By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

CRANSTON, R.I. (CBS) – A huge crowd packed Cranston High School West, angry over a ruling which forced the city to take down a prayer banner that’s been up in the school for decades.

A federal judge already ruled the prayer banner has to be taken down, but in the end, it came down to a battle between faith and money.

Early on it looked like Thursday night’s public hearing was going to go the way of those before it: A rabid shout fest.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

The crowd was heavily in favor of appealing a federal court’s decision ordering the school district to remove the prayer mural with religious wording.

The banner was a gift from the class of 1964.

It begins with, “Our Heavenly Father…” and asks students to be good scholars and community leaders.

The school argued that the banner was part of the history of the school.

But once the argument was framed in economic terms, even pro-banner speakers changed their tune.

School officials estimated that an appeal to the 1st Circuit Court in Boston and maybe eventually the Supreme Court could cost the city up to $500,000.

After two hours of public hearings, the Cranston School Committee voted 5-2 against an appeal.

Quietly in the back row the whole time sat Jessica Ahlquist, the 16-year-old high school junior who first challenged the banner’s constitutionality. Ahlquist has been the target of online threats and was briefly escorted by police while at school.

“I’m really pleased with the decision,” Ahlquist said after the vote. “It’s obviously the decision I wanted the School Committee to make and I’m thrilled.”

Comments (202)
  1. Beacon says:

    JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (6th US President) – “My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the gospel of Christ…”

    GEORGE MASON (Father of the bill of rights)- “My soul I resign into the hands of my Almighty Creator. Whose tender mercies are all over His works, humbly hoping from His unbounded mercy and benevolence through the merits of my blessed Savior, a remission of my sins.”

    GEORGE WASHINGTON told a gathering of Native Americans, “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.”

    He also stated “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

    1. Tsalnew says:

      Beacon really? You are pointing out the founding fathers forcing their beliefs on others. And I don’t get your point other than to support removal of tha banner Our founding fathers may have beleived in God – some of them – but they did not want it to have any part in government. As was the case in a Masonic temple as I have said you did not discuss religion. As far as I can see your intent is to prove your belief is right. And that is what created this mess.

  2. Beacon says:

    JOHN ADAMS (2nd US President) “The Bible is the best book in the world.” Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their own law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited…what a utopia; what a paradise this region would be!”

    BENJAMIN FRANKLIN desired to start a colony in OHIO with the Rev. GEORGE WHITEFIELD to “facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen” in order to show the Native Americans “a better sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian traders.”

    PATRICK HENRY “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

  3. Beacon says:

    An attack on such a banner is an attack on American history and heritage. This nation wants a god-less society but does not realize it will reap the consequences of such a society.

    Look at the statistics concerning adolescent morality since 1962. Not familiar with what happened in 1962? That is when God was expelled from the public school system.

    That banner contained such great, inspiring words from a young man who wished the best for his school and fellow students. I wonder what is next… Changing the history books, monuments and quotations by our founding fathers. God had everything do with our country becoming the great country it was and those men knew it! Do you?

  4. Tsalnew says:

    Beacon The nation wants a society where every belief or no belief is given EQUAL recognition. It is that simple.

  5. FSP says:

    Praying in school was allowed when the constitution was written, in order to interpret exactly what they meant when it was written is to look at was was happening when it was written. Not too difficult.

  6. TheWiredJournal says:

    Well I’ll be dammed… I’ve read through all the documents, the federalist papers, the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, and others, just to name a few, and I can not find the words separation of church and state in any of them, thus by the letter of the law the courts ruling to remove the banner I feel is an illegal and unconstitutional ruling, not to mention it had no business (under the letter of the law) even hearing the case

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