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Banner Battle, Final Chapter: R.I. School Erects Secular Principles

The town of Cranston, R.I., recently showed just how effectually a church/state issue can be resolved. The local high school’s controversial and religiously-themed banner was replaced by a new, secular and inspirational banner. Read more

Marriage Malarkey: R.I. Man Loses ‘Faith-Based’ Lawsuit Against Same-Sex Unions

Starting tomorrow, same-sex couples in Rhode Island will be able to legally marry – despite the best efforts of a local Religious Right activist to stop them.

The Rhode Island legislature approved marriage equality earlier this year, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the measure into law. At the time, Chafee invoked the spirit of the state’s founder, iconic religious liberty pioneer Roger Williams. Read more

Americans United To Honor Investigative Journalist And Student Activist During Awards Ceremony

Author Jeff Sharlet And High School Student Jessica Ahlquist To Receive Recognition During Nov. 19 Ceremony

A journalist who exposed the inner workings of a shadowy Religious Right group and a Rhode Island student who courageously challenged illegal religious activity at her public school will both be recognized by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on November 19.

Jeff Sharlet, author of the best-selling books The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, will receive Americans United’s Person of the Year Award. Read more

Ahlquist Is Awesome!: Standup Student In R.I. Stays Calm, Despite Vicious Attacks

It amazes me that so much hatred and anger lies just below the surface of many people, and that it takes so little to bring out vile words and actions. 

My colleague Rob Boston previously wrote about Jessica Ahlquist, a 16-year-old high school student who filed suit to have a prayer banner removed from Cranston High School West in Cranston, R.I. Read more

Banner Banished: Court Strikes Down R.I. School Prayer Display

In October, I wrote about a young high school student named Jessica Ahlquist who filed suit to have a school prayer banner removed from Cranston High School West in Cranston, R.I.

At the time, the federal judge hearing the case, Ronald R. Lagueux, visited the school to examine the banner. Some observers believed he would rule within a few days. Read more

Rhode Island Banner Battle: Student Jessica Ahlquist Stands Up For The Constitution

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a famous decision in a school prayer case called Abington School District v. Schempp. The justices, with only one dissenter, ruled school-sponsored and coercive programs of prayer and Bible reading in public schools unconstitutional.

That same year for some reason, students at a high school in Cranston, R.I., decided to create an 8-foot-tall banner containing an official school prayer and hang it in the school auditorium. Read more