Florists refuse to deliver flowers to Jessica Ahlquist

9:25 PM, Jan 19, 2012   |    comments
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By Audrey Washington

Cranston, RI (WJAR/CNN) - Several florists in Rhode Island refused to take flowers to a girl, because she's at the center of a religious controversy.

Jessica Ahlquist went to court to have a prayer banner removed from her school.

A judge ruled in her favor, saying the banner should come down.

Since then, Ahlquist has faced a barrage of criticism, condemnation, and even physical threats.

So a Wisconsin-based group fighting for the separation of church and state wanted to send her flowers, to show their support.

It began this week when a representative from the Freedom from Religion Foundation attempted to have flowers delivered to Ahlquist.

So what went wrong? Well, none of the florists called would agree to make the delivery.

"We refused the order because we really don't want to cross lines," said Raymond Santilli, owner of Flowers by Santilli.

Santilli says the foundation told him the delivery person might need police protection and to show identification to gain access to the home. He stands by his decision not to deliver.

He said he had his own personal feelings about the issue, and because it's his shop, he can choose to deliver or not deliver to whomever he wants.

"If I send flowers there, somebody may get upset with us and retaliate to us," said Santilli.

Marina Plowman of Twins Florist agrees. She also refused the order.

"I just chose not to do it. Nothing personal against her or anybody, it was a choice that I made. It was my right to do that, so I did," she said.

Ahlquist has faced some harsh backlash after a judge ruled in her favor, deeming the school banner which displays the words "our heavenly father" and "amen" as unconstitutional. Both florists say either way they don't want to get involved.

"I'm independent owner and I can choose whoever I want, whenever I want," said Plowman.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation eventually found a florist willing to make the delivery.


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