Published September 30, 2012
Cheerleaders in a Texas town will be allowed to include Bible and religious messages on signs at sporting events after receiving a temporary restraining order against a high school’s ban.
The Kountze Independent School District banned the messages this month after the Freedom From Religion Foundation accused it of violating the Constitution.
“I called our legal counsel and they recommended to me that we instruct all administrators in the district that religious signs or messages would no longer be permitted at school district events and that student groups and their sponsors were to be notified of the prohibition effective immediately,” Superintendent Kevin Weldon told Fox News.
But the Liberty Institute, an advocacy organization fighting the ban, won a restraining order from a Texas district court that puts the school’s decision on hold until an Oct. 4 hearing.
The high school football team runs through the giant banners before each game.
“Our boys always pray on the field before the game,” Stacy Trotter, a parent, told Fox News. “They got the idea to give inspiration to the football team (with the Bible verse banners).”
Mike Johnson, a senior counsel a the Liberty Institute, says Texas state law and the Constitution supports the cheerleaders and their message.
“The Supreme Court said more than 40 years ago and many courts have repeated it ever since, that students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights to free speech when they walk through the schoolhouse gates,” he told Fox News.
Dan Barker, a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, disagreed.
“There’s a difference between free speech and government speech,” he said. “When those cheerleaders are wearing the uniform, when they’re at an official public high school event, they are not speaking for themselves -- they are representing the school, which has a diversity of viewpoints.”
“School as a form of government must be neutral and include all viewpoints and not offend any viewpoints at that school,” he added.
Fox News' Todd Starnes contributed to this report.