The New York Times‘ Abby Goodnough has a summary of Jessica Ahlquist‘s lawsuit in Friday’s paper and Jessica comes out of it looking exactly like the hero she is. (Her opponents, not so much.)
Atheists don’t always get positive coverage in the media, so it’s an encouraging sign, especially after everything Jessica’s been going through:
She is 16, the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, a self-proclaimed nerd who loves Harry Potter and Facebook. But Jessica Ahlquist is also an outspoken atheist who has incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city with a successful lawsuit to get a prayer removed from the wall of her high school auditorium, where it has hung for 49 years.
Brittany Lanni, who graduated from Cranston West in 2009, said that no one had ever been forced to recite the prayer and called Jessica “an idiot.”
“If you don’t believe in that,” she said, “take all the money out of your pocket, because every dollar bill says, ‘In God We Trust.’ ”
Compare that ignorant soundbyte to Jessica’s pitch-perfect line at the end of the story:
Does [Jessica] empathize in any way with members of her community who want the prayer to stay?
“I’ve never been asked this before,” she said. A pause, and then: “It’s almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good. I feel like they might see it as a very negative thing right now, but I’m defending their Constitution, too.”
I’ve been asked a few times over the past couple of weeks if I’m surprised at the amount of money people are donating toward her scholarship fund.
My response has been the same: I’m not surprised at all. Of course people want to chip in to her future success. Jessica embodies our movement at its best — she’s brave, she defends the separation of church and state, she’s eloquent when speaking about the lawsuit and her beliefs, and she’s not letting the religious majority in her community keep her down.
This article just reinforces everything we already knew about her.