This time we turn our attention to Ohio, where a middle school in the Jackson City School District now has to pay about $100k in settlement and legal fees to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union for refusing to take down a picture of Jesus Christ after having previously agreed to do so. They even displayed it on the school lawn during a prayer meeting. What the hell, guys … did the lawsuit not give you enough of a hint that what you were doing was wrong?
The argument, as usual, was that the picture wasn’t hurting anyone and had “historical significance”. I take it this school doesn’t offer a class in US Government or the Constitution.
Superintendent Phil Howard said the portrait had historical significance and was not hurting anyone.
Howard also reportedly said he would not take down the portrait just because “some group from Madison, Wis., who knows nothing about the culture of [the] community” wanted him to remove it.
Well, Phil, that “group from Madison, Wisconsin” [the FFRF] may not know much about the culture of your community, but they do seem to have a far greater understanding of the Constitution of the United States; specifically, the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause.
Unfortunately, it was that confrontational attitude that led to the $100k they now have to shell out to the ACLU … all of which could have been avoided if they had just taken the damned thing down when they were told. Again, it’s not as if this hasn’t happened before, and it’s not as if the results are much different any time it comes up. In light of this, might I recommend to every school district and public courthouse to just take all that religious crap down already? Unless you’re in a classroom that teaches comparative religion, or you’re showing a painting of Jesus and the Virgin Mary as part of an art display or something, these things don’t belong in the public arena.
Of course, you can’t know what’s going on in every school all of the time … so making sure every district complies with something they know they should do anyway is going to take a great deal of time and the work of students and teachers alike. My guess is that within about ten years, most of the school districts in this country are going to be – for the most part – rid of religious imagery, either voluntarily or after being dragged to court.
Then, maybe in place of all that clutter, we might want to throw up some pictures of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, maybe start a yearly class in civics, etc.? If the superintendent of this school didn’t understand why he was being asked to take that picture down, maybe he should audit the class on the side.