A Jesus portrait has been voluntarily removed by an Ohio school after a federal court hearing. The Jackson City School District made the decision to take the portrait down to avoid excessive legal fees.
The portrait has been displayed in the halls of Jackson Middle School since 1947. The controversy started when a student and two parents complained about the portrait. The complaint eventually turned into a lawsuit against the school district.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, claimed that the placement of the religious portrait in a public school was unconstitutional.
The school defended their placement of the Jesus portrait, as it belonged to a Christian student organization called the Hi-Y Club. As reported by The Telegram News, the portrait was recently moved from the Jackson Middle School to the high school as the meeting place for the Hi-Y Club had changed.
The Liberty Institute of Texas agreed to fund the school district’s defense in the lawsuit. However, they were unwilling to cover legal fees and court costs if they lost the case. The Jackson City School District’s insurance company also declined to cover the fees.
Faced with mounting legal fees and no available funding the Jesus portrait will be voluntarily removed by the Ohio school district. A statement issued by Superintendent Phil Howard detailed the district’s decision.
As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, Howard wrote that they “had little choice” in the matter and were forced to order the portrait’s removal. He also points out that the action “may lead to a lawsuit from the Hi-Y Club.”
Howard has stated that the district preferred to voluntarily remove the portrait as opposed to waiting for a court order.
The school defended the placement of the portrait as long as they could but were unwilling to risk costs to taxpayers. The Jesus portrait is being removed as they cannot afford to further defend its placement.
[Image via Telegram News]