From the NYT letters to the editor:
Re “Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer” (news article, Jan. 27), about a successful lawsuit brought by Jessica Ahlquist, a 16-year-old atheist in Cranston, R.I.:
There are only six words in the text posted on the wall of Cranston High School West that are the cause of the problem. They are “School Prayer,” “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen.” Take them out. The text can then read, with slight modification:
“May we each day desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically, to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. May we be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. May we value true friendship and always conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.”
Who could possibly object to that?
Were it not for the phrases that make it a prayer
It wasn’t a prayer at all!
So how could a reasonable person object
To a banner that’s hung on a wall?
Were it not for the fact that it’s labeled a “Prayer”,
Says “Our Heavenly Father”… “Amen”
Why, the banner the judge said was going too far
Would be nothing at all—and what then?
If it hadn’t been phrased as a prayer (which it was)
Who could ask—or demand—its removal?
There are only six words—only six!—and that’s all—
That prohibit the banner’s approval!
It’s outrageous the judge’s decision I read
Says the horrible things that it does!
Cos the only thing making the banner a crime…
Is the curious fact that… it was.
Yeah,yeah, after the jump…
I am just plain sick of seeing, in pretty much every commentary thread to every story about Cranston’s Folly… the suggestion that “if they only took out 6 words, they could leave it on the wall!”.
Followed, usually, by a condemnation of Jessica’s pigheadedness in refusing such an option. Which, of course, she did (offer, that is; Cranston refused it). And which the board rejected, and which the vocal participants in town meetings also rejected, seeing as the banner was in fact a PRAYER. Jessica (and the ACLU) had the honesty to treat it as what it actually was, what it actually said it was, what it actually acted as if it were… why is it that helpful commentators feel the need to lie about the prayer and remind us that it’s not really a prayer… hell, it’s just six words away from being perfectly acceptable!