January 29, 2012
Why even those in majority should support church-state separation
Jessica Ahlquist, a 16-year-old atheist, angered a lot of folks in Rhode Island when she asked her school to take down a prayer banner in the auditorium. The school board refused, bowing to public pressure, so Ahlquist’s father filed suit on her behalf. Jessica won earlier this month, which only turned up the heat and condemnation from community members.
One thing that’s often lost in disputes like this is the clear tension between the majority being able to publicly embrace their religion without making members of minority religious groups feel uncomfortable. And as is often the case, the members of the majority in this largely Catholic Rhode Island community didn’t seem too worried about how they would feel if Christianity generally or Catholicism specifically was suddenly in the minority and they were subjected to state-sponsored expression of, say, Judaism or Islam.
Zachary Bailes, writing for the Associated Baptist Press, picked up on this in a very nice piece: