Monday, January 16, 2012
and many atheists are maliciously malevolent.
A federal judge has ordered the immediate removal of a Christian prayer mural displayed in the auditorium of a Rhode Island high school, saying it violated a U.S. constitutional ban on state-sponsored prayer in public schools.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux rejected the school's claims that the message in the mural - which opens with "Our Heavenly Father" and closes with "Amen" - was purely secular.
"No amount of debate can make the School Prayer anything other than a prayer, and a Christian one at that," Lagueux wrote in a 40-page opinion.
Jessica Ahlquist, a student at Cranston High School West, sued the city of Cranston and its school committee in April 2011 to remove the banner, which dates back to 1963. As an atheist, Ahlquist said the mural made her feel excluded and ostracized. She accused the school of violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution's First Amendment, which prevents the government from promoting one religion over another.
School officials responded that the banner was a historical memento of the school's founding days and did not serve any religious purpose. The prayer encourages values of honesty, kindness, friendship and sportsmanship.
Joseph Cavanagh, a lawyer for the city and school officials, said they were analyzing the opinion to determine whether to file an appeal......