Ohio

Eye on Education

Jesus Painting Moved from Jackson Middle School to High School

Image courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation

A replica of the depiction of Jesus hanging in a school in the Jackson City School District.

A painting of Jesus that has recently come under fire for promoting one religion over others inside a public school has been moved – into another school building.

Officials at the Jackson City School District moved the painting of Jesus from the middle school to the high school. They say the painting was a gift from the Hi-Y club, a Christian student organization. Since that club is in the high school, they say, the painting should be too.

The ACLU of Ohio and the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the district earlier this year for “endorsing one religion improperly.”

School officials insist the painting is protected by the First Amendment because it was given to the school as a gift. The district also passed a policy last month that established “limited public forums,” or spaces in the school for student speech and to hang images of “inspirational figures,” such as Jesus Christ. 

Jackson Schools Superintendent Phil Howard says the decision to move the painting came after last month’s school board meeting. Based on a report commissioned by the district, “it was made clear that the portrait can only hang in a school if it is school speech.”

If the painting did in fact belong to the district, it would probably violate the Establishment Clause. But, Howard says, the painting belongs to the Hi-Y Club.

“Under the policy that the school board adopted last month a limited public forum was created at both the middle and the high school.  The Hi-Y Club, as the owner of the portrait, has the right to hang the portrait in either the middle or high school.  The Hi-Y Club has decided to exercise that right and move the portrait to the high school, where its current members are all students.

The school district has no choice but to respect the rights of the Hi-Y Club.  Failure to do so might open the district to a lawsuit by the Hi-Y Club or violate the Establishment Clause by turning the portrait into government speech.”

WSAZ Channel 3 spoke to Bob Eisnaugle, an art teacher at Jackson and the Hi-Y club’s advisor. He says the painting should have been moved when the high school moved into another building.

“It’s been in the wrong place in the past,” Eisnaugle said. “I think we’ve been up here five or six years. It should have been up here all this time.”

Eisnaugle says they wanted it moved to the newer high school because with Hi-Y being a high school club, that is the logical place for it.

“It’s very religious of course,” he said, “but our club is a Christian-based organization, so Jesus has always been a part of our club.”

It’s unclear what effect this move will have on the ongoing lawsuit, but ACLU of Ohio spokesman Nick Worner says their stand has not changed.

“Moving the religious portrait from one public school building to another does not change the fact that it is unconstitutional,” he wrote in an email.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/ritalynn63 Rita Jannusch McKenzie

    I thought it was Freedom of Religion, not Freedom From Religion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richardpweiss Richard P. Weiss

      It’s both.

    • http://www.facebook.com/HimesInu Josh Metheney

      It is freedom of religion, but it works both ways. Also, as a publicly funded school, the Establishment Clause applies. The Establishment Clause prohibits any religion to be endorsed in government and publicly funded buildings. And as the school allows the portrait to be up, they “endorse” Christianity over other religions and religion over no religion in general.

  • Praise 77

    There should be no one in the first place to ever put heat on anyone to remove a picture of Jesus that obviously the school was perfectly fine with hanging there. What a foolish thing to get a big costly “todo” started over something so precious as peoples respect for God. Shame on people that interfere with peoples happy lives. I know the Lord must be grieved over this liberal display of putting the thumb on good people to take down a wonderful portrait that has been a comfort to many for 66years!!!! I cant believe their nonsense, it is just another sign letting us know the Rapture will happen soon in a city near you! God will have his day!

    • Chilidawg

      Do you think that that is really a picture of Jesus?

  • Praise77

    No, it is not really a picture of the real Jesus . It is a depiction (Depiction: Portrayal: A picture, description or other representation of something.). There is no way of having an actual picture of Jesus. It is an artists interpretation. It is a reminder of the One who died for the sin of all mankind. And to think He suffered and died for even the ones who want His “reminder” taken down.

  • LindaScarf

    Could someone please make a list of all the other portraits that are hanging on this wall?!?!?!?

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