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Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:26 PM

Rhode Island flower shops shun atheist teenager


Local vendors allegedly refused to deliver a bouquet to a 16 year old, setting off a new war of the roses

BY LAURA GOTTESDIENER, ALTERNET


There’s a war over roses in Rhode Island, where a slew of flower shops allegedly refused to deliver a bouquet to a 16-year-old atheist who had fought to have a prayer banner removed from her high school.

The skirmish began when the girl’s school, Cranston West High School, hung a banner titled “School Prayer.” The banner’s text appealed to “Our Heavenly Father” — text that clearly violates the 1962 Supreme Court decision that prohibits mandatory religious prayer in public schools.

The 16-year-old student, Jessica Ahlquist, who identifies as an atheist, fought to have the school banner removed — a court battle she won earlier in January. But the victory party was cut short over discrimination by — of all people — the city’s flower vendors. When the group Freedom for Religion Foundation, a national organization that fights to keep the separation of church and state, tried to send Ahlquist a congratulatory bouquet, no less than four local flower vendors refused to fill the order.

“I just chose not to do it,” said one of the local vendors in an interview with ABC. “Nothing personal. It was a choice that I made. It was my right, so I did that. I’m an independent owner and I can choose whoever I want, whenever I want.”

Except, these flower vendors don’t actually have the right to deny customers service whenever they want, and now these four petal pushers have been slapped with a lawsuit for denying equal access to public accommodations based on religion.

-snip-

full article:
http://www.salon.com/2013/02/03/rhode_island_flower_shops_shun_atheist_teenager_partner/

58 replies, 3060 views

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Arrow 58 replies Author Time Post
Reply Rhode Island flower shops shun atheist teenager (Original post)
DonViejo Feb 2013 OP
TheCowsCameHome Feb 2013 #1
DFW Feb 2013 #2
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #44
msongs Feb 2013 #3
Cirque du So-What Feb 2013 #4
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #5
Silent3 Feb 2013 #7
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #10
trotsky Feb 2013 #16
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #19
Lydia Leftcoast Feb 2013 #22
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #30
TeamPooka Feb 2013 #32
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #39
TeamPooka Feb 2013 #40
trotsky Feb 2013 #26
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #33
trotsky Feb 2013 #45
CreekDog Feb 2013 #58
Arugula Latte Feb 2013 #34
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #37
CreekDog Feb 2013 #57
Taverner Feb 2013 #49
riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #11
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #12
riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #13
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #15
riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #24
Silent3 Feb 2013 #14
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #17
Silent3 Feb 2013 #20
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #50
Silent3 Feb 2013 #51
snooper2 Feb 2013 #25
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #41
ronnie624 Feb 2013 #43
Lydia Leftcoast Feb 2013 #23
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #46
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #55
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #38
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #47
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #53
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #36
KurtNYC Feb 2013 #6
Chorophyll Feb 2013 #8
hatrack Feb 2013 #9
Chorophyll Feb 2013 #21
trotsky Feb 2013 #18
dmallind Feb 2013 #27
yellowcanine Feb 2013 #29
trotsky Feb 2013 #31
yellowcanine Feb 2013 #28
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #35
pauldemmd195j Feb 2013 #42
Initech Feb 2013 #48
stuntcat Feb 2013 #56
JI7 Feb 2013 #52
backscatter712 Feb 2013 #54

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:01 PM

1. What a crock.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:09 PM

2. I hope all four shops get their licenses revoked.

Let the owners go work as waiters in the local greasy spoon, where they can deny service to people of color and get in more legal hot water.

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Response to DFW (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:10 PM

44. It probably won't get that far...

but they are getting sued, they'll probably have to cough up money for a settlement, and if the local or state governments get involved (and they should), they could also face fines.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:02 PM

3. send "dead flowers"

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:43 PM

4. Can you imagine the outcry if the situation was reversed?

i.e., atheist florists refusing to deliver flowers to some flamboyantly religious public figure? I expect that a good number of 'religious' folks see nothing wrong with what happened to this girl, yet would be rounding up torches & pitchforks if the situation was reversed.

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Response to Cirque du So-What (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:08 AM

5. this religious person dosent care either way

 

this situation seems steeped in pettiness

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:32 AM

7. Steeped in pettiness?

I hope you're just talking about the flower vendors, and not accusing Jessica Ahlquist of pettiness for not looking the other way while her school ignored separation of church and state.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:18 AM

10. well the prayer was hardly a prayer it was not mandatory to say (which is stated in the 1962 law

 

they were quoting) so i say her bitching about it was petty - the school making such a production out of taking it down was petty - the florists refusal to deliver flowers waws petty - her suing about not getting her flowers is petty. and there is no "wall of separation in the 1st amendment i read it and re-read many times never saw a wall mentioned. =-- i find the whole the mess a petty hissy-fit - just my opinion

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:50 AM

16. Oh, so you understand the 1st amendment more than Thomas Jefferson?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #16)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:56 AM

19. i understand what i read in the constitution - here's the first amendment

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:14 AM

22. I'm religious, too, but the law is clear: Public schools have to be neutral in matters of belief

They cannot have an official school religious slogans.

If that's what parents want, then they need to go to a religious school.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #22)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:43 PM

30. i dont remember that law - nor do i know that that "prayer" was an "official"school prayer

 

i said i didnt care either way that i thought the whole thing was an act in pettiness - someone asked me to explain that and it turned into this. but the ruling to remove said the ruling was based on the fact that the saying of the prayer was mandatory and it wasnt no one can make u say anything. i also noted that asside from our heavenly father being said in it, it was much of a prayer. and that i think everyone *** EVERYONE *** involved is being petty over this.
btw to what law are you refering cause that's new to me and i want to look it up

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #30)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:55 PM

32. you have no clue about the legal meaning of the word "mandatory" in this situation

when a prayer is mandatory in a school the people who don't "say anything" are often ostracized and harassed for non participation.
That is why the banner and prayer came down.
You should be quiet while the grown-ups are talking.

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Response to TeamPooka (Reply #32)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:21 PM

39. that doesnt make it mandatory - if you say a prayer for fear of someone saying something to you then

 

the fault lies with you - have the courage of your convictions.
"You should be quiet while the grown-ups are talking." name calling huh? how very "grown-up" of you

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #39)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:23 PM

40. the school ruled it mandatory. You do not understand the law so there is no need to keep showing us

your lack of understanding about this issue.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:12 PM

26. So again, you think you know better than Thomas Jefferson.

Read the link I gave you. He coined the phrase "wall of separation" when discussing the 1st amendment.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #26)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:58 PM

33. again i know what i read - im sure t.j. said a lot of things regarding the constution but we use

 

the constitution and not his musings or letters ,they were smart men if they wanted it in they would have put it in the constitution in writing.

what do you think of this statement from your link:Jefferson's reply did not address their concerns about problems with state establishment of religion — only of establishment on the national level.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #33)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:26 PM

45. You THINK you know what you read.

But considering one of the key Founders disagrees with you, I think we know where to file your opinion on this matter.

(BTW, the Constitution doesn't allow states to take away rights. We fought a war about that, remember?)

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #33)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:51 PM

58. doesn't sound like you know anything about the constitution, nor the Civil Rights Act of 1964

which makes me wonder why you are even participating in this discussion, since what you don't know is key to having something useful to say on the matter.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:00 PM

34. It's simple: No prayer, no religious indoctrination in public schools.

The banner violated that.

I think you're being deliberately obtuse.

I'd like to see these florist assholes squawk if someone hung a banner that said: "There is no god but Allah." This is the same thing.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #34)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:16 PM

37. i disagree but i love that gif of the 2 penguins is that real or edited - it hillarious

 

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:50 PM

57. are you saying the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is unconstitional?

i have a feeling you aren't saying that.

except that businesses can't refuse on the basis of religion.

that's the law now and for about 50 years.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:44 PM

49. Ever hear the saying "walk a mile in their shoes??"

 

Nah, I didn't think so

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:31 AM

11. Can you imagine the outcry if Jessica was black? Would that make the flower shops refusal "petty"?

Why is it okay for them to do this to an atheist when the same action taken against a gay or black person for example would NOT be okay (I guess I'm presuming you wouldn't be okay with flower shops taking such bigoted actions without consequences?)

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:34 AM

12. well she's not black this is not about racism stop trying to derail it - stay focused -

 

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:39 AM

13. So in your view an atheist speaking up is "petty", and deserves to be shunned by local businesses.

Got it.

And FWIW, making analogies isn't derailing conversations - they are a typical and useful device regardless of your attempts to be the thread police.


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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:47 AM

15. you got it wrong - we are talking about this situatution and not all situations are this one - but

 

in this little story i think all parties over-reacted. your analogy was an attempt to drag me off on a tangent that doent exists in this story, into a corner. i agree it's a typical and useful device in manipulation.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:26 AM

24. Your the one who believes the girl is acting "petty" and the shops actions are "petty"

when the situation is anything but "petty." In a vain attempt to try to draw a clearer picture for you about why some of us don't believe any of this is "petty", I used an analogy.

That's not manipulation.

That's not an attempt to "drag" you off "tangent".

Its a common conversational technique that has clearly sailed over your head.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:40 AM

14. Oh, and there couldn't possibly be any parallels to consider!

Just a petty atheist who won't quietly go along with state-sponsored privileging of religion. Nothing to see here, move along.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:51 AM

17. that's your assessment not mine

 

Last edited Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:40 PM - Edit history (1)

and like i said ALL PARTIES behaved badly - the school, jessica and the flower shops.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:10 AM

20. Oh, and doling out a little blame to everyone somehow puts you above the fray?

That's bullshit. The atheist did nothing wrong but standing up for what is right.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:31 PM

50. yes it does - i have zero vested intrest in this - i never said wether it was right or wrong i said

 

it was a petty fight to pick

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #50)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:47 PM

51. Ah, so somebody who might be doing the right thing...

...is still petty as far as you're concerned if the subject matter they're right about fails to engage your interest enough, with you as the standard of what's truly worthy to fight vs. what people should shut up about and let slide.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:29 AM

25. "the atheist" ROFL



Those pesky atheists always getting in the way of me enjoying my mythology

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:36 PM

41. How did Jessica Ahlquist misbehave?

She was well within her rights to assert herself, and use the legal process to get her government school to stop endorsing religion in violation of the First Amendment.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:01 PM

43. You need to stop posting and do some reading.

Some people might start to think you're exceedingly ignorant and foolish.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:17 AM

23. You stay focused: The school was violating the law

Period.

The florists are acting petty.

Period.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #23)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:43 PM

46. well i guess you settled it period.

 

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #46)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:07 PM

55. The florists also violated the law.

They're businesses that open their doors to the public, so they have to open their doors to all of the public, and not exclude people based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or religion or the lack thereof. America settled this question in the 60's. Restaurants can't refuse to serve black people, and florists can't refuse to serve atheists. This is a clear violation of federal law, and the florists should face the music for that.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:19 PM

38. No, it's about discrimination.

Jessica Ahlquist is being discriminated against for being an atheist and insisting that her school follow our nation's highest law.

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #38)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:08 PM

47. or it's about consequences for your actions -

 

you can yell fire in a crowded theater but you'll be arrested - you say n'er n'er n'er on the radio but you'll lose you job (when dr laura did that and the company fired her what we heard here is that the 1st admnt doesnt protect you from the consequences of your actions) you can sue your school over something petty but you wont get your flowers.

the 1st amendment protect you from the government and last i check the floral shops are not federal

one last thing the 1st amendment says that the government, thru laws , cant establish a religion nor cant it, thru laws, prohibit a religion. the refusal of the floral shops to deliver flowers doesnt fall into this category

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #47)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:52 PM

53. And you're being deliberately obtuse.

Again, what did she do that was wrong that requires she face consequences, and what consequences would you have her face? You keep insinuating she did something bad, but you've completely failed to be specific.

ANSWER THAT QUESTION! I asked you before, you just repeated your accusation.

You accuse her of "pettiness". What's so petty about freedom of religion and freedom from religion?

Our country's founders made the very wise decision to keep our government out of the God business, which protects our government from capture by religious loonies, and protects religious people and religious organizations from government infringement upon their civil liberties.

Jessica Ahlquist was going to a public school, funded and administered by the government, as an atheist, and because her school chose to publicly endorse religion, it contributed to a hostile atmosphere where people felt free to be nasty to her because she didn't believe in the skydaddy. Yes, she was harmed by this, just like women are harmed when employers turn a blind eye to sexual harassment.

Evidence of the harm she felt? Four florists refusing to deliver flowers to her as the OP points out, as a small example of the larger hostile environment she has to live in because she is open about her lack of belief. Also throw in the death threats, the nastiness from her neighbors and classmates, etc. etc. etc.

She was harmed, and has every right to seek a remedy and compensation for the harm that was done to her.

I'm sorry you see civil rights as "petty".

Sorry, we atheists have a right to live in this country without everyone treating us like shit just for existing. That means if you want to worship your imaginary mentally deranged skydaddies, you do so on your own time, and on your own dime. Not on the taxpayer's dime, and not in compulsory ceremonies in government schools that must be open to all students, regardless of belief. Governments and the public schools they run don't have the right to drop hints, in the form of banners, or prayers led by teachers and administrators, or otherwise, that you have to believe in the correct deity to fit in, and if you don't you'll be ostracized.

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Response to Cirque du So-What (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:05 PM

36. See the whole Chick-Fil-A shit from last year.

All the teabaggers got together and had themselves a good screech because we dared to boycott Chick-Fil-A over the shitty way they treat the GLBT community.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:25 AM

6. A "dog camp" opened in the next town up from me.

The city issued a cease and desist order. The business owner sued and won because the City had no legal grounds for the order (he is on 10 acres zoned for agricultural business). The City then appealed (anyway). The City lost again, this time spending about $100,000 in legal fees. The twist is: many in the small town blame the business owner for "costing the city money."

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:36 AM

8. These idiots ought to read the history of their own state.

Last edited Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:13 AM - Edit history (1)

Roger Williams, Rhode Island's founder, was kicked out of Massachusetts because the powers that be (or the powers that were) didn't like his ideas about religion.

From Wikipedia:

Roger Williams (c. 1603 – between January and March 1683) was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church in America, the First Baptist Church of Providence. He was a student of Native American languages and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. Williams was arguably the very first abolitionist in North America, having organized the first attempt to prohibit slavery in any of the original thirteen colonies.

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Response to Chorophyll (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:18 AM

9. "Forcd worship stincks in God's nostrils" was the money quote from Williams, IIRC

Indeed - a little research would do these clowns some good.

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Response to hatrack (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:12 AM

21. Yes! That was "money" all right.

Thanks for reminding me.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:52 AM

18. The behavior of these florists was far from the worst of this episode.

Ahlquist received countless death threats from good Christians around the country.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #18)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:18 PM

27. That's ok - they were just being petty too - just like the atheist. nt

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Response to dmallind (Reply #27)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:37 PM

29. How was Jessica petty? Asking schools to follow the Constitution is not petty.

It is pretty fundamental.

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Response to yellowcanine (Reply #29)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:45 PM

31. Hehe, dmallind just forgot his sarcasm tag.

It's OK.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:34 PM

28. Kind of like the cake shop which shunned the gay wedding.

If you are open to the public you don't get to impose your prejudice on paying customers, imo.
Get another line of work.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:02 PM

35. When you open your shop to the public, you cannot discriminate.

Not based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or lack thereof.

Those florists need to have their asses sued, and the FFRF did.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:45 PM

42. What a load of BS

 

This is yet another reason why I hate religion in general. Remind me never to visit that flower store. It's their loss in the end.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:41 PM

48. The religious morality crowd proves once again they're the ones really without morals.

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Response to Initech (Reply #48)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:36 PM

56. +1

once again

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:48 PM

52. did God teach these people to be Rude, Hateful, Ignorant , Assholes ?

is that why they need shit like the banner in public places ? that's how they prove their love of God or some shit because it certainly isn't in their treatment of other humans .

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Response to JI7 (Reply #52)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:58 PM

54. They're two-book Christians.

They believe that the Bible has only two books: Leviticus and Revelations.

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