The Giant Portrait of Jesus is Finally Coming Down

It looks like the giant portrait of Jesus that was hanging at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio is finally coming down for good:

Last we heard, it was being moved to a local high school while the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit was going through the court.

“It doesn’t matter which public building the portrait is in,” said Nick Worner, a spokesperson for the ACLU of Ohio. “It’s an unconstitutional endorsement of religion on the part of a public school.”

Last night, though, FFRF issued a quick update without much detail:

FLASH NOTICE . . . it looks like the Jesus painting in the Ohio high school is coming down! (See previous post) We can’t say too much about it yet, except that the school board has said that they agree to a settlement that involves removing the painting this week. If/when that happens, we will drop our request for a Temporary Restraining Order. This is a good sign that the picture will never go back up.

Now we have a little more information as to why the school stopped fighting:

The district voluntarily ordered the removal of the portrait out of fear that it could be saddled with paying significant legal fees and costs if it lost the lawsuit brought by two parents and a student.

“Our insurance company denied coverage, and we cannot risk taxpayer money at this time,” Superintendent Phil Howard wrote in a statement last night.

“We are ordering the Hi-Y Club (owner of the painting) to take down the portrait to avoid the court ordering us to do so,” Howard wrote. “We understand that may lead to a lawsuit from the Hi-Y Club, but we had little choice in the matter.”

Smart move since they would have lost the lawsuit. It’s a lesson we’ve learned from Jessica Ahlquist: Just because a religious icon has been up in the school for several decades doesn’t mean it should stay there. Tradition isn’t justification for establishment of religion.

This move is something that should have happened many years ago, but at least the school board finally did the right thing and admit defeat. They must have listened to what I imagine was the advice of their lawyers: You’re going to lose this case so stop making fools of yourselves and think of the children.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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