Jessica Ahlquist is a normal teenage girl. She goes to school, reads Harry Potter and.. oh yeah, challenged her school board on the legality of having a Christian prayer plastered on the wall of her public school.
I recently wrote on the prayer in school debate. My opinion on it, in my mind, seems pretty uncontroversial. After all, I don’t believe that Christians should be barred from praying in school. I don’t think that a Christian student who holds a Bible study on school grounds in any way impedes on the rights of non-Christians (whether they be Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist or whatever).
However, Christianity stands on the rights of others when it imposes its particular belief system on the grounds and walls of publicly funded property. How often do we hear, “I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for welfare babies” (or something in that line), but rarely do these same people have a problem with tax dollars being spent on public displays of faith.
A public school is a secular school. If you don’t like that, send your children to a private school of your religious preference.
Yes, some public schools once used the Bible as a textbook. And our country used to condone slavery. Just because it happened in the past doesn’t make it right.
Jessica Ahlquist is expressing her 1st amendment right. Most certainly, the government cannot step on the free expression of religion in private life, but at the same time, it cannot respect the establishment of any religion in public life. Before you argue that the government has no place telling people of faith how they can express their beliefs, tell me, how do you feel about Sharia Law? Hypocrite.
As a 16-year-old, Jessica is probably prone to the same types of immature mistakes that all teenagers are. She will post on her Facebook an overly-emotional lyric from a pop song because of a boy that broke her heart. She will fill a journal with silly, trite expressions of individuality. She will say things she regrets and wish she could just disappear.
But, as a 16-year-old, Jessica Ahlquist is standing up for one of the most basic rights of American independence, and if you can’t feel pride in that, you probably believe that your religious freedom is more important than other people’s religious freedom.
Here’s to you Jessica Ahlquist.
America was built by the fighters.