​School Too Poor for Lawsuit, Forced To Remove Jesus Portrait

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October 7, 2013

A school in Ohio has been forced to remove a Jesus portrait that hung in its hallways since 1947 in order to avoid the costs of a federal lawsuit. Educators said they believed that displaying the image was within their constitutional rights.

However, the cash-strapped city couldn’t afford going to court.

“At the end of the day, we just couldn’t roll the dice with taxpayer money,” Superintendent Phil Howard told the Associated Press. “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 school district took the action after its insurance company said it wouldn’t cover litigation costs, Howard said.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, representing two parents and a student, who remained anonymous. The district agreed to remove the portrait during a hearing on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Columbus.The painting, “Head of Christ,” had been at the school’s Hall of Honor since 1947, where it was placed near portraits of famous alumni and prominent local residents, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The district said that the painting, which was placed at the school by the Hi-Y Club, was protected under a Supreme Court decision that allowed displays if their primary purpose was non-religious and they don’t promote one faith over another.