An Ohio public middle school removed a long-standing portrait of Jesus from its hallway this week due to lawsuit threats from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of a student and two parents. The superintendent of Jackson City Schools directed a Christian student club to remove the portrait when the district’s insurance company refused to cover litigation expenses of the lawsuit.
The Jesus portrait had been displayed on a wall in the school since 1947 along with photos of dozens of prominent alumni and local dignitaries.
“At the end of the day, we just couldn’t roll the dice with taxpayer money,” said Phil Howard, superintendent. “When you get into these kinds of legal battles, you’re not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It’s not fair to take those resources from our kids’ education.”
The ACLU stated that they would drop the lawsuit if the portrait was removed. Hiram Sasser, an attorney with the Liberty Institute that helped defend the school, said Wednesday that the Christian student club could file its own lawsuit for the right to display the portrait, but he didn’t know its plans.