The American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Jackson City School District in Ohio on Thursday over a portrait of Jesus.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a student at Jackson Middle School and two parents, who objected to having the portrait of Jesus prominently displayed in the school’s entrance.
“The school system was warned weeks ago that this religious display is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, and must be removed.” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “They have chosen to continue displaying the portrait, making legal action necessary.”
Jackson City School District Superintendent Phil Howard said last month the portrait reflected the “culture of our community.” He claimed it was legal to display the overtly religious symbol in a public school because it was “a student led presentation.”
The ACLU and FFRF saw things differently. Their U.S. District Court complaint claimed the portrait violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, alleging it had “the effect of advancing or endorsing one particular religion.”
“Display of said portrait of Jesus constitutes an offensive affront to the religious and moral convictions of Plaintiffs, making them feel like outsiders who are being coerced by their government into observing the religious portrait of an individual identified with one particular religion,” the lawsuit stated.
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