Ohio School Refuses to Remove Picture of Jesus

The superintendent of the Jackson City School District in Ohio is refusing to take down a picture of Jesus from one of their schools, offering the usual litany of absurd and contradictory excuses, after the FFRF sent him a letter challenging the legality of the picture.

Jackson City School District Superintendent Phil Howard told WCMH-TV that the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) had sent him a letter claiming that it was illegal and an “egregious violation of the the First Amendment” to hang the portrait in a public school.

The large portrait, which was given a prominent position above a staircase in the school’s Hall of Honors, was reportedly donated by a Christian-affiliated student group and has been on display since 1947…

Howard, however, insisted to WSAZ that it was “really a reach” for anyone to assert that the photo excludes non-Christians.

“I have done some research, and because it was a student led presentation, it is permissible as far as I am concerned,” the superintendent said.

But others who support the picture, like Jon Hensler of the newly formed Citizens of Jackson County for Jesus, know what the real purpose is:

Hensler wept openly when the TV station asked him why the Facebook page had become so popular.

“You wonder in today’s world what our children and our grandchildren are going to have,” he said, choking up. “And it’s good to see that there’s still people in our community that are willing to stand up and speak out for Christ.”

Hensler insisted that the spirit of Jesus would remain even if the portrait was removed because “Christ lives within us, we know that.”

At the first school board meeting, 300 people showed up to support keeping the picture up, as always happens in such situations. And the superintendent again claimed that the picture was merely “historical.”

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.”

So it’s not religious at all because it was donated by a student group and it’s merely historical, but other supporters know that it’s really about having to “stand up and speak out for Christ.” And taking it down would be horrible, but everything would be fine because “Christ lives within us.” As is almost always the case in such situations, you can always count on them to give away the truth he’s trying to hide. The lawyers may tell him to claim that the picture is purely cultural or historical, but he still blurts out the truth that he’s really just standing up for Jesus.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    There is a commendment which says not to have any images to worship – Christians keep ignoring that one openly.

    Besides, what makes these people think Jesus looked like that picture?

  2. Big Boppa says

    Why a portrait? Seems to me that if Jeebus was so desperate to have his picture in every school he’d arrange for a water spot or burned toast or some other method he apparently prefers to make his presence known.

  3. slc1 says

    Re busterggi @ #3

    In fact, it is very doubtful that Yeshua of Nazareth looked anything like he is usually portrayed. Jews native to the Middle East tend to have swarthy complexions and curly hair.

  4. Michael Heath says

    Superintendent Phil Howard:

    “I have done some research, and because it was a student led presentation, it is permissible as far as I am concerned . . .
    [...]
    [W}e’re not violating the law and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn’t hurt anyone.

    I read all the text in the three linked articles (one is video only); nowhere does Mr. Howard refer to his responses coming from legal counsel. His Board of Education took no vote. I would argue such egregious unprofessional behavior should void any immunities Mr. Howard enjoys when it comes subsequent costs the school pays if they continue to defend this picture and lose in court.

  5. MikeMa says

    @Michael Heath,
    I hope you are correct that the nutty superintendent has voided his immunity in this case. He has certainly voided any reality. Cranston West’s (RI) $170k+ bill for violating the first amendment should be an object lesson. They used the same bullshit in Cranston too. Student led, historical, and a loser for the school and the students.

    You would think jesus would have more love and respect for education funding.

  6. Michael Heath says

    MikeMa writes to me:

    I hope you are correct that the nutty superintendent has voided his immunity in this case.

    I never claimed Mr. Howard voided his immunities; I doubt he has. I instead advocated such immunities shouldn’t extend to this sort of negligent behavior.

  7. Randomfactor says

    After they lose the court fight, I hope the school district removes the portrait and the superintendent on the same day.

  8. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    If Christ “Lives within you” why do you need to put his fucking picture up?

    They tried putting up pictures of other things that “live within you”, like tapeworms and eyelash mites, but that was just too gross.

  9. anubisprime says

    abb3w @ 13

    unless, of course, the search was merely an attitude-bolstering effort that avoiding looking for disconfirmatory evidence.

    That is what jeebus droolers do…no?

  10. says

    The lawyers may tell him to claim that the picture is purely cultural or historical, but he still blurts out the truth that he’s really just standing up for Jesus.

    I seem to be missing something. I see superintendent Phil Howard saying it’s cultural or historical, and Jon Hensler saying it’s ‘standing up for Jesus’. Yes, these are contradictory rationales, but I don’t see anyone quoted as being self-contradictory.

  11. John Hinkle says

    “And it’s good to see that there’s still people in our community that are willing to stand up and speak out for Christ.”

    Imagine how much trouble Phil will be in if Jesus actually wants the portrait taken down. He probably won’t get his allowance for 5 million years.

    Besides, who appointed Superintendent Phil to be Jesus’ press secretary? If it wasn’t Jesus, screw the allowance. I’d be worried about a good old fashioned Biblical spanking.

    I just don’t know why these people don’t think of these things.

  12. shouldbeworking says

    Jesus was a philosopher according to Faux News and Bill Oh-Really. So JC’s picture will be with other philosphers such as Socrates, Descartes and so on. right?

  13. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    Jesus was a philosopher according to Faux News and Bill Oh-Really. So JC’s picture will be with other philosphers such as Socrates, Descartes and so on. right?

    Ayn Rand.

  14. says

    Washegesic v. Bloomingdale Public Schools gives binding precedent in that circuit, with a case involving another copy of same picture.

    That means that this would be considered settled law. Qualified immunity (the kind protecting quasi-legislative bodies like school boards) is not available when settled law is violated. So he could be sued in his personal capacity.

  15. MikeMa says

    They should replace the picture of jesus with one of the superintendent that should be captioned “This is Phil Howard. He is the reason you have no sports, music, art or advanced learning classes. He spent the money earmarked for those programs defending jesus.”

  16. says

    The Jesus portrait used to hang with a bunch of portraits of other philosophers, but it became upset when the portrait of Nietzsche told him his father was dead.

  17. Johnny Vector says

    My favorite line from Washegesic v. Bloomingdale Public Schools:

    The portrait is moving for many of us brought up in the Christian faith, but that is the problem.

    Well said.

  18. caseloweraz says

    “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.”

    Since it’s not an actual image of Jesus of Nazareth (assuming there was such a person in history), the only possible historical significance this portrait can have would be due to the artist or some noteworthy person who previously owned the portrait.

  19. jnorris says

    As a public service, the FFRF should include an estimate of what the federal trial will cost the school board in legal fees for board’s defense and the fees they will have to pay for the FFRF’s lawyers.

  20. abb3w says

    @14, anubisprime:

    That is what jeebus droolers do…no?

    The tendency appears higher, but non-universal; and atheists aren’t immune.

    @19, W. Kevin Vicklund:

    That means that this would be considered settled law.

    There’s been some new guiding case law from the SCOTUS since, which is likely why they’re playing up the “historical” angle. It’s not going to fly, but might help enough to play dumb on being settled.

  21. Rip Steakface says

    Ayn Rand.

    Well, her philosophy was just plagiarized from other, better philosophers, except she added in that touch of idiocy that make Objectivism really special – namely, the elevation of greed to being the greatest thing in the world.

  22. stevils says

    Saddening, but not surprising that the people in my hometown would choose to throw away this money rather than spend it on education.

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