Public schools have come under fire a lot recently for having a connection to Christianity. Because organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union want to keep the state and the church as far apart as possible, they target schools and other public institutions whenever they feel like they’re getting too comfortable with Christianity. In line with this groups, one Texas high school banned a group of its cheerleaders from using Bible verses on their banners. But the girls did not want to take that command without a fight. They called up their lawyers and took the school to court. And the cheerleaders won the opportunity to use Bible verses in their banners.
First Liberty reported that the cheerleaders from Kountze High School had always employed banners during their games with inspiring Bible messages to keep their team energized and strong.
When the superintendent received a letter of complaint from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2012, he caved and told the girls to stop using the Bible verses.
But the cheerleaders were not willing to comply. They fought back and took their case to the Texas Supreme Court on the grounds that their First Amendment right to free speech was being violated.
And guess what happened? In January 2016, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Bible messages. The unanimous decision wanted to allow the cheerleaders the opportunity to use the inspiring messages to keep their team winning.
But that was not the end of the battle.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation refused to give up. They appealed the decision. But it proved to be futile. In September 2017, the 9th Court of Appeals backed the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to allow the cheerleaders to use the Bible if they wanted to.
The Appeals Court, which is often liberal-leaning, ruled that the cheerleaders had the right to use the Bible quotes because they were part of their “private speech.”
Not only was this a victory for the cheerleaders, but it also served as an example of what other Texas schools could do if they wanted to incorporate the Bible into their learning environment.
Hiram Sasser, the general counsel for First Liberty, which defended the cheerleader’s right to use the Bible at school, said:
“We are pleased that once again religious liberty is vindicated and that cheerleaders across the state of Texas have the right to have religious messages on banners at high school football games. No school district should be able to censor, ban, or claim ownership of the private religious speech of its students.”
These high school cheerleaders were courageous to go against the status quo and fight for what they believed in. Even though the big Freedom From Religion Foundation did not want them to use the Bible at the sports games, they wanted the messages and were willing to fight for their right to free speech.
This victory could have implications for other states that want their students to be allowed to use Christian messages in their sports banners.
What do you think about the cheerleaders winning this legal battle?