I know what you are thinking.
How on earth do you tie these two people into one post?
Stick with me here, OK?
The decision came down yesterday. The prayer banner at Cranston West must be taken down, according to the judges ruling. Jessica Ahlquist got her way.
The press conference this morning? Was a joke.
I have blogged my feelings on this before. Which I would *love* to attach but Blogger is having yet another funky issue and I can't view or attach it at the moment. It should be under Schools failing? Lets build a new one!
At any rate...I am personally saddened and unhappy with the decision. Not only did we waste a lot of time, but we have wasted money (that's right...
When this first started making the news I was more than irate. How could she, I thought. It isn't anything anyone recites - its just hanging on a wall. Does she not use money too? I mean she's suing for damages so the money she's handed is going to say God on it... no problem with that though, right? Is she taking another lawsuit to the Federal Reserve? What awesome parents she has, allowing her to take even more money from our ailing school system over something like this - when so many programs are being taken from the kids now.
For instance, did I mention parents of Cranston school elementary students are now being invited to pay money to enroll their children in music programs that used to be automatically offered to children in the school system for free?
All those thoughts, and so many more.
Since the decision came down yesterday though, I haven't been able to stop thinking about something else? What would Roger Williams have said...
Something you may not know about me. I only learned it fairly recently myself. I am a direct descendant of Roger Williams. No break in the Line, he is my 10th or 11th Great Grandfather. It's all been traced... and it was amazing to me. It changed the way I saw myself a little. Al has joked with me that I am like Rhode Island royalty ... funny thing is I kind of felt like it upon hearing the news.
Maybe its been on my mind more since there was an article on Roger Williams in the Providence Journal this past Sunday - the front page of The Rhode Islander section (which I can not link because I do not subscribe to the Journal online).
He stood for the separation of church and state. The freedom to practice your own religion. We should tolerate those who disagree. All that I understand.
But I can't help wonder if hundreds of years later what he envisioned would even include something like this. Lawsuits over the words 'Our Heavenly Father' and 'Amen' on something that I personally view as more historical than anything else. Back when Roger Williams was fighting for the separation of church and state, people were being jailed and sometimes executed over their faith. He founded Providence so people could be free to practice their own religion, have their own thoughts... and not be punished for it.
And here we are all these years later. And you can practice any religion you want... even if that means not having a religion at all, like Jessica. You are free to challenge things, to say what you want when you want. Believe what you want to believe. I wonder if my Great Great Great(...you get the picture) Grandfather would have been happy about her 'fight' and her 'win'.
I am struggling with that thought though. No matter how hard I try, I just can't wrap my head around it. Did he really intend to push it so far that we take money from a school system meant to educate our children that has next to nothing right now... just so some people don't have to look at a banner anymore that says Our Heavenly Father and Amen? Because really, that's all it is in the end. And if you don't believe in God, what difference does it make to you anyway. If he doesn't exist, why is it so offensive to you.
How does that teach tolerance when one person (in over 50 years) lodges a complaint and it has to be removed... when there are so many others... seemingly many more... who fought for it to stay. Jessica no longer even attends Cranston West. My children are being taught tolerance - not only by me, but also in school. Their teachers so far have done a wonderful job year after year asking what holidays everyone celebrates and teaching about every.single.one so no one is left out. The boys have learned about Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and more.
It saddens me that things have come to this. And that she will have no problem taking the money from our already cash strapped school system that my children are trying to make due with.