A Texas judge ruled Thursday that high school cheerleaders are within their rights to display verses from the Bible on banners at school sporting events. According to the Associated Press, State District Judge Steve Thomas wrote in his decision that no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners” at games and pep rallies.
The ruling came in response to a suit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which filed a complaint about religious-themed banners carried by Kountze High School cheerleaders with slogans like “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and “Be not afraid for the Lord your God is always with you.”
The complainants argued that the display of the banners constitutes an endorsement of the Christian religion by a publicly-funded school, violating the First Amendment’s ban on government establishing or endorsing an official religion.
The cheerleaders and school district were defended by Plano, Texas-based nonprofit law firm The Liberty Institute, whose spokesperson, Hiram Sasser, said, “This is a great victory for the cheerleaders and now they’re going to be able to have their banners.”
Also supporting the cheerleaders were Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who filed special papers to intervene in the case on the students’ behalf.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.