January 2016 Church & State - January 2015

Ky. Courthouse Creates Art Gallery For Jesus Portrait

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A top official in Breathitt County, Ky., has decided to create an art gallery in the courthouse rather than remove a charcoal sketch of Jesus Christ.

Judge-Executive John Lester Smith, who is equivalent to a county executive, has vowed to keep the Jesus picture up. The drawing is accompanied by a caption that says it is dedicated to the “People of Breathitt County” and “is not to be removed.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has asked that the sketch be taken down, but Smith has refused.

“’Til a federal judge tells me otherwise, I intend for it to be as it is,” Smith told the Lexington Herald-Leader.  “We’re not leaving it hanging there for religious beliefs.”

In an attempt to escape possible legal action, Smith has commissioned a number of other artworks to hang in the courthouse alongside the portrait of Jesus. The courthouse is currently decorated with local landscapes in addition to portraits of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow alongside figures like Snow White, Pinocchio and Mr. Magoo.

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