Author Emily Dietle
My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks
I’ve seen hundreds of responses to the ruling on the school prayer banner in Cranston High School West, and the majority of the religious responses are defamatory towards the plaintiff, Jessica Ahlquist, or express their blatant ignorance of the law. The religious banner, if you missed it, reads:
SCHOOL PRAYER Our Heavenly Father, Grant us each day the desire to do our best, To grow mentally and morally as well as physically, To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, To be honest with ourselves as well as with others, Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win, Teach us the value of true friendship, Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen
The most common argument railing against the removal of the prayer banner (other than “historical importance”) is that it doesn’t promote religion and that it contains a great message for the school’s youth. It is undeniable that the banner clearly does promote religion, as it is a PRAYER; stating otherwise, is intellectual dishonesty. Such a promotion is clearly a violation of the Establishment Clause, and this issue has already been addressed in 1962′s Engel v Vitale*.
It’s easy to admit that the author of the school prayer banner was coming from a place of good intentions, but a banner by school officials promoting religion has absolutely no place on public school grounds. So, to honor the aspiration behind the ‘School Prayer,’ I propose a new banner for Cranston West, that isn’t strictly exclusive to adherents of YHWH. This secular banner contains the same inspiration as the prayer, and actually gives the responsibility of action to the students.
*If you’re unfamiliar with this case, it’s when the Supreme Court determined it’s unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. They stated that even if it’s not coercive, the mere promotion of a religion is sufficient to establish a violation, and that even if the prayer is vaguely worded enough not to promote any particular religion it’s not a sufficient defense. So what’s the issue here? Why won’t the school set a good example and cease breaking the law? If anyone is conducting themselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West, it’s Jessica Ahlquist.
For more info. about the ACLU, the organization that assisted Ahlquist, please visit aclu.org