Parents! Don’t let your children draw pictures of Jesus!

The Taunton Gazette, a Newspaper in Massachusetts, has a story which show just how dopey some of our educators are becoming.

Taunton second-grader suspended over drawing of Jesus
Father angered by forced psychological evaluation of boy, 8

By Gerry Tuoti, Staff Writer
GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 14, 2009 @ 10:20 PM
Last update Dec 15, 2009 @ 09:21 AM
Taunton —

A Taunton father is outraged after his 8-year-old son was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a stick-figure picture of Jesus Christ on the cross

The father said he got a call earlier this month from Maxham Elementary School informing him that his son, a second-grade student, had created a violent drawing. The image in question depicted a crucified Jesus with Xs covering his eyes to signify that he had died on the cross. The boy wrote his name above the cross.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion,” the incredulous father said.

He requested that his name and his son’s name be withheld from publication to protect the boy.

The student drew the picture shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat site in Attleboro. He made the drawing in class after his teacher asked the children to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas, the father said.  [Ex ore infantium… perfecisti laudem.  There is a connection between the wood of the manger and the wood of the Cross.]

“I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent,” said Toni Saunders, an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center.   [Did the teacher not know that Christ died on the Cross?  That death is part of that story?]

Saunders is working with the boy’s parents after a mutual acquaintance referred them to her.

“When I got that call, I was so appalled that I had to do something,” Saunders said.

“They weren’t looking at the fact that this is an 8-year-old child with special needs,” she added. “They made him leave school, and they recommended that a psychiatrist do an evaluation.” [Special needs or not, it seems this is more about the drawing of a religious scene than anything else.]

The school, in fact, required the evaluation before the boy could return, the father said.

Maxham School principal Rebecca Couet referred all questions on the matter to the superintendent’s office.

Superintendent Julie Hackett said district policy prevents her from discussing a “confidential matter regarding a student.”

“Generally speaking, we have safety protocols in place,” Hackett said. “If a situation warrants it, we ask for outside safety evaluations if we have particular concerns about a child’s safety. We followed all the protocols in our system.[The little boy was asked to draw something about Christmas.  He made a connection – if you can imagine this – between Christmas and… wait for it… Jesus.  INITIATE SAFETY PROTOCOLS NOW!]

Hackett refused to specifically discuss the student’s drawing or the school’s reaction to it.

The father was flabbergasted when he learned his son had to undergo an evaluation.

“When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing,” he said.

The man said his son, who gets specialized reading and speech instruction at school, has never shown any tendency toward violence.

“He’s never been suspended,” he said. “He’s 8 years old. They overreacted.”

The boy made the drawing and was sent home from school on Dec. 2. He went for the psychological evaluation — at his parents’ expense — the next day and was cleared to return to school the following Monday after the psychological evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others[?]

The boy, however, was traumatized by the incident, which made going back to school very difficult, the father said. School administrators have approved the father’s request to have the boy transferred to another elementary school in the district.

This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.  [And that is sort of like, well, Jesus.  Right?]

The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mpm says:

    “The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.”

    Wow, these educators are really flighty. Sounds like they have some “special needs” of their own.

  2. MarkJ says:

    Our reaction to this should be to increase the display of the Crucifix in our homes and in our workplaces, to get people used to seeing our Crucified Lord once again. Obviously we have retreated so much from public expressions of our Catholic Faith that some people are horrified when they see a depiction of Jesus on the Cross. We need to be out there and visible so that society knows that the Crucifix is our identity and the focal point of our religion. Look at what they did recently in Europe by requiring Italy to stop displaying crucufixes in the public schools… the same thing has happened here, and it will only get worse if we do not take a public stand and identify ourselves without equivocation with our Crucified Lord. Unless we take up our cross and follow Him, we are not His disciples. Let us stand with this poor persecuted boy and display the Crucifix for others to see and follow.

  3. Ruben says:

    The image of the crucified Christ is a biography of all our lives. The teacher must not have liked the stark reminder of his.

    Hatred of the cross = the demonic.

  4. JonM says:

    Wear a funky glove and ‘wave at the Earth’
    >> Praise and acclaim for standing up for Gaia, I mean, the environment

    Draw a picture of Christ, when asked to draw a picture relating to Christmas
    >> A gallon of red ink in a school dossier

    What is wrong with this picture?

  5. Peggy R says:

    I just saw this article myself. The non-Catholic or non-religious person has little understanding of the significance of the image of Jesus on the cross. [I guess the “wreckovation experts” share this ignorance when the replace crucifixes with the Risen Jesus next to an empty cross.]

    Interestingly, our boys are in our small town public school & have special needs as well. They are 1 & 2 years younger than this boy. They are very overwhelmed by the image of the crucifixion and talk/ask about Jesus’ death often. They want to beat up the Roman soldiers who hurt him! I do have to remind them, however, that Jesus rose from the dead and is in heaven w/God the Father today, leaves us the Eucharist until He comes again…and so forth. It’s a lot for small children to understand. It’s perfectly normal for a Catholic child to think about Jesus on the cross, at Christmas and on Good Friday and any day! Shame on the school–in culturally Catholic Mass.

    We’re in a very Catholic (at least in terms of numbers and culture, even if liturgy is weak) small town. Many public school kids are Catholic and go to PSR with our kids as well. We used to be in NoVa, where Catholic was not the dominant culture, but was it small and robust.

  6. chironomo says:


    …crucifixes with the Risen Jesus next to an empty cross

    What is affectionately (or not so much) referred to as a “Resurrucifix”. And this is the result.

    Lines are being drawn, and I don’t mean by a second grader….

  7. avecrux says:

    What is interesting is the fact that the teacher, it seems, asked specifically for an image that reminded the child of Christmas – not “the holidays” – so you would think that the connection would be obvious here. Nevertheless, as a prior comment noted, society in general has lost touch with the Cross and the Crucified One. I remember movie reviewers who stated that taking young adults to see “The Passion of the Christ” was tantamount to child abuse. They just don’t get it. Throw in mandated reporter laws that make some people paranoid and you have the makings of this fiasco.

  8. JonM says:

    @ Ruben

    Yes, I think that the historical record is clear that people who intentionally remove Christ from the Cross or demand that a crucifix be removed/covered do so because they are not walking with Him.

    When we look at it, we cannot avoid certain facts: Christ died. Painfully. He did so for a reason. That reason is to pay the price for our sins. In other words, when we fail, it is like we are back 2000 years ago driving nails into Him, whipping Him with a Cat-o-9-tails, forcing Jesus to endure public humiliation after being falsely accused.

    The crucifix expresses all of these ideas artistically. Many don’t like the idea of us being guilty and so they like to skip the crucifixion part of the story and only focus on our salvation (which sadly is treated as something we deserve by default no matter what we do). It is very sad to see some Catholic churches try to remove the crucifix from the sanctuary.

    Recently, a certain prominent guest at the ‘Catholic’ Georgetown University demanded that all crucifixes be covered or removed (the school gladly denied Christ to appease Caesar).

  9. TNCath says:

    To the tune of “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”

    Parents, don’t let your children draw pictures of Jesus!
    Don’t let ’em pray, fast, or observe holy days
    Let ’em draw devils and wizards and such!

  10. joebkathy says:

    Dear fellow comrades in our new world order of the greatest nanny state on earth – The “Abomination.”
    Just imagine the changes in our society this eight year old will see and live through in his lifetime.
    The nation voted and got exactly what we voted for.
    It’s Advent – “Come Lord Jesus, come!”

  11. Jim of Bowie says:

    MarkJ, You are correct. I have begun to wear a crucifix lapel pin on my collar as a public expression of my faith. This was an idea I got from Fr. Cusick at MCITL.

  12. FrCharles says:

    I don’t talk about it much, but a similar thing happened to me when I was little. We had no religion in the home, but after watching some Jesus movie or other one Easter, I drew some crucifixes and even built a little Calvary with my Erector Set. My parents were very freaked out. I didn’t remember this stuff until years after I was baptized, and I am so grateful when I think of God working on me from such a young age. May God bless this kid and his family. Ex ore infantium indeed.

  13. What does “special needs” have to do with anything? That’s a standard Catholic kid stick figure Crucifixion depiction.

  14. emily13 says:

    @MarkJ and Jim of Bowie,

    A young priest in my parish here in Pittsburgh has used a story in a couple of his homilies about walking through the airport with our Bishop and a young woman not knowing what the crucifix was that the Bishop wears on his lapel. The Bishop was quite surprised that there was no recognition.

    Indeed, display the crucifix in our homes and workplaces — and in our churches as well.

  15. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Appalling story.

    Demonstrates the depth of ignorance of basic Christian beliefs.

    Also demonstrates the merciless lunacy of schools, social services, legal systems, governments that strikes when God is removed from the core of operations.

    Its not just remote lands that are missionary areas but our own towns and even our parishes nowadays.

  16. MichaelJ says:

    You show so much more charity than I am able to muster. “Ignorance” is not what I think this demonstrates.

  17. Rich says:

    Title I (B) (614) (c) (3) states that parental consent is needed before conducting assessment – psychological, academic, or otherwise – on a student, whether its an initial evaluation, before the student is deemed eligible to receive special education services, or a reevaluation, after the student is deemed eligible. The parents need to promptly sue the school district.

  18. An American Mother says:

    A true story:

    Downtown Atlanta, about 5 years ago, in Citizens Jewelers (since closed) two fashionable young women are looking over the jewelry. One of them tells the clerk, “I’d like to look at that cross – the one with the little man on it.”

  19. Robert_H says:

    Two words:


    (To stall the inevitable: Yes, yes, I know. Not everyone can, special needs, etc. Got it.)

  20. Ferde Rombola says:

    I’m with Rich. The parents should sue the teacher, the school and the school district in federal court for not only the Title I violation Rich cited, but for a First Amendment violation as well. It’s way past time we started fighting back.

  21. JohnE says:

    “In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher…”

    Not to excuse it, but after an incident like this I think I would be tempted to draw such a picture myself.

  22. MAJ Tony says:

    Talk about over-reacting. Who are these clueless individuals? Honestly, I believe part of the problem is that public schools have become so risk-averse due to the fear of lawsuits that the feel they HAVE TO OVERREACT to protect the corporation against a lawsuit were something to actually happen. As a result, they take away any ability of the people under them to actually exercise some common sense in such matters.

  23. Tom A. says:

    This is the way your hard core commie works. If you have an unapproved thought, it must be a mental disorder. Off to the re-education camp.

  24. Hidden One says:

    So what’s he gonna draw come Lent?

  25. Vetdoctor says:

    Interesting the violence the system will resort to in order to crush any sign of violence in their charges. Fear of resistance?

  26. Konichiwa says:

    “So what’s he gonna draw come Lent?”

    Or Easter?

  27. Mariana says:

    They probably haven’t heard of Lent at that school, but as for Easter – bunnies, of course, nice, fluffy, unthreatening bunnies will be the correct thing to draw, in honour of the Easter Bunny, whose feast it of course is!

  28. MarkJ says:

    What’s he gonna draw for Easter or Lent?

    He could draw Easter bunnies, but that might offend PETA.
    He could draw colored eggs, but that might offend the population control advocates (he’d be glorifying fertility).
    He could draw flowers in a vase, but that would smack of capitalism (the selling of flowers for profit).
    He could draw a rainbow, but that might be construed as mocking the Rainbow Coalition if not drawn in the proper context.
    He could draw a rising sun, but without drawing solar panels to collect its light, what good would it be?
    He could draw an empty tomb, but there’s that death imagery again.
    He could draw the Apostles, but they were all male, so forget that.
    He could draw the Virgin Mary, but that would be stereotyping women and promoting out-of-date images of women.
    He could draw a resurrected Jesus, but that would be so obviously a violation of the separation of Church and State that it would require immediate corrective action.

    Maybe he better just take a pass on this one…

  29. Rob Cartusciello says:

    So in the State of Massachusetts:

    Eight year old draws stick figure crucifixion: Needs evaluation

    Fifteen year old admits to having sex with strangers at the bus station: Gets an attaboy

    This is the same state where pamphlets detailing extreme homosexual sex acts are handed out to middle schoolers.

  30. irishgirl says:

    Oh. my. word.

    Another instance of ‘educators’ over-reacting.

    The parents ought to sue the pants off the school district.

  31. Bruce says:

    A few years ago my wife and I went to Leons to purchase a bed and I saw a crucifix on the wall behind the service counter and was suprised(I’m from Canada,very PC). Then I learned that The Leons are Roman Catholic, and in many locations a crucifix can be found hanging. I often wonder what the athiests who work there think. Anyway, a few months later the rector of the Cathedral told me a story that after he was ordained and assigned to a parish he was asked to bless the local Leons store. Has anyone ever heard of a blessing for a furniture store?

  32. MarkJ says:

    Bruce –

    I have never heard specifically of blessing a furniture store, but surely this is within the Catholic sphere of blessings, which includes animals, hospitals and houses… I myself have occasionally come across a business which chooses to display a cross or a crucifix in plain sight. One example of a large business which more subtly displays its Christian beliefs is “In N Out Burger” (in 4 western states – started in California), where each soft drink cup has a Bible verse reference printed around the inside of the bottom of the cup. While I would advocate a more “blatant” display of Christian symbols, “In N Out” is to be commended for getting the Word out there in the secular marketplace.

  33. Susan the Short says:

    This incident is par for the course in The People’s Republic of Marxachusetts.

    David Parker and his family were hounded out of the state when Parker objected to a pro-homosexual book in his 5 year-olds kindergarten class.

    For a chronicle of the atrocities, visit

  34. bookworm says:

    My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that the “special needs” child in question may have an autistic spectrum disorder, similar to my own daughter. Autistic children may fixate on things “normal” kids might not notice at all. For him to think of the crucifix rather than the manger sounds like something my daughter (now 14) would do.

    The reaction on the part of the school is the fruit of the so-called “zero tolerance” policies under which any object, drawing, spoken or written word, etc. that contains even the slightest hint of violence, sexual harassment, or drug use has to be reported and evaluated. Zero tolerance policies give school administrators an “easy” way of appearing to be doing something about teen violence, suicide, child abuse, etc. without the bother of 1) having to get to know the students personally, 2) judge each case individually, and 3) risk being accused of racism or discrimination if the child involved happens to be of a protected minority.

    As a result, little kids get busted for drawing crucifixes, kissing their female classmates, etc., while the gangbangers and drug dealers still find ways to carry out their “trade” as if nothing had happened.

    I did once homeschool and I’d love to go back to it, but cannot do so right now, since I cannot stay home full time. My daughter’s special needs and our financial situation also preclude Catholic schooling. So we are stuck with public school for the foreseeable future.

    My daughter did tell me today that she said grace over her meal in the cafeteria. She hasn’t done this before, or if she has she hasn’t mentioned it. Hopefully I won’t get any worried calls from her teacher about it :-)

  35. PomeroyJohn says:

    To answer Bruce’s question, we’re not a furniture store, but we had our Pastor bless our offices when we finished the first part of our renovation. (20,000 sq ft of early 20th C brick hotel.) There’s some pictures here (hope the link works) We had some really positive comments from Catholics and non-Catholics.

    Johgn in Pomeroy on the Palouse

  36. capchoirgirl says:

    This is so ridiculous.
    I agree with the commentators who said that we need more exposure to the crucifix, and the fact that Christ’s death was painful .

  37. Cath says:

    I am amazed at this. I just got back from my three youngest children’s Christmas program at the public school. There was a manger scene painted on a backdrop and half of the music was religious songs such as O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing and the other half was Frosty the Snowman type songs. At the high school they have had a student play the Ave Maria on the violin and they always sing and play religious songs. I always thought it was freedom of religion, not from religion.

  38. rinkevichjm says:

    A TV station broadcast this and has the video up on her blog. I couldn’t tell that the child was a minority child until I saw the video: now I wonder if some sort of discrimination on race isn’t also involved. I’d say if the child was white, Hispanic or Vietnamese this may not have been an issue. The child, of course, appears to be African-American. The beauty of the Church image of Christ is apparent even to a child.

  39. kellym says:

    Having lived for a goodly portion of my adult life in Massachusetts I wish I could say I’m surprised at this. I’m not. There’s this bizarre streak of contrariness that seems to run through the citizenry, that seems to bend over backwards to deny religion its needful and proper place in the community. Almost like a repudiation of its strict Puritan past.

    Of course I’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire – now I live in San Francisco!

  40. Melody says:

    We should make a symbol of this drawing.

    And I first hope that the boy’s father got through to him that his drawing was admirable.

  41. Okay before we go judging people we need to have all of the facts. As the sun was rising today more of the story came out. It seems this father of the year is out for money and saw his chance with the school deptartment. Surprise he was not as forthcoming with the press as he could have been and did not show the actual picture that his sone drew nor was his son asked to draw a picture as was reported nor was he suspended nor was he sent for counseling.

    Here is the rest of the story so to speak:

    As one who was an educator before I went to seminary let me say how difficult it is. If the school did not act as the original story suggested this father would have been all over them if his son did something. Do not forget the Columbine shootings and the wrath that was brought down on the school, the Fort Hood shootings and the wrath that has been brought down. If you act you get crucified (okay sorry for that) and if you don ‘t act the same penalty awaits you.

    The job is hard enough without parents who want to cash in. He is now saying this is a racial incident by the way.

  42. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Thanks for that, Fr. Preble. I see that the child wrote his name over the crucifix and the teacher thought he was trying to communicate that HE was being crucified. And I know it is right to associate Christmas with the Crucifixion, that is a sophisticated, adult theological move, not the first theme children are going to come up with when asked to draw a Christmas picture. And considering that this child’s father is now talking about a lump sum and a scholarship to the (private) school of the child’s choice….

  43. benyanke says:

    You all heard Robert_H!

    Home School!

    It has worked for me. I went to a “catholic” preschool (I can say I didn’t learn a thing about Catholicism there) and homeschooled the rest of the way.

    It would have been way harder if there hadn’t been a group of homeschooling families. Now I’m a freshman in HS and planning homeschool go all the way. In our city, we meet for a few classes (science, art, gym, …) every week and we get over 120 kids, all of them (catholic homeschoolers (I mean real catholics). Theres my positive rant on hs-ing. God bless.

  44. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Interesting…I finally found a picture of the crucifix with the INRI on it. It is unclear as to whose name is up there, as it is obscured. In one photo, the father is covering the INRI with his finger. (Interestingly, if it is the boy’s name–it certainly isn’t INRI–the media wouldn’t be able to show it.) Meanwhile, the superintendent denies that the children were asked to draw anything having to do with Christmas or that the boy was suspended.

    The boy, if not being crucified, is certainly being exploited–by the media sniffing for a good story and, perhaps, by his father. “We are owed a lump sum” indeed! This child is already being educated at the taxpayers’ expense, complete with special classes.

  45. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Actually, it looks like the name Jalen. Father Z, you’ve been hoaxed by a doctored photograph, I’m afraid. The photo produced by the Washington Post has an INRI placard with a name on it. [I am sure we are all glad that you can correct us.]

  46. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Um… You’re welcome? I didn’t mean to come across as snarky. I’m sort of a long-time fan.

  47. Aaron says:

    If it doesn’t have the kid’s name on it, doesn’t that take away the one reason the school might have had for reacting so harshly to it? (That it was a form of protest, saying “I’m being crucified here,” or something.)

    Either way, the title could be, “Parents, don’t let your children go to school!” (Like Robert_H said, standard disclaimer here: not everyone can stay home, etc.) There’s really nothing new about any of this; we’ve known for decades that most public schools and a disturbing number of private ones are strongly anti-Christian. (Not anti-religion, by the way; no student will ever get hassled for drawing a mosque, unless he also draws someone shooting from it.) This is what schools do.

  48. Frank H says:

    The photo Fr Z posted was from the town’s newspaper and the cutline indicated the kid’s name was edited out at the family’s request for his privacy.

  49. Jane says:

    This shows that there is a clear case for homeschooling. Some schools and teachers are very strange and who would want to entrust their children to people and schools like that.

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