Ohio

Eye on Education

Jackson City School District Removes Painting of Jesus

Image courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation

A replica of the popular "Head of Christ" depiction of Jesus that used to hang in the Jackson City School District.

After 66 years and some location changes, a painting of Jesus that used to hang in the Jackson City school district has been removed.

The painting had recently come under fire after the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation received a letter in January complaining about the painting’s presence in the school.

The Foundation then sent the district a letter, requesting that the painting be removed. When school officials refused to comply, the FFRF along with the ACLU of Ohio sued the district.

But now, faced with mounting legal fees, the district has opted to voluntarily remove the depiction of Jesus.

“It’s a major victory,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF. “And it was a major violation.”

Gaylor says she’s surprised the conflict got this far.

“This really was a very egregious violation because we’re not a Christian nation, and the school board is not a Christian school board,” Gaylor says. “It’s a very in your face message from the school that we favor Christians.”

The FFRF and the ACLU of Ohio had requested a restraining order asking a Judge to force the district to remove the painting. They now plan to rescind that request. But that’s not the end of the story; the court case still has to be settled.

“It’s a victory for the establishment clause,” says Nick Worner of the ACLU of Ohio. “It’s pretty clear to us this is what needed to happen.”

Worner says it’s premature to declare the case a full victory for the FFRF and the ACLU of Ohio, since the district can still opt to fight the case in court.

“But for the time being we’ve thought that the painting should be taken down, they’ve taken it down, and that’s a good thing,” he says.

According to the Associated Press, the reason district officials decided to remove the painting was because the lawsuit they were facing would have cost too much.

“At the end of the day, we just couldn’t roll the dice with taxpayer money,” Superintendent Phil Howard told The Associated Press. “When you get into these kinds of legal battles, you’re not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It’s not fair to take those resources from our kids’ education.”

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the district’s insurance company refused to pay legal fees for the ensuing court battle.

The painting was presented as a gift to the school from the Hi-Y club, a Christian student organization, in 1947. It had formerly hung in the Jackson Middle School but was moved to the high school after the lawsuit was filed earlier this year.

StateImpact Ohio has reached out to Jackson City School officials for comment, but has not yet heard back from them.

Comments

  • a friend

    I was very sorry to see the school felt they had no other choice then to remove the picture of Jesus. I do not feel this is a victory for anyone. I hope that some day the picture of Jesus will once again hang in the school.

    • Chilidawg

      Dream on, but it won’t happen. Once they decided to remove it, that removal became permanent.

      As it should be.

      • http://www.facebook.com/trina.simsmueller Trina Sims-Mueller

        its a shame… its exactly whats causing our society to fail and break down ..in my opinion i wouldve worn my Jesus tshirt the nxt day ..its my ”

        right”

        • Chilidawg

          By all means.
          But don’t try to force anyone else to wear the same shirt, that is not “your right.”

        • tthomas

          Yes…society is breaking down because a Jesus picture cannot be hung in a public school. Right. I’m sure that is the cause.

        • Sammy

          Of course you can wear your Jesus t-shirt. It IS your right. And I can wear my ‘whatever-religion-I-am” t-shirt as it is MY right. I can wear a ‘I-am-no-religion’ t-shirt. My neighbor can wear his “I-am-agnostic’ t-shirt. His neighbor can wear his “Buddah t-shirt”. WE CAN ALL EXPRESS OUR BELIEFS (and non-beliefs) THE WAY WE WANT. A public school CANNOT however. They are a public school. They have no religions beliefs. It is not their agenda. Have you heard of separate of church and state? That’s what that means. It does NOT mean that a student cannot believe what they wish. It means the public schools cannot promote (ummm…HANG A JESUS PICTURE) religion.

  • roadmaster69

    i would tell the freedom from religion foundation and the aclu to suck my azz. the picture stay’s fukum

  • Chilidawg

    So someone with some sense finally got through to the board and explained to them that they would lose the case and have to pay the court costs.

    Did the board actually think that the insurance company would represent them for free, and that that would not risk taxpayer money? Who does the board thinks pays the premiums? Did they actually think that the insurance company would not drop them or raise the rates over this?

    What planet do they live on?

  • http://www.facebook.com/judy.ecker Judy Ecker

    What a shame. I feel the student, and the parents who are responsible for this Should be named.

    • Sammy

      Responsible for what? For asking that a painting representing an extremely personal choice one makes in their life (that not everyone makes) be removed? Really? If you wish to have religious pictures and icons in your school…attend a private school. A public school has no business promoting any type of religion. Period.

    • Vasagi1

      Nuttin like a good ol’ fashioned lynchin. Them there’s some Merican values for ya!

  • Paula

    Why do so many people NOT realize that religion is a personal choice and NOT EVERYONE BELIEVES THE SAME THING! Which means, you have the right to do what you want, display what you want, and believe what you want in your home or in a private organization. However, a public school is NOT the place for ONE religion to be represented. It is not the place for ANY religion to be represented. If students wish to form their own organization, they may. The school, however, cannot sanction or organize a religious group. Kids ARE permitted to pray if they wish. No school bans prayer. I wish the religious zealots would stop forcing THEIR religious choice down everyone else’s throat!

  • ZOILA

    ESTUPIDOS!!! ONE OF THESE DAYS, YOU’RE GOING TO BE PRAYING FOR GOD TO SAVE A LOVED ONE’S LIFE, OR FOR HIM TO HELP YOU OUT OF A PROBLEM… OR FOR WHATEVER… YOU NAME IT. DON’T BE SURPRISED IF YOUR PRAYERS ARE NOT ANSWERED. I REALLY FEEL SORRY FOR YOU! YOU’RE LETTING A BUNCH OF PEOPLE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW TO DICTATE YOUR PERSONAL RELIGIOUS CHOICE AND BELIEFS. HOW WAS JESUS PAINTING HURTING YOU? IN WHAT WAY? SO YOU RATHER ALLOW A BUNCH OF AGNOSTICS/ATHEISTS TO DICTATE YOUR LIFE AND FOR THIS YOUR OWN FUTURE!!! STUPID, STUPID PEOPLE!!!

  • illinoisboy1977

    I sure as hell wouldn’t have paid the ACLU or the FFRF. I might have taken down the portrait, to settle the suit, but I sure as HELL wouldn’t have given away $95K!

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