The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 18, 2012

Judge expected to rule in Bible verse banner suit



AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge is expected to rule Thursday whether a group of cheerleaders should be allowed to continue quoting biblical scripture on banners at high school football games.

District officials barred the Kountze High School cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious messages such as, "If God is for us, who can be against us," after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained. The advocacy group says the messages violated the First Amendment clause barring the government — or a publicly funded school district, in this case — from establishing or endorsing a religion.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders sued, arguing that the ban violates their free speech rights, and state District Judge Steve Thomas issued an injunction allowing them to display the banners until he could issue a ruling, which he was expected to do at a hearing later Thursday.

State Attorney General Greg Abbott filed court papers to intervene in the lawsuit, backing the cheerleaders' position that the district's ban violated their free speech rights. The Texas Education Code also states that schools must respect the rights of students to express their religious beliefs.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is dedicated to the separation of church and state, also intervened saying in the context of a football game it was unclear who was responsible for the messages, the school or the cheerleaders.

"The speech in question is government speech or, at a minimum, school-sponsored speech," the group said in court papers. "If the majority of the cheerleaders were atheists, would a court support their 'right' to hold up a banner insulting Christianity or all believers? The district has every right to simply prohibit all run-through and on-field banners."

Republican Gov. Rick Perry also has spoken out in favor of the cheerleaders.

"Anyone who is expressing their faith should be celebrated, from my perspective, in this day and age of instant gratification, this me-first culture that we see all too often," Perry said Wednesday. "We're a nation built on the concept of free expression of ideas. We're also a culture built on the concept that the original law is God's law, outlined in the Ten Commandments."

1
Text Only
Sports
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee