A poster made by a 7th grader in a school in Fresno, California is sparking major controversy. It was made as part of an assignment for a history lesson that focused on the Crusades. And I can certainly understand the controversy:
A student-drawn picture posted inside a Fresno Unified school is sparking debate over whether it’s sacrilegious or just a harmless classroom assignment.
The picture is on display in the lobby of Hamilton Elementary School in Central Fresno. It depicts Jesus with the caption, “I want you to kill all infidels.” The term infidel comes from ancient history and was used to describe people who had no faith. The picture was created by a seventh grade student as part of a history assignment…
In the picture, you can see a man wearing a Jesus name tag, with the caption, “I want you to kill all infidels.” Below, the phrases: “meet me in Jerusalem” and “get a free ticket to heaven.” The artwork is one of several drawings in a display case inside the main lobby at Hamilton Elementary.
Parent, Chris Alfaro said, “I do believe common sense tells you, hey this may not be appropriate for a k through 8 school, right in the main lobby where each child passes on their way to school and home.” Chris Alfaro is Christian and has a second-grade daughter at Hamilton. His wife first noticed the drawing in early March. But according to him, when she called the office to complain, no one made an effort to address her concerns. He claims, “The aide said something along the lines of I’ll see what I can do, and then hung up the phone.”
Action News reached out to the school, but did not get a call back. A spokesperson with the Fresno Unified District did however speak with us and released this statement, explaining why the picture was drawn, saying in part, “Students at Hamilton were assigned to create a help wanted poster for soldiers needed to fight in the crusades and write a poem about Joan of arc, the Black Death, or the Magna Carta and create a visual background for it. This was one of several posters displayed.”
The drawing is provocative, but the student is making an important point about the role religion played in the Crusades. It actually sounds like a good teaching moment, if handled correctly.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: