High School Atheist to Be Honored July 25, 2008

High School Atheist to Be Honored

Dawn Sherman (daughter of Rob Sherman) is about to receive a fantastic honor:

In the spirit of courageous advocacy of freedom of speech, the John Peter Altgeld Award will be presented to Dawn Sherman, a student who challenged her high school’s implementation of the Illinois Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. Her initial lawsuit resulted in an injunction from U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman prohibiting the law’s continued observation at Buffalo Grove High School, then expanded into a class-suit allowing other students and school districts statewide to participate. Ultimately, on May 29, 2008, Gettleman applied the injunction to the entire State of Illinois while the constitutionality of the law is considered.

“This year’s Altgeld Award honors young people who stand up for their First Amendment freedoms in the schools they attend even when it is unpopular,” said Shawn Healy, resident scholar, McCormick Freedom Musuem. “Sherman represents the noble cause of civic activism that will without doubt inspire students across Illinois to stand up for what they believe is right, and to be active participants in this constitutional democracy.”

The Altgeld award is named after a former governor of Illinois.

If you’re able to go support Dawn, the festivities take place from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday), July 26th, in Washington Square Park. She’ll get the award around 12:15.

How wonderful it is to see a young atheist activist being honored for her courage.

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  • David D.G.

    Awesome! Let’s all not hold a moment of silence in her honor. ;^D

    This is very cool. I hope that one day Matthew LaClair will be granted similar honors.

    ~David D.G.

  • llewelly

    Congratulations to Dawn!

  • sweeet! she’s awesome!

  • Amber

    I wish I had the same courage as Dawn. Kudos to her!

  • Gabriel

    Good for her. I hope that this is the start of a nationwide re-awakening of the fact that religion shouldn’t be forced on anyone by the government.

  • Ron in Houston

    Hemant must have found some free wifi…..

  • Just a note, Altgeld was the governor of Illinois that pardoned eight anarchists (some posthumously) who were convicted of murder in the aftermath of the Haymarket riots (the origin of International Labor Day/May Day). The anarchists in question were innocent and the trial was all but rigged in advance (police officers picked the jury, the judge declared that he was putting “anarchy” on trial, and seven of the eight defendents were onstage when the original bomb was thrown—the eighth was at home).

    He lost the next election in a landslide, and the campaign against him centered on his pardoning of the radicals. Today he is symbolically viewed as someone who sides with the truth even when doing so comes with a price.

  • I’ll only say that it would be great to have prizes like those given here at my home country.

    Sadly, even if the “silencing” of atheism is not that bad, and we usually don’t need to go into court to make use or valid rights, also there are not such vocal institutions or organizations to defend our rights.

    Cheers for Dawn, and for Altgeld!

  • Alyssa

    During my time in an IL high school under this law, it didn’t really promote prayer so much as daily arguments between me and my christian and/or republican classmates. Way to promote peace…

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