16 year old Jessica Ahlquist

Sixteen-year-old Rhode Island student Jessica Ahlquist, who successfully sued her school district Cranston High School West to have a Christian prayer banner removed from the state-funded public school, is the latest in a long line of high school atheist to gain notoriety and internet fame for taking a stand against majority opinion and bringing attention to the ever-malignant lightening rod that is the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Her lawsuit, a textbook case of separation of church and state, was more than enough to win over District Judge Ronald R. Lagueux who praised the young woman for her courage in taking on the school administration who had refused to remove the banner which had been on display for 49 years.

The Prayer

Janitors at Cranston High School West have expressed disdain at the fact that they will now have to paint the wall behind and around where the Christian Prayer Banner has hung for the past 49 years.

It should come as no surprise that the case, which has gained international attention, as well as thousands of fans in the U.S. and abroad for the young activist, has made her less than popular among many schoolmates and young “Christians.”  In fact, it would be next to impossible to find a young “celebrity” that was not hated by at least half of America’s teenage population… Justin Bieber anyone?  Throw a little Jesus into the equation and it certainly assured that brave, young Jessica would be no different.

There has also been much recent media attention focused on bullying, both in person and online by America’s youth, and the story of Jessica Ahlquist is a perfect admix of both.  While she has remained well-spoken, well-studied, and level-headed during this entire ordeal, the ruling and Jessica have received plenty of attention since the decision due to the reactions of schoolmates and other teenagers and young adults online.

Here is a small sampling of comments, reposted verbatim, to the judge’s decision that the banner should come down.  WARNING – CONTAINS MUCH PROFANITY

“May that little, evil athiest teenage girl and that judge BURN IN HELL!”

 “Jessica Ahlquist may have won her case, but she’s going straight to hell. #Godovereverything”

“I hope there’s lots of banners in hell when your rotting in there you atheist fuck #TeamJesus”

“If this banner comes down, hell i hope the school burns down with it!”

“U little brainless idiot, hope u will be punished, you have not win sh..t! Stupid little brainless skunk!”

“Fuck Jessica alquist I’ll drop anchor on her face”

“definetly laying it down on this athiest tommorow anyone else?”

“Nothing bad better happen tomorrow #justsaying #fridaythe13th”

“Let’s all jump that girl who did the banner #fuckthatho”

“literally that bitch is insane. and the best part is she already transferred schools because shes knows someone will jump her #ahaha”

“”But for real somebody should jump this girl” lmao let’s do it!”

“Hmm jess is in my bio class, she’s gonna get some shit thrown at her”

“hail Mary full of grace @jessicaahlquist is gonna get punched in the face”

“When I take over the world I’m going to do a holocaust to all the atheists”

“gods going to fuck your ass with that banner you scumbag”

“if I wasn’t 18 and wouldn’t go to jail I’d beat the shit out of her idk how she got away with not getting beat up yet”

“nail her to a cross”

“We can make so many jokes about this dumb bitch, but who cares #thatbitchisgointohell and Satan is gonna rape her.”

But the name calling and slandering doesn’t stop with online teenagers. 

Since the ruling, Jessica has been called “an evil little thing” by Rhode Island Congressman Paul Palumbo while he was defending the banner on a local talk show.

I will never be able to understand how many who consider themselves “Christians” can spout or type such things and not see that their actions are in DIRECT opposition to Christ’s teachings. Such people as Paul Palumbo and the pitchfork-wielding mob of virtual, vile hypocrites with foul mouths and even fouler thoughts are anything but Christian.

As for Jessica, her actions and comments speak for themselves.  “Even if lots of kids in school hate you, even if there are nasty comments on the internet, it’s important to stand up for something you believe in,” Ahlquist said. “I could have said nothing but I did what I believe in and I’m glad I did what I did.”

Whether one agrees with Jessica on the issue of the banner or not, they should at least acknowledge the teenager’s courage and composure, as well as the way she has carried herself.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for her peers, her Rhode Island Congressman, or a string of area florists who have refused to deliver flowers (from supporters) to her residence since the decision came down. 

Banner and banter aside, Jessica Ahlquist has support and admiration from this Route60 staffer who finds it amazing, and hopeful for the future, that a sixteen-year-old under this much pressure and scrutiny is acting more adult-like than her high school administrators, elected representative, and area business owners.  You go girl.

As for the online haters, a quote from comedian Bill Maher references their type of behavior quite clearly.  “If you’re a Christian and support killing your enemies and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself.”

To all those in Rhode Island and the rest of America who have hated on and threatened young Jessica over the past two years, ask yourself, WWJD?

Online petition to remove Rep. Palumbo