Ohio school's Jesus portrait under fire

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 10:14 p.m.

CINCINNATI — A portrait of Jesus that hangs prominently in an entrance to a rural Ohio public school is in violation of the Constitution and should be removed, a federal lawsuit filed on Thursday says.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation say the large portrait in Jackson Middle School unconstitutionally promotes religion.

The two groups seek a court order requiring the school to remove the portrait and prohibiting its re-hanging or any substantially similar display.

“The maintenance and display of the portrait has the effect of advancing and endorsing one religion, improperly entangling the State in religious affairs, and violating the personal consciences of plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that school Superintendent Phil Howard said at a school board meeting last month: “We're not violating the law, and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn't hurt anyone.”

School officials have said the portrait was donated by a student group and has been in the school since 1947.

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