Judge Gives Blessing to Cheerleaders' Bible Banners

...but only if school district approves

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 9, 2013 8:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – Gimme a "V" for "VICTORY!" The Kountze High School cheerleading squad can display their Bible-thumping banners at games—assuming the school district allows it—State District Judge Steven Thomas ruled yesterday. Thomas concluded that putting Christian messages on banners at public school sporting events didn't constitute a violation of the First Amendment's "Establishment Clause," which forbids the government from backing any given religion, the AP reports. "They're going to be able to have their banners," said an attorney for the nonprofit representing the squad. "We won and they didn't."

But the lawyer for the Texas school district noted that the judge's ruling recognized the banners as the school's speech, not the students', meaning the district still has the right to prohibit the banners or restrict their content. He says the district may ask the judge for clarification on the ruling. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League decried the ruling, with the latter saying it "flies in the face of clear US Supreme Court rulings."

Kountze High School cheerleaders, from left, Savannah Short, Macy Matthews, Kieara Moffett and Rebekah Richardson speak to reporters Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Beaumont, Texas.
Kountze High School cheerleaders, from left, Savannah Short, Macy Matthews, Kieara Moffett and Rebekah Richardson speak to reporters Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Beaumont, Texas.   (AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise, Guiseppe Barranco)
The cheerleaders of Kountze Middle School use their faith-based  signs at the middle school football game held at Kountze High School, September 20, 2012 in Kountze, Texas.
The cheerleaders of Kountze Middle School use their faith-based signs at the middle school football game held at Kountze High School, September 20, 2012 in Kountze, Texas.   (AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise, Randy Edwards)
The cheerleaders of Kountze Middle School use their faith-based  signs at the middle school football game held at Kountze High School on Thursday, September 20, 2012.
The cheerleaders of Kountze Middle School use their faith-based signs at the middle school football game held at Kountze High School on Thursday, September 20, 2012.   (AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise, Randy Edwards)
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