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School's Painting of Jesus Barred

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A federal judge has ordered the Schuylerville (N.Y.) Central School District to remove a painting of a crucified Jesus that has been hanging in a high-school auditorium for 25 years.

In his decision last week, U.S. District Judge Howard G. Munson found that the 12-foot-by-16-foot painting by a former student violated the constitutional separation between church and state because it conveyed "a message of government endorsement of Christianity."

The suit was filed by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union last September on behalf of two parents, Robert and Susan Joki, who said they felt "discomfort" whenever they entered the auditoOne parent is Jewish, and they are rearing their two children, who attend school in the district, as Jews, the suit said.

School officials in Schuylerville, which is about 45 miles north of Albany, said they displayed the painting as an example of student artwork, and that religious content played no part in their decision.

Donald Hickman, the district's interim superintendent, said the painting and all other contents of the auditorium had been removed in early August for a renovation project. He said the school board would discuss whether to appeal the ruling at a meeting later this month.--EF

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