Jessica Ahlquist

Photo courtesty Jessica Ahlquist.

Two years ago this week, Jessica Ahlquist’s life changed forever.

On January 11, 2012, a federal judge ordered the removal of a “School Prayer” banner at Cranston High School West in Cranston, Rhode Island, saying that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Ahlquist—then a 16-year-old student at Cranston High School West—was a plaintiff in Ahlquist v. Cranston and effectively became its public face, appearing on CNN and in the New York Times.

Ahlquist’s involvement in the lawsuit made her the target of a massive backlash—local florists refused to deliver flowers to her, hate mail poured in and Ahlquist needed police escorts, and Rhode Island State Representative Peter G. Palumbo (from Cranston) called her “an evil little thing” in a radio interview. The outcry against Ahlquist would have been a lot for anyone to handle, let alone a high school student.

But Ahlquist stood her ground and emerged as a prominent activist for the separation of church and state, and to this day she continues to have a large number of supporters. Her work has been recognized by many activists and organizations, including the American Humanist Association, who gave her their 2012 Humanist Pioneer Award, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who named her their Thomas Jefferson Youth Activist awardee in 2011. She also received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in 2013.

Two years after her legal victory, Ahlquist’s life has changed immensely. To coincide with the anniversary of the Ahlquist v. Cranston ruling, I spoke with the now 18-year-old Ahlquist about how she feels about the lawsuit, the backlash, activism, religious allies, what she is doing now, the advice she would give to other young activists, what she would say to Rep. Palumbo today, and much more. Below is our extended interview.

Chris Stedman: It’s been two years since the January 2012 Ahlquist v. Cranston ruling and the awful backlash you faced as a result. How has your life changed in the years since? How do you feel when you look back on everything that happened?

Jessica Ahlquist: Looking back, it feels like it’s been many more than just two years because so much has changed. At that point in my life I was halfway through with my junior year [of high school] and the lawsuit was a very controversial issue, especially in my local community. People all over Rhode Island and even throughout the world were sharing their opinions—and emotions—about the case. While many of these people were hostile and often threatening towards me, there were thousands of people reaching out to show their support for what I was doing.

Comparing all of that to my life today, things have settled down quite a bit. I left high school shortly after I won the lawsuit in order to pursue my public speaking events, and I finished up my education with my mother. I have also recently moved to Vermont with my boyfriend and plan to continue my higher education there. Fortunately, much of the hate has died down and I am now left with lovely supporters.

I will admit that the biggest change for me personally has been my attitude about life. During the case, especially with all of the hate and threats, I became extremely depressed and negative. Today I have much more love in my life and it has certainly helped me let go of the sadness. It has been difficult to get to this point. Throughout the lawsuit I felt as though I would never feel or be normal again—and I suppose my life will never go completely back to the way it was because my experiences have not only changed my life forever, but they have also changed me as a person.

CS: I’ve seen you give a few talks—you’re an excellent public speaker, by the way—and one of the things that struck me about how you describe your decision to speak up about the prayer banner is that you say it was not only exclusive of atheists like you, but of other non-Christians as well. Can you say more about that?

JA: My decision to speak out against the prayer banner came from my desire to protect the First Amendment and encourage acceptance for non-Chrisitian indivuals. I have said all along that I believe this message is one that people of any religious and nonreligious preference can support. There shouldn’t have been any opposition to the prayer’s removal because, when it comes down to it, the case was not about atheism—I just happened to be an atheist. It was really about defending the right to attend a public school that did not hold a religious preference, and that right can be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds. People who wanted the prayer to remain in the school are people who do not understand that a secular government is better for all of us.

CS: Your uncle once told me about religious groups that came to your defense after the hateful responses you received. Obviously many of the people who criticized you were religious, but I know you have religious support as well. What would you suggest to atheists who wish to gain religious allies in defending the separation of church and state and combatting anti-atheist bias?

JA: As I mentioned before, Ahlquist v. Cranston was a case regarding the First Amendment, which benefits everyone, not exclusively nonreligious people. Many religious groups and people support me because they understand that a secular government protects their right to practice their religion without fear that the government will try to force particular beliefs onto us. Truthfully, I was not actively seeking support from religious groups, but I was pleasantly surprised when they gave it. If I were to do it all over again, I would have reached out to them sooner because there are many religious people who can appreciate and understand the beauty of the Frist Amendment. My advice to other activists seeking support from religious groups is to not be intimidated like I was and just ask, because you might be gaining great new allies.

CS: Your activism has made you a hero to many people. Where do you find your courage? Do you find it difficult to balance activism with just being a “regular teenager”?

Jessica Ahlquist

Photo courtesy Jessica Ahlquist.

JA: Whenever people ask me where I found the courage to pursue this lawsuit, I have to admit that making the decision to file it took much less courage than it did to see it through to the end. I remember the day I attended a school committee meeting months before a lawsuit was even proposed, and that was the first time I publicly presented myself as an atheist. I also remember the day we filed the lawsuit. Honestly, I didn’t know that all of this was going to become such a big issue at those points. However, the most difficult test of my courage was when I received backlash and threats. I was asked many times if I wanted to end the lawsuit before a decision was reached, and I remember how difficult that decision was, but I am proud of sticking with it. I think the courage came from my passion for the issue and the idea that I was doing this for more than just myself at my school, but rather [so that] everyone [could] benefit from it.

Balancing being an activist and a “regular teenager” was difficult until I realized that I’m really not regular and that it’s okay. On a personal level, this experience also really helped me learn to be more comfortable with who I am. I gave up friends and prom and even graduation day, but what I was able to do instead makes all of that seem pretty silly. I’m pleased with who I am today.

CS: A little less than a year ago, you spoke out against an anti-Muslim group. What response did you get from other atheists, and what prompted you to speak out?

JA: I am the first person to criticize all religions and their beliefs. When I criticized that group, it was not because they were skeptical of Islam—it was because they were racist and truly inhumane. For example, they had posts insulting the appearances of Middle Eastern people and even calling for the torture and death of all Muslims. That isn’t just criticism of a religion and its beliefs, it’s racist and disgusting. I spoke out because I don’t tolerate racism and I find it truly ridiculous to generalize all Muslims as terrorists who should die. Most atheists I know were in agreement with what I was saying.

CS: Have you ever spoken with the politician who called you “an evil little thing”? If not, what would you say to him if you did?

JA: I have never spoken with him directly, but my supporters have basically done it for me. I would tell him that it’s inappropriate and immature that my own representative would call me names. His rude comment backfired and as a result I have received even more support.

CS: Do you see yourself continuing to be an advocate for the separation of church and state as you get older? Do you see yourself continuing to work in atheist activism? This can be an unfair question to ask anyone, no matter her or his age, but where do you see yourself in five to ten years?

JA: I can’t imagine a world where I am not advocating for what’s right. One of my biggest qualities is not being able to hold my tongue when it comes to these issues. I’m not really sure what my future holds, but I know it will always include activism.

CS: What advice would you give to young people who are considering taking action, as you did, in favor of inclusivity—whether they are atheists or theists?

JA: My advice is to go through with it and to stay strong. I know firsthand how difficult it can be, and it is hard for me to encourage others to stand up considering how painful it was for me, but there is so much support out there that makes it so much easier.

97 Comments

      • I hope you do follow current trends among the original ‘religious’ countries. In countries such as Italy and Spain, about 50% of it’s inhabitants are ‘religious’ (define what kind of a religion, I think the real number is way lower) Look at the religion count in countries such as the Netherlands, England, Danmark, Sweden and Germany and you will find that religion has been brought to the edge of extinction. It is estimated by futurologists that in 50 years the influence of religion will be gone from every day life. So I’m affraid the one betting on religion dissapearing is the realist, the one thinking such an ignorant and unintelligent position as accepting a life adapting moral based on no evidence whatsoever is the ‘nut job’.

        • Um, so the countries that you listed were all countries with low birth rates. Further, Spain has a 70% rate of belief in Catholicism. On the other hand, Italy has a 90% rate of belief in all things Christian. In Germany, 62% are Christian, and 5% are Muslim.

          In Denmark, the Church of Denmark is at 80% (though far fewer actually go to services. A similar situation exists in Sweden, where 67% of the population belong to the Church of Sweden, and there is a growing Muslim population there.

          If you look at other countries around the world, specifically in developing nations, you’ll see an explosion of Christianity in those nations, as well as an explosion of birth rates (especially to those in Muslim countries).

          Religion has been around with mankind for tens of thousands of years. It is not going extinct anytime soon.

    • We should all be so lucky! But, unfortunately, in the human brain, there seems to be a dysfunctional process where the brain seeks answers to questions, where no answers exist. And this is more than a seeking. It is a demand for the unanswerable questions to be answered. And so the brain just makes up the answers. And all (or many/most?) of these brains join together to form groups, called faith groups; religions. And it gets passed down generation by generation, controlling pretty much everything in its path. Governments form around what these brains have come up with. Other brains that don’t believe the same get snuffed out for lack of “faith”. Wars are started and fought for generations because these brains can’t stand that other brains believe something different. And so it goes.

      But now we have mass communication. And lots of brains are joining together proclaiming that the other brains of old are full of it. And we really can’t know that these beliefs are real or just made up. And possibly, just maybe, a future will one day become present where these made up beliefs are shared by a tiny tiny fraction of the worlds brains. That will be a good day!

    • low-tech cyclist

      I think that if you’re using this as an excuse to go, “Yay, atheism, Boo, religion,” you’re missing the point just as much as the people who are saying, “Yay, our particular tribal brand of Christianity, Boo, everyone else.”

      This is about all of us being able to express our religious or areligious (if that’s a word, or even if it’s not) beliefs and opinions, without anyone’s views on the subject being given a boost of any sort from the government, whether you believe in Jesus Christ, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all.

      Now once we get into that discussion, feel free to tell me that my God is an invisible sky pixie who doesn’t even exist anyway. No hard feelings if you do.

  1. Earold Gunter

    All Americans, non-believers, and believers can and should learn a lesson from Ms. Ahlquist. Her decision to stand up and say “No” to the violation of not only her rights in the country, but the rights of everyone else in that school, should be applauded by all Americans. She are a true inspiration!!

    • Larry Andrews

      Insanity… For one, the idea that an Amendment to the Federal Constitution could be impressed upon a State, is on its face ridiculous and an insult to common sense. All States had State sponsored churches prior to the Federal Constitution and many into the 19th Century. That is our nation’s history. The I Amendment was not meant to limit the expression of faith by the people, but limit the Federal Government, so that it could not create a Federal Church, such as the Church of England. This nation was founded in the belief of the Christian God, and anyone who does not believe that is a fool.

      • Larry, you might want to actually learn the history of the United States in order to understand that the “founding fathers” clearly did not intend for the United States to be a “Christian Nation” and Ammendment 1 was not intended to enforce Christianity.

      • Um no, no it was not. Do research before saying stupid stuff like that. This country was founded on Pagan values that christianity turned into the garbage we have in this country today. All u have to do is look.
        http://www.nobeliefs.com/pagan.htm

      • mike woodside

        good comment Larry …. might add that when founded “the gang” didn’t like what Roger Williams did when he started “his” church (Baptist) and they invited him to leave …. he founded Rhode Island. He bought land from the Indians and converted them to Christianity. Freedom at it’s best, I would say. Why couldn’t the rest of the student body have a say in the posting of the mural removed? Did they get considered? Sure maybe one student was offended and she certainly has a right (even obligation) to voice an objection. But we are too concerned about political correctness and not offending persons. Thus we are running scared and creating chaos and have lost common sense.

      • Right on, Larry! One thing to understand is that all her responses are all cliche atheist responses. She is spewing the same crap all atheist activists shout. They don’t listen to people that can challenge them, they run to people who agree. I my opinion, with all 12 years of her education she stands with little credibility. On an academic stance, life experience position, philosophical truth seeking understanding, she has a long way to go. She speaks of her qualities of not holding her tongue. Well, listen up missy! Take advise from an attorney… A fool will speak his folly! If one can control their tongue then they may learn something. She will be used like a Hollywood actress. After they have used her up then on to the next person.

      • You have a severe gap in your knowledge about the application of consitutional law on states, states “rights” and history. The “insanity” Larry, is that you could even make such a statement.

      • Larry…oh Larry… PLEASE GET AN EDUCATION!! Your rank ignorance about the Constitution and how the founders felt about religion in public discource is appalling! There is NOTHING christian about their intent or application.

      • Isn’t the government supporting the Christian doctrine by having prayer signs and prayer meetings in public/ government schools and other places? Sound to me as if you would like a government church; The Church Of America, so long as it is your particular religion. But what if our government decided to espouse, Islam or Hinduism as The Church of America? You wouldn’t be so keen then would you? What this young lady did and is doing, along with many other people and non-religious and religious alike, insures that NO particular religion be forced upon anyone. And those who cannot see that, sir, is a fool.

      • Jose Sarmento

        «The I Amendment was not meant to limit the expression of faith by the people»… but it was certainly meant to limit the expression of faith by public authority, which includes public school administrations.

  2. She is truly a “teenage Super Hero”. What many do not understand is that one day the “Judeo-Christians” may not be in the majority here in the US. So without the separation of Church and State, their future grand-kids may have a religion pushed on them by the new majority. All religions, and lack of religion, need to be respected and kept out of the public (Government run) spaces. We all benefit.

    Look in the UK where the Government/Monarchy has a preferred religion so to speak. The ones with no religious affiliation is reported to be 44% there. In comparison, that number in the US is 10%. So keep the government out of religion, it is for religions own good.

  3. . What’s it like to hate and be so judgemental? As a Christian I can’t fathom such a thing. Do you not have peace? Are you afraid of the nothingness you hope for after death? For surely you believe this life is all there is. I guess that would be depressing. Here’s an idea. How about you live your short life in your own fear and doubt as you grow old and feable without hope of an afterlife and quit spreading your misery to others who do not share your views? How’s that sound?

    • Wait. WHAT? “Live your short life in your own fear…” Fear is the cornerstone of religion. I should think a non-believer would be free of the traditional fears by which the religious live their lives. What really fascinates me is that you suggest she should “quit spreading your misery to others who do not share your views.” Witnessing is a requirement of every Christian religion. Should they also be made to shut up and stop converting the heathen non-believers. Like most, your argument is built to protect your beliefs at the expense of others.

  4. Wait,so she stood up against a group of people who are called upon to love her no matter what she does. And subsequently is hailed as courageous? And then to top it off she defends a group of people who are called upon to murder her because she is an infidel and doesn’t follow the Muslim faith…not only is she a coward but she’s a complete moron as well. Thank you Chris stedman for revealing how utterly stupid and idiotic she and you are. Here’s an idea! If you both love Muslims so much move to a Muslim country. They will greet you both with open arms and love you to death. Put your money where your mouths are douche bags.

  5. Why didn’t the judge let the “School Prayer” banner continue to be displayed at that high school and let Ahlquist hang her atheist beliefs alongside? Would that not be fair?

    • Ed, if (and people like you, ALWAYS “good Christians”) you manage to call NOT believing in a god a belief (yes, read that again, will you?!), then you might as well call not liking to ski a hobby (one I, personally, spend all my time with: with NOT skiing)…

    • Why doesn’t the school hang prayers from the Koran beside it as well?
      And some pagan spells or rituals? Lets get a buddhist banner in there as well. I wonder if the Satanists have something they could post up….

      If you are ok with a christian prayer being put in a public school then you have to be ok with Islamic prayers being posted in public schools. Are you Ed?

  6. Darlene Daunais

    Right? That’s what I was thinking! But, she doesn’t have any though..lol I guess they could hang a blank banner for all of those who believe in nothing…

  7. Lucy Annabelle

    Why is religion required in a house of education??? I truly do not understand why so many people feel like it should be there. If those religious morals are the ones you want to teach your children, then it is your responsibility to impart that upon your child… not the schools. Take them to church and lead them by *your* example.

    • That is very true. Each family is responsible for teaching its onw family morales. However, the school must have a set of morales to go by as well. There has to be rules of right and wrong in the class.
      Since the beginning of schools we have used the Bible and the Ten Commandments as our standard and it is quit obvious by looking over the past 60 years what a downward spiral the behavior of the students and the more liberal the schools have grown. I am totally convinced that since we have taken the reading of the Bible and prayer out of the public school as well as the salute to the flag our children have grown more and more disrespectful. I believe as we have grown more disrespectful our kids have become more difficult to teach. It is a disgrace that we have the number of teen pregnancies and drop-outs. I believe this is strongly related to the lack of respect that kids have because they are not taught to respect their God or their country.

      • “I believe this is strongly related to the lack of respect that kids have because they are not taught to respect their God or their country.”

        What you believe has no significance in reality. You can’t go through life making up your own ideas of what’s going on. You must know things.

        It’s true that U.S.A. ranks first among developed nations in the following two categories: rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Why is that? Because you have adults who advocate for methods, which were debunked at least 30 years ago. You give your children abstinence-education and inadequate sex education. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/

        In contrast, you don’t have abstinence-education in Holland, yet that’s the country with the lowest rate of teen pregnancy in the world. (In Holland can also find the lowest abortion rate in the world.) A coincidence? No, it’s not. You can find the same trend in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany…

        We know far too well, since at least several decades, that abstinence-education has not been proven effective at reducing teenage pregnancy. Why people in U.S. and Poland still insist that it works, when there’s so much evidence proving that it doesn’t work and has never worked, is beyond me. I don’t understand why people advocate for methods which have been proven to have the opposite effect than the desired outcome.

        AND that’s your problem. Your main problem. You think you live in some kind of ideal world where teens are not struggling with hormones and are not having sex with each other (and we know that they are).

        It doesn’t matter how much we would like young adults to wait, because we can’t change reality. Giving youths inaccurate and ineffective “education” that may even cause harm, is destructive and counter-productive. AND that’s why U.S. and Poland have teen pregancies. That’s why Holland and Belgium do not.

    • Question? Take away Our Father & Amen, which of the points would you
      remove? They all seem to be important for peaceful, happy school.
      Possibly children need reminders of how they are expected to behave.
      Adults too!

  8. I think that if the atheist don’t like this country and the way God is displayed then they can move out of the USA and go live some where else. We as Christian need to stand up and say this has been there for along time and we should not have to take it down or change anything. I look at it this way they don’t have to look at it or read it. It is for people that need God in there life.They don’t no what they are missing God is great and he is there for you all the time. And Christian will be here along time.

  9. That girl makes me laugh ! I see she doesn’t have a problem spending our governments money that says in GOD we trust ! I could see her having a problem if they had continued to add new prayers but they weren’t .

  10. Are adherents of the Christian religion moral people?Let’s take a look at the State of California of which I’m from.Of those men and women who are in prison,75%are Christians.Other faiths and non-believers make up the rest of the prison population.
    It seems a day doesn’t go by when I read about a Christian for example a priest,who indulges in molesting little children and getting caught by the authorities,or looking at porn on the internet.
    In my opinion,Christianity is the most immoral religion Man has ever created.

    • Amazing. We have jumped from a simple prayer
      for help to live responsible, caring life to an
      assault on Christianity, which is not a religion,
      but a changed life. It is only possible one on one
      Up close & personal with God!
      Possibly you know too many wolves in sheep’s
      clothing, better known as hypocrites. If you are an
      orange & call yourself a banana, your still an orange.
      You should know a Christian by their love!

  11. Religion isn’t dieing off . And I hope you burn in hell . You ran to Vermont cause your punk ass is afraid of Christians . And the support u get is from the illuminati a satanist .cult . Hey Asshole . Read the bible I am The Lord thy god u shall have no other gods beside me . Amen …. All Christians stand up .

  12. I think she gives us atheists a bad name. She received praised for taking her “courageous” stand. Yet she seems extremely fragile emotionally to find offense in nine line prayer that probably attracted little notice from students until she made the efforts to remove it. The bottom line is she simply asserted the latest rights claims of the liberal human rights agenda–the right to not be offended.

  13. Very sad. Read & reread prayer. Absolutely no mention of any specific religion.
    Remove “Our Heavenly Father” & “Amen” you have nothing more than
    suggestions for leading a happy life. Synopsis of all the self help books being
    sold every day. Some of us need a little help w/life outside ourselves & this is
    more economical than books, psychologists or Oprah. It is known as free will,
    choice or FREEDOM.

    • //Very sad. Read & reread prayer. Absolutely no mention of any specific religion. Remove “Our Heavenly Father” & “Amen” you have nothing more than suggestions for leading a happy life.//

      And when the ACLU ASKED the school to do JUST THAT. The school declined. So? What is your point? The school demanded it be in prayer format. That was the entire point of the lawsuit. No secular (public) school should be forcing children into prayer.

      • Of course, no public school should force anyone into prayer.

        And neither did this school,unless you call hanging a prayer on a wall where a student might read it and suddenly realize, “Oh, no, I have been forced into prayer.”

      • Yes, the ACLU, more than likely went to the school & politely
        asked would you please remove the prayer as it is very offensive to our client. You understand it will be necessary to take you to court if you
        fail to comply with our request. We would prefer if you did it quickly
        so we can move on to our next enforcement. There is so little time to rid
        this country of God. It is our responsibility to remove this obstacle.
        “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE”

    • You are right, it refers to Creator.I They were written by men & as free men
      we must interpret them & the judicial & courts will have final word. That is
      why it is so important we stay involved & speak out when necessary.
      Obviously Creator to me is God.That is the beauty of these documents, we
      are free to choose. We are not sheep, dumb & defenseless. We must use our
      minds!.

        • Indeed, finite men inspired by an infinite God over thousands of years.
          The message has remained the same. Historical points are accurate.
          God is there &. He speaks through His word & creation. His law brings
          order, His love brings peace!

          • With several copies of the same section of the bible, each one different so men had to go through and pick which ones they though were best, pull out the ones they didnt like, stick them all together, after hundreds of years of translations and edits…
            And the end result is several different christian religions, baptist, roman catholic, adventist, later day saints, mormon, etc, etc.
            How can you say the message has stayed the same when its fragmented into several religions? Everything about it shows how its NOT a protected and maintained by god religion, its changed constantly as people decided. Hell, one branch of christianity was created solely because a king wanted a divorce.

  14. I support this young lady. People don’t seem to understand that their religions need to stay in Church or freely expressed on their bodies, but not organized and supported by schools or courthouses. The only rules we need to be good, moral, people are Do Not Kill, Do Not Steal, Do Not Commit Adultry, Do Not Lie. The rest of them are specifically about religion or already covered by these five.

  15. That will be between her and her maker. The biggest mistake a Christian can make is hate … it is so counter to what Christianity is about.

    People get the idea they know what’s best for everyone else. I don’t think anyone has the corner on that.

    While I may think this woman is a little off plumb, she has the right to her opinion. As they say in the south, “Bless her heart.”

  16. First off, there is no maker. Second, if there is, she probably will say, what I will say, “You evil fuck, why did you kill and torment so casually, and what the fuck is it you hate about the Chicago Cubs?”

  17. Larry Andrews

    She has a right to her opinion, but she didn’t leave it at that, she forced her belief over the belief of others. This school belongs to the community and if the community believes that the 10 commandments, or the like, mounted in a school hallway is a good reminder of being a good member of society, then they should be able to do it. This is not about “hate,” it is about what is good in the sight of our children. This forced idea about separation of church and state is a distortion of the Federal Constitution. The founders of our nation did not create the Federal Government to rule over us, but to be an aid to the union of States as they see fit.

  18. LOL WHAT???? forced her beliefs on other??? If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black I don’t know what is. lol christians have been doing that for hundreds of years. get the hell out of here.

  19. Why is your statement so hard for the masses to comprehend? I don’t understand how so many people conclude the idea that our country should change so many of our longstanding monuments, paintings, inscriptions, etc because we now have many other religions as well as atheists living amongst us.

    We are a nation that was founded by people of the Judeo-Christian belief. We have based our laws on the Ten Commandments. No one has to be a Christian to live here but THEY SHOULD RESPECT OUR RIGHT TO HAVE OUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. And our courts should wise up and QUIT GIVING IN TO Everyone who comes along. I see that as the main problem…not her. It is our stupid court judges and their liberal weak minds.

  20. TheGreatGodPan

    Why do say our laws are based on the 10 Commandments? The only correspondence I see is that murder and theft are illegal (as they are everywhere) and adultery is a criminal offense in some states. That’s 3 out of 10.

  1. […] 7. “Ahlquist v. Cranston was a case regarding the First Amendment, which benefits everyone, not exclusively nonreligious people. Many religious groups and people support me because they understand that a secular government protects their right to practice their religion without fear that the governmen….” […]

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