FLOWER MOUND, Texas — A public high school in Texas has reversed its decision to remove a sponsor’s business slogan that it’s “all about Jesus” from the bass fishing club jerseys after receiving a letter from a nationally-recognized religious liberties organization.
According to reports, Texas Flower Mound High School had put out the call for sponsors for its competitive bass fishing team earlier this year. For a donation of $200, sponsors would have their name and logo placed on both the team shirts and website for the next four years.
In September, 1st Choice Marine, led by Wess Jones, decided to sponsor the club in part because Jones’ daughter is on the team. He then submitted his business logo, which includes its motto, “It’s not about us, it’s all about Jesus.”
However, Principal Sonya Lail said that the slogan could not be used.
“I love the 1st Choice Marine Logo and the slogan,” Coach Steve Davis advised Jones via email. “The Christian affiliation will drive me straight to them when I need work on my boat. However, the administration says that I cannot use the slogan with the logo as we are a public school and it would put us in real hot water. So, are they okay if I put the logo on the jersey but omit the slogan, or do we return the check?”
Jones replied that the school could go ahead and use just the logo since there were time constraints for printing, but that he desired to reach out to administration about the matter for the future.
But to Jones’ surprise, his logo was also completely redesigned as well in being placed on the bass team website among other sponsors.
The religious liberties organization First Liberty then became involved, sending a letter to Lail and District Superintendent Kevin Rogers that noted both the rejection of the slogan and the redesign of the logo.
“[W]ithout the input or permission of Mr. Jones, Flower Mound High School and Lewisville Independent School District invented an entirely new logo for 1st Choice Marine,” the letter stated. “In the school’s version, the 1st Choice Marine logo … not only fails to reflect the owner’s religious beliefs, it alters the business’ name, removes all previous branding, and eliminates the company’s essential contact information.”
“Flower Mound High School and Lewisville Independent School District received all of the benefit of the $200 investment by 1st Choice Marine while Mr. Jones has received only unlawful censorship of his business and religious viewpoints,” it said.
First Liberty therefore requested that officials remove the “illegitimate logo” and replace it with the initial submission, contending that administrators had unlawfully engaged in viewpoint discrimination and should have “remained neutral with regard to Mr. Jones’ and 1st Choice Marine’s private religious speech.”
Hours following receipt of the letter, the school and district changed their mind.
“MHS Bass Club is a student-founded and student-led group separate from Flower Mound High School. The organization is not affiliated with or sponsored by Lewisville ISD. As such, the students in the club are free to make decisions regarding who may pay to sponsor their club and which logos are placed on their jerseys, website, and/or other areas under their control,” the district said in a statement.
“Flower Mound HS administration therefore cannot require prior approval for such sponsorship or logos,” it noted. “The district will not further interfere in which logos or sponsorship the FMHS Bass Club chooses to accept.”