Removal of school's religious pictures sparks Ill. conflict.

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An Illinois pastor is working to force a public school to replace religious pictures that officials had removed to comply with constitutional mandates.

In mid July, Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to school officials in Anna urging them to take down three portraits of Jesus from the main hallway of the Anna Junior High School.

Citing federal court precedent, Americans United said the religious pictures' display in the junior high school was "grossly unconstitutional."

"Government neutrality in matters of religion is particularly important in the context of public schools," wrote Assistant Legal Director Richard B. Katskee, "because students are legally required to attend school--and are thus a captive audience--and because schoolchildren are considerably more impressionable than adults."

Within a month of receiving the letter, school officials placed the paintings of Jesus in storage.

Superintendent Bob O'Dell told the Southern Illinoisan, a Carbondale newspaper, that its attorney said the...

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