Friday, January 13, 2012

you will know they are christians by their love

I dunno what the opposite of the Bad Faith Award would be - clearly Good Faith Award won't do for a number of reasons - but if there was one then I reckon the remarkable Jessica Ahlquist would be a front-runner for the 2012 version.

Just in case you missed it, this is the story of Cranston West High School in Rhode Island, which since the 1960s or thereabouts has displayed a School Prayer prominently on the wall of its auditorium, in flagrant disregard of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. That's the bit that ensures separation of church and state, and prohibits precisely the sort of officially-sanctioned religionism involved in splattering an explicitly Christian prayer across the wall of your nominally inclusive, multi-denominational school. A small thing, you might say, but Jessica Ahlquist decided that it was important to make a stand and have it removed.

Despite being caught bang to rights, the school voted to keep the banner, obliging Ahlquist, with some help from her Dad and the American Civil Liberties Union, to take the case to court, whereupon the court applied the law, as they were obliged to do, and upheld Ahlquist's complaint.

Again, this might seem trivial, but it is crucially important to keep chipping away at the foundations of the great edifice of unearned privilege that religion enjoys, and if this makes people think a bit about why they would tend to turn a blind eye to a Christian prayer on a school wall, but would object in the strongest possible terms to a Muslim one, or a Zoroastrian one, or a Wiccan one, then that is a good thing. It's important to realise how courageous a stand this is, too, particularly when you see the outpouring of Christian love and tolerance and general turn-the-other-cheek-iness ("Satan is gonna rape her") prompted by the legal action.

Our very own Daily Mail is predictably insane on the subject, right from the banner headline:

Note the weaselly quotation marks around "religious". You can see where they're going with this, and they get right onto it pretty quickly:
The banner at Cranston West was judged to promote religion because it takes the form of a prayer addressed to 'Our Heavenly Father' and concluding 'Amen'.
Apart from its opening and closing, the banner does not appear to have an overtly religious message.
And it's just telling people to be kind and nice, right? Who could possibly object to that?


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