A Chanute Kansas middle school, Royster Middle School, has been forced by the Freedom from Religion Foundation to remove a “Head of Christ” painting from the schools hallway. The painting of Jesus has been hanging in the middle school for over 50 years.
The “Head of Christ” painting is one of the most recognized paintings in the world. It was painted by Warner Sallman in 1941 and it’s been reproduced over 500 million times.
A lawyer who represents the Freedom from Religion Foundation argued that the “Head of Christ” painting was “an egregious violation of the First Amendment.” The law that the atheist foundation is using as a basis for their argument is the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause states that the government cannot support any religion. The foundation says that a school that is funded by the public falls under that category.
In the last 50 years, with approximately 9,200 residents and over 1,800 children attending the schools, the small town has never had a complaint about the painting, until now. Sources from Todays News said it was a family in the Chanute community with children who attended the school who made the initial complaint.
Superintendent Richard Proffitt immediately took the “Head of Christ” painting down after being contacted by the lawyers. Local residents of Chanute are enraged and upset about the superintendents actions.
“I’m sick of this. This country was founded on Christian beliefs. In God we trust,” longtime resident Jack Lynch told Reuters. “Now people want to come in and change all that. If they don’t like it let them leave.”
Erika Semey, a resident who once attended the school, told the Wichita Eagle that she is completely dumbfounded.
“Oh man, it’s getting bad. That’s what’s wrong with this world,” Semey said. “Not enough people have Christ in their lives.”
“I anticipated some negative reaction,” Proffitt told Today. “However, we just had to act in accordance with the law. I conferred with legal counsel and both of them told me to be in compliance with state and federal law that we had to have it removed,” he said.
This is the second time the Freedom From Religion Foundation has insisted that a public school take down the “Head of Christ” painting. An Ohio school was sued by the foundation and the action resulted in the removal of the painting.
According to People, a local waitress, who remembered the painting from her time in the school in the 1960s, told the Wichita Eagle that “This is still the United States, under God indivisible.”
A number of local businesses and groups have offered to take the painting, but Proffitt said that the “Head of Christ” painting is currently being stored where it is not visible.
[Photo via: Today News]