This is a news story about the resolution of a legal challenge emblematic of the gradual moral decline plaguing our once-great nation. Here are the facts: Since 1947, a portrait of Jesus graced a wall in the “Hall of Honor” at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio, alongside portraits of other historical figures. The Jesus portrait was a gift from a Christian-affiliated student group called the Hi-Y Club.
This past February, the ACLU teamed with the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation and sued the Jackson City School District. The suit cited “unconstitutional” actions and claimed that students and visitors to the school “will continue to suffer permanent, severe, and irreparable harm and injury.”
The school district wanted to fight the suit, so officials moved the portrait to the high school where the Hi-Y Club is now based. They argued that the Christian group had a right to display a portrait of the group’s “leader.”
When the Jackson Board of Education was told that the school district’s insurance company would not pay to fight the lawsuit, the Jesus portrait was moved to the high school’s art-room storage area where no one might be harmed or suffer injury if their eyes happened to fall upon the portrait. However, it was still “in view of those entering an art-room storage area.”
That was still not enough for the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, especially when the portrait was brought out of hiding on May 2 for a prayer meeting and displayed on the school’s front lawn.
On October 4th, the Columbus Dispatch reported:
That [lawn display] stirred up another round of legal filings and caused more delays, James Hardiman, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said today.
‘This case could have ended before it began if the school had simply acknowledged that it is not the government’s place to endorse one specific religion in a public school that children are legally required to attend,’ he said. ‘This is a basic constitutional principle backed up by decades of case law.’
Messages left today for the school district’s attorneys and for Superintendent Phil Howard were not returned, but in a statement released to the Associated Press, Howard said the attorneys believed that settling was the ‘best-case scenario’ because of the mounting expenses. He said the district’s insurance, not taxpayers, will pay the damages and legal fees.
Last Friday, the case was settled by U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, who awarded $95,000 to the plaintiffs.
The ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation each received $80,000. The remainder was split among three parents and two students who brought the suit.
The story ends with Jesus forced off school property. The “victory” will inspire other secularists to cleanse society of any reminders of the faith on which this nation was conceived, built, and has thrived.
This sad tale about a portrait that hung in a school for 47 years but now causes “permanent, severe, and irreparable harm and injury” is really about how the symbolic absence of that portrait will truly contribute to “permanent, severe, and irreparable harm and injury” to our nation over time.