Hindu, Muslim, Jewish Groups Join Fight Against Texas Cheerleaders’ Bible Banners

Cheerleaders BannerKOUNTZE, Tx. – Four months after a district judge ruled that cheerleaders could legally display Bible verse banners at school football games, several religious organizations have joined a court brief challenging the decision.

As previously reported, public school cheerleaders in the tiny east Texas community of Kountze are fighting for the right to display banners with inspirational Bible verses at sporting events. Following a complaint last year by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, school officials ordered the cheerleaders to stop including Scriptures on their signs. However, the Liberty Institute—a religious rights organization—legally challenged the school’s action, and in early May a Texas judge ruled that the banner displays were constitutional.

Despite the ruling in the cheerleaders’ favor, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Thursday filed a 79-page “friend of the court” brief in Texas’ Ninth District Court of Appeals. Although the document was written by ACLU attorneys, several other organizations are listed as sponsors of the motion, including the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Muslim Advocates, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Hindu American Foundation, the Sikh Coalition and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“According to the 2010 U.S. Religion Census, more Muslims live in Texas than any other state,” the ACLU asserted in a news release announcing the participation of the groups. “Texas is second only to California in the number of Hindus and ranks third in the number of Buddhists.”

As explained in the legal brief, these organizations believe the cheerleaders’ banners violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The brief argues that “robust enforcement of the Establishment Clause is a vital and necessary means of ensuring that freedom of individual conscience can flourish in our society.”

“Robust enforcement of Establishment Clause principles,” the brief continues, “is especially important in public schools: Students are more susceptible to the harms of school-sponsored religious messages and exercise; and public schools play a unique role in our democracy by bringing together students of diverse religious backgrounds and preparing them for their responsibilities as citizens.”

In a Friday statement, Gregory Lipper of Americans United for Separation of Church and State condemned the cheerleaders’ actions as unconstitutional “religious exercises.”

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“Students have the right to take part in school activities without being pressured to participate in religious exercises,” he stated. “And the school has an obligation to protect the religious freedom of all of its students—not just those in the majority.”

In a similar statement, ACLU spokespersons claimed that the Bible verse-touting banners make “Friday night lights … more like a Sunday morning sermon.”

David Starnes of the Liberty Institute says it is reprehensible that Kountze school officials and the ACLU are “fighting to censor the private religious messages of the cheerleaders.”

Following this observation, school attorney Tom Brandt asserted that the school has in no way “cozied up” with the ACLU—even though the school district is also fighting to ban the religious banners.

“It’s completely outrageous for anyone to suggest in any way, shape or form that the school district is partnering with the ACLU,” Brandt said, according to the Beaumont Enterprise.

Despite the opposition from the various groups, Starnes remains optimistic about the situation.

“We understand that the Kountze School Board and their ACLU allies are fighting against us with everything they have, but we believe the law and the facts are on our side, and we will prevail, he stated.

Photo: Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals

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  • Chas_a_stephens

    I look at all of these vitriolic comments by probably otherwise fair-minded adults who think it’s ok to bully those of other faiths (or lack thereof). I still recall being a member of your group – just as passionate as you. After all, since we have the truth on our side, we’re just doing these people a favor. We are just being compassionate Christians who don’t want these infidels to burn in hell for eternity. Right?

    The beauty of knowing that you have the one true faith is that any action in support of this faith is justified. And every action or person opposed is evil. I can only imagine the kind of hateful treatment that students in the “out group” are subjected to at this school.

    I’m glad to know, however, that there are organizations who don’t just abandon the rights of our most vulnerable, just because they were unlucky enough to have to grow up in the heartland of Christian America.

  • JPT

    This is not a nation of Christian supremacy. The Constitution and government have no opinion on God; they do not endorse one man’s God over another. The only prudent tack is to lean toward neutrality in para-governmental settings.

    Those who demand an audience for public displays of piety are treating their faith as if it were a superstition.

  • skeptic

    “fighting to censor the private religious messages of the cheerleaders”
    That’s just it, these are not their “private messages” – these are messages presented by a school sanctioned group in school uniforms as if the school is supporting/favoring their religious views.
    School is for education, sports are for exercise, and church is for religion – where it belongs – please, help keep religion out of public/tax payer supported forums.

  • Arguing for respect of and “right” of anyone to practice any “religion” is the same as arguing for the “right” of Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, Jews, Satanists or any other anti-Christ religion to practice theirs.

    And it’s the 1st. Amendment (along with the constitution itself) that’s the problem, not the solution.   That’s what allows all these anti-Christ religions to exist here in the first place.

    They worship a “god” alright, but NOT The God Of the Holy Scriptures.   “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers.”

    This Constitution (and its 1st Amendment) opened the door for and allowed over time, by gradual increments, for His people to turn from their Christian ways and become, in essence, a pagan nation.  Here’s just a couple of example of the numerous pagan symbols that most think nothing of:

    What do you think that big male erection (The Obelisk, Phallic Symbol) in the District of Criminals by the pool is doing there, just a nice decoration for the Park ?!   How about the female goddess in the harbor ?! 

    Moreover, this action is before a court system symbolized by the Roman goddess Justitia (just to let you know what system of law you’re really under), with judges (i.e. “unbelievers”) in those wicked Admiralty/Maritime/Roman Civil law courts bearing her symbol (http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/a/justicegoddess.htm), that plague our nation with corruption like a cancer ! 

    Are they going to judge righteously ??    How’s that been workin’ out so far ?

    There’s a whole lot more.

    Those of His People that argue for and/or practice such “religions” need to repent and Be fully Immersed in His Name. Acts 2: 38 (which the Catholic church changed to sprinkling around 1000 or so AD.)

    The only solution for this nation is to turn back to Him, His Laws, Statutes and Judgments, His Kingdom/Will on earth.

  • Steven

    The have the right to do this because it’s student led and the school authorities had nothing to do with it!! Beside a this is clearly legal and they should keep doing this because the other groups opposing this are in the wrong!! They are American citizens and are protected by the first amendment of the constitution which clearly states “we have the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of press”!!!!!!!!