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.

 

Comments

4shizzle

@Kottage Kat

I like that and it's true.

Some of these people better get it right in this life because after they die, it will be too late.

John Harville

Faith without acts is dead. It's not enough to pray for rain. Grab your umbrella!

2cents

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

arnmcrmn

Its easy to see the cry babies on this topic because the moment you post something, they come right in...again and again and again to rip on your beliefs, background..etc.

I wonder what the schools answer would be if DEETROIT Michigan had 100 catholic students that wanted a classroom to themselves, some prayer rugs and 10 minutes out of the school day to pray when they felt the need to? Im willing to bet, it wouldn't be allowed.

Our nation caters so much to the minority groups in fear of being blasted in the media, yet we have essentially stripped and tore apart what our country USE to be.......to cater to minority groups.

I don't need a picture to remind me of Jesus or to be thankful for what I have, but when we are told we have to take our Jesus picture down and replace it for a classroom and a Muslim prayer rug......yeah, its wrong either way you look at it.

ole45mag

Or Native American Dream Catchers and Mandalas(?) What really sucks is when the minority becomes the majority, which it will, then the majority will once again rule and get all the benefits.

John Harville

Catholics want prayer rugs?
"..what our country USEd to be.." which is:
In the name of Jeeesuhs this country enslaved an entire race, denied marriage to couples of different races, put people in debtors prisons, confined Catholics to Rhode Island, burned people as witches, herded the first Americans onto reservations in the desert or frozen North, denied the vote to half the population America,conscripted men into military action, confined Japanese Americans to internment camps...
THAT country? And a lot of that was done while Jesus was hanging in that school encouraging children to love one another.

rjk1915

Np one has a clue as to what Jesus looked like; possibly Semitic. ( the Shroud of Turin is apparemtly 14th century).

rjk1915

I notice that the political nuts are avoiding this topic.

meowmix

Sure are alot of "holier than thou" posters on this article. Such store has been set upon a book that one-half of was wrote about some guy and his deeds that none of the penners ever actually knew--(sorta like Kitty Kelly and her biographies.) Seeing as how this is the case, why no belief in unicorns, Santa Claus and the tooth fairy?

Contango

meowmix writes: "...why no belief in unicorns, Santa Claus and the tooth fairy?"

Don't you believe in Pres. BHO? Now THERE'S a fantasy! :)

John Harville

JOBS NOW!
Contango. That's the name you've chosen here.
Not Confucius. Those are Faux pearls drooling from your lips.

I've never seen a unicorn, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, either.

rjk1915

I think it'sOK provided that they also post fictitious portraits of Buddha, Confucius, Mary Baker Eddy, etc.

Unabasho

Eschew discrimination
Neglect not The FSM
Respect Pastafarianism

thinkagain

God forbid our children become influenced and contaminated with the idea that they should love one another.

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