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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.

Ed April 14, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Smitts... At least I can say that I'm not a pedofile... Hmmm
Eric Jeffrey April 14, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Is it really necessary that these comments be hijacked by a group of petulant children?
Mark Wyman April 14, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Gee Ed you mean Smits is a Catholic Priest.
Ed April 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Shill... You must be one of his followers... As they say feathers of a folk stick together...
Smithers4ets April 14, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Yeah, I can say that also Ed. What church are you a part of again? Just so that we can give it the proper attention it deserves. I think we all would like to know what other slandering, lying, delusional, hypocritical "christians" it defecates out on a weekly basis.
Ed April 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Smits... Like you said "Westboro Baptist Church", but the good thing is that I'm not a "Romper Room" fan...lol
Ed April 15, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Ahhh.... Eric, just having some Saturday evening fun before I head out... Smitts has some issues but I'll let it go at that..
Jim April 25, 2012 at 04:06 PM
So, another loathsome fecal-minded waste of air has decided that a 91 year old memorial for WWI vets be taken down in Rhode Island becuase he finds it offensive. One person in 91 years. Think about it. How sad you repugnant atheists are. I find it nauseating that people actually died for people like you. It's time that the free-thinkers find another country to live in. Let's call Kim Jr. and see if he'll take them. They would be a perfect fit for our morally bankrupt... http://www.aol.com/video/atheists-want-91yearold-cross-removed/517347169/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl23%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D155067
Jim April 25, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Curiously, will Arlington be under attack next? Government land, crosses, etc. Highly offensive, eh? How about our currency? I will say a prayer tonight to free me from the hate I have for these people...
Eric Jeffrey April 25, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I am hardly an atheist, and I find the banner inappropriate. It is clearly contrary to the Constitution. It might interest you to know that about a dozen signers of the Constitution were non-believers, and many were not very much believers.
Jim April 25, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Sorry Eric- disagree with you on all levels, starting with hardly an atheist. Do you disagree with the crosses at Arlington cemetery? Do you disagree with our currency stating In God We Trust? ANNUIT COEPTIS?
Robin Lionheart April 25, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Like I told Dion above, the ACLU already sued over Arlington — to allow additional religious insignia on their tombstones. Namely, pentacles for Wiccan veterans. We should restore our original national motto “e pluribus unum”, instead of betraying that ideal with our current, divisive replacement.
Eric Jeffrey April 25, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Well Jim, you apparently do not understand the meaning of atheist, since under your definition thousands of U.S. religious leaders would be considered atheists, even though they lead their congregations in praying to God many times a week. I would accept them as more authoritative than you. As to Arlington, it is probably free from challenge except to the extent that it excludes religious items of particular sects, as while government may not support religion, it need not discriminate against religion either. So allowing religious symbols for the departed whose families choose to have them, is not establishing religion, but fostering its free exercise. As to the currency, the Supreme Court has already ruled that to be an historical, rather than a religious reference. I know that this is not an easy area to follow for someone who has not been a lawyer for over 30 years, but it is what it is, and exactly what the founding fathers intended.
Jim April 25, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Don't kid yourself Eric. I know EXACTLY what the definition of an atheist is. As far as being a bottom feeder, aaah, excuse me, I mean lawyer, no, I'm not. Thank GOD! Curious- whose retainer are you billing this to?!
Eric Jeffrey April 25, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Apparently you don't know what atheist means to the rest of the world, as you would define it to include more than half of the ministers, rabbis, and other religious leaders in the country. And I did not realize that shopworn lawyer jokes were a substitute for substantive argument when it comes to what the Constitution means. As to billing, I work in a large and very prestigious firm, which does not have retainers, but bills only by the hour. That means that I am donating my time pro bono trying to educate the brain dead. It only takes up a small part of my 12 hour day.
Robin Lionheart April 25, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Wrong, Ed. Jews don’t. Nor Muslims. Nor Hindus. Nor Buddhists. A majority of people, worldwide, do not celebrate your religion’s resurrection myth.
Jim April 25, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Prestegious firm- that would be Dewey, Cheetum and Howe? Sorry, I didn't realize who I was takin wit, you bein farmerly ejycated in all. How pretentious! Thanks for sharing your valuable time, Mr. Narcissus! Apparently you don't know the meaning of an atheist Eric, as you would include yourself if you were honest. But then again, attorneys in general are sine qua non probitas.
Eric Jeffrey April 25, 2012 at 08:37 PM
As my late mother used to say, sometimes it is better to be silent ans thought a fool then open your mouth and prove it beyond doubt. Words that you should consider. QED
Jim April 25, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Ironic and hypocritical considering how you make your living.
Eric Jeffrey April 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Now that was a complete non sequitur, and simply shows that you understand the concepts of irony and hypocrisy as little as you understand atheism. But I suppose that is what I get for wasting valuable time replying to a one-note Joe with an intellectual capacity that my daughters surpassed at about age 5. When you grow up and know something, try again. Until then, adios.
Joe The Plumber April 25, 2012 at 10:25 PM
CALLING ALL ATHEISTS! Go to Woonsocket Patch now! Now that you have alienated every Cranston resident and caused increased hatred toward your insignificant cult, you can move on to Woonsocket to spew your hatred and insults. There, your minions can spread your lunatic rantings to a whole new audience. And in the end you will still only represent the less than 1% of our society that you now represent. But. You will have alienated another City's entire population. Good luck with your highly successful public relations campaign!
Robin Lionheart April 25, 2012 at 11:40 PM
@Joe The Liar [Hm, my previous comment refuting Joe's constant statistical lies has mysteriously disappeared.] There he goes again. Joe The Liar here has been waging a disinformation campaign, repeating false statistic over and over, ad nauseum, week after week. First he used 0.7%, then he adjusted it down to 0.5%, now he's claiming atheists make up 1% of the US population. He sourced his previous 0.5% figure by dishonestly quote-mining part of a sentence from Adherents.com (http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html), “People who specify atheism as their religious preference actually make up less than one-half of one percent of the population...”, not including the rest which contradicts him, “...in many countries where much large numbers claim no religious preference, such as the United States (13.2% nonreligious according to ARIS study of 2001) and Australia (15% nonreligious).” Although we’ve exposed this distortion several times, Joe persists in posting comments with false statistics, perhaps hoping we’ll get tired of correcting him. Joe sanctimoniously calls atheists “denizens of immorality”, but his campaign of lies and deception shows how Christianity has not instilled good morals in him. Of course, percentages don’t matter; we must respect civil rights even of 1% minorities.
Eric Jeffrey April 26, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I hope that you handle plumbing better than yuo do statistics. By all reliable measures, non-believers are about 12-15% of the country, not 1%. And among the younger generation, it is about 20%. I would also noted that when it comes to behavior, atheists do quite well. Catholics and Protestants represent about 76% of the prison population, about equal or a little above their portion of the prison population. Atheists, however, are about 0.2% a tiny fraction of their representation in the general polulation. So obviously atheists are extremely law abiding, especially when compared to christians. I am neither an atheist nor a christian. Simply pointing out facts.
Robin Lionheart April 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM
@Jim Arlington cemetery has slab‐shaped tombstones, on which they offer a choice of dozens of religious emblems, including atheist and humanist ones ( http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/docs/emblems.pdf ). They’re handling religious plurality right. However, we should remove that discriminatory, divisive affront to our freedom of religion that has debased our dollars since 1957. But I’m okay with “Annuit Coeptis ~ Novus Ordo Seclorum” on our Great Seal.
Jim April 26, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Hmmm. For someone who considers himself an intellect, I'm surprised you don't see the irony or the hypocricy. Wait, I take that back. I guess I'm not surprised considering all of your other posts. Glad to know that a prestegious firm like Goodwin and Proctor is allowing one of their minions to rail on Christianity while on someone elses dime. Typical atheist. No morals. I wonder if they would approve of your rants, especially considering what peoples opinons are of "attorneys" these days. Well, I guess it's no big deal really, considering you're sharing your tripe with everyone pro-bono, right? After all, I'm sure you can dig up some legal precedent if you were to be challenged by your employer.
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
http://woonsocket.patch.com/articles/woonsocket-priest-defrocked-for-sexual-misconduct-allegation
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”

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