Earlier today I posted about how a 16-year old student, named “M.B.” in the court documents, was suing Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi for forcing students to listen to pep-talks about Jesus. Those talks, mandatory for all the students, clearly violated the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. Well, that student has now outed herself in an eloquent statement, “Why I sued Northwest Rankin High School,” posted on the American Humanist Association website. Here’s part of her statement, which reveals the usual abuse heaped on anyone who dares ask for freedom of religion in America:
In order to eradicate any mystery and pretense, I would like to first formally announce that I am M.B., the plaintiff in this case. Moreover, my full name is Magdalene Bedi, although I am better known as Gracie Bedi by classmates and friends.
I abandon anonymity not to call attention to myself, but rather to call attention to the case and better validate its purpose. As a student at the high school, I have been privy to the thoughts and analysis of my peers, and what I’ve heard has been incredibly disheartening. Rather than reviewing the case as one of constitutional rights, I have been written off as an angry atheist, a scorned student, and even as a greedy child looking only for profit. Allow me to defend myself against such harsh conclusions.
I am not an angry atheist. As a matter of fact, I am not an atheist at all. I hold many Christian beliefs and values, and I do not mean to attack the religion or its message. Instead, this is a case about our constitutional right to be free from the government promoting these religious beliefs. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being an atheist. In fact, my friend Alexis, who is bringing this lawsuit with me, is a humanist. But this case is not about our religious beliefs.
I take issue with the fact that my peers and I were forced to attend a preferential religious sermon by a public school administration. The government, and Northwest is indeed a government for all intents and purposes, has no place in dictating the religion of the governed. May I remind the public of the first right listed in our Bill of Rights, established in order to protect the people from overbearing regimes: “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.”
Not only does this forbid the forced attendance of religious meetings and state promotion of religion generally, it also allows for the governed to present their grievances to their government, which is precisely what Alexis and I have done. Public schools are not to violate these most cherished constitutional rights, granted to all citizens of America (even high school students).
What an wonderful statement; and there is more on the site.
More power to you, Ms. Bedi. You’re a brave woman, and although you’re going to face even more scorn, ostracism, and hatred, do realize that many of us are behind you. More important, the Constitution of the United States is behind you. You are right, your opponents are wrong, and you will win.
You can leave Gracie Bedie a message of support on the AHA site. Given what she’s in for, I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.