Jesus, come on down!

In February, I wrote about a story that reader Ahcuah sent me about a public school in the southeastern Ohio town of Jackson that had a huge portrait of Jesus in the entrance hallway. The school board rejected requests to have it removed, saying that the portrait was hung in a space reserved for students to use and thus they had no involvement in it and it could not be construed as an official endorsement of religion by the school district.

They were sued by both the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU. In the earlier post I said that this case would provide an interesting twist on interpretations of the Establishment Clause but Ahcuah informs me that the school board has now reversed course and decided to take down the portrait, because their insurance company said that they would not be willing to absorb the losses if they should lose the case.

You can cue the whining about how Christians are being persecuted because they cannot put up Jesus pictures in public places.


  1. CGM3 says

    Or maybe they’ll say they’re being persecuted because their insurance company won’t back them in their defense of religious liberty (as they see it).

  2. machintelligence says

    They obviously lack the courage of their convictions. They refuse to put their money where their mouths are.

  3. smrnda says

    I highly doubt that any school would provide students with a ‘free expression zone’ where students were allowed to put anything up with no interference from the school. If that had been attempted at any school I had attended, we definitely would have put up something much racier than a picture of Jesus.

  4. mobius says

    Of course, someone is going to whine about this being a “public forum”, ignoring the fact that only one voice is being heard in said forum. If they really wanted a public forum, they would have an area where many diverse groups could post images. Or have one image at a time, but would replace it on a rotating basis.

    These latter two solutions I would personally find acceptable. But I suspect the usual suspects in Jackson will not. They are only interested in maintaining their exclusive access to the public.

    I think the Jackson school district insurers have it right. If this went to trial, the school district would be very likely to lose, and it would be expensive. Cf. Dover, Pennsylvania. The school board in Jackson hasn’t been the smartest so far, but at least the money issue has gotten their attention.

  5. flex says

    Now I’m curious about the clause in the insurance policy which allows the insurer to get out of paying for the school boards stupidity. That’s one of the reasons an elected official is bonded and insured; to prevent the citizens of a community from getting hurt by the stupidity of the elected official.

    Would the insurance company just refuse to pay and require the school board to sue them? Or does the insurance company have a clause saying that the if the school board implements an unconstitutional policy the insurance company does not have to pay legal bills?

    While I can see the point of view from the insurance company, they don’t want to pay out money for easily preventable and clearly unconstitutional policies which bring lawsuits, that is part of the reason why municipalities have insurance.

  6. Mano Singham says

    I obviously don’t know what the details of the insurance policy the school board has but I suspect that all insurance companies have clauses that allow them to cancel policies or deny coverage if the party they have insured is indulging in what seems to them to be willfully reckless behavior and against their advice. For example, if I suddenly start to drive recklessly, I think that my auto insurance company can drop my coverage.

    I hope someone with knowledge of the insurance industry will chime in.

  7. markdowd says

    I know I’ve seen on the Mythbusters there have been occaissonal calls with their insurance agent where they said they wouldn’t cover something one of the hosts was going to do. Adam got really pissed when they wouldn’t let him do the Indiana Jones jump through a bunch of awnings, and Tory had to do it instead.

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