Student Wins Right to Use Scripture Reference in Art Piece

A student who was assigned a "zero" and penalized with disciplinary action after he wrote a scripture reference on a piece of artwork won a settlement Tuesday in what was a celebration of freedom for Christians everywhere.

"Christian students shouldn't be penalized for expressing their beliefs, so we're pleased that this settlement will make sure that no longer happens," cheered David Cortman of the Christian Alliance Defend Fund, which represented the student, in a statement.

The Tomah High School student of Madison, Wis., was told by school officials in March to remove or cover up his scripture reference on a piece of artwork to stay in line with the school policy that bans depictions of "blood, violence, sexual connotations, [or] religious beliefs." The artwork depicted an image of a cross alongside the words "John 3:16."

Depictions of demon-like creatures by other students, however, were not censored – an indication of what the ADF said was a double standard.

"Allowing demonic depictions by some students while prohibiting Christian religious expression in artwork by others is a blatant violation of the Constitution," Cortman said.

In the settlement reached by ADF after the group indicated to the school that it would pursue a lawsuit, the Tomah Area School District agreed to end its ban on religious expression, clean the student's disciplinary record and fairly grade the contested piece of artwork.

"It was clearly unconstitutional for the school to enforce a policy in such a way as to bar religious expression by a Christian student while allowing other types of religious expression by other students," Cortman said approvingly.

"No school policy can require a student to surrender his First Amendment rights," he added.