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Cheerleaders win temporary injunction in high-profile free speech case
October 18th, 2012
04:14 PM ET

Cheerleaders win temporary injunction in high-profile free speech case

By Jason Morris, CNN

Dallas (CNN)– Cheerleaders from a small eastern Texas town have won the first battle in their crusade to display Christian religious messages on banners at their high school's football games.

State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction Thursday in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013, Thomas effectively allows the cheerleaders to keep displaying Bible-quoting signs at Kountze athletic events through the end of this current school year.

Macy Matthews, a 15-year-old Kountze sophomore, was eating lunch at cheerleading camp last July when her friend Megan became inspired by images she saw on social media.

"She saw a picture on Pinterest of a team that had made a run-through sign with a scripture on it, and as we were sitting down eating, she showed us and asked if we would be interested in doing that for the football season. So, we all talked about it," Matthews remembered. "We all loved the idea and thought it was really cool and encouraging."

Macy's mother, Coti Matthews, said the girls were excited to use Biblical phrases they considered motivational and uplifting for both the Kountz Lions and their opponents.

"It's their Christian belief, and they liked the idea and thought it was very positive, instead of doing traditional banners that say things like, 'Cage the Eagles,' or 'Bash the Tigers,' she said.

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Instead, before the first three home games this season, the football players bolted onto the field through banners bearing New Testament verses such as "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13; "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14; and "If God is for us, who can be against us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31.

Phrases such as those have embroiled the cheerleaders from the small east Texas town of Kountze in a legal controversy: Are the banners, when used at a public school event, a legitimate individual expression of free speech, or do they violate the concept of separation of church and state?

The cheerleaders recently found out via an intercom announcement during the last period of school that they were no longer allowed to use Bible verses on their run-through banners. Macy Matthews said the decision came abruptly, with no explanation. "I was shocked, but I was also very hurt that we couldn't do it anymore, and I didn't understand how we were violating any rights," Matthews told CNN.

Thomas agreed enough to impose the injunction in Matthews v. Kountze Independent School District, ruling that, among other things, the plaintiffs would "suffer a probably imminent and irreparable injury in the interim" without the injunction.

Texas' Attorney General Greg Abbott praised the judge's ruling.

"Today's decision is an important victory for the cheerleaders' freedom of religion. The Constitution has never demanded that students check their religious beliefs at the schoolhouse door. Students' ability to express their religious views adds to the diversity of thought that has made this country so strong," Abbott said. "Texas law supports students' right to freely express their religious beliefs without discrimination. We will not allow groups or individuals to wage a war on religion by trying to intimidate students into embracing a secular mindset."

How this case went to court

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, that advocates the separation of church and state, ignited the spark that brought the story into the national spotlight. The organization said it received a complaint about the religious nature of the cheerleaders' signs from somebody in the community, but citing privacy concerns, wouldn't reveal any additional details. The foundation then sent a letter to the Kountze Independent School District, claiming that the religious nature of the cheerleaders' signs was illegal.

Based on a precedent set in a 2000 Supreme Court case, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe, the Kountze Independent School District's attorneys advised Superintendent Kevin Weldon to immediately ban the religious banners. In that case emanating from southeast Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that it would not allow the broadcast of student-initiated and student-led prayer over the public address system before high school football games.

After the Kountze Independent School District's decision, the cheerleaders and their families filed suit on September 20. Judge Thomas issued a temporary two-week restraining order later that day, allowing the cheerleaders to continue using their "spirit run-through banners," and extended that order another two weeks on October 4.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Thomas Brandt, the lawyer who represents the Kountze ISD and Superintendent Weldon, says this situation is very similar to Santa Fe v. Jane Doe, and in good faith, they asked the court for clarity and interpretation of the law so they can do the right thing.

"The school district is trying to walk a very thin line here, and to obey the law. That's the primary motive, the primary focus of the school district," he said. "On the one hand, we're trying not be endorsing any particular religion. On the other hand, we're not trying to be hostile to religion. We're trying to walk that very thin line of this elusive neutrality that we are required to achieve."

Texas intervention

On Wednesday, the state of Texas intervened, filing a petition with the Texas District Court of Hardin County to support the Kountze cheerleaders on the basis of defending the constitutionality of Texas statues.

"We will not allow atheist groups from outside the state of Texas to come into the state to use menacing and misleading and intimidating tactics to try to bully schools to bow down to the altar of secular beliefs," Abbott said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Attorney General's office explained that the Texas Religious Viewpoints Anti–Discrimination Act requires school districts to treat a student's voluntary expression of religious views in the same manner that the district treats a student's expression of any other point of view.

"Those banners, which the cheerleaders independently produce on their own time with privately funded supplies, are perfectly constitutional. The State of Texas intervened in this case to defend the cheerleaders' right to exercise their personal religious beliefs - and to defend the constitutionality of a state law that protects religious liberties for all Texans," the statement read.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry even Skyped with the cheerleaders last week to show his support.

"As government leaders, we owe it to people of all religions to protect expressions of faith, to ensure everyone has a right to voice their opinions and worship as they see fit," Gov. Perry said.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation said it was "shocked" and "flabbergasted" at the intervention by Attorney General Abbott and Gov. Perry, calling those actions "highly unprofessional." The foundation's lawyer, Randall Kallinen, accused the politicians of pandering to their Republican constituents for votes.

"It's 100% politics. In their party, that is a fact that it's in their platform to be more favorable to the religious right," Kallinen said.

He added that he thinks today's ruling was "purely a political decision," and that if the case was tried in federal court, there would be a very different outcome.

"I doubt the case will even go to trial," Kallinen told CNN. "The people being sued and the judge have to be re-elected, so I don't see how we can get very far."

Interpreting the First Amendment

Kallinen argued that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause prohibits the government from endorsing a particular religion.

"People have freedom of speech. So, individuals have freedom of speech, but also there is the right that the government shall establish no religion. So, the question becomes, 'Is what the cheerleaders are doing private speech,or is it school-sponsored speech?'" Kallinen said. "What the school district is saying is, 'You are in the uniforms that have the name on it. You are in the property of the school. It's a school football game, and you are putting these religious banners onto school property. Therefore, it is school-sponsored speech.' And when it is school-sponsored speech, then it is subject to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and that is that the government should not promote, endorse, or advance a particular religion."

Mike Johnson, who is representing many of the cheerleaders' families as senior counsel for the Liberty Institute - a nonprofit group which says it is "committed to defending and restoring religious liberty across America" - disagrees that the banners are school-sponsored, and argues that this is a quintessential example of students' private free speech and expression.

"If you have student-led, student-initiated expression, it is to be regarded as private speech. And because it is private speech, it can't be censored or silenced by the government, short of some reasonable limitations on school kids such as obscenity or a material and substantial disruption to the school day. We don't have any of that here," Johnson said.

Interpretation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause is something Brandt says can be "a bit confused and confusing."

"Most legal scholars and many judges will admit that the opinions that come out in the Establishment Clause area have been lacking in consistency," Brandt told CNN. "There doesn't seem to have any clear guidance as to individual circumstances."

Kountze locals say town is "united"

A Facebook page started after the school district's decision called "Support Kountze Kids Faith," now has over 48,000 members, far surpassing the reaches of the roughly 2,100 residents of Kountze.

Coti Matthews says the whole town of Kountze supports her daughter and the cheerleaders, and believes they should be able to exercise their freedoms without interference.

"It was student-initiated, student-oriented. The school doesn't pay for any supplies. The school doesn't buy their uniforms. The school does not pay one dollar for anything having to do with cheerleading," she said. "The parents buy the uniforms, the camp clothes, shoes, pom-poms. The school doesn't purchase the paper or the paint or anything to make those banners."

Her daughter Macy looks forward to making religious-themed banners for the rest of her high school career.

"I would like to do this every year," Macy said. "We get into it pretty big."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Courts

soundoff (859 Responses)
  1. Bootyfunk

    christians cry and cry when they are told not to bring their cult beliefs into schools or courtrooms. no one is telling them they cant' worship - they just can't do so on the public dime. boohoohoo!

    October 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • pugh7755

      It is not on the tax payers dime when the cheerleaders make the signs at home and are privately funded. Please learn to read before making asinine comments.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • lefty

      @ Pugh
      They are cheerleaders REPRESENTING the school. They are standing on the field (public money to build/maintain) holding these signs. They can quit the cheerleading team, buy a ticket and sit in the bleachers if they want to hold up bible verses. Please learn to look at all the facts before making asinine comments.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  2. Portland tony

    They wouldn't do this if the team's name was "Red Devils" or "Blue Devils" as so many HS teams are called! Much ado about nothing. Cheerleaders are supposed to bring solidarity to the team's fans. This they have done!

    October 18, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      don't bring your cult beliefs to school. simple.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Feeding Christians to the Kountze Lions seems ozymoronic somehow.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • === o ===

      That's right, Booty. Similarly, the decent father tells his cheerleader daughter named Ruby: RuuuuUUbeeeee . . .don't take your love to town.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  3. DREAM15X

    As a faithful Christian I am GLAD its about time someone stood up for our right to have our belief system and NOT ashamed of it! Every other group in America has rights anymore, except Christians. We are simply bashed as the outcasts and this is apparent from the comments on this subject. May God bless these girls and show them and their families favor all the days of their lives.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Almost 90% of americans identify themselves as christian, and every president for the past 200 years has been christian. You're a dumbazz if you think christianity is being oppressed in the US.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • OneTruth

      Enough with the pity party. This image of poor downtrodden chistians just isn't true. If you want to believe in myths and superstitions – fine but don't force those ignorant, primitive views on others; but then when you get pushback you couldn't play the victim.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Damocles

      @Dream

      Gosh golly wow I am so glad someone is finally standing up as well! I mean if no one stood up for your rights there would only be 99 churches on every block instead of the 100 that you so richly deserve.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • pugh7755

      Mobey Shtick, you should check facts before you post. Less than 90% of Americans call themselves Christians, even less ARE Christians.

      Furthermore, when muslim children are allowed to pray in school and Christian children are not...that pretty much sounds like discrimination to me, as does employers not allowing workers to wear a cross around their neck (even in environments where wearing jewelry is not a hazard), and children making their own banners with their own money, and when saying Merry Christmas is not allowed but Happy holidays is forced, and Happy Halloween (which is a pagan religious holiday is ok. But you don't hear Christians whining and protesting and calling for Happy Halloween to be changed to Happy Holidays. Why is it that atheist and non-believers are so threatened by anything Christian? Here's the answer...satan has always feared the word of God. Want proof? Just as satan cannot ignore God's word neither can non-believers and atheists. If non-believers and atheists do not believe in God, why are they so afraid of His word. Are they not intelligent enough to just ignore it and let Christians just "make fools" of themselves? No, they can't. Because satan won't allow them to do so. Non-believers and atheist are always crying that they are not going to be told how to live their lives by a 2000 year old "fairy tale", yet they don't realize that they are still being controlled by part of that so-called fairy tale. I am rewarded for my obedience to God's word; however, non-believers and atheists will suffer severely for their obedience and they either prefer it or don't realize it. Who really loses in the end if they are wrong or just want to be defiant? I know it won't be me. Even if I'm wrong, in the end, I still win. Can non-believers and atheists say the same?

      October 19, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Veritas

      Pugh.
      Please provide examples of these:
      1)when Muslim children are allowed to pray in school and christian children are not
      2)employers not allowing workers to wear a cross around their neck (in environments where wearing jewelry is not a hazard)
      3)saying "Merry Christmas" is not allowed
      4)saying "Happy holidays" is forced

      Atheist and non-believers are not threatened by anything christian. We don't want your fairy tales forced down our throats. There is separation of church and state. If you want to pray to an imaginary being – do it in private.

      Pascal's wager is totally flawed so don't rely on that for your salvation.

      October 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  4. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    stupid -or phony goons, do religions need dressed half naked nuns to promote GAWD, denier of truth absolute,crooks.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  5. dilberth

    "There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed."

    – Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Weiss v. District Board, March 18, 1890

    Religion: A fool-maker and a deal breaker.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  6. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Let's start with some facts.

    – No court specifically prohibited the proseltyzing Cheerleaders.
    – They sued the school district
    – Texas State District 356 Court issued two restraining orders and a temporary injunction until the case can be heard next summer, (long after the election, and football season).

    Well, it is Texas, south east Texas, no less, not too far from the Louisiana border and the gulf coast.

    ----------------–
    So here's the detailed sequence:

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin sent a letter to the Kountze Independent School District, claiming that the religious nature of the cheerleaders' signs was illegal.

    the Kountze Independent School District's attorneys advised Superintendent Kevin Weldon to immediately ban the religious banners.

    September 20: The cheerleaders and their families filed suit. The Liberty Institute's Mike Johnson, is representing the students. There was a brief submitted to Judge Thomas from influential Texas authority, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Judge Thomas issued a temporary two-week restraining order later that day, allowing the cheerleaders to continue using their "spirit run-through banners,"

    October 4: Judge Thomas extended that order another two weeks.

    October 11: State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013

    It all makes me wonder whether Texas State District 356 Judge incumbent Steve Thomas is up for re-election in a couple of weeks.
    http://www.co.hardin.tx.us/ips/cms/districtcourt/356thdistrictJudge.html

    October 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Since it's the scary, spooky Halloween season, here's the lawyer's website:
      http://www.libertyinsttute.org/

      October 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Do over ...

      Since it's the scary, spooky Halloween season, here's the lawyer's website:
      http://www.libertyinstitute.org

      October 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Chad

      why would a group based in Wisconsin care?

      "We will not allow atheist groups from outside the state of Texas to come into the state to use menacing and misleading and intimidating tactics to try to bully schools to bow down to the altar of secular beliefs," Abbott said Wednesday.

      In a statement, the Attorney General's office explained that the Texas Religious Viewpoints Anti–Discrimination Act requires school districts to treat a student's voluntary expression of religious views in the same manner that the district treats a student's expression of any other point of view.

      "Those banners, which the cheerleaders independently produce on their own time with privately funded supplies, are perfectly consti tutional. The State of Texas intervened in this case to defend the cheerleaders' right to exercise their personal religious beliefs – and to defend the consti tutionality of a state law that protects religious liberties for all Texans," the statement read.

      if you really want to live in a state enforced atheistic society, why dont you emigrate to North Korea?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Don't be silly Chad. It's in no one's interest for people to advance a particular religious idea with even the perception of state backing. It only seems so to you when the religion in question may be something you want to advance.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Damocles

      @Chad

      I heard a baby cry out in terror and figured you must have posted something.

      I'm sure you want to live in a country where religion has run red, I mean wild, in the streets?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Chad

      North Korea
      Cuba
      USSR
      China

      USSR is gone, but three still left. Nirvana for you.. What are you still doing here?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Chad, some of us are entirely devoted to making the workings of our own Government properly atheistic. We have a vision for America and care enough to work towards it. Why would we want to leave?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Chad

      ====
      Accusation: @@Tom, Tom. the Other One is dishonest and disingenuous

      Definition of terms:
      ==Dishonesty: lack of honesty or integrity : disposition to defraud or deceive
      ==Disingenuousness: Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating

      Evidence backing up accusation
      @Tom, Tom. the Other One "You once attempted to advance the idea that the Universe was created in the sense that a tropical depression creates a cyclone. You wanted to move on from that seamlessly, you thought, to the Universe was created in the sense that an artist creates a painting."

      @Chad "Blatantly not true, never said any such thing.. If you post where I said that, I will mail you $50."

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One " Regarding the statement on how you argue for a created Universe. I stand by it."

      Explanation
      @TTTOO acted dishonestly because he accused me of saying something that I never said.
      @TTTOO acted disingenuous because when confronted with the truth, he then went on and attempted to re-frame his earlier dishonest statement.

      =======================

      on top of that.. he's dedicated to making the US Govt properly atheistic.

      I will pay for your plane ticket.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I am a member, lifetime, of the Freedom from religion Foundation, and proudly. They are doing great things to keep religion, not just Christianity, out of government. It's not that hard people, KEEP religion in your home and in your church, and OUT of government.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Chad, your Bible is not the word of God. Your prayers are to empty air. You can claim otherwise. You do at great length and you are opposed. But I wouldn't ask you to leave the country as you and perhaps other "right-thinking" Americans are willing to ask atheists to do. There is a little streak of fascism in you Chad.

      October 19, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Chad

      LOL

      I guess you like the sound of the word "fascist", but were unfortunately unaware of the actual definition.. 🙂

      Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology.[1][2] Fascists seek to unify their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people through national ident ity.[3][4] The unity of the nation is to be based upon supra personal connections of ancestry and culture through a totalitarian state that seeks the ma ss mobilization of the national community through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics.[3][4]

      oh, and one other thing
      @TTTOO"your Bible is not the word of God"

      I guess you liked the sound of saying it..but didnt realize that by doing so you are actually making a claim.
      Now, the thing with claims is, you have to back them up.

      can you do so? 😉

      you strayed from the safe "atheists dont claim God doesnt exist, they just dont believe He does", and it bit ya..

      October 19, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You exalt Christianity over the individual and seek purity by encouraging people who disagree with you to leave "your" country. Sounds a bit like fascism to me. Maybe you can head it off before it gets to be your dominating character feature.

      Regarding your Bible, it was written, compiled, edited and revised by people. You will claim that they were inspired by God, but you won't be able to show that anyone is ever inspired by God to write or do anything.

      You pray. You will never be able to show that there is a God to hear your prayers.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Not sure how we got here, but ...

      "Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to unify their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people through national ident;ty [like religion*]. The unity of the nation is to be based upon supra personal connections of ancestry and culture through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of the national community through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics." ... and religion*.

      * Added by me.

      Facists love religion as a tool to manipulate the masses under the banner of 'nationalism'.

      Mussolini co-opted Catholicism
      Franco made Catholicism his state religion
      Hitler co-opted Catholicism and Lutheranism (Reichskonkordats etc, "Gott mit uns")

      This idea is expressed best here:
      When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. – Missattributed to SInclair Lewis, but seems to have a life of it's own.

      There are many subtle variations around this theme:

      "Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can't Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling 'The Star Spangled Banner.'" – Harrison Salisbury

      “But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word ‘Fascism’ and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Const;tutional and Traditional Native American Liberty.” – Sinclair Lewis – It Can’t Happen Here (1935)

      Also:
      " When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled "made in Germany"; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, "Americanism." – Halford E. Luccock, Methodist Minister, Yale Professor

      The American Taliban and their political helots are becoming almost ideologically indistinguishable from Fascists. This is really all it takes to make the conversion complete:

      "Fascism is capitalism plus murder." – Upton Sinclair

      With every overlooked mosque burning, we are that much closer to this being true.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Chad

      @TTTOO "your Bible is not the word of God"

      I guess you liked the sound of saying it..but didnt realize that by doing so you are actually making a claim.
      Now, the thing with claims is, you have to back them up.

      can you do so?

      you strayed from the safe "atheists dont claim God doesnt exist, they just dont believe He does", and it bit ya..

      October 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Veritas

      Chad. As has been said to you countless times. Believers claim that there is a god and further that the bible is the word of that god. Those who make extraordinary claims need to provide extraordinary evidence. Let's hear some from you before you go off on the next tangent.

      October 19, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Chad

      this may help you understand why when someone says :"God doesnt exist", or "your Bible is not the word of God"
      they are the ones with the burden of proof..

      pay special attention to the bold parts about shifting the burden of proof..

      note that these came from atheist web sites

      from:
      http://www.freethoughtdebater.org/2012/03/03/atheism-agnosticism-and-burden-of-proof/
      http://atheism.about.com/od/doesgodexist/a/burdenofproof.htm
      http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/logic.html

      The burden of proof is always on the person a sserting something. Shifting the burden of proof, a special case of Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, is the fallacy of putting the burden of proof on the person who denies or questions the as sertion. The source of the fallacy is the ass umption that something is true unless proven otherwise.

      The burden of proof is always on the person who makes a claim. A claim may be positive or negative. For example there may be a claim that "X is real" or "X is unreal." Both types of claims (X and not X) require supporting evidence or logical defense. However, it is much more difficult to prove that something does not exist than that something does exist.
      When anyone makes a claim, either positive or negative, it is the responsibility of the person making the claim to prove it. It is easy to get around the obligation to present proof ("burden of proof"). For example, instead of stating "X is unreal" or "X does not exist," subst itute "I do not believe X is real," or "I do not know of any evidence that X is real."

      October 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Veritas

      You don't seem to understand. You are claiming there is a god and that the bible is the word of that god. You're making the claim so provide some evidence. The argument of "there is no god" can only exist when someone claims that there is a god – that phrase is meaningless in any other context. It is not a claim in itself, it is refuting your claim. So the burden of proof is squarely with the claimer. You.

      October 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Chad

      guess you missed it the first time....

      The burden of proof is always on the person who makes a claim. A claim may be positive or negative. For example there may be a claim that "X is real" or "X is unreal." Both types of claims (X and not X) require supporting evidence or logical defense. However, it is much more difficult to prove that something does not exist than that something does exist.
      When anyone makes a claim, either positive or negative, it is the responsibility of the person making the claim to prove it. It is easy to get around the obligation to present proof ("burden of proof"). For example, instead of stating "X is unreal" or "X does not exist," subst itute "I do not believe X is real," or "I do not know of any evidence that X is real."

      October 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  7. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Imagine the uproar if a group of cheerleaders wanted to raise a banner with the exact same words, except with "LACK OF GOD" in place of "GOD"!

    May our LACK OF GOD help us win the game tonight!
    Praise our LACK OF GOD for helping us win the championship!
    Blah blah blah!

    October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  8. Ting

    God loves football. He doesn't always have time for starving children, but he never misses a football game.

    October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, praise the lord!

      He's always there to guide his chosen quarterback's arm and quicken the step of his chosen running back and strengthen the backs of his chosen linemen.

      Praise him from whom all touchdowns spring.

      Praise him. Hallelujah!

      What about all the sick, starving, war victims and natural disaster victims? Hold on there my children, it's the fourth quarter and my chosen team needs a two-point conversion.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Chad

      Sounds like you arent very familiar with the biblical explanations...

      does it bother you at all that your statements arent theologically accurate? That your statements arent actually directed at the God of Abraham as a result?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Ting

      School me on the Bible Chad. Lord knows I need it.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Chad

      start here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=NIV

      October 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  9. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    There is NO way that a federal appeals court would uphold this ruling. The first ammendment is pretty clear on this, what about those in the stands who are atheist, or muslim, or hindu? Now, if the cheerleaders want to include EVERY religion's iconography on their signs, fine.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • dltdoinglifetogether

      Kudos to these girls. I'm sure if there was a picture of Hitler or the girls would salute the team like the Nazi's did him. Everyone would think, "cool". Every Friday night at our home games, I'm sure 90% of our home crowd doesn't know the rockin music our guy plays over the loud speaker is Christian based music. Toby Mac, Thousand Foot Krutch, RED, Kirk Franklin... I wonder what WI would say to that.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  10. dilberth

    The first time my wife and I went to a high-school football game was the last time my wife and I went to a high-school football game. Those cheerleaders are a real pain with their skimpy outfits and acrobatic stunts. They are not merely cheering, they are yelling and screaming. We came to see a game, not some ostentatious grandiose, fluffy show of legs and midriff. Never again will we go until they ban these little show-offs.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      IF the Cheerleaders keep you from going to see a football game, and distract you, then YOU are NOT a football fan. Stop looking at the cheerleaders, dude, the action is on the field. Idiot.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @collegeguru

      LOL ! 😀

      Peace...

      October 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Cheerleading, the only sport more dangerous than Football. The statistics on the injuries, some of them very serious, is astounding. Americans, if there was any other "thing" out there harming students as much as Football and Cheerleading, they'd be outlawed by the end of the week.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • dilberth

      guru: I have only two words to say to you. They rhyme with "luck" and "dew".

      October 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @dilberth or is it dill weed, anyway, thank you.. but YOU posted a stupid post that was simply the most outrageous fluff I've seen in a while. If you can't take the comments, then keep YOUR comments to yourself. Oh, and ouch... feel better now?

      October 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      It;s like saying, "I went to a High School Baseball game and some kids were in the stands studying. How dare they? I'll never go back until they clean up those kids studying while I'm watching baseball."

      October 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  11. Moby Schtick

    As an atheist, I'm all for such behavior that makes god and the buy-bull simply another "feel-good," americanized-commercialized myth like Paul Bunyan and Babe. I doubt that a single person on the field could explain the context of the verses or discuss their "meaning" intelligently, and less than half could find Philippians without using the index. Yeah, sure, go right ahead and use em; I've got an old Zig Zigler book around here somewhere that they can get quotes from for next year's banners, too.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • dilberth

      I sometimes wonder. Did the Corinthians ever write back? Was Joan of Ark, Noah's wife? Just where on earth is the Sixteenth Chapel? Isn't God's name, Howard? It's in the Lard's prayer. ..."Howard be thy name."

      October 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  12. Terry

    Cheerleaders promoting religion does seem kind of appropriate: bubbleheads promoting erroneous thinking.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • End Religion

      it seems a perfect confluence to me.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Terry,

      I appreciate this sentiment.

      For me, I don't really object to the idea that vacuous teenaged girls from southeast Texas who have had the air in their heads replaced with bible verses want to 'testify' on spirit banners. Who cares? It's pretty harmless and the banners presumably were not funded by public purse.

      The issue, as always in legal matters, is one of precedent. The proselytzing banners declare Kountze Lions football as having a religious affilliation. This is not acceptable in a public inst;tution. Given an inch here, the religionists will claim a mile.

      When this case comes to trial it will be interesting to see if there are brave individuals (students particularly) who will come forward and state that imprinting the school spirit banner with religiosity made them uncomfortable.

      October 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  13. Sam Yaza

    remember Christians! prayer in school means all prayer to all gods.

    so i would like to make Wednesday Buddha day, Thursday Krishna day, i guess Allah can have Friday, as long as morning prayer is to Athena i wont complain.

    Athena, shining war-maid, child of wisdom,
    I pray to you. Precision and unmuddled thought
    I ask of you, crisp reason and blessed clarity,
    surety and conviction, quick wit and quick action.
    Give me eyes to see far, to see true, to see within;
    give me heart to bear it, give me strength to hold fast.

    its just a great prayer to start the day; got me through my education, and i have to say it help me graduate top of the class.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I would love to see that on a banner at a school in Texas.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      yeah but nether Pagan Pride or Pagan alliance has the balls, to do it, although back in 08 we did raid Acropolis with a prayer first time in 1500 years, i cried,... like a Baby

      October 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  14. ;p;

    Who cares? It's good old backward Texas. Bible quotes on their banners and 'juicy' written across their asses. It's all for show.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  15. A known Filipino

    Let's see, next week we got Muslim football players displaying verses from the Quran. That's what I like about moderate Muslims, they don't go around trying to promote Islam. At least here in San Ysirdo.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  16. Sounds Like

    Oh my, here's the pronunciation of Kountze:

    Kountze, Texas – /ˈkuːnts/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_names_in_English_with_counterintuitive_pronunciations

    October 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • ;p;

      LOL

      October 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      cunning – test

      October 18, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      That reminds me of an old spoonerism I heard transforming

      "cunning litte runts" into a vulgar description for a girls' track team.

      In this case:

      "running little Kountze" – hilarious.

      Or .. "That cheeky Kountze cheer squad" ... etc.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      mass masses – test

      October 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  17. KRHODES

    Pathetic...the freedom from religion people really have nothing better to do? Teenage girls making banners somehow violates the establishment clause...nonsense. Oh...are people being forced to read them.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • OneTruth

      If you attend the game you can't really avoid the banners.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If you are a cheerleader of a different faith than the majority at the school or of no faith you would feel excluded. It is a public school and should be neutral as to religious faith.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Nope the FFRF people have NOTHING better to do that fight against this kind of nonsense. This is why I joined their group and why I pay my dues each year with a smile on my face. This is exactly what they do, they fight for the Church and State separation clause. They are good people, Dan Barker has a great book out there, check him out.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Me too Guru,

      Some of the best money I ever spent.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  18. Chad

    Cheerleaders from a small eastern Texas town have won the first battle in their crusade to display Christian religious messages on banners at their high school's football games. State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction Thursday in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013, Thomas effectively allows the cheerleaders to keep displaying Bible-quoting signs at Kountze athletic events through the end of this current school year.

    AWESOME!!

    October 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Cynicrat

      They violate the law and you say that is awesome? That says more about you than I care to know.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Let's remember there is no verdict on this case. The case has not been fully heard nor a judgment reached.

      A temporary injunction has been levied against the school district until June, 2013 (after both the football season and the school year) by which time the case, presumably, will actually be heard.

      October 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      You would think that's awesome, but take the same idea of free speech and apply it to the atheists billboards that popped up earlier and you think it's disgusting that people would be so "in your face" about atheism.

      Booo chad, Boooo you and your hypocritical dishonesty

      October 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Robert

    "People have freedom of speech. So, individuals have freedom of speech, but also there is the right that the government shall establish no religion. So, the question becomes, 'Is what the cheerleaders are doing private speech,or is it school-sponsored speech?'" Kallinen said. "What the school district is saying is, 'You are in the uniforms that have the name on it. You are in the property of the school. It's a school football game, and you are putting these religious banners onto school property. Therefore, it is school-sponsored speech.' And when it is school-sponsored speech, then it is subject to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and that is that the government should not promote, endorse, or advance a particular religion."

    That's all that needs to be said.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  20. therealpeace2all

    Holy cr-ap... you've got to be kidding. I'm so glad how this Tex-as high school understands about the fact that not everyone is a Christian in this country, and... not everyone wants to have to see biblical quotes posted everywhere.

    I'm sure all of the 'non' Christians/non religious for that matter, feel extremely 'free' to speak their minds on this issue. 😯 Yeah, right.

    I left a Christian School after 6 years to *get away* from all of the religious quotes, etc... and went to public/secular school. And, look... hey they even want to put it into the 'public schools' too. I played many years of football... never had this ridiculous problem of cheerleaders trying to get God on our side.

    Good luck to all of you non-Christians/non-believers out in Tex-as, and for that matter any of the other "Red/Christian" States.

    Peace...

    October 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.