Contact: Brian Magee, 202-238-9088
(Washington, DC – Feb. 16, 2012) – Humanists are applauding the 5-2 decision tonight by the Cranston School Committee in Rhode Island to not pursue an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling to immediately remove a prayer banner from the Cranston West High School auditorium wall.
“Given the strength of the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux, it would have been tough for the school system to appeal,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “We’re certainly glad that the committee decided to not waste any more time and money in pursuing one.”
The case has brought international attention to the school and to Jessica Ahlquist, the student who filed the suit. Because she has been the subject of harassment and ridicule due to the case, local police have increased attention on her and her family’s safety. The outlandish behavior has come from every corner, including lawmakers, students, parents, and business owners.
Tonight’s committee meeting was attended by hundreds of people, many from out of the area who came to support Ahlquist in her fight to protect the separation of church and state, the constitutional principle that protects everyone’s religious freedoms.
“Jessica Ahlquist has stood up against her most vehement and vile critics with class and style,” Speckhardt said. “Her example shows how a fight should be undertaken in favor of protecting the freedoms we are guaranteed by our constitution. Everyone should offer a healthy measure of gratitude to her and her family.”
The American Humanist Association is proud to play a role in Ahlquist’s future by working with Hemant Mehta, blogger for the popular website The Friendly Atheist, to manage an education trust fund to help pay for the cost of her future education.
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.