Mandatory Civic Atheism took another step forward last week.
Rhode Island U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux ruled in favor of plaintiff Jessica Ahlquist in her demand that a 50 year-old prayer asking students to be good neighbors and citizens be removed from the auditorium wall in her high school. Lagueux' ruling is here. Read it, if you have the stomach for it.
The ruling is as clear an example of anti-Christian bigotry guised in legal sophistry as you could ask for. The absurdities are obvious. Lagueux claims that Ahlquist suffered tangible harm from the presence of the prayer-- an anodyne prayer with minimal reference to "Our Heavenly Father" that exhorts students to good civic behavior-- something for which Ms. Ahlquist certainly needs a bit of after-class help. If Ms. Ahlquist actually suffered emotional harm from the mere sight of a banal prayer mural, she needs psychiatric, not legal, help.
Lagueux bases much of his decision on the Lemon Test. The Lemon Test is a controversial doctrine fabricated in a Supreme Court ruling several decades ago. It has no basis in the text of the Constitution. The "test" has three prongs:
The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;
The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.
The prayer mural is not an act of legislation, and it has a clear secular purpose (encouraging good citizenship) with a minor religious component. The only religious reference is that it is phrased as a prayer- "Our Heavenly Father... Amen". The salient content is entirely secular-- "to be kind and honest to our classmates and teachers... to bring credit to Cranston High School West."
The mural is much less religious than, say, Lincoln's Second Inaugural or Washington's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation or Bill Clinton's Second Inaugural Address, among countless other public prayers by government officials.
The mural obviously does not have the primary effect of advancing religion. Its self-evident purpose is exhortation to good citizenship, merely phrased in the form of a prayer.
Ironically, Ahlquist's and Lagueux' censorship does have an obvious primary purpose to inhibit the public expression of religion. Ahlquist is a Christianity-hating atheist, and the judge's ruling itself-- a government action that inhibits religion in civic life-- violates the Lemon Test.
And it is obvious that the ruling excessively entangles government-- the federal courts-- with religion, by micromanaging a high school's wall murals based on the anti-religious bigotry of a single student.
Our government and civic life is saturated with references to God (in presidential speeches, on national monuments, in our founding documents) that would consign such expression to the fire if federal
Rhode Island's show trial is another example, as if you needed another example, of the incessant war that atheist thugs and judges with brown shirts under black robes are waging against Christian faith and its Constitutionally protected public expression. The only government-sponsored Christian artifacts the judiciary routinely protects are crucifixes soaked in urine and paintings of the Blessed Virgin smeared in feces and adorned with close-ups of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines.
Now consider Lagueux' critique of the school prayer mural:
... it is still maintained and located in a place of honor to the right of the stage... the School Committee endorsed the position of those who believe that it is acceptable to use Christian prayer to instill values in public schoolchildren...In between, the Prayer espouses values of honesty, kindness, friendship and sportsmanship. While these goals are commendable, the reliance on God’s intervention as the way to achieve those goals is not consistent with a secular purpose.
It was the fact that the prayer was honored and commendable that Judge Lagueux used to ground his order to remove it. The crux of Lagueux' decision against the mural is not that it was a government-sponsored Christian artifact that was displayed publicly. No court has ever ruled that a government-sponsored Christian artifact smeared in urine or feces and adorned with pornographic images is an unconstitutional entanglement of government with religion. You'll notice that courts never demand removal of government-supported artifacts that insult Christianity.
The objection to the prayer mural-- made explicit by Lagueux in his opinion-- is that it was a Christian artifact that was displayed respectfully.