Ohio Middle School Promotes Religions
According to an article published by Yahoo! News, an Ohio middle school is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation for having a large portrait of Jesus hanging ostentatiously in an entranceway. The two groups hold that the portrait's support of one religion is unconstitutional and should be removed.
Here's where it gets interesting: Instead of waiting to hear back from School Superintendent Phil Howard, who has been named a defendant along with Jackson City School District and the school board, the lawsuit was filed before the district could complete the investigation it was running into the issue. So these anti-religion groups are too hasty to follow the natural proceedings and may force everyone involved to waste valuable time and money - by going to court. Just what I wanted, another stupid lawsuit posed by ignorant bigots to waste my tax money.
Another important piece of the puzzle, folks: School officials have said that the portrait was donated by a student group and has been in the school since about 1947. A cherished piece of school history? And two uppity groups of religion haters (one of them not even from Ohio!) want it taken down and hidden away? Way to promote school spirit, guys.
According to ACLU spokesman Nick Worner, though, it's still an interference with constitutional rights. "Separation of church and state is one of the nation's oldest traditions," Worner said. Yeah, Nick, so is organized crime.
While the school district waits for the findings of their own investigation and the recommended action proposed by it, we see a ridiculously premature lawsuit filed in the pathetic attempts of a religion hating conglomerate to remove a middle school of its school spirit.
Furthermore, I would really like to see evidence that a picture of Jesus is promoting one religion over another. Personally speaking, I do not feel any more inclined towards Jesus by seeing a random artist's depiction of what they think he looked like. More often than not I'm comparing the picture to every other attempt I've seen and making mental notes. A picture of Jesus does not make me want to go to church. A picture of Jesus makes me want to question the artist, "Is this Jesus of Nazareth? Or Jesus or Galilee? Or Jesus the Christ? Why did you use these colors? Where did you get the idea to do this?"
Because I want to know what inspired the artist. And I want to know if, were the painting NOT of Jesus the Christ, could the school maintain it. I mean, a picture of Joseph Smith doesn't promote Mormonism, does it? A picture of Buddha doesn't promote Buddhism, does it? I sure hope not, Buddha never would have wanted that. Does a picture of Hitler promote Nazis? Does a picture of the President promote patriotism? Because if the answer to all of these questions is "no", then we can have pictures of all these people in our public schools and, maybe, educate our children for once. If the answer to all of these questions is "yes", then we should never have pictures of anyone who ever lived, ever, in any public school. Ever. We also shouldn't teach our students about any individual's beliefs for fear that we might be promoting those beliefs simply by teaching them about it.
It seems to me that the bigger issue here is religious education. I'm all for it. I think it would be great to educate our students on major religions the world over. Make it an elective in high school or something. But offer our students the opportunity to educate themselves on religions that make an enormous impact on the cultures they've been reading about since their first history class.
Then maybe these poor kids won't feel threatened by a portrait of a dead guy. Maybe they will realize that the portrait's only significance was a sweet gesture from students to school. Maybe they'll be more intelligent than the generation before them, who saw threats at every mention of "god".
What I really, really want to know, though, is what religion is being promoted by a picture of Jesus? Exactly, which one? Christianity? Mormonism? Jehovah's Witness? Catholicism? Islam (they acknowledge Jesus as a prophet)? Is it the Baptists? The Pentecostals? The Methodists?
If the picture was made to truly promote one of these belief systems over another then I agree, it should be removed. But if the picture was made without any criminal intent then why can't it be used as a teaching tool? Jesus is used in many, many religions. His picture is, if you really think about it, promoting lots of different religions. So, instead of damning this school district to a costly fight for their school spirit can't we promote their idea of broadening their students' horizons? Aren't we sending our kids to public schools to be educated?
Are we the type of nation that bars any mention of religion to our students? Or are we the type of nation that educates our students properly on the significance and history of religions?