Banner Battle, Final Chapter: R.I. School Erects Secular Principles
After filling the lawsuit, Ahlquist received a none-too-Christian torrent of hate mail and physical threats from defenders of the banner. The morally and grammatically repugnant responses on social media included, “I hope there’s lots of banners in hell when your (sic) rotting in there,” “Your (sic) a puke and a disgrace to the human race” and numerous rape threats.
Others called for people to “jump” Ahlquist and “punch her in the face,” with one person going so far as threatening the life of Jessica, her sister and her father. (Perhaps the “love thy neighbor” bit was left out of Cranston’s Bibles?) The threats were so intense that Ahlquist had to finish her final year of high school from home.
Americans United recognized Ahlquist’s efforts by awarding her the Youth Activist Award last year.
The new banner, donated to the school by the same Class of 1963, in order to celebrate their 50-year reunion, contained no theological statements. Instead, the banner uses the school’s mascot - a falcon - as an acronym. It reads:
Foster an atmosphere of good will and respect
Affirm our efforts to conduct ourselves with honor
Learn from our achievements and mistakes
Choose wisely the paths taken and friends made
Overcome prejudice and embrace diversity
Nurture ourselves, families, friends and communities
Strive for excellence in all our future endeavors
An accompanying “School Creed” contains similar sentiments - all secular.
With a message like this, it seems the school learned quite a bit from Jessica and her lawsuit. Hopefully those who flocked to social media to condemn Jessica to hell will pay attention to the school’s new banner and adopt its principles.
Apparently, the community is relieved to put the issue behind them and move on. “The community is healed,” said member of the Class of 1963 Janice Bertino. “There is no more controversy.”