The Jackson City School Board in Ohio has voted to keep a picture of Jesus hanging in its middle school and, after consulting with attorneys, have invented a thoroughly ridiculous post hoc rationalization that they think makes it all constitutional.
The Jackson City Schools board offered a constitutional justification of its own in voting 4-0 to keep the portrait up in its middle school, saying it must protect students’ free speech rights. The vote drew cheers and applause from the dozens of people gathered in the elementary school gymnasium.
After huddling with attorneys in closed session for more than an hour, the school board said the portrait belongs to the student group that put it up, the Hi-Y club. The portrait’s frame is inscribed with the club’s name and the Christian-based service group is the portrait’s owner, not the school, the board said.
The board said the portrait is part of a “limited public forum,” and that the Jackson schools will allow other student clubs to hang portraits appropriate to their organizations.
“We’re in a predicament where we have to balance things,” said Superintendent Phil Howard said after the meeting. “We can’t make that kind of endorsement (of religion) as a government entity. But we also can’t infringe upon the rights of our student groups and our students.”
So the picture “belongs” to a student group that apparently no longer exists and it’s now suddenly a public forum when it never was before and that makes it all okay. And of course, the cheers and applause from the crowd was because of their strong support of limited public forums and student speech, not because they think they’re taking a stand for Jesus against the evil heathens. If a student group decided to put up a picture of Muhammad, it would take about 3 seconds for that rationale to vanish into thin air.