According to the Huffington Post, a 16-year-atheist is suing her high school because she wants a prayer mural removed from the auditorium.
Jessica Ahlquist, a junior at Cranston High School West in Cranston, Rhode Island, believes she has a good case. She is represented by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last April Ahlquist sued in federal court saying the mural is offensive to non-Christians. Being an atheist since she was 10 years old, she said, “It’s the right thing to do.”
Attorney Joseph Cavanagh, Jr. is defending the school. He argues these points:
- The mural is a historical artifact from the school’s earlier days.
- The mural serves no religious purpose.
- The prayer mural is displayed in a secular, not a religious, setting.
- The prayer is not forced upon anyone.
- It is a historical document as a tradition of the school.
- The prayer encourages students to strive academically.
- Nobody is forced to look at it, read it or recite it,
- The prayer has not been recited in the school since 1962.
- There has never before been any complaints about the prayer mural since it was given to the school in 1963.
Origin of the Prayer Mural
The Class of 1963 was the first graduating class from the school and presented murals of the prayer and the school creed to the school in September 1963.
The prayer was written by graduating student David Bradley.
The school committee voted in March to keep the mural and fight litigation.
How Ahlquist is speaking out
After noticing the mural at the end of her freshman year (what took her so long?), she started a Facebook page requesting support to have the prayer mural removed. Ahlquist made it clear that she felt the banner was offensive and discriminatory citing that she feels left out when they have to attend assembly in the auditorium.
Ahlquist’s lawyer said the mural runs afoul of the Constitution. She argued that it’s religious communication and it’s in a public school.
Do you think one atheist has the right to demand a prayer mural to be taken out of the auditorium of her high school? It is not like she has to recite the words. It is not like she has to see the mural in her classrooms.
See PHOTO on the left of the mural banner that the 16-year-old is suing her school to have removed.
UPDATE: Student won legal battle to have banner removed.