to subject our children to that type of exposure. I can see arguments for both sides.
     
    I dealt with a racist situation when I was 13 and I decided to give a speech to about 200 adults which basically said my school robbed me of an award because of my race. My parents didn’t ask me to write it but they talked to me about potential backlash and if I was prepared for it. I was and dealt with issues for a year or so thereafter but it was worth it. I had suffered an injustice and wasn’t going to sit by idly. I feel our world would be a better place if we had more people like that in general. I think we’d get more accomplished. But again, I see DD’s point and being a crusader isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
     
    As I said, I admire this young woman’s courageto stand up for what she felt was the right thing to do. You know how many people say things under their breath, shake their heads, or stick those same heads in the sand. On this MLK day, his legacy to us should be to always stand up.
     

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    1. Brad.Feaker

      @donroach,

      Are you suggesting that it is OK for states to make laws favoring any one religion over another?

      As to the vile invective being poured out on Jessica – at least on this point we can agree.  That type of behavior is despicable.

        

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    2. Frymaster

      Yes, Don, girls x 3; boys x 2. 

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  14. Lopekal

    donroach: “But I would again bring up our Pledge of Allegiance and the monetary instruments we use. Don’t give me another quote because for every quote you show demonstrating Christianity was not part of the foundational fabric of America, I can produce ten that shows it was.”


    “Under God” introduced into the Pledge Of Allegiance AFTER 1951: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance#Addition_of_.22under_God.22


    “In God We Trust” adopted as official motto of the US in 1956: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust
     
    The founding fathers, although may well have been a majority of Christians, but most definitely advocated a separation of church and state.
    Thomas Jefferson, writing to the Danbury Baptists in 1802:
    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
    Thomas Paine, (of whom John Adams said “Without the pen of Paine the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.”), had the following to say:
    “Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity”

    If there is any revisionist view of history taking place, it is mostly certainly from Christians.
     
    http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume2/ushistor.htm

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  15. Brad.Feaker

    Wanna’ read revisionist history?  Try (if you can keep from throwing up) learning about David Barton and his gang of Liars for Jesus.

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  16. donroach

    Brad,
     
    I’m saying that’s how I read the Constitution so yes, I have no problem with it at all. 
     
    Lopekal…after 1951 = after the signing of the Constitution. In God we trust is still printed on money in 2012, which is also a date after the signing of the Constitution. My point still stands.
    You wrote: “The founding fathers, although may well have been a majority of Christians, but most definitely advocated a separation of church and state.”
    I think they would from a federal standpoint but not from a state’s perspective. I’m glad you do agree that the majority of founding fathers were christian. Seriously, this shouldn’t be a debatable issue and it’s disappointing that it is here. If I may speculate it’s as if present day aversion to Christianity is leading some of you to believe most founding fathers were not Christians. They were.
    Not sure of the percentages, but I think many (more than 20%) also owned slaves. That sucks, but it’s reality. What’s also reality is that most professed a form of Christianity as their faith.
    And how that relates to this topic, is that society has a Christian basis which is why you see Christian edifices throughout the nation in different forms. If we were to take wavesmalone and Lopekal’s arguments at face value it does not make logical sense as to why the banner was raised in Cranston in the first place. That’s all I’m saying here folks is that a majority of people in this nation profess a religion and that religion usually takes some form of Christianity.
    And the Constitution intentionally barred Congress from establishing a national religion but the fathers did not intend for that to trickle down to states. So it should not come as a surprise folks are not just rolling along with this young woman’s ideas of what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’. Nonetheless, they should disagree respectfully and not try to persuade her through intimidation, bullying, or the kind. Because the majority today could always turn into the minority tomorrow.

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    1. Brad.Feaker

      Would you be OK with states controlling slavery?  If it is morally wrong, it is morally wrong.  You wind up with 50 mini theocracies and have added extra religious tension to the mix.  This is possibly the worst interpretation of states rights I have ever heard.  Think the Shia and Suni have their issues?  Just wait until the Charismatics get after the Evangelicals who are getting after the Jehovah’s Witnesses who are after the Mormons who have it out for the Catholics.  Pardon the pun, but that would be hell on earth.

      Don,

      You have significantly dropped on the old respect-o-meter…you are currently hovering right above bat-shit crazy.  Try that idea through – really thinking it through.  I believe you will find it leads to freedom of religion for none and the rise of religious persecution across the board.

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  17. Lopekal

    donroach: “I’m glad you do agree that the majority of founding fathers were christian.”
    I did no such thing! I said “may well have been” (because Im actually ‘British’ and so my knowledge of who they all were is limited but Im well acquainted with Mr Paine!) but Jefferson is claimed to have been a ‘Christian’ but his bible is evidence (as well as that he did state) that Christs teaching were the best moral stories for man but the scaffolding surrounding them was a complete crock. Might well explain why he created his own bible with just those stories in them.
    It does not matter how many, or who, were practicing Christians among the founding fathers at the time of writing the constitution, the fact remains that there is a distinct separation of church and state, that as I pointed out above, Jefferson clarified in his letter to the Danbury Baptists.
    I dont understand the point you are trying to make by saying the following:
    “after 1951 = after the signing of the Constitution. In God we trust is still printed on money in 2012, which is also a date after the signing of the Constitution. My point still stands.”
    What point? The point of contention that you made was:

    “Don’t give me another quote because for every quote you show demonstrating Christianity was not part of the foundational fabric of America, I can produce ten that shows it was.”,

    which I have amply shown to you is blatantly untrue.
    To try and use the adoption of “In God we trust” as the national motto as late as 1956 and “under God” sneaked into the pledge of allegiance in the early 50’s (of which you will find plenty of reports of kids refusing to say the pledge because of its very inclusion) is like saying that the founding fathers were including corporate personhood into the constitution.
     
    As someone not born into US culture, I cannot grasp why it is so difficult for Americans to deal their religion as a matter of private concern. It appears as those it is waved in others faces as some kind of measure of piety. Politicians, when on election rallies, almost froth at the mouth to display how pious they are, and how their “faith” guides their decisions (Does the same faith guide them when they take bribes, sleep with women other than their wives, or seek ‘male company’ by tapping others feet in the next stall in pubic bathrooms?).
    I think I just don’t get the whole faith thing anyway. I was brought up by an Irish Catholic mother who took my siblings and I to church but by the time I reached 10 years old, I had come to the conclusion that it really wasn’t for me. I cannot understand how you can supplant reason with superstition and rituals.

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  18. Sully

    The importance of legal counsel.
    First, no one deserves to be bullied by other student, let alone grown adults. These people need to take long look in the mirror. 
    While the line between government hostility toward religion an neutrality is a fine one – the student herself stated that she did not like the Catholic Church –  I think the hostility on the part of so-called “prayer supporters” has more to do with individuals general disfavor with being told what to do, especially by the government. My guess is that if someone had simply painted over the mural after hours, no one would have noticed, let alone cared. 
    Personally, I really don’t care if the other whether this “prayer banner” stayed on the school wall. The prayer itself is not offensive enough to me to warrant much thought about it – the school committee need only remove the “Heavenly Father” and “Amen” to purge it of its religiousness – and removing it is unlikely to have any impact on my free exercise of religion.   However, reading the decision, one can’t help but think that if the school committee conferred with legal counsel before voting on this issue they may have had a better chance at keeping it up. Their best argument for keeping the mural, that it was a historic document rather than a religious one, was undermined by their public comments on the record discussing how they were religious people of faith and that guided their decisions. Had they been counseled on the appropriate standard of review they may have had a shot to keep this up. 

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