Texas judge rules cheerleaders may display Bible banners at sporting events

May 9, 2013

(An 1859 U.S. family Bible, December 2006/David Ball)

A Texas judge on Wednesday ruled that the “Bible banners” waved by cheerleaders during football games in a small school district are constitutionally protected free speech and that the tradition will be allowed to continue.

No law “prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events,” State District Judge Steven Thomas wrote in a two-page final ruling. He had temporarily ruled in favor of the cheerleaders in October.

For generations it has been a tradition in Kountze, a town of 2,100 in the Piney Woods of east Texas, for cheerleaders to write Bible verses and religious messages – such as, “If God is with us, who can be against us?” – on large sheets of paper. The football players run through the banners when they take the field for home games.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group that promotes the separation of church and state, sent the Kountze superintendent a letter last fall, complaining that the banners were a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which states that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

When the district tried to block the use of the banners in response to the group’s letter, the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a group that says it is “dedicated to defending religious liberty in America,” sued the school district on behalf of the cheerleaders.
Read the full story by Jim Forsyth here.
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