A year after an Ohio school board vote forced a public high school to remove a popular painting of Jesus, town residents have brought it back. Creatively.
Since 1971, the Good Shepherd painting-which depicts Jesus Christ in a field of lambs-had hung at John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio.
The painting became a proud part of the school's history until 2013, when the American Civil Liberties Union got involved, asking the district to have the painting taken down. The school board voted 5-0 to remove it.
But the residents of New Concord weren't about to let a school board vote determine what happened with the spirit of the painting. Last Tuesday, the image was back up.
In plain view of the school where the image gained notoriety, it is now on a $6,000 sign that's lit up with neon lighting in the front yard of town residents Terry and Cathy Hodgson. The Zanesville Times Recorder reports:
"We're excited to have this piece of our own history back up," said Jeanette Moll, a Zanesville attorney who helped organize the effort to get the sign.
The sign, done by the Kessler Sign Co., was finished Tuesday. It is lit from within, Moll said, so it can be seen at night, and the image is the same as that of the Good Shepherd painting, which was removed last year. Psalm 23 from the Bible is inscribed on the sign.
There are obvious religious overtones at play here, with a sign featuring the image of Jesus Christ on it.
When 80-year-old Latin teacher Margaret Barnett died in the classroom on May 7, 1971, the reeling school staff purchased the portrait.
It was displayed in memory for decades in the school's lobby. According to Central Ohio's WBNS-TV, the painting reflected the fact that "she was the good shepherd of the students for this community." As one commenter put it:
jesus painting memory
While the government has recently dealt with First Amendment cases involving overtly religious monuments in public and government settings-in 2005's McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky and Van Orden v. Perry cases-New Concord residents have managed to dodge a legal bullet with the new iteration of the image.
Since it's technically not physically on public school property-despite it being in clear view of the school and the students that attend it-the sign is allowed to stay up.
The dedication ceremony for the new sign will take place at the end of the month, and it seems that this time, the image and reason behind it are here to stay.