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Lesson Plans

Re: Christian Art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Ken Rohrer (kenroar)
Tue, 12 Mar 1996 19:50:14 -0600

Re: Including Christian art in the classroom.

I thought the following information I gleaned from the school law class I
took for my administrative degree would be helpful when considering
Christian art in the classroom:

1) The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that "much of art, literature, and
music associated with Christmas has acquired cultural importance that is no
longer strictly religious" and thus appropriate to the public school
setting. (Florey v. Sioux Falls School Dist. 49-5, 619 F.2d 1311, 1980) The
Supreme Court concurred in 1989 (Allegheny county v. ACLU, 109 S. Ct.

2) "It is permissible to teach the Bible and other religious documents from
a literary, *cultural, or historical perspective*." (School Dist. of
Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225, 1963) In a related case,
the 8th Circuit affirmed that Halloween decorations and symbols do not
promote Wicca (witchcraft) and thus "does not violate the Establishment
Clause." (Guyer v. School Bd. of Alcachua Co., 94-673, 634 So. 2d 806, Fla.
Ct. App. 1994)

3) Although famous art such as _The Last Supper_, and the Sistine Chapel
Ceiling has been considered acceptable as appropriate for the study of art,
the Supreme Court recently decided that a picture of Jesus that was hanging
in the front entrance to a school was a violation of the Establishment
Clause. It appears that the key issue here was whether the portrait was a
study of art and an artist or a religious display. The Court said it was a
religious display and ordered the painting removed.

Pending cases:
(94-1799 Silano v. Sag Harbor Union Free Sch. Dist. Bd. of Ed., 42 F.3d
719, 2d Cir.) A board member used film clips showing two women and one man
naked from the waist up as props to illustrate a point he was making during
a classroom lecture to tenth grade students. The court is being asked to
consider whether the First Amendment prevents a school district from
retaliating against a non-employee for speech.

A student in Jefferson County, Kentucky, drew a picture of a cross for an
art project entitled, "What Easter Means to Me". The school refused to
allow the picture to be posted. The student is suing. The case will soon go
to trial. (I don't have the specific case number yet)

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