ABC Local News reports that a student-drawn picture on display inside a Fresno elementary school has sparked a debate over whether the artwork is sacrilegious or a harmless classroom assignment.
The picture, on display in the lobby of Hamilton Elementary School in Central Fresno, depicts Jesus with the caption, “I want you to kill all infidels.” The term “infidel” comes from ancient history and was used to describe people who had no faith. The picture was created by a seventh grade student as part of a history assignment. The artwork is one of several drawings in a display case inside the main lobby at Hamilton Elementary.
Parent, Chris Alfaro said, “I do believe common sense tells you, hey this may not be appropriate for a k through 8 school, right in the main lobby where each child passes on their way to school and home.” Chris Alfaro is Christian and has a second grade daughter at Hamilton. His wife first noticed the drawing in early March, but according to him, when she called the office to complain, no one made an effort to address her concerns.
A spokesperson with the Fresno Unified District released this statement, explaining why the picture was drawn, saying in part, “Students at Hamilton were assigned to create a help wanted poster for soldiers needed to fight in the crusades and write a poem about Joan of Arc, the Black Death, or the Magna Carta and create a visual background for it. This was one of several posters displayed.”
Historically, the Crusades were a series of religious wars launched by Christians against mostly Muslim people. Rabbi Rick Winer, who has a degree in comparative religious studies, says despite the intended lesson behind the assignment, it crosses a fine line. Rabbi Winer said, “If we want to encourage people to learn the lessons of post Crusades or post Holocaust, I generally find it’s more effective to do it through images of peace as opposed to images of horror.”
Mr. Alfaro claims to have nothing but respect for the school and the student who drew the picture. All he wants is for it to be taken down. “It’s kinda driving us nuts and we want to get rid of it.”
However, the picture is still on display.
Source: ABC Local News, 6/7/12, By: Shannon Handy
[Editor's Note: In February 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article from the Sheboygan Press, which reported about a student at a Wisconsin elementary school who was prohibited from distributing valentines he made for his classmates because they included a religious message. The student filled empty water bottles with candy and included a rolled-up Bible verse with the message “Jesus loves you.” However, the valentines never made it to his classmates because school officials collected them before they could be distributed.]