There’s an assumption that Christians doing Jesusy things is never any kind of obstruction to anyone. That you should just get out of their way if they want to Jesus it up at any point. That explicit Jesusification should be expected as the standard, even in official state affairs, and it’s up to you to either move aside or keep quiet if you’re going to stray from this default setting.
So I’m generally inclined to support cases like this, where Christianity is being actively promoted by schools in even some subtle and minor way. It might not be the biggest, wrongest wrong out there, but it’s still wrong, and religious privilege is never going to go away unless things like this are addressed.
But I can understand those who think it’s not worth the fight. Reasonable people can believe that secularist battles like this one are a little petty and unhelpful. I was moderately indifferent to Jessica Ahlquist and her plight, in fact, until the true, despicable face of religious fervour made itself known against her.
That is where the really important fight is. You might not think it’s worth launching a lawsuit against the religious language hanging on a wall in a school hall, or a student-led prayer at a graduation ceremony. But you can probably agree that taking a stand against people who’ll threaten you with death and torture for daring to question their privilege is a more noble fight.
In the above case of the graduation prayer, I haven’t seen anything like the kinds of threats Jessica received (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re out there somewhere). But I have seen Newt Gingrich.
When one district judge supported the plaintiff’s case, Newt said:
…judges appointed for life cannot be dictators and they cannot threaten our children with jail for saying the word ‘prayer.’
Which is just the kind of dramatic, hissy-fit overstatement you’ll be familiar with from religious folk if you follow much atheist activism. Nobody’s threatened anybody with any such thing, as I suspect Newt damn well knows but is hoping his core conservative Christian base will go along with it.
So, when an amended complaint was brought against the school again recently, it was nice to see that same district judge setting the record straight on one or two things in the official court opinion (PDF):
What This Case Has Not Been About
The right to pray.
Any American can pray, silently or verbally, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, in private as Jesus taught or in large public events as Mohammed instructed.
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