Ohio town latest focus of religion legal debate
A painting of Jesus Christ, upper left, hangs above an entrance to Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio, next to a “Hall of Honor” showing famous Jackson residents and school alumni, Tuesday.
JACKSON, Ohio – A small southern Ohio city in the mostly rural Appalachia region suddenly finds itself as the latest battleground in a national legal debate over what displays of religion are constitutional or not.
Since just after World War II, a Jesus portrait has hung in a Jackson City Schools building, attracting little discussion and no controversy that anyone recalls. But a Wisconsin-based group actively opposed to religious displays in schools stirred things up last month by writing the school board, saying it received a complaint.
A federal lawsuit followed, but the school district is countering with a claim that it is protecting its students’ rights. Board members voted late Tuesday to keep the portrait up, while allowing other student groups to hang portraits related to their club’s focus.