Saturday, January 28, 2012

Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer

In a recent New York Times article Jessica Ahiquist, a Rhode Island atheist won a suite against her schools prayer poster. Jessica Ahiquist is a die hard, outspoken Atheist who battles a dominant Roman Catholic city in her wish to have her schools prayer removed from the walls of the auditorium. The prayer has been hanging in school for almost 50years and, Jessica's wish to have it removed has struck many people in the town in a negative way. A seventh grader wrote the prayer as moral support, and the 1963 graduating class presented it as a gift to the school. The landmark Supreme Court ruled against organized prayer in schools one year after the prayer was presented. The prayer begins with “Our Heavenly Father grant us each day the desire to do our best” and goes on before it ends to say Amen.

A federal judged ruled this month in the favor of Jessica Ahiquist, stating the school prayer was unconstitutional and violated the principle of government neutrality in religion. After the decision to have Cranston High School eight feet tall, 1963 prayer removed; Residence have flooded school board meeting demanding an appeal against the ruling. Jessica has received many online threats and has to be escorted by police to school. This emotional issue has gained the attention of many including State Representative Peter G. Palumbo who called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a radio talk show. Many florists refused to deliver Jessica flowers sent from a national Atheist group. The group later decided to file a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. Despite of the negative attention Jessica has received, many supporters of her wish have praised her for her bold efforts. A support group based in Wisconsin and has given Jessica $13,000 in scholarship funds.

When looking at an issue like this one you have be careful and put your feelings behind you because although I see nothing wrong the prayer, it is definitely unconstitutional. The fact that the majority of the school approves of the prayer and the battle is against one person does seem unfair. The prayer has been hanging in the school for nearly 50years and was there before organized prayer was banned from public schools for this reason I do believe an appeal should be granted in the wish to keep prayer in the school. I also think the main issue is control, the fact the one student has the power to change something that the majority of the community disagree with is upsetting. Often people may loose sight of what they are fighting for which leads to the questions: Are you fighting for Religious reason or Are you fighting because you want the power to control?


jacobr said...

I truly enjoyed reading this blog posting, but, I believe that some of the major issues addressed involve the rights of the minority as opposed to the majority’s rights. While a minority individual should be entitled to the protections of the law when confronted with the overwhelming influences of the majority, there must be a reasonable limit imposed on the demands of the minority. If the actions of the majority impose harm to the minority, I see no issue with the Government intervening on the behalf of the minority. However, I do see an issue when there is no identifiable harm and the Government which derives its power from the will of the people, takes a position against the majority.

Carrie B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie B said...

I think this is a very interesting case, and this article supplements some information from the other blog post on this site about Ahiquist. However, I agree with Jacob, when he says that part of the legal issues is intervening on behalf of the minority. It is a much larger issue than just of that school; it was taken by a federal judge, and involves federal issues. Many legal changes in this country have been taken up on behalf of the minority (ie civil rights), and these have been some of the most important stepping stones. I think the federal judge did the correct thing, and was protecting the right of no religion to be promoted over another.