The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, is demanding that a southern Ohio middle school remove a framed photo of Jesus Christ. The photo has hung in the school building for several decades. The Madison Wisconsin-based group is citing an “unidentified complainant” in its crusade to have the removed from the public school.
The Jackson Middle School is a part of the only school district which serves the Ohio town. The demand from the atheist group to remove the framed image of Jesus Christ began as a local story in our rural region, but has since garnered national headlines.
Jackson Superintendent of Schools Phil Howard had this to say during an interview with Pete Wilson of The Telegram, the local paper which serves the region:
“I will follow a directive from a court, a judge, or a vote by our board of education to do so. But I will certainly not take the picture down because a group that knows nothing about the culture of our community wants it to be taken down. I personally support it being there and so does every member of our board of education.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation reportedly consists of approximately 18,000 members. An excerpt from the letter the atheist group sent to the Ohio school reads:
“We received a disturbing report that a portrait of Jesus is hanging in Jackson Middle School. If this report is true, it is an egregious violation of the First Amendment. As you are certainly aware, the display of religious messages in the school setting violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Courts have continually held that public schools may not display religious messages or iconography. Jackson City Schools may not display Christian or other religious messages on school grounds.”
The Hi-Y Club presented the framed photo of Jesus Christ to the Jackson Middle School as a gift in 1974, according to The Daily Caller. The image is reportedly displayed in the school’s Hall of Honor, according to The Blaze.
As an individual who has coached a rival team at the school many times, I never noticed the photo nor heard of any complaints raised about the image at school board meetings or in the local newspaper. An outpouring of support for keeping the photo has appeared on local online forums and Facebook pages. Multiple students have taped photos of Jesus Christ on their locker in a show of support for keeping the framed image.
Do you think the school should be forced to remove the photo of Jesus?