ACLU seeks removal of Ohio school's Jesus portrait

A portrait of Jesus that hangs prominently in an entranceway at a rural Ohio public school is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and should be removed, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday says.
Associated Press
Feb 8, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation say the large portrait at Jackson Middle School unconstitutionally promotes religion. The two groups seek a court order requiring the school to remove the portrait and prohibiting its re-hanging or any substantially similar display in the future.

"The maintenance and display of the portrait has the effect of advancing and endorsing one religion, improperly entangling the State in religious affairs, and violating the personal consciences of plaintiffs," the lawsuit says.

The suit follows complaints by both groups to school officials, and was filed on behalf of three plaintiffs, identified only as "Sam Doe." One is a student at Jackson Middle School; the other two are parents with children who attend the school.

School Superintendent Phil Howard, named as a defendant along with Jackson City School District and the school board, was out of town for a meeting Thursday but said through a spokeswoman that he was surprised the lawsuit was filed before the district completed its investigation of the issue. He said the board will discuss "an appropriate course of action" at its Feb. 12 meeting.

The Columbus Dispatch previously reported that Howard said at a school board meeting last month: "We're not violating the law and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn't hurt anyone."

School officials have said the portrait was donated by a student group and has been in the school since about 1947.

But ACLU spokesman Nick Worner said that while defenders of the portrait cite tradition, that doesn't change its interference with constitutional rights.

"Separation of church and state is one of the nation's oldest traditions," Worner said.

The Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, representing the school district, earlier wrote to the ACLU and Freedom From Religion, saying the institute was investigating the issue. The institute said the portrait has been in place for some 65 years, apparently without anyone complaining about it.

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, said Thursday the lawsuit was premature. He said Liberty Institute planned to present its findings and recommendations to the school board at next week's meeting. He declined to discuss the findings, but said the goal was to make sure the legal rights of all involved were considered.

"It's obviously a delicate balance," he said.

The district is some 65 miles south of Columbus.




For those who insist that religious beliefs should continue to be mixed in the public/political arena where separation of church and state are supposed to be the rule, then I suggest that we start to tax church property, Sunday collections, and donations. No way should Pat Robertson and others like him (both Republican and Democratic leaning religious leaders) who influence their "flocks" with regard to blatant political views and actions should be allowed to continue on tax free.



John Harville

Especially when they endorse candidates.


Good old liberal rhetoric. If they endorse someone, and we all know you mean Republican....lets tax em to fix the problem. No different than the Union thugs who collect money and spend 70% of it on politics....endorsing Democrats.

Oh and BTW, churches and their schools do not receive federal funding....that is why they are tax exempt. For someone who knows so much, you think they would of researched that.


How would the Rev's Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton survive?

The Big Dog's back

They both pay taxes.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Libel and defamation.


God how I love my Marine Corps!


So your the one!!!!

John Harville

urp... does that include Uncle Sam's Misguided Children (USMC)? The ones who just posted that ridiculous World Wide News story about Republicans planning to begin impeachment proceedings in March. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


Why do atheist spend so much time fight something they don't believe in.


My wife is an atheist. Her answer to that question is always two-fold. #1 Religion becomes a problem when it forces its way into politics and begins dictating policy for our country. #2 Religion is pushed into an atheist's face pretty much non-stop.


Isn't it a religous world? Add up the world's religous followers then the world's atheists, what number do you think is greater.

The Big Dog's back

Gee goof, I didn't know you favored a Theocracy.

John Harville

What does 'religion' have to do with faith? I don't do religion, either. It just gets in the way.
But please ask her how she doesn't believe in something she says doesn't exist. I can say I don't believe in Contango... but oops there it is. And yes I intentionally compared Contango to God.

bored reader

Because they are afraid God may get a hold of them. Deep down they know there is something to the idea of a higher power but are afraid to admit. jmho


I see a lithograph by Warner Sallman. Only those in the "secret society" of Christians would know who it depicts. Maybe we should throw out all paintings and/or lithographs of unmarked bearded men with long hair becasue, you just don't know, they might be a picture of God.

Strain at a nat and swallow a camel. Some would rather our children had lock-down drills, DARE classes and "tolerant" sex education before any discussion about universal truth and understanding.

Wonder why some are wandering into schools and killing 1st graders?


Who gets to make these rules I would like to know!?! We can't talk about Jesus in school, but how and why do the kids in school get to learn about Buda and Mahamid, Greek mythology(which some people think is real) Muslem? It's in the text books that they learn out of... and the ones that want to carry their Bibles to school get into trouble. Or how about saying "God Bless You" after you sneeze. I know of one student in our area that got into trouble. I tell you what, we better turn back to Jesus... Could this be why there is so much trouble and havoc in the schools now?


William McGuffey: "Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man." Where do you think the world is heading today?


"fear of God"?

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.

The Big Dog's back

FEAR= Fox news.


@ Dog aka betrump aka brutus smith:

Let's get back on-topic shall we?

As a Marxist don't you view the State as God?

"Actually a bunch (of) Stone Age right wingnuts wrote the Old Testament." (brutus smith, Sept. 10, 2010)

John Harville

Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, Shinto, The Crusades, The Reformation, Puritan overthrow/execution of Charles II, Constantine, Native Americans, Maya, ... ugh... I don't have enough room here to list ALL the various religions to which students are introduced (notice I didn't say learn) in the schools.
"God Bless You" originally was intended to block the evil spirits from re-entering the body after they were sneezed out. It's called Supersititon and has nothing to do with God.


If I have to fear God , I'm in big trouble...interesting this has been done in -- history month... and can ya all hear the pi$$ ng and moaning if this had been a picture of a certain civil rights leader....hellfire and brimstone would have come knocking already.

{sarcasm is free, all others pay cash}

;] ;]

John Harville

God came to us as Jesus and taught us to call God "father" so we no longer needed to fear Yahweh.
Pictures of Jesus - especially a long-haired white man - don't belong in schools.


Don't the ACLU lawyers have anything productive to do with their time. If this picture has been up there for over 40 years without hurting anybody, why get your shorts all twisted up now? To bad those commies do not defend the 2nd amendment with the same fervor.

John Harville

No freedom is absolute. Even the Second Amendment is 'abridged' by laws that keep 10-year-olds from buying guns and ammo.
And how free is your 16-year-old's speech when s/he calls you a godmsonabiche?
And parents being allowed to sign consent for their child to submit to a random drug test? oops, there went their Fourth Amendment rigts.


That picture or painting of...Jesus..., probably doesn't come close to what Jesus the Christ looked like. The bible in it's description of the coming Christ stated that there was nothing about him that would make us desire him. King David, who was before the man Jesus, was powerful and handsome. Jesus, who was rejected by the Jews who loved David, was not He was meek and as those predicting his coming...not attractive enough to desire. He was perhaps not as good looking as this painting we see depicting the Christ Jesus. May as well me Eddie Van Halen up there on the wall.
And as for the ten commandments...what's the big deal. We don't follow all of it anyway. Who keeps the sabbath? I know, Jesus did away with it. But he didn't. God said to keep the 7th day holy...period. So we Christians are a group that does break the least of the commandments anyway. And come on anyway, how holy are we anyway? We boycott Procter and Gamble because they promote abortion,then we buy are crap from China that NEVER aborts Babies (except females, we'll need that army someday and the bullets them Americans are helping us afford, and the technology to make good ones)...
Yea, the ACLU and the atheist needs to let us keep making us become the group that Jesus vomits out of his mouth. We're just a bunch of "think we are's".
But we ain't.

Kottage Kat

B. Basic
I. Instruction
B. Before
L. Leaving
E. Earth


It's more than basic instruction. The basic instruction is the milk spoken of. The rest is meat. Basic courses in college are the ones that we take just to fill the colleges requirements whixh are usually less than meanful courses. But then, to get a degree and have a chance at being successfull, you have to take a lot of classes that pertain to your ambitions. Basic instruction teaches you to believe in Jesus. Course requirements teach you to how to follow Jesus.
The rich man believed (basic instruction), but couldn't give up his possessions in order to follow (course requirement).
South Parks's on.