Portrait Of Jesus In Southeast Ohio Middle School Causes Controversy - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Portrait Of Jesus In Southeast Ohio Middle School Causes Controversy

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JACKSON, Ohio -- A picture that was given to a middle school in southeast Ohio decades ago is now causing controversy.

An Atheist group is challenging the Jackson City School District over a portrait of Jesus.

“We've been able to verify that it's been there since 1947; if not before then,” said Superintendent Phil Howard.

Howard says he received a letter from the Wisconsin-based freedom from religion foundation that asked that the portrait be removed from the building.

“They don't know anything about the culture of our community,” said Howard.

The foundation says it received a disturbing report about the portrait of Jesus that called it an egregious violation of the first amendment and illegal.

Parent Brett Carroll says his kids don't have a problem with the picture of Jesus, and neither did he when he went to middle school here.

“I think it stands for peace, protection, equality,” said Carroll. “No one has pointed it out. No one has pushed it on me. No one has asking me to say a prayer.”

Howard says the picture has never raised concern in the six years he has been with the district until the recent complaint. He says he and members of the school board have decided that they won’t be removing the picture until they are forced to by a court order.

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