The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is seeking a permanent federal injunction to force the city of Cranston, RI to remove a Christian prayer banner painted on a wall in Cranston High School West.
The banner at Cranston High School West encourages students to strive academically and begins with “Our Heavenly Father” and ends with “Amen.”
Last year, the ACLU asked the school to remove the banner after a parent complained, but school officials voted in March to keep the banner, which has been displayed since the 1960s.
The decision by School Committee members to leave the mural alone is “based not upon some desire to inject religion into the public schools, but on their belief that school history and tradition should be maintained,” they say. The mural was a gift from the school’s first graduating class.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in May on behalf of Jessica Ahlquist, an atheist who says the banner is offensive to non-Christians. Attorneys Lynette Labinger and Thomas Bender claimed in a brief filed Friday in preparation for an Oct. 13 court hearing that Ahlquist is being deprived of her rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments.