A portrait of Jesus that had adorned a southern Ohio public school district building since 1947 has been taken down after officials decided they could not risk losing a lawsuit to the American Civil Liberties Union, Fox News reports. The superintendent of Jackson City Schools told the Associated Press that the decision was made after the district’s insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses. Phil Howard said a student club that the school says owns the portrait took it down Wednesday morning at his direction. “At the end of the day, we just couldn’t roll the dice with taxpayer money,” Howard said. “When you get into these kinds of legal battles, you’re not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It’s not fair to take those resources from our kids’ education.” The ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation had sued on behalf of a student and two parents, calling the portrait an unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school. An ACLU spokesman says the lawsuit remains in effect, but will be dropped if the portrait stays down. The “Head of Christ,” a popular depiction of Jesus, had been in an entranceway’s “Hall of Honor” in a middle school building that was formerly a high school. It was near portraits of dozens of prominent alumni and people with local roots such as the late four-term Ohio Gov. James Rhodes. The portrait was moved recently by a Christian-based service club to the current high school building.

Other news:

  • Americans make up just 5 percent of the world’s population, yet they consume over 40 percent of the drugs that are produced, according to a report in bighealthreport.com, with billions of dollars spent on television and other ads. Only two countries, New Zealand and the United States, allow drug commercials on television. The FDA approved drug commercials in the U.S. in 1999, and the average American watches nearly 16 hours of drug commercials every year. The report cited widespread use of psychiatric drugs in nearly nine million children for “mental health.” “When a child is screened at school and found to have symptoms of a mental disorder, then the child is referred to a psychiatrist and given psychiatric drugs. These drugs are amphetamines for the treatment of so-called Attention Deficit Disorder or antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs for other symptoms. The report warned that antidepressants can create a host of symptoms in children and adults: depression, crying spells, fatigue, insomnia, suicidal ideas, homicidal thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks, jitteriness and trembling, irritability, impulsive actions, agitation, confusion, manic behavior, hallucinations, nightmares, detachment, and loss of feelings. “These symptoms develop after the antidepressant treatment is initiated. Of course this leads the psychiatrist or local doctor to add other psychiatric medications to the regimen. The patient often becomes a basket case, unable to function. Antidepressants are addictive. They mimic the action of cocaine. The above symptoms are magnified when the antidepressants are discontinued abruptly. No one should stop antidepressants or any psychiatric drug without the guidance from a physician. A patient must be weaned off them very slowly, over several months. Most of the drugs which are prescribed to treat ADD, like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta, are amphetamines and stimulate the central nervous system in the same manner as cocaine. These drugs are very addictive and can be associated with severe side effects: rapid heart rate, hypertension, dizziness, aggression, restlessness, facial tics, anxiety, confusion, sweating, insomnia, loss of appetite, to name a few. The amphetamines used for ADD for children are the gateway to cocaine as the children mature.”
  • Scripture has had a tremendous influence on the rights of citizens throughout American history, two historians said at a recent Washington, D.C., forum, Baptist Press reports. “The Bible permeated both private expressions and the public announcements of those who shaped the new nation and its political institutions,” said Daniel Dreisbach, an author and a law professor at American University. The Founding Fathers were not as religiously conventional as history textbooks make them out to be, he said. “The Bible’s influence is not merely ignored in the scholarship; rather, many scholars contend that the leading founders—influenced by rationalism, the enlightenment—rejected biblical ideas,” Dreisbach said in the March 20 forum hosted by the Family Research Council. Although many see the Founding Fathers as deists, Dreisbach said this may not have wholly been the case. James Hutson, an author and a Yale historian, backed Dreisbach’s assertion that society tends to put the Founding Fathers in the box of deism. In reality, they may have been more religiously involved and may have believed in the intervention of a divine being—which would not align with the beliefs of deists, Hutson said. Dreisbach also discussed the Biblically laced language of the Founding Fathers. During a question-and-answer time, an audience member asked if the Founding Fathers used Biblical language because it was such a part of their lives or if they were just being good politicians. Dreisbach responded by explaining the Founding Fathers used Biblical language not just in common speech but when discussing important matters, such as in policy debates. “Saint Paul is cited about as frequently as Montesquieu or Blackstone, the two most cited secular authors, and Deuteronomy is cited almost twice as often as all of John Locke’s writings put together,” said Dreisbach. John Adams’ statement that the Bible is a “republican book” shows many of the Founding Fathers saw the Bible as at least a “great textbook on civic morality,” Dreisbach said. The Bible’s early models of republicanism and due process appealed to the Founding Fathers, he told the audience. “The Bible contains the most profound philosophy, the most perfect morality and the most refined policy that ever was conceived upon earth. It is the most republican book in the world, and therefore I will still revere it,” Adams said.
  • The 10th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals is granting Hobby Lobby a full court hearing challenging the Obamacare regulation that requires religious employers to cover Plan B and Ella One emergency contraceptives that can cause an early abortion. Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who’s representing Hobby Lobby in its case Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that the 10th Circuit’s decision is significant, because “very rarely does the court grant a full court hearing.” On March 29, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., informed Hobby Lobby that all nine judges would hear the case, instead of the usual three-judge panel. “This is an unusual occurrence,” said Duncan, who believes that it’s “important for all justices to weigh in now,” because their decision will affect the rights of all religious business owners. “The issue is extremely important and merits a full court review.” Duncan believes the government is taking the position that if you’re in a profit-driven business, you have no nights. “Business owners ought to be able to go into a court and argue that their rights should be protected,” Duncan said. “This case is at the forefront of the challenge to the mandate.”
  • The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday approved a sweeping, first-of-its-kind treaty aimed at regulating the estimated $60 billion international arms trade, brushing aside gun rights groups’ concerns that the pact could lead to a national firearms registry in the U.S., washingtontimes.com reports. The long-debated U.N. Arms Trade Treaty requires countries to regulate and control the export of weaponry such as battle tanks, combat vehicles, and aircraft and attack helicopters, as well as parts and ammunition for such weapons. The treaty also provides that signatories will not violate arms embargoes or international treaties regarding illicit trafficking, or sell weaponry to countries where they could be used for genocide, crimes against humanity, or other war crimes. U.S. gun rights activists say the treaty is riddled with loopholes and is unworkable in part because it includes “small arms and light weapons” in its list of weaponry subject to international regulations. The activists said they do not trust U.N. assertions that the pact is meant to regulate only cross-border trade and would have no impact on domestic U.S. laws and markets.
  • On Monday, the Connecticut state legislature approved a set of gun control laws that would make it the strictest state in the nation, godfatherpolitics.com reports. Democrats pushed for even tougher laws, but ended up having to partially compromise with Republicans. The new gun control laws would ban over 100 types of high powered rifles—specifically assault and all assault-style rifles. Additionally, the state would require anyone wishing to purchase a rifle, shotgun, and even ammunition to undergo a thorough background check and training, before being issued a state certificate of eligibility that would allow them to make the purchase. In order to receive the certificate, even to buy a box of .22 caliber shells for target practice, a person must be fingerprinted, take a firearms training class, pass a criminal background check, and pass a background check to see if they have ever been committed to a psychiatric hospital. High capacity magazines, those that hold more than 10 rounds, would be banned from purchase.  Anyone who currently owns a high capacity magazine would be required to register it with the state. Connecticut officials believe that removing guns from the hands of the public will create a safer environment, even though statistics from around the U.S. and world prove otherwise. While Connecticut is doing everything it can to disarm its citizens, a group in Texas is expanding their efforts to put shotguns in the hands of qualified people who live in high crime areas. Armed Citizen Project began in Houston and was recently copied in Tucson, Ariz. They are now expanding their program into Dallas. The group raises funds to use to train and arm citizens and single women who live in high crime areas so that they can defend themselves and their property. Godfatherpolitics.com also noted that “Vice President Joe Biden spoke the truest words of his political career last week when he said this is only the beginning of the process, concerning gun control.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has introduced another people control anti-gun piece of legislation that would require anyone wanting to buy a gun to also purchase gun liability insurance. Under the Firearms Risk Protection Act, anyone purchasing a firearm after the effective date of the bill, who fails to purchase the proper liability insurance would be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.
  • A group known as Exposing the ELCA is expressing concern about several recent developments in the liberal Lutheran denomination. Among the items reported were helping the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to change the American Constitution, women in the ELCA linking Christ’s death and resurrection to the LGBT community, a noted heretic becoming popular with the denomination, a widely used ELCA resource calling the Savior “Christ our Mother,” a church tower to feature a Hindu goddess, and an ELCA magazine saying that not believing in evolution is “idolatry.”
  • Unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law, the Obama administration is delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees—a major selling point for the health care legislation, bighealthreport.com reports.
  • Following the recent major computer attack on South Korea, Americans continue to worry about the safety of this nation’s computer systems, and most still believe a foreign attack on them should be viewed as an act of war. Eight-four percent (84 percent) of likely U.S. voters are at least somewhat concerned about the safety of America’s computer infrastructure from cyber attack, including 44 percent who are very concerned. The new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 14 percent are not very or not at all concerned about such an attack. Rasmussen also says that Americans don’t believe the federal government has the constitutional authority to tax bank deposits as they did in Cyprus, but a plurality worries they might try it anyhow. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46 percent of American adults think it’s at least somewhat likely that the U.S. government might try to tax money in individual bank accounts. Nearly as many (41 percent), however, view this as unlikely to occur. Thirteen percent are not sure.
  • The Christian right within the Republican Party is fighting back at suggestions that their positions on social issues were to blame for losses in last November’s elections, newsmax.com reports. And leading members of the GOP’s evangelical wing are making it clear that they believe that if they were to change their stances, the party would go the way of the dodo bird. “Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told Politico.“If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party. We’re not the Libertarian Party, we’re the Republican Party.” Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cites a drop in enthusiasm following George W. Bush’s wins in 2004 and 2008 as proof moderate candidates aren’t the party’s savior. “The last two presidential elections, we had more moderate candidates, so if anything, a lot of conservatives went to the polls reluctantly or just didn’t go at all,” he said. “If the evangelicals had showed up, it might have made a difference.”
  • The American Civil Liberties Union may have thought it had the upper hand when it filed suit against a North Carolina county for opening its board meetings with explicitly Christian prayers. After all, the federal Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with citizens’ religious exercise. But a new bill introduced in the North Carolina state legislature would protect the county’s right to prayer in an unconventional way: by nullifying any federal regulations or court rulings regarding religion, christianitytoday.com reports. Eleven House lawmakers already have signed on to the bill, which “would [allow North Carolina to] refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina—or indeed on any Constitutional topic,” according to WRAL, a local news source.