- (Photo: YouTube screengrab)
A federal judge sided with a Texas school district this week, saying that the district was right to reject a Christian company from advertising its tattoo Jesus campaign on a billboard near the school's Lowrey Field.
U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings ruled in favor of Lubbock Independent School District on Thursday. The school district was previously sued by the company Little Pencil after it refused to allow an advertisement at Lowrey Field featuring an image of Jesus, covered in tattoos with negative sayings such as "outcast," "addict" and "jealous."
The school district said it denied the advertisement because it was a form of proselytizing and violated the school's policy on visible tattoos. Little Pencil argued that by not allowing the company to display the advertisement, the school district was violating its First Amendment rights of religious freedom and free speech.
" […] the government may not discriminate against private speech based on its viewpoint, regardless of the forum in question," Little Pencil and its attorneys, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), argued in the lawsuit, Little Pencil v. Lubbock Independent School District.
A media relations coordinator behind the Jesus Tattoo billboards previously told The Christian Post that the purpose of the cutting-edge campaign is to show viewers that Jesus' love can be transformative, turning their negative past into a bright future. "The message is a simple one, Jesus' love is transformative. He loves us unconditionally and no matter what you've been marked with, faith in Him and love for others will transform us," media relations coordinator Ashleigh Sawyer previously told CP.
Following Cummings' ruling, the school district released a statement saying it was pleased with the judge's decision. "Throughout this process, we have asserted that our actions were keeping with district policies, state, and federal law, and we are pleased that the Court ruled in favor of Lubbock ISD. We will continue to focus on our mission of educating students and hope we can put this behind us and give our complete attention to that important work."
Alliance Defending Freedom said in an email to media outlets that it is "disappointed" with the ruling and will look into options for an appeal.
As The Christian Post previously reported, Little Pencil managed to erect 59 billboards during a 30-day campaign in Lubbock last year.