Prayer Banner Removed

The issue of attorneys fees will be decided by March 19.

After months of debate, international news coverage, and litigation that cost this Rhode Island school district six figures, a controversial  this week.

The enormous banner has hung in this Rhode Island high school since 1963. It begins with the phrase "Our Heavenly Father" and ends with "Amen," and hung in place for decades before it became the center of controversy. A Cranston student who objected to the banner's presence sued the district with the help of the ACLU, and in January

Two events this week seemed to close the book on the banner's five decade history in the high school: The banner's removal, and the announcement of an agreement by the school district to pay the ACLU's legal fees.

The Debate

The ACLU . In a letter to the district at the time, Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU, wrote "there can be no question that the school auditorium’s prayer display violates a core principle of the First Amendment."

In April of 2011, Jessica Ahlquist, a 16 year old Cranston West student and self-described atheist, filed suit to have the banner removed. She was called "an evil little thing," a "clapping seal" and a "pawn star"

David Bradley, the author of the prayer and a graduate of the class of 1963, said he was tasked to write the prayer and the creed as a student council member in 1960 at the request of his adviser and the school administration.

The 21st century church and state debate brought media from around the country and the world to Cranston.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Cranston Public Schools and the state chapter of the ACLU announced that they had tentatively agreed that the district would pay $150,000 to the ACLU .

This was less than the $173,000 the ACLU  after winning the case.

No Home for the Banner Yet

Tuesday's announcement came with the backdrop of a blank, white wall in the auditorium at Cranston High School West, where the banner once hung, and where Cranston Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Raymond Votto now delivered remarks about the prayer banner’s removal over the weekend.

Votto said the banner’s removal cost a total of about $2,500, the majority spent on labor, which was done in-house by district workers. Because the work was done internally, it saved considerable money, Votto said.

A work crew came in at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the banner was gone by 2 p.m. On Sunday, new drywall was plastered in to the hole left behind.

The banner itself is in storage at an undisclosed facility. Votto said it will remain in “a holding pattern until the School Committee decides what to do with the banner.”

The 400-pound banner was braced and lowered using a rope system after the plaster was cut. The banner was transported to the secure, non-climate-controlled facility using a city box truck. The banner itself was six inches thick and and eight feet by four feet in size.

In late February, former Cranston City Councilman Jeffrey P. Barone wrote Superintendent Peter Nero with an the schools first graduating class, which gave the banner to the school as its class gift.

But in the meantime, the banner will be locked away.

Eric Jeffrey April 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I would suggest that you use a spell checker, but that would not help with the dreadful grammar and exposition, as well as the absence of substance. I am responding only because you assert that I oppose Christianity. You may think what you like in your deluded little mind, but for the sane people that may be out there, I have nothing against Christianity (or any other religion). In fact, my wife and all of her side of the family are Christians, some very much so. One of my brother-in-laws teaches Sunday school now that he has retired, and I heartily approve and have told him so. Morals have nothing to do with religion -- you either have them or you don't. There are moral and immoral Christians, moral and immoral Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc, and moral and immoral atheists.
Jim April 26, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Typcial attorney. Lying is an artform for you. For such an educated man, it's funny that you are unable to see the 2x4 in sticking out of your eye when pointing out a sliver in mine. Let's see- quote from your last post: " ...I have nothing against Christianity or any other religion." Then there's this from an earlier post: "...If you want a religion that really does not motivate by fear, try Judaism. Better yet, don't." I think your Jewish friends at Goodwin and Proctor might take umbrage with your antisemitism. You had better be careful Mr. Attorney. You might find yourself looking for a job. Anyway, that's just one of the many posts you have written taking swipes at Christianity or other religions. Regarding your own spelling and grammar mistakes- too many to list-just scroll down and look at your post at the bottom of the page. Yuo, starting a sentence with And, I could go on and on, but that would be fruitless as you obviously can't see past your own keyboard (remember that 2x4?!). I for one don't criticize others for spelling or grammar mistakes in these types of venues. Petty and childish. Besides, most of us don't have the pedigree you obviously have, or the time...
Eric Jeffrey April 26, 2012 at 04:34 PM
You just go from wild to lunatic with your baseless accusations. So now I am anti-semitic, even thought I am a devout Jew who wears a skullcap and has Passover seders with my Jewish friends at this office of Goodwin Procter (no and). That is great. So I guess I can now save a lot of money by canceling my younger daughter's Bat Mitzvah. Wish I had thought about that before I sent her to so many years of Hebrew School and Sunday School. As you were obviously reading challenged, I will explain my prior statement. I was saying something POSITIVE about Judaism, and then reflecting the fact that the Jewish faith does not solicit converts, and only accepts converts if they are willing to demonstrate a sincere desire to adopt the faith. I normally ignore grammar errors, but when they are so extensive as to suggest a lack of any mastery of the language, I sometimes make a small comment, especially when they are combined with fourth grade exposition. By the way, among real grammarians, it is perfectly acceptable to begin a sentence with And. To bad you never got to any high level of grammar. Enjoy Hades. We Jews don't go.
Liberty Janus April 26, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Robin Lionheart April 27, 2012 at 10:09 AM
“Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote.” — Marvin Simkin, “Individual Rights”


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »