Texas cheerleaders clamor for G-O-D at football games

Cheerleaders at an East Texas high school are fighting their school district’s orders to stop using Bible quotes on their … Continued

Cheerleaders at an East Texas high school are fighting their school district’s orders to stop using Bible quotes on their signs at football games.

In August, cheerleaders at Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., a school with fewer than 500 students 30 miles north of Beaumont, Texas, began painting Bible verses on large paper signs football players burst through at the beginning of games.

But this week, Kountze Independent School District Superintendent Kevin Weldon called for an end to the banners after consulting with a legal adviser at the Texas Association of School Boards.

“It is not a personal opinion of mine,” Weldon told KHOU, a Houston television station. “My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well. But I’m also a state employee and Kountze ISD representative. And I was advised that such a practice would be in direct violation of United States Supreme Court decisions.”

That prompted the cheerleaders and their supporters to launch a Facebook page, which attracted 34,000 members in its first 24 hours — more than 10 times the population of Kountze.

Parents of at least three cheerleaders have hired an attorney and are considering suing the school district.

Attempts to reach Weldon and other school officials were unsuccessful. But Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center said the superintendent did the right thing.

“The cheerleading squad is clearly a school-sponsored group representing the school at the football game,” he said. “The religious banners, therefore, send a message of school endorsement of religion, even though it was students holding up the banners for the players to run through.”

Simon Brown, a communications associate at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, also commends the superintendent’s actions. Writing on AU’s website, he said students have a right to pray and read Scriptures at school — as long as they are not imposing their faith on others.

“Clearly, those standards aren’t being met here,” Brown writes.

Another Texas high school prompted the court case that will likely settle the issue in Kountze. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe that student-led and student-initiated prayers conducted over a loudspeaker during football games implied school sponsorship of the prayers, and were therefore unconstitutional.

Nine years later, cheerleaders at a Georgia high school who held nearly identical signs to those used in Kountze were also forced to stop, with school officials referring to the Santa Fe case.

For now, the Kountze cheerleaders and their supporters remain defiant.

“I’m actually thankful for it,” Ashton Jennings, a cheerleader, told KHOU. “Because if someone hadn’t complained, or if there hadn’t been any opposition we wouldn’t have this chance to spread God’s word in this big of a way.”

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  • PhillyJimi1

    This floors me. Exactly what is the golden rule here that Christians are always talking about? How would they like it if they were the only Christian child in an Islamic community? Imaging the stink being raised if some good christian child was forced to run through a banner with quotes from the Quran. Wow, you’re talking a category 10 hurricane hitting the fan.

    Our rights aren’t to submit to the majority’s will or to allow them to rule the roost. Our rights are for the minority or the single citizen who only has his rights.

    The schools are having a hard enough time just teaching our children keep your beliefs out of it until after school.

  • jhaymon

    I from SouthEast Texas so this is a home story for me and something i knew was coming. this was not about religion. This is about a law that was put in place because public schools cannot accommodate all views and beliefs. this law is designed to protect student and put to rest all the secular fighting between religions and personal views in a public school. By breaking this law a state funded public school can lose it’s status as a public school and after being warned of this law the school board told the cheerleader you cannot bring the signs on the field while representing our school. nobody ever said the signs weren’t allowed in the stands to be used by private individuals on there time. Well because it was a scripture from the King James version of the holy bible, it automatically became about religion and how Christians never get their way and its illegal to worship god. The Christian community is basically bullying people who don’t share their view at this point. Our media down here has a habit of not researching a story fully before putting it out there and has now caused a religious war zone in this area. go to the kfdm channel 4 website if you want to know the updates or are curious about how imature this area is acting about the whole thing. Personaly, I am very ashamed of what’s going on here. Not all theist are uneducated bullies.

  • one nation

    Public school in the USA are NOT to have religion of any type. How would these students feel of a different religion then theirs was push on them. All Americans have the right to practice or not to practice a religion by our supreme law, the Constitution.