June 23, 2021

Follow Up: Portrait of Jesus Removed

Back in July of 2006 I posted about a West Virginia school being bullied by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to get a local public school to remove its picture of Jesus that had hung there since the group believed that it provided an establishment of religion in a public school.

And now, the outcome of the litigation, provided by the Wall Street Journal:

The two sides recently settled the case: The school has agreed not to display the portrait but may use textbooks and other curriculum-related materials that reproduce it. Although such a settlement sounds amicable and fair, the case itself remains troubling and illustrates some of the tactics used to push religion out of the public square.

One fact that made the claim of church-state violation so odd in this case was the time-line: The disputed portrait had been hanging in the school for a long time. In 1969, a retiring guidance counselor, who had the portrait in his office, gave it as a farewell gift to the school’s principal (now also retired), who decided to hang it outside his office. Thus students, parents, teachers, employees and visitors to Bridgeport High School apparently suffered from this violation of the First Amendment for 37 years.

The journal goes on to list who started the suit, and ponders why the portrait of Jesus must go, but two statues to Buddha can remain.  They also point out what I think is the most insidious part of all of this:

There is another aspect of this case that deserves attention. In federal lawsuits against state officials that allege violations of constitutional rights, defendants are required to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees if they lose the suit. In this case, Americans United explicitly warned the Bridgeport school board that, if it lost the case, it would be paying over a substantial amount of money to its own lawyers and those of the ACLU. Thus there is a strong–and unjustly one-sided–financial incentive on the part of many public institutions to cave in to the demands of groups such as the ACLU and Americans United and settle such suits.

Although there was a bill to address this, it never passed.  Will the new Democratic Congress fix the injustice?  It has yet to be determined.

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7 thoughts on “Follow Up: Portrait of Jesus Removed

  1. I doubt the new congress will do anything, this is probably right in with their agenda! That is soooo wrong, the toppling of the entire financial burden when the suit is lost–yowsers! Like Ann said, persecution, big-time.

  2. What always bothers me is that anything from ‘Christianity’ has to go in school because ‘religion’ is not allowed, but buddha statues and other ‘religions’ can remain. Children can even be taught these other religions and that is just fine, but don’t mention God or prayer.

  3. 37 years… man… there should be a way that Christians can help contribute to the legal defense of such places. If we could all put in $5, these “public” places could not be so easily bullied.

  4. I always thought the pictures of jesus looked out of place in the conservative church I grew up in, long hair beard, would never go over it I looked like that 🙂

  5. Well, that and that they usually picture Jesus as white, and the Scripture says that He would not be an attractive looking man, but even my young children recognize it as Jesus now…

  6. Rob, “long hair” is a relative term. What is considered long today, is not long by the standards of Ancient Rome, and that goes for women too. Historically a woman would have what is considered Very Long hair today, and Jesus’ hair would have been shorter. Now, there is an interesting thing here, Sampson was a Nazarite, meaning he never cut his hair, and therefore had long hair, as long as a womans. I seem to recall that Jesus was a Nazarite?? Therefore for him to not have cut his hair would have been a special exception. Anyway that is another study altogether.

    MIN, you’re right, Jesus was Jewish, not white. Also, as you point out, He was not to be an attractive man. I think we might all be in for a surprise when we meet Him face to face.

    I have met a woman who is really unattractive physically speaking, but whenever I think on her I find her attractive. When I see her I see her as being attractive, but when I look closely I see that really there isn’t anything there that is physically attractive. How does this “illusion” happen? It’s the Spirit living within her, that makes her face like Moses’, shining with HIS glory. That is terribly attractive, and superceeds the lack of physical attractiveness she was born with. I hope that when people look at me they see that “glow” of the Holy Spirit with in me. Jesus Christ alive in me!

    Mrs. Meg Logan.

    p.s. this verdict is extremely irritating! And your tip about how the school would have had to pay so much money is even MORE irritating! grrr

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