Posted to WIDK by Jenn Flanagan
(Daily Mail) – A national association that says there’s no proof for the existence of God is managing a scholarship fund set up for a teenage atheist at the centre of a dispute over a prayer banner at a Rhode Island school.
The American Humanist Association says 16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist was targeted with online threats after she challenged the constitutionality of the display at Cranston High School West.
It says she stood up against her critics ‘with class and style’.
On January 11, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux ordered the banner removed.
Judge Laguex ruled that the presence of the 49-year-old banner violates the separation of church and state according to the Constitution’s First Amendment while displaying a passage written by a former student titled: school prayer.
The banner was covered by a tarp as the Cranston School Committee planned a hearing to decide whether or not to challenge the ruling.
On Thursday, the committee decided not to appeal by a vote of 5-2.
Since Miss Ahlquist sued the school for the prayer banner’s removal, protesters have expressed their anger through online commentary, cruel messages, thwarted yet planned student walk outs, and even t-shirts supporting the banner’s display though also expected removal.
One woman posted her reaction to Miss Ahlquist’s efforts over Twitter writing: ‘I hope there’s lots of banners in Hell when you’re rotting in there you atheist f***.’
Another sent her a message saying: ‘How does it feel to be the most hated person in RI? You’re a puke and a disgrace to the human race.’
An investigation led by school officials working with local police over several harassing messages resulted in one student’s internal discipline, according to The Providence Journal.
Combating the ruling’s criticism, blogger Hemant Mehta started a campaign at the Friendly Atheist website to raise money for Ahlquist.
The Friendly Atheist says the fund has brought in more than $40,000 through tee-shirts reading ‘Evil Little Thing.’
Those three words were used to describe her in a recent radio talk show by Democrat Cranston Representative Peter Palumbo, according to WPRO.
Pro-banner supporters have released their own t-shirt designs as well, selling for $5 for the banner’s possible removal and preservation which is described as being glued to the wall, similar to a fresco-style of artwork, according to t-shirt designer Bobby Bach of Bobby Bach Events who spoke with a contractor examining its removal.
Mr Bach told MailOnline they have already sold hundreds in the past two weeks chipping in toward an estimated cost of $15,000 for its safe removal, according to Mr Bach.
The fundraiser for Miss Ahlquist runs through the end of February.
This morning, the Washington Post published an op-ed written by Glenn Beck. The piece, which focuses upon religious freedom and the need for the faithful to come together, is a direct response to the religious freedom violations that are occurring here in America — particularly against the Catholic church.
(Related: Beck’s Europe Trip Sets the Stage for Religious Freedom Coalition & Int’l Tea Party Movement)
The op-ed follows Beck’s weekend trip to Europe, where he met with Catholic leaders to discuss efforts to create a coalition of individuals and leaders from various faiths. In the piece, he writes:
Many people – including those who use contraception and abortion – respect those whose faith teaches them that God wants them to do or not do certain things. They recognize such faith in themselves. Some people don’t drink alcohol. Some don’t eat pork. Some people wear a hijab. Some work in soup kitchens. Some tithe 10 percent of their income. All because God tells them to.
That is what a conscience is – a belief in a higher power, greater than the state, greater than any man. That makes religious people a danger to the state – and a powerful force for change. Religious people stood against slavery. They stood against injustice. And today, they stand against a culture of death and a culture of hatred. On July 28, in Dallas, I will convene a meeting of the faithful – all faithful – to celebrate life and restore love.
Because when the state comes against the Catholics, or the Jews, or the Muslims, or the Pentecostals, or the Mormons or those of any other faith – exotic or familiar – we must all stand up as one: We are all Catholics now.
Read the entire piece here.
Rick Santorum yesterday compared the danger posed by Barack Obama's Administration to the “great peril” of the second World War, and warned off the time when Americans were complacent about “this guy over in Europe.” He's gotten himself into trouble with Hitler references before, as in this 2005 floor speech , when he compared Senate Democrats to the Fuhrer.
The CBS hit show “The Good Wife” waded into political waters on Sunday when it included a character giving a “salute”* to Occupy Wall Street.
The character, Judge Charles Abernathy played by Denis O’Hare, delivered a mini monologue praising the movement.
“Before we begin,” he said during the episode, which takes place in a Chicago court, “I want to take a few minutes to talk about something that is happening a mere one hundred yards from this courthouse: Occupy Wall Street! Yes, these amazing young men and women are braving 36-degree weather, with the grit in their eyes of a shared cause, and all to challenge the system. And I, for one, I salute them.”
Newsbusters has the clip:
Later, the judge also admits to joining the protesters and was seen sniffling because of, as he said, the use of pepper spray.
The episode, called “Live from Damascus,” centers on a lawsuit against a tech company that sold software to Syria that allowed the government to identify, root out, and “get rid of” American protesters there.
O‘Hare’s character seems intentionally quirky, given the facial reaction by main character Julianna Margulies and the way in which the lines were delivered. Still, even regular fans of the show felt the issue was forced. One reviewer explains:
Sometimes, The Good Wife focuses more on being relevant than being engaging – and this felt like one of those times. The Syrian revolution and the role a tech company played in it felt like too obvious of an attempt to mirror real life events from last year and how Facebook shaped them in countries such as Egypt.
This was especially [true] when it came to Judge Abernathy and his Occupy Wall Street references. Those were all just really odd and really forced. We all love the use of big names behind the gavel – and who has ever not loved Denis O’Hare in anything?!? – but it can be distracting and simply unrealistic when these judges dominate a trial due to odd personality quirks.
But this isn’t the first time “The Good Wife” has gone political. Last year, the show featured a controversial representation of the Tea Party, as Newsbusters notes:
Almost exactly a year ago (February 22, 2011), the show gave prime time legitimacy to the presumption the Tea Party is racist as a lawyer in a courtroom tried to discredit an expert witness (Gary Cole as Sarah Palin supporter “Kurt McVeigh”) who testified against a since-exonerated black defendant, by demanding he admit he’s “a member of the Tea Party.” The lawyer asserts “it is our contention that my client’s prosecution was racist,” citing McVeigh’s “membership in a racist organization,” namely the Tea Party.
To see that clip, head over to Newsbusters.
*Author’s note: Yeah, I noticed the odd “salute” move, too.