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Report: Group Still Trying to Save Prayer Banner

A group of past and present Cranston High School West students last week appealed a federal court judge's rejection of their motion to intervene in the prayer banner saga last month.

The group of past and present students of Cranston High School West whose effort to reopen the prayer banner case was rebuffed by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux last month have appealed his denial of their motion to intervene.

The Associated Press reported that the group, identified as Michael Motaranni, Christian Frangos, Olivia Frangos, Carolyn Mesagno, Lori McClain, Jared McMullen and Ronald L'Heureux, filed an appeal of Lagueux's ruling last week in District Court.

, since their motion was filed after the entry of final judgement and an . The ACLU filed the suit alleging display of the banner in a school is unconstitutional.

"It is time to move on," the judge wrote. "Courts generally look with disfavor on motions to intervene that are filed after the entry of final judgement. The matter of the prayer mural was covered extensively by the news media. Moreover, it seems apparent tot ht Court tat at least some of the would-be intervenors attended some or all of the many public hearings held by the Cranston School Committee in connection with this issue. By mid-January, when the court issued its Decision and Order, Movants knew that the Court's ruling had not gone as they hoped."

More than a month went by as the School Committee went through a process before deciding to not appeal the ruling. The final judgement was entered two-and-a-half weeks later. It wasn't until then that the group filed their motion.

The group's arguments, which were based on various bits of case law, is described by Lagueux as "a mishmash of misguided and frivolous arguments."

"They assert that compelling and dispositive arguments were presented to the Cranston School Committee at the public hearings that were not included in the Defendants' briefs to this Court. Movants believe that these arguments, if considered by this court, would have resulted in a different ruling," Lagueux wrote. "They are wrong."

Quoting Alexander Pope, Lagueux said "A little learning is a dangerous thing."

Lagueux said the Movants argued that all of the Supreme Court's rulings on the Establishment Cause of the Constitution, which sets the framework for separation of church and state standards, is based on one decision: Everson v. Board of Ed. of Ewing Township in 1947, which they said was "wrongly decided in contravention" of the constitution.

They also cite the state and national Constitutions and various writings from the founding fathers that speak to the role of Christianity in our country.

Those arguments were frivolous, Lagueux said, because the Movants "concede as a part of their argument that this Court's decision is in line with a half-century of Supreme Court precedent. This court is not merely guided, but it is bound, by Supreme Court precedent."

That requirement is known as stare decisis and is "a bedrock of the rule of law on which the stability of our nation is based," the judge wrote. "Suffice it to say that the Supreme Court precedents on school prayer are clear, and this court is bound to adhere to that law."

Peruse our exhaustive coverage of the prayer banner saga by scrolling through our archives HERE.

Prof. Frederick Sweet May 14, 2012 at 11:16 PM
This would not be the first time a group of religious zealots insisted on shoving their selfish agenda down the throats of their community through a public school. Students in a public school have the right to be free of religious indoctrination and intimidation in the name of some higher authority. This group should save its time and money by moving the former illegally mounted, Cranston High School prayer banner to a local Christian parochial or private school where it belongs. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux has been very patient and even kind toward the religious banner activists. He explained earlier court rulings required him to follow the United States Constitutional law separating church and state. Instead of taking Lagueux's lesson graciously, the zealots insisted their way is the only way. Soon they and their banner will be forgotten.
Boston May 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
directing students in a christian prayer???? take a poll of current and past Cranston West students...more than 80% did not even know it was there.... no one forced anyone to read it, recite it.... anyway, bottom line is enough is enough.. I do not want to see a debate over this start again. It is over, the city is healing from it and it is time to move on the business of educating our kids!! Let it go!!!!!!!!
Robin Lionheart May 15, 2012 at 07:30 AM
Hmm. Cranston Resident sounds familiar. Joe The Plumber, Mar 7‣ “Hey LionsAss, Are those horns on your head?” JTP, Mar 8‣ “Yes Lion'Ass upon more careful inspection of your picture, those really are horns comming out of your head!” JTP, Mar 9‣ “@LionsAss Yes...... Those are certainly horns coming from your head.” JTP, Apr 25‣ I still say those are horns growing out of Lion'sAss head. So, switching over to “Cranston Resident” now, Joe?
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 09:57 AM
Robin: What difference does it make which religious schools are closing up? And why would I want to list them? The atheist sector has plenty enough on it's plate to celebrate.
Robin Lionheart May 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM
@deb It makes no difference at all to me which, if any, religious schools might be closing. They have no relevance to public schools, or lawsuits, or this illegal banner. I just wondered where you were talking about, when you abruptly changed the subject to closing religious schools in your comment above.
Bill Santagata May 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM
I hate it when people bring up the "no one was forced to read/recite it" argument because it's not a valid argument. Certainly, the government can never force anyone to observe a religious practice, but this falls under the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment. Under the Establishment Clause, the government cannot show religious favoritism either.
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Rob in:"Abruptly changed the subject"? I thought the subject was separation of church and state, which I am wholeheartedly in favor of. Don't you think it would be in everyone's interest if students and educators were liberated from the bondage of state run schools? Speaking as a Christian, I think it would be. But you and I know that isn't going to happen. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak. And even if the spirit were to awaken the flesh, how long do you think it would be before children were regulated right out of their parents lives? We ain't there yet. But I sense it won't be long now.
Bill Santagata May 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM
deb, I don't think the atheist community, as a whole "celebrates" when a religious school closes. The atheist community and other communities who support the separation of church and state (there were religious groups such as the Rhode Island State Council of Churches who were on Jessica's side) celebrate when the government is held accountable to its duty to treat all religions equally. As for the comparison with the health insurance mandate, I don't think it is accurate. Deciding not to enroll your children in public schools does not affect the "market" of public schools because public schools are not a market. The government's argument regarding the constitutionality of the health insurance mandate (which I'm torn on personally), is that by deciding not to enroll in health insurance you are making an economic decision that affects the inter-state market of health insurance, which thus can be regulated by Congress under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution. If you don't have health insurance and require emergency medical treatment, hospitals are required by law to treat you even if you are unable to pay. This cost of this "free" treatment then gets passed on to people who were responsible and did get health insurance, who will now have to pay higher health insurance premiums.
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Bill: You're right. I apologize to any atheist with empathy who silently weeps for those Christians who have been hurt by the intolerance of their brethren. The rest of my statement stands. Aren't we all merely human capital, subject to the regulation of the state? Education affects commerce, does it not? The Commerce Clause can be used to justify just about anything, Let's face it. We're doomed.
Bill Santagata May 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM
No...we are not all "merely capital." Merely existing is not "commerce" in any sense of the word, although I do agree with you that the Interstate Commerce Clause has been interepreted far too broadly. I used to believe strongly that the insurance mandate was unconstitutional, although having read the Obama Justice Department's arguments I don't know where I stand: the arguments on both sides have some merit to them. Although this is entirely off-topic.
Bill Santagata May 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Also, I would not call it intolerance if an atheist does not "weep" at the closing of a religious school. I'm certainly not going to throw a party over it, but I'm not going to cry over it either. If religious schools are not doing well, as you claim, this is not the fault of atheists. Atheists have no legal authority to close down a religious school so long as it is privately run. The population, over time, has gotten less and less religious. Not necessarily more atheist: a vast majority of people still believe in God but more people are choosing to seek God in their own way, rather than have a priest judge them and run their lives.
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Bill: Are you an attorney? You're pretty good at twisting my words. Anyway, this is the US of A. No religious leader can run your life and any judgement they make has no force of law. I am concerned about the judgements and laws of man that have the potential to keep people in bondage...physically, mentally and spiritually.
Bill Santagata May 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Deb: I don't know what you're talking about. It is a fact that the fastest growing religious group in the country is "no religious affiliation" (http://commons.trincoll.edu/aris/). What I'm saying is that if a religious school closes, it is not because atheists are fighting to close down religious schools, but because, demographically, organized religions are becoming less and less popular.
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Bill: Where did I write or imply that the atheist sector had anything to do with shutting down religious schools? If I did, let me clarify. The scorch and burn philosophy of certain members of the atheist sector should be one of the motivating factors that propel those who continually complain about the state of government schools to mobilize and create alternatives. Could even be economic stimulus. Rumor is RI needs all the help it can get.
Bill Santagata May 15, 2012 at 02:26 PM
You seemed to be lumping atheists fighting to get the banner removed with an erosion of support of religious private schools, which is further shown by your most recent post where you criticize "the scorch and burn philosophy of certain members of the atheist sector." The "scorch and burn philosophy" you're talking about applies only to government endorsement of religion and has nothing to do with private schools, so I'm still unsure why you're raising this subject here. I'd also be wary of having government economic stimulus go towards religious schools. As Ben Franklin said in his 9 October 1790 letter to Richard Price: "When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
We must be on different planets, Bill. Taxpayer money is not the only source of funding that can stimulate the economy. Believe it or not, private money historically has done fine on it's own. And I completely agree with Franklin. In fact, the feds should of thought of that before bailing out the banks and the auto industry. But I digress....again.
Robert E May 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Deb if ant religious schools are closing they are closing because of lack of attendance not because the government is forcing them to close. The government loves religious schools the governmet does not have to pay to educate your child when yo send them to private schools and they still get your tax dollars its a win win for the government. Did you konw that your local public school still gets funds to educate your child even when they are in private school. The funds are based on school age children in the district not the number inrolled in the public schools.
deb of see-attleboro May 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Ed: Yes. Lack of attendance is the reason religious schools are closing. The reason why attendance is down is most likely as Bill said. Most people are seeking God in their own way. And who could blame them with the complete absence of leadership in the Christian community. The flock has scattered and the shephard's are either whining about being bullied or consoling the wolves. The STATE government loves private and religious schools. Throw 'em a few more carrots in the form of federal grants and the students will be standing at attention and pledging allegiance (minus "under God", of course) followed by a rousing chorus of "We're gonna change the world".
Paul Auger May 16, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Deb you said to Robin "What difference does it make which religious schools are closing up? And why would I want to list them? " I would encourage you to explore and do some digging. For example the question of WHICH religious schools are closing might be something interesting to explore. Schools like any other bushiness close for a variety of reasons, the costs of running any kind of educational institution can be rather prohibitive in this economy. Many families can not afford the tuition so they dont send students. "No students no school" (religious or secular). Manny religious schools simply do not meet the accreditation requirements. This most may have nothing to do with the beliefs of the school or its staff, it could be as simple as not meeting a basic requirement, for example they may have an excellent "Text book" science curriculum but lack a lab science piece. that would be enough to loose accreditation. I said all to say "be aware of the spin" It is easy to say schools are being close because the are "under attack" or because of the "War on religion" that may not be the case the real reasons are often far more complex and far more interesting.
Paul Auger May 16, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Bill I might be wrong about this, correct me if I am. I the Judge's reply to this groups filing after the prayer banner was removed I thought the judge said that there would be fines if they continued to bring this issue to the courts. Am I understanding this correctly? If so how does this new attempt to "save the banner" fit into this, could this trigger a fine?
Paul Auger May 16, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I think it might be more useful and more interesting not to be the moral authority to children but to walk along side of young people as the struggle to come to their own conclusions about important issues. These conclusions may not be based on godly principles as you might want or humanistic ideals as I would wish. But they would be THEIR answers, hopefully based on evidence but these young people would be independent thinkers, something our world desperately needs.
Robin Lionheart May 16, 2012 at 06:33 AM
Boston is incorrect: a teacher testified in Ahlquist v. Cranston that they lead students to recite the School Prayer on the auditorium wall when assemblies were held there in the mid‐1960s. Also, Cranston High originally used their school prayer to replace their daily recitations of the Lord’s Prayer after the Pledge of Allegiance.
Bill Santagata May 16, 2012 at 09:13 AM
@Paul: That warning is for other people who in the future try to re-open this case. You have a right to appeal any unfavorable order against you issued by a District Court, so it is perfectly alright for them to appeal this decision.
deb of see-attleboro May 16, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Paul: I had no idea that godly principles and humanistic ideals were mutually exclusive. It is very troubling that you, Bill and Robin are fixated on WHICH schools are closing, but breezed right on by "kids are dying out there". Is "thinning the herd" or "survival of the fittest" the chasm that separates the "secular humanist" from the "religious zealot"? Is the "helicopter parent" suppose to be the new god? I don't know if accreditation matters that much to those families looking for alternatives to the state-run school systems. It factors in, for sure. Sometimes I think accreditation is used more as a scare tactic to get more funding or to discourage parents from stepping out of line.. I think if tuition were not an issue, faith based schools would be growing and the ranks of students whose fate was in the hands of government would be declining. But don't worry. That isn't going to happen in our lifetime. The government has the power of taxation and law. Religious leadership must rely on a free will offering and the hope for obedience to our unseen God. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak.
Robin Lionheart May 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM
@deb ◦ Robin: It makes no difference at all to me which, if any, religious schools might be closing. • deb: It is very troubling that you, Bill and Robin are fixated on WHICH schools are closing... Was “makes no difference at all to me” not explicit enough? • deb: ...but breezed right on by "kids are dying out there". A prime reason for recent campaigns against bullying, and the pushback by Christians wanting special exemptions allowing Christians to bully gays.
deb of see-attleboro May 16, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Robin: The first question you asked at 5/14 at 4:55pm in response to my comment at 12:11pm can speak for itself. If it made no difference, why ask? If Christians are asking for exemptions so they can bully ANYONE in or out of school, that is wrong. Some Christians may perceive gays get special protection under the law because of their status as gay Americans.
Robin Lionheart May 16, 2012 at 07:26 PM
@deb A question you still have not answered, I notice. Don’t know of any, do you?
Paul Auger May 16, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I dont know where THAT came from. I tried to be gentle because there seemed to be real element of pain in your post. You seemed to have real heartfelt passion not just the typical agenda. I was wrong. There are differences between so called godly principles and Humanistic ideals Godly teachings are not based on evidence they not change when new data is presented. Godly teachings keep people chained to ignorance. I would agree some morals taught today are killing people. The deadly teachings of religion are deadly. Look at the HIV epidemic that the church spread across Africa by providing misinformation about condoms, Godly teachings lie about history. The recalculation of the age of the earth to 6,000 yrs. Perhaps these faith based schools are closing not because they are "under attack" but because they offer a useless product not worth spending income on. This is why accreditation does matter. Most institutions of higher education want students with the proper background/skills to succeed. Accreditation is a way to look at curriculum to see if the school at least offers accurate, up to date information and experiences that will assure student succuess. This is why we have been asking you for specific examples of schools under attack, something you failed to provide. You cant produce this list. if you could, we could look at the reasons they closed and find other reasons besides the "war on religion" and this would poke holes in your augments.
deb of see-attleboro May 17, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Paul: You said "I don't know where THAT came from." Maybe free thought...maybe divine inspiration. NEWS FLASH!!!! If you want to make a list of schools that have closed in this area GOOGLE!! It's one of the miracles of modern technology. While you're at it, research the great works done by missionaries around the globe and the atrocities committed by governments. In other words, and with all due respect, get your head out of your.....never mnd.
Paul Auger May 17, 2012 at 02:32 AM
We asked for a list of schools YOU were referring to. The list one would get off Google would not have a star next to it saying "This is one of the schools Deb was talking about on Patch." Believe it or not Deb the world and the internet does not revolve around you. You started the conversation suggesting that faith based schools were being shut down due to their philosophy. This implied that you knew of at least one or more specific examples of faith based schools that were "under attack". No one disagreed that could be a possibility, all we asked for was the list of schools you had in mind when you made that post, you are the only one that can provide that. Next I asked you to explore the reasons that they were closed. It COULD have been to the the fact that they are faith based, I never denied this, I just asked for documentation. You provided NONE. I also suggested some other possible reasons that they were closed. High operating costs. Overwhelming tuition, lack of accreditation, or they were offering a product that there was too little demand for. None of these are an attack on the schools but simply other possibilities. If you are going to make your Ideas public, which you did by posting them on the internet, you need to expect to be asked to back your points up, with evidence.You need to be willing to explore other ideas. Deb which faith based school did you have in mind? Is it possible there was no list Did you get caught up in the hype? Do they even exist?

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