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Grade schooler's crucifixion drawing sparks religious row

The boy's father says an elementary school in Taunton, Mass., suspended his son for drawing a picture of Jesus. The school says his version of events is 'totally inaccurate.'

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Did a Massachusetts school attack Christmas or was it trying to prevent one of its students from potentially doing harm to himself or others?

That is what is at issue in the case of a grade schooler at Lowell M. Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, Mass.

His father, Charles Johnson, stirred up controversy when he told reporters of various newspapers this week that his son was suspended for drawing a picture of the crucifixion as part of a class project to draw a picture about the holidays.

“They can’t mess with our religion,” Mr. Johnson told The Boston Globe. “They owe us a small lump sum for this.”

But the Taunton School District released a statement Tuesday night that refutes almost every element of Johnson’s story. District officials say:

• The boy told his teacher that it was himself on the cross, not Jesus.

• The drawing was not part of a school project.

• The boy was not suspended from school, but rather given a psychological evaluation out of concern that the picture was a cry for help.

• The picture circulated by the media is not the same one that prompted teachers to report the boy.

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