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A district judge recently ruled that the cheerleading team at Kountze High School in Kountze, Texas should be allowed to use religious verses and sayings on banners at football games for now. The judge based his decision on the fact that the students have a constitutional right to express their religious beliefs on school grounds.
One such sign features Philippians 3:14 which says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus.”
The judge was absolutely right to allow the school to continue using signs with religious messages. The signs do not harm anyone, but simply profess a belief held by a certain percentage of the student body. The signs do not force anyone to believe what they profess and are completely within First Amendment rights.
A trial is set for June 24, 2013, but for now the cheerleaders are allowed to carry on the tradition of the signs throughout the current football season.
The case came about when a group of cheerleaders and their parents sued the school district for barring the use of the signs after a Wisconsin-based group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, attacked the signs, claiming that they were going against the Constitution by allowing a public school to endorse religion. School superintendent Kevin Weldon immediately ordered the tradition stopped, saying the district had a duty to obey the law even if it went against the religious beliefs of administrators and school board members.
Again, the students, as long as they are not forcing their beliefs on anyone, are totally justified in making these signs in support of their sports teams, specifically the football team.
“The Constitution does not command religious silence at school. It just prevents the school from dictating religious belief. This was the students doing it on their own, and they have every right to do so,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to Reuters.
The cheerleaders, since they are independently funding their messages and are not forcing their religion onto anyone, should be commended and praised for standing up for what they believe in and professing their faith in the face of critics.