The controversy surrounding the Jesus picture in the St. Tammany Parish courthouse has got me thinking. There are two separate questions that must be answered here. Is it legal? Is it appropriate?
First, is it legal? The 1st amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...". Obviously, this law only applies to Congress. The courthouse in question is the Slidell City Court. Ok, that amendment clearly does not apply. Now lets look at the state constitution. Article 1, section 8 states: "No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Surely,not even in Louisiana, putting a picture of Jesus on the wall does not enact a law. So, this has clearly not broken any state laws regarding religion. Thus, in my estimation, it is not illegal to hang a picture of Jesus in a city courthouse.
Second, is it appropriate? I would hazard to guess that Christians would not have a personal problem with the picture. What about other faiths? They might be "offended". But, Jesus was a historical figure, and if you don't believe he was god, what's the big deal?
I'm sure JP courthouses have pictures of Aaron Broussard in them. Let's say I were to start a religion worshiping Broussard, god of flooding. Would JP have to remove the pictures of Broussard? I know that is an outlandish example, but it makes my point.
So, I guess you can see where I'm going with this, I would take down the picture of Jesus in the courthouse. Yes you read that right. I don't feel that it is necessary or beneficial to have a picture of any religious figure (or Broussard) in any courthouse. Nor is it worth the fight.
I would be remiss to miss a chance to criticize the ACLU. I recognize that they are an important organization and help many people/groups with civil rights violations. But the ACLU, by publicly attacking religion in the press at every opportunity, alienates a very large section of the country. The ACLU is viewed as secularists crusading against religion. This is not good for their reputation or bottom line.