Teen Atheist Behind Prayer Mural Ban Wants Contentious WWI & WWII Cross Removed
Jessica Ahlquist, the 16-year-old behind the prayer mural ban at Cranston High School West in Cranston, Rhode Island, just can’t seem to keep her name out of the news.
Months after she won her ACLU-led battle, the teenager continues to receive both attention — and threats. While she’s been quiet over the past few weeks regarding her take on atheist demands that a WWI and WWII monument in front of a Woonsocket, Rhode Island, firehouse, be removed, she’s finally speaking out.
Ahlquist, who was initially accused by some of having involvement in her state’s latest battle between atheists, believers and pro-military families, has consistently denied playing a role in the spat. But on Tuesday, she posted a message on her Twitter account that, at the least, clears up her views on the Christ-inspired memorial.
She wrote, “This should settle some of the confusion around the Woonsocket memorial controversy. I now support its removal.” Along with her message, she shared a link to a blog post purporting to republish an old article about the monument’s initial dedication in the 1920s.
There’s no clear indication why she posted a link to the blog, CautionChurchAhead.com, but in sharing her views on the matter, she has certainly opened herself up to further criticism. Ahlquist’s tweet means that she is joining the chorus of atheists who view the cross as a form of discrimination being waged against them.
As previously reported, the Christian cross, which was built in Woonsocket back in 1921, is causing a great deal of angst among secularists who stand firmly opposed to its presence on public property. Taking on even more significance beyond WWI, the monument was re-dedicated back in 1952 to honor three fallen WWII soldiers who lived in the area and has since been a public statement of remembrance.
In a April 13 letter sent from the FFRF to Leo Fontaine, the city’s mayor, FFRF staff attorney Rebecca Markert called the presence of the cross “unconstitutional” and claimed that a concerned citizen made the group aware of its presence.
Supporters of the monument, though, are fighting back and defying the request. Earlier this month, more than 1,000 people assembled in support of the religious symbol and the veterans it represents. The city of Woonsocket, too, has setup a war memorial fund to collect monies if, indeed, a legal battle ensues.
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