Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jessica Ahlquist-Poor Judgment-Along With Her Parents

Jessica Ahlquist, a former Roman Catholic turned radical atheist is causing quite a stir in Rhode Island. As many people have read or heard by now, Jessica has been asking the high school officials at Cranston HS, where she is a student, to remove an eight foot prayer banner since 2010. She became the spokesperson for the plea when a complaint was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
As reported by the New York Times on January 11th federal judge Lagueux ruled that "it was unconstitional for the banner to hang at the public school." The community is fighting to leave it up. It's been covered for now. Many people consider the banner to be part of the school's history. A student wrote the prayer in 1963 and it has been hanging in the school since then.
It's a sad story. I have to ask myself why Jessica got involved in this controversial problem. She must have felt strongly about it but I wonder if her ego got in the way. Why was the prayer, that gave comfort to so many and was part of the school's history, so upsetting to her? Where were her parents? I'm surprised they were comfortable with her bringing so much negative attention to herself and getting involved in such controversy. There are so many important projects and positions worth fighting for. But to fight to have a much loved prayer removed and to be remembered for that is baffling to me. I read that Jessica is receiving threats for her actions. Of course that is not right, but why would she relinquish her peace of mind to make a point. She's not in an enviable position.
I might have a solution for school officials. Perhaps this would work. I'm sure someone has thought of it already. Why not have the banner reprinted? Leave out the first line. Students can say that to themselves if they wish. Leave the rest of the prayer as is. Maybe then it won't offend those who don't believe in God.
Thank God there are people in the world who do believe, who do give honor, praise and glory to God. For those who believe in mystery and the spiritual, religious dimension of existence, life holds hope and fulfillment. Maybe someday Jessica will realize that.

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.