Dear Sinkiller: Calm down, my friend. They love Jesus in Lubbock. They just don’t like tattoos. What happened was a group called “Little Pencil, L.L.C.” (don’t ask) wanted to display an ad on the jumbotron at the football field. The ad featured Jesus, alright, but he was very extensively tattooed. We’re not sure that tattoo art was available in the early A.D. years, but regardless of its historical accuracy, Lubbock turned down the ad. But they did it because of the tattoos—not because of Jesus. So if they get questioned about this when the sheep and goats are being separated, I’m confident that the spokesperson for the district will be able to say: “It’s not that we don’t like Jesus. We just don’t like tattoos.”
The district turned down the ad because tattoo parlors in Texas may not serve minors, and the district had a “no visible tattoos” policy. The court held that the district’s rationale was “reasonable.” It was “content based” but “viewpoint neutral.”
It helped the district’s cause that it accepted other religious advertising. This indicated to the court that the district was not hostile to religion, just the tattoos. The court held that the jumbotron was not a place for wide open and free discussion. Instead, it was a “limited public forum,” which meant that the district could impose reasonable restrictions on the ads it would accept.
The case is Little Pencil, L.L.C. v. Lubbock ISD, decided by the 5th Circuit on September 23, 2015. You can find the case at 2015 WL 5601316.
DAWG BONE: MAKE NO MISTAKE: LUBBOCK LOVES JESUS, BUT THEY ARE NOT TOO COOL WITH TATTOOS.