January 30, 2016

Texas Supreme Court sides with cheerleaders on ‘Bible banners’

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Texas state with the flag colors.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Texas state with the flag colors.

AUSTIN, Texas  (Reuters) The Texas Supreme Court sided with a group of school cheerleaders and their parents who are seeking to have a lower court give them the right to put religious messages and biblical quotes on banners at football games.

The decision did not grant the right to display the messages but sent the case to an appeals court that had previously said there was no need to rule because the school district already allowed the messages on the so-called “Bible banners.”

The banners have been displayed as football teams took to the field in the east Texas town of Kountze.

“The District no longer prohibits the cheerleaders from displaying religious signs or messages on banners at school-sponsored events. But that change hardly makes ‘absolutely clear’ that the District will not reverse itself after this litigation is concluded,” the high court said Friday (Jan. 29).

The case started about three years ago and became a focal point at the time in the debate over a school’s role in promoting religion. The Supreme Court did not decide if the Bible banners should be considered private speech or government speech.

The Republican leaders of Texas, who have stood by the cheerleaders, saw the court’s decision as a victory for religious freedom while the group that brought the initial complaint over the banners to the school district saw the court’s decision as narrow and limited.

“I’m pleased the Texas Supreme Court has ensured that the Kountze cheerleaders will be able to continue defending their right to express their faith – the most fundamental of American freedoms,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which brought the complaint, said it sees the banners as violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution regarding government prohibitions on establishing religion.

“They (the banners) signal to students and members of the community who are non-Christian that they are outsiders,” said Patrick Elliott, a lawyer with the foundation.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)

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  • Tom Downs

    Somehow I can’t imagin high schoolers choosing those verses.

  • Diogenes

    The cheerleaders are merely employing their ‘free exercise” rights granted under the 1st Amendment. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

  • samuel johnston

    Children do not have sufficient knowledge and judgement to make policy decisions. Unfortunately, it appears that neither do the adults who make up the Texas Supreme Court. This nonsense will stop as soon as the school gets a few Muslem cheerleaders!

  • SpaghettiMonster

    In a school environment students are allowed to pray or practice their religion in a non-disruptive manner. I personally look forward to seeing students forming denominational clicks and claiming that other groups aren’t really Christian, like the colonies did when they burned people as witches. That’ll be entertaining (^_^)

  • SpaghettiMonster

    Well said! (^_^)

  • SpaghettiMonster

    I’d love to see the verses about dashing children against rocks or lusting after the genitals of animals. I’m sure that’d grab some headlines :-p

  • Diogenes

    vis’ a vis’ “children,” and “sufficient knowledge and judgement” our current body of law leans toward such children obtaining an abortion without their parent’s consent and knowledge. If this is sound “policy” I’m ready for a little unsound policy.

  • rjc

    “God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just.” (Surat al-Mumtahana, 8)

  • Werner Wolf

    Stay calm, it won´t harm your right to have another opinion.

  • Werner Wolf

    I don´t think it will make a diffenrence as long as the muslims stay peaceful as the majority of the muslim population in America.