- - Friday, October 24, 2014


If disputes involving religious liberty will be called a war, it is important to consider the “weapons” used (“Ohio faithfuls get last laugh at ACLU suit to tear down Jesus portrait,” Web, Oct. 21).

The American Civil Liberties Union has long maintained that religious liberty is meant to be a shield, not a sword. This principle protects the people’s right to observe their personal religious beliefs. It secures freedom from persecution. It is not meant to be the sharpened edge used to threaten or force particular beliefs upon another person.

The events in New Concord, Ohio, show how religious liberty should work. The religious display at John Glenn High School endorsed a set of religious beliefs that pushed some students to the margins. The Hodgsons, who provided the land for the sign, and other supporters of the portrait came together to speak about the importance of religion in their lives by raising money and building a sign. This display on private property is the kind of speech the ACLU has protected since its founding.

Instead of being shown as an example of conflict, this case should be shown as a celebration of the ability of citizens to express their religious beliefs, and the liberty of others to be free from those beliefs.


Executive director

ACLU of Ohio

Columbus, Ohio



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