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.
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.
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.
My family and I are planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We usually opt for a Fraser fir. They’re attractive trees with sharp needles that discourage our two cats from getting too close.
I have no problem calling it a Christmas tree because we celebrate Christmas. But if someone called it a “holiday tree” or even “a seasonal evergreen display,” I wouldn’t much care. The holiday will come either way, and we’ll still experience all of our traditions.
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.
Lincoln D. Chafee may be new to the Rhode Island governor’s office, but he certainly isn’t new to the Constitution.
According to a report in the Providence Journal, Chafee did not follow in his predecessors’ footsteps by intermingling religion and government in his inaugural activities. Instead, the new governor chose not to hold an inaugural public prayer service on the morning of his swearing-in.