ACLU fights Jesus in Slidell courthouse
For the past ten years, a portrait of Jesus Christ in the Slidell City Court created no controversy. It had been hanging in the lobby of the courthouse ever since it was originally constructed in 1997. In that time, not one person had complained to court officials.
Despite the lack of controversy, the Louisiana ACLU decided to take action and sent a demand letter to the court to remove the portrait because “it violates the Establishment Clause, which holds that church and state must remain separate.”
What is interesting is that the ACLU did not give court officials time to take action or even investigate the matter; they notified the court after first alerting the local and national media, effectively making this a publicity stunt. According to Slidell City Court Judge Jim Lamz, the ACLU is “not interested so much in resolution, but in confrontation and publicity.”
The ACLU has plenty of issues it could be pursuing, but it apparently is trying to create a controversy where none had existed. As the Slidell Court tries to rebuild post-Katrina, it now has to deal with this issue. Lamz says that he has received inquires from national news outlets as the ACLU pursues this “publicity stunt,” hampering his ability to perform his importance as City Court Judge.
In my view, since the portrait of Jesus has not been a problem for the Slidell community, it should not be removed. It reflects the will and desires of the vast majority of Slidell residents who are people who follow Christianity and hold Christian values. Such public support does not matter to Kate Schwartzmann of the ACLU, who wants the portrait removed because “every person entering the courthouse is subjected to it. Moreover, as an admonition hanging in a court of law, it clearly gives the impression that only believers in the law of Jesus Christ will receive justice in that courthouse.” Of course that statement is ridiculous, for nowhere is it written or communicated in any fashion that only Christians will be able to receive justice in the Slidell City Court. In fact, as people use the courthouse, it is beneficial to see a portrait of Jesus. It might help lawbreakers turn their lives around.
Now the ACLU will file a lawsuit since they gave court officials no warning or time to investigate the matter. It is a ridiculous waste of time, creating a controversy where none existed, diverting time and attention away from more important matters. However, such publicity seeking tactics are par for the course for the ACLU.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 8:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and Noon till 2 p.m. weekdays on several Louisiana radio stations. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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