Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheerleaders Fight for the First Amendment

No event is too small to escape the attention and the animosity of the atheists who are determined to wipe religion out of every public place and event where people can see or hear it. The latest target of their campaign against religion is some Texas high school cheerleaders who displayed a banner at a football game that contains a verse from the Bible that says: "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." That homemade banner has embroiled the East Texas town of Kountze, population 2,000, about two hours from Houston, in a heated debate over God, football, and cheerleaders' rights.

School district officials ordered the cheerleaders to stop putting a Bible verse on its banner, saying that doing so violated the law on religious expression at public school events. In response, a group of 15 cheerleaders and their parents sued the School District and its superintendent, claiming that prohibiting them from writing Christian banner messages violated their religious liberty and free-speech rights. When the two sides confronted each other in a courtroom, it had all the appearance of a high-profile courtroom drama. Lawyers from both sides argued over the Texas Constitution. A police officer with an assault rifle and binoculars was stationed on the roof of the courthouse and reporters filled the jury box. The cheerleaders' supporters put up yard signs and started a facebook page called Support Kountze Kids Faith that has attracted 50,000 members.

The judge at first issued a restraining order against the banner, based on the complaint of the Wisconsin organization called Freedom From Religion. Texas Attorney General Abbott defended the cheerleaders and told the judge his ruling was based on erroneous legal advice. After a day-long hearing, the judge gave the banner a 14-day reprieve, but we still don't know what the final decision will be.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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