The ACLU in Rhode Island recently filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Cranston challenging the constitutionality of a prayer banner displayed in the Cranston High School auditorium. The suit was filed on behalf of an atheist girl named Jessica, claiming that the prayer banner violates her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, making her feel "excluded, ostracized and devalued by her school because she does not share or agree with the religious expression conveyed by the prayer." The suit also asks the court to award damages to Jessica and attorneys' fees and court costs.
The prayer banner hanging on the high school auditorium wall was a gift of the school's first graduating class and written by a member of the student council. It's been displayed since 1963 in the auditorium, across from the school creed. There have been no formal complaints in the last 38 years until this year. It's hard to see how any reasonable person could object to it. The prayer banner reads: "Our Heavenly Father. Grant us each day the desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically,to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship, help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School."
The sad part of this lawsuit is that it will cost the city of Cranston and the Cranston High School a lot of money to pay the attorneys to defend the banner.
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