Jessica Ahlquist, the teen atheist who successfully fought the presence of a prayer mural at her high school, has issued a YouTube response following her victory.
The video, posted under username “AnEvilLittleThing” — clearly a reference to the characterization given to her by Rhode Island State Representative Peter Palumbo — addresses her victory, critics’ statements and her future plans to benefit the atheist community.
Ahlquist answers 10 of the most pressing questions she received following her battle against the banner. She first provides advice to high school students who may be looking to have chaplains removed from their schools. In the beginning of this process, she tells viewers to simply approach school officials and politely inquire.
“You should first approach them, talk to them, ask them to remove it nicely,” she explains. “If they say ‘no’ — if they’re giving you a lot of trouble — you should probably contact either the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation or the Secular Student Alliance.”
Additionally, the 16-year-old reaffirmed her plans to continue working as an activist in the atheist community and discussed the importance of her non-belief to her identity.
“I wouldn’t say that I go shoving atheism down anyone else’s throat,” she said. “I just feel passionately about activism and specifically activism for atheism.”
She encouraged viewers to make the world a better place by getting involved in addressing their qualms. For her own role in removing the banner, Ahlquist addressed the criticism she’s been receiving, calling attacks on her both “petty” and “immature.” The attacks, she says, are “beneath” her, though she admits that the criticisms are painful.
When it comes to U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux, who ruled in Ahlquist’s favor, she had nothing but praise, as she specifically addressed the compliments he paid her during in his written decision.
“He turned out to be a really cool judge,” she said. “He wrote that I was an articulate, courageous young woman in his decision. And that was — I was so flattered. It was just awesome for him to say that.”
Below, watch Ahlquist’s commentary: