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Atheists Raise $41,000 Reward for Teen Behind Prayer Mural Ban
Jessica Ahlquist, top center, who brought action against a prayer banner at Cranston West High School smiles as she sits with supporters during a school committee meeting at Cranston East High School in Cranston, RI., Thursday night, Feb. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Atheists Raise $41,000 Reward for Teen Behind Prayer Mural Ban

"with class and style."

CRANSTON, R.I. (The Blaze/AP) -- It's the story that just keeps on giving. Following a well-publicized legal battle over a prayer mural at a Rhode Island school, a national association that says there's no proof for the existence of God is managing a scholarship fund set up for the teenage atheist at the center of the dispute.

The American Humanist Association says Jessica Ahlquist, 16, was targeted with online threats after she challenged the constitutionality of the display at Cranston High School West. The group says she stood up against her critics "with class and style."

As the Blaze has extensively reported, in January, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux agreed with the young woman that the mural was inappropriate and that it must be removed. The decision has sparked outrage, protests and frustration in the local community.

Blogger Hemant Mehta started a campaign at the Friendly Atheist website to raise money for Ahlquist. The Friendly Atheist says the fund has brought in more than $41,000. The fundraiser runs through the end of February. On his web site, he writes:

If you want to help her, please contribute. Let the media know that there are a lot of us who support what she’s done and who want to make her future better than her present by giving her the opportunity to go to college without worrying about things like tuition and books.

As I stated before, when this fundraiser is over, the money will be given to the American Humanist Association, where they will hold on to the money in a trust fund (as part of the Humanist Foundation of the AHA). Of course, I will provide all necessary evidence of this transaction on this site. Jessica will have access to the money when she’s ready for college.

This scholarship comes as the local school board has decided not to appeal the judge's decision. As a result, the banner is likely going to be taken down in the near future. The local battle Ahlquist waged against the mural has already stripped the school district of more than $170,000.

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