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This Portrait of Jesus in an Ohio Middle School Sparks Major Church vs. State Battle

FFRF Demands Removal of Jesus Portrait From Jackson Middle School | Ohio

A replica of the photo of Jesus that is hanging in Jackson Middle School (Photo Credit: Jackson County Daily)

Atheists are demanding that an Ohio school district remove an image of Jesus Christ that is currently hanging inside of Jackson Middle School. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) claims that the portrait is potentially alienating non-Christian students and faculty, alike, and that it shows a public endorsement of Christianity over other faiths.

Despite these allegations, District Superintendent Phil Howard is refusing to remove the image unless he receives orders from a judge or the school board. The picture of Jesus and its posting is a decades-old student gift and initiative.

Currently, it is displayed in the school’s “Hall of Honor,” among pictures of other well-known individuals. According to WKKJ, the images featured in this hallway depict “influential figures and distinguished alumni.”

“A lot of things are permissible so long as they are student-led or student-initiated,” Howard explained, noting that pupils gave the image, thus allowing for it to hang.

The portrait was given to the school by a group of students in 1947. But after decades of hanging on the school’s walls without incident, the FFRF sent a letter on Jan. 2 to demand that it be taken down, charging that it is a violation of the First Amendment.

The Jackson County Daily reports that an anonymous source likely complained about the presence of the image, sending information about its presence to the Madison, Wisconsin-based organization:

It is believed that someone locally forwarded a photo of the picture to the foundation’s Staff Attorney Rebecca S. Markert, of Madison, Wisconsin. [...]

Markert protected the identity of the person who sent the information and would not divulge any information in regards to if this person was from Jackson. She indicated the foundation is a national membership organization that receives tips about church and state violations from all over the country and that they protect the identities of those individuals who make the reports. She also implied that many of the foundation’s members themselves are somewhat secretive because they don’t want to be outed in their communities as atheists.

In the letter, FFRF attorney Markert wrote that the image turns any student or staff member who does not embrace Jesus Christ “into an outsider.”

“If a large portrait of Jesus were to hang in Jackson Middle School, an objective observer would have no doubt that it had the district’s stamp of approval,” she added (read the full letter here).

FFRF Demands Removal of Jesus Portrait From Jackson Middle School | Ohio

Despite these claims, Howard is doubling down and has no intentions of complying.

“I’m certainly not going to run down there and take the picture down because some group from Madison, Wisconsin, who knows nothing about the culture of our community or why the picture is even there, wants me to take it down,” proclaimed the superintendent.

The debate is currently at a standstill, as the FFRF awaits a response from the district.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/church-vs-state-battle-erupts-over-middle-schools-portrait-of-jesus-christ-unconstitutional/

by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 2:11 AM
Replies (361-370):
Pema_Jampa
by 2HotTacoTini on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM

It's a picture. One's faith does not depend on whether or not it is there. It's actually against the law for it to be up. Take it down in respect of all people and religions.

blondekosmic15
by Blonde on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:27 PM
2 moms liked this

 

Quoting Pema_Jampa:

It's a picture. One's faith does not depend on whether or not it is there. It's actually against the law for it to be up. Take it down in respect of all people and religions.

 It is NOT against the law, pema....

Pema_Jampa
by 2HotTacoTini on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Is it a private Christian school?

Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting Pema_Jampa:

It's a picture. One's faith does not depend on whether or not it is there. It's actually against the law for it to be up. Take it down in respect of all people and religions.

 It is NOT against the law, pema....


blondekosmic15
by Blonde on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:32 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting VeronicaTex:

By the same token I as a Christian could gently suggest that complaining parents send their children to other places than even the Public School.

This seems more to be a parental concern for their own wants, rather than seeking that a child blend in the best they can with an all ready established system, whether or not you agree with it.

The left talk about inclusiveness but are the most intolerant esp when Chritianity comes into the picture.

Furthermore, about harrassing and bullying:  How would the other students know your children are not Christian, if it weren't for you and possibly your children proclaiming it?

While I absolutely am against harassing or bullying of any kind, I would believe that in this case "Silence is Golden".  

My child was a Roman Catholic in a Montessori school.  Even though, working with her (Down Syndrome, non-verbal) where my Religion was very much part of her life and how I related to her in all ways:  I was forbidden to talk about it on the campus.

Can you imagine that?  

It worked out later, in that I withdrew her because she was getting aggressive and she was getting out of hand,  out of my sight and possible intervention.  I had NO input whatsoever.

It worked out perfectly.  

I have her with me 24/7.  

I am able to raise her as a Roman Catholic, be a Roman Catholic mother to her all day long, and  am "lifeskilling her" as I can as a former teacher, using Behavior Modification.

Why swim upstream against the current?  

Why not compromise, or remove your children?

Live in peace, your way!!!!

Veronica

Quoting kimmyt0810:

Send your kids to a private Christian school that will pray and talk about God and Jesus, we as Christians should not force people who do not believe to participate in our religious practices just like I wouldn't want someone who was Jewish or Musilm to make me participate in their religious practices. In a country free to worship whatever God you chose (or chose not to worship period), one religion should not have more influence than another.

Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting kimmyt0810:

I'm a Christian but I believe the seperation of church and state is a good thing. God and Jesus have no place in public school, if you want your kids to pray at school, fine by me but don't make everyone pray at the same time. If you want everyone to pray to the same God, send your kids to a private school that matches your beliefs. 

Thank you for your opinion, kimmy. I am a Christian. I respectively disagree concerning separation of Church n' State. I believe when prayer was deprived in schools, God's presence and protection is denied. I do not believe students should be forced to pray to God but given time to honor their personal beliefs if they are not Christian. No one should be ridiculed for their faith or if they choose not to believe in God. When violence takes place @ schools we can't blame God when we have pushed him out. God and Jesus have the right to be everywhere including schools and gov't facilites. God created this world, everything in it, irrespective of those who do not believe in his existence~


 

Pema_Jampa
by 2HotTacoTini on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM
1 mom liked this

What it really amounts to is being fair. Unlike private schools, public school districts are bound by the Constitution, which forces them into a delicate balance. Board members and school administrators are required to allow personal acts of religious faith but to simultaneously avoid any appearance that religion (or any particular religion) enjoys special status. The U.S. Supreme Court has the final word in resolving disputes about what the Constitution permits or forbids.

jillianmayasmom
by Bronze Member on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Why should they have to? Public schools are just that, public.


Quoting VeronicaTex:

By the same token I as a Christian could gently suggest that complaining parents send their children to other places than even the Public School.

This seems more to be a parental concern for their own wants, rather than seeking that a child blend in the best they can with an all ready established system, whether or not you agree with it.

Furthermore, about harrassing and bullying:  How would the other students know your children are not Christian, if it weren't for you and possibly your children proclaiming it?

While I absolutely am against harassing or bullying of any kind, I would believe that in this case "Silence is Golden".  

My child was a Roman Catholic in a Montessori school.  Even though, working with her (Down Syndrome, non-verbal) where my Religion was very much part of her life and how I related to her in all ways:  I was forbidden to talk about it on the campus.

Can you imagine that?  

It worked out later, in that I withdrew her because she was getting aggressive and she was getting out of hand,  out of my sight and possible intervention.  I had NO input whatsoever.

It worked out perfectly.  

I have her with me 24/7.  

I am able to raise her as a Roman Catholic, be a Roman Catholic mother to her all day long, and  am "lifeskilling her" as I can as a former teacher, using Behavior Modification.

Why swim upstream against the current?  

Why not compromise, or remove your children?

Live in peace, your way!!!!

Veronica

Quoting kimmyt0810:

Send your kids to a private Christian school that will pray and talk about God and Jesus, we as Christians should not force people who do not believe to participate in our religious practices just like I wouldn't want someone who was Jewish or Musilm to make me participate in their religious practices. In a country free to worship whatever God you chose (or chose not to worship period), one religion should not have more influence than another.


Quoting blondekosmic15:

 


Quoting kimmyt0810:


I'm a Christian but I believe the seperation of church and state is a good thing. God and Jesus have no place in public school, if you want your kids to pray at school, fine by me but don't make everyone pray at the same time. If you want everyone to pray to the same God, send your kids to a private school that matches your beliefs. 


Thank you for your opinion, kimmy. I am a Christian. I respectively disagree concerning separation of Church n' State. I believe when prayer was deprived in schools, God's presence and protection is denied. I do not believe students should be forced to pray to God but given time to honor their personal beliefs if they are not Christian. No one should be ridiculed for their faith or if they choose not to believe in God. When violence takes place @ schools we can't blame God when we have pushed him out. God and Jesus have the right to be everywhere including schools and gov't facilites. God created this world, everything in it, irrespective of those who do not believe in his existence~



Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
blondekosmic15
by Blonde on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:39 PM

 

Quoting Pema_Jampa:

Is it a private Christian school?

It is NOT against the law to have a picture of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed etc in a public school. A few yrs ago I saw a photo of a display of varying religions @ a public college here in America. I was touched @ the inclusiveness and I am a Christian. Jesus blesses us with free will, a beautiful gift from God. Why would I deny anyone this right which God gave us? But some of you want to deny others this right under the guise and pretense of fairness and equality.

Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting Pema_Jampa:

It's a picture. One's faith does not depend on whether or not it is there. It's actually against the law for it to be up. Take it down in respect of all people and religions.

 It is NOT against the law, pema....


 

Pema_Jampa
by 2HotTacoTini on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Jesus portrait to remain in southern Ohio school building for now



By  Randy Ludlow  and  Jim Woods

Wednesday January 9, 2013 3:09 PM


JACKSON, Ohio — So many people showed up last night to take a stand for Jesus that a meeting to discuss whether a painting of him should hang in a public school had to be moved to a bigger space. 

In the end, the school board and administration agreed that the painting will stay, and one of only two people who spoke against it was booed by a crowd of more than 300. 

The painting depicting Jesus perhaps attracted some dust — but no fuss — while hanging over an entrance at Jackson Middle School in southern Ohio since 1947. 

But a nonprofit group dedicated to the separation of church and state demanded earlier this month that the painting be removed as an unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity. 

The leader of Jackson City Schools said it would take a higher authority than the Freedom From Religion Foundation to force the painting’s removal after 65 years. 

Superintendent Phil Howard told the crowd at Jackson High School that “we’re not violating the law and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn’t hurt anyone.” 

The school board meeting was moved from a music room at the school to a commons area to accommodate the standing-room-only crowd. 

Last night, the school board took no vote, but Howard made a statement that showed it had been discussed: “With support of the board, the picture will stay.” The crowd then erupted in cheers. 

Howard earlier told Chillicothe radio station WKKJ that it would take a court order to remove the picture and said that the painting is permissible because it was provided by a student club and is displayed among other pictures in a “hall of honor.” 

“I’m certainly not going to run down there and take the picture down because some group from Madison, Wis., who knows nothing about the culture of our community or why the picture is even there, wants me to take it down,” Howard told WKKJ. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Howard on Jan. 2 seeking the removal of the painting depicting Christ from the school in Jackson, which is about 65 miles southeast of Columbus, after receiving a complaint. 

“The school cannot endorse religion over non-religion,” staff attorney Rebecca Markert said yesterday. 

“That sends an incredibly powerful message of religious endorsement, specifically Christianity, which is an egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution. If this goes to court, the district would lose.” 

Resident Tricia Sturgeon was showered with boos, as she spoke in opposition of the painting last night. 

“The painting is in clear violation of the First Amendment,” she said. “It is still violating the United States Constitution and must be removed immediately.” 


Travis Hall, a Jackson High student, told WBNS-TV (Channel 10) that the painting inspired him when he went to the middle school. 

“Every day in school, I remember it being there,” Hall said. “It was just motivation. It’s something I remember being there and I would love for it to stay there.” 

Federal court rulings have established that public schools cannot display religious symbols and texts in isolation because they cross the constitutional line of separation of church and state, she said. 

A 1994 ruling from the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals resulted in the removal of a painting depicting Jesus that had been displayed in a Michigan elementary school for more than 30 years. 

“The portrait is moving for many of us brought up in the Christian faith, but that is the problem. The school has not come up with a secular purpose. The portrait advances religion. Its display entangles the government with religion,” the court wrote in its opinion. 

Markert said the organization hopes that school officials “come to their senses” and take down the painting. If not, it will consider legal action, she said. 

romalove
by SenseandSensibility on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM


Quoting Pema_Jampa:

What it really amounts to is being fair. Unlike private schools, public school districts are bound by the Constitution, which forces them into a delicate balance. Board members and school administrators are required to allow personal acts of religious faith but to simultaneously avoid any appearance that religion (or any particular religion) enjoys special status. The U.S. Supreme Court has the final word in resolving disputes about what the Constitution permits or forbids.

It has already been made very clear that there is no interest in equity or fairness here.

Just status quo.

Pema_Jampa
by 2HotTacoTini on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Then where are all the pictures of all the other historical figures? If they aren't endorsing one religion why aren't the others represented?

Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting Pema_Jampa:

Is it a private Christian school?

It is NOT against the law to have a picture of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed etc in a public school. A few yrs ago I saw a photo of a display of varying religions @ a public college here in America. I was touched @ the inclusiveness and I am a Christian. Jesus blesses us with free will, a beautiful gift from God. Why would I deny anyone this right which God gave us? But some of you want to deny others this right under the guise and pretense of fairness and equality.

Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting Pema_Jampa:

It's a picture. One's faith does not depend on whether or not it is there. It's actually against the law for it to be up. Take it down in respect of all people and religions.

 It is NOT against the law, pema....


 


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