Texas school district takes legal action against Christian cheerleaders
For the past six years, a Texas school district has been locked in a legal battle against a school's cheerleaders for writing Bible versus on the run-through banners, according to Fox News. The cheerleaders preferred these inspirational messages to the standard football banners most schools use around the country.
In October of last year, Texas Ninth Court Appeals ruled in favor of the Kountze Independent School District cheerleaders, saying the "'cheerleaders' speech expressed on the run-through banners is best characterized as the pure private speech of the students."
The “banners were held by public school cheerleaders while they were cheering for the school’s football team, while they were in uniform at a school-sponsored event, and while they were on the school’s football field to which access was limited by the school,” school district attorney Thomas Brandt wrote.
The cheer team is sponsered by First Liberty Institute, which is one of the nation's top religious liberty firms.
According to Fox News, attorney Jeremy Dys told the Todd Starnes Radio Show the cheerleaders “have a right to be able to craft messages of their choosing on paper they purchased using paint that they had bought.”
"This is the private speech of these cheerleaders and for the school district to censor that speech violates the Constitution,” Dys said. “The school district has fought us every step along the way.”
The controversy began when the school district responded to complaints by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and banned the cheerleaders from writing the verses. After this, the parents of the cheerleaders decided to sue the district. The FFRF are full supporters of the separation between church and state. They also support topics such as atheism, non-theism, and agnosticism. The FFRF claimed that the verses on the banners violated constitutional law by not separating church from state, according to KFDM.
According to Fox News, Justice Charles Kreger wrote that “given the nature of the expressive activity – a hand-drawn, playful paper banner, displayed by cheerleaders engaged in an extra-curricular activity, only momentarily before the football team runs through the banner – it is highly unlikely that the banner would appear to those in attendance at the game to contain a message endorsed by the school.”