West Virginia School Sued Over Portrait of Jesus

June 28, 2006

Source: Americans United press release


On June 28, 2006 an Americans United press release reported, "A federal lawsuit has been lodged against a public school district in West Virginia over a portrait of Jesus displayed outside the principal’s office at Bridgeport High School.

Two civil liberties organizations, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU of West Virginia, filed the lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia after Harrison County school officials refused to remove the religious picture.

'Public schools must welcome children of all religious beliefs,' said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. 'Display of a devotional portrait of Jesus sends the unmistakable message that Bridgeport High is endorsing Christianity. That leaves out students with other beliefs and violates the Constitution.'

Both Americans United and the ACLU of West Virginia had sent letters to school officials urging them to remove the portrait in order to avoid litigation... The groups’ lawsuit, filed on behalf of two Harrison County citizens, argues that the school’s display of the picture, a well-known devotional painting of Jesus by artist Warner Sallman, amounts to an official endorsement of religion, which violates the First Amendment principle of church-state separation."