ACLU sues school
over Jesus picture
portrait has hung
in hallway for 30 years
June 30, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
picture depicting Jesus Christ that has hung in a West Virginia
high school's halls for 30 years is the target of a lawsuit by an
attorney and former teacher.
'Head of Christ' at Bridgeport
High School (West Virginia Leader)
Sklar, parent of a former student at Bridgeport
High School in Clarksburg, W.Va., petitioned the Harrison
County Board of Education to have the portrait removed, contending
it violates the so-called separation of church and state in the
U.S. Constitution, reports the West Virginia Record legal journal.
a tie-vote by the school board June 6 that determined the picture
would stay, Sklar filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District
Court in Clarksburg against the district board, Harrison
Superintendent Carl Friebel, Jr. and Bridgeport Principal Lindy
is represented by Washington-based public-interest group Americans
United for Separation of Church and State. The American Civil
Liberties Union of West Virginia also is a party in the suit.
portrait of Jesus in a public high school sends the unmistakable
message that that school is endorsing Christianity as the official
religion of that school,'' said Rev. Barry Lynn, executive
director of Americans United.
lawsuit says: "The Jesus portrait has engendered conflict
within the Bridgeport community for years, as school district
officials have refused to remove the display and have instead
resolutely retained it despite repeated complaints."
Warner Sallman's 'Head of
portrait is the familiar "Head of Christ," created by
Warner Sallman in 1941.
says he received no response from school officials after his first
complaint was filed in 1996.
Jesus portrait, which the Harrison County School District displays
alone and without any broader context, is a devotional work that
constitutes unconstitutional religious expression by the
district," the lawsuit says. "The expenditure of public
funds to maintain the Jesus portrait is unconstitutional."
officials defend their position on the basis of freedom of speech.
school board President Sally Cann said the school didn't have to
keep the painting to profess its Christian values. She wanted it
removed because she expected a lawsuit, the Charleston Gazette
Charleston paper said debate over the painting has cause unrest in