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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. Seoras

    Freedom is always more important than the State!
    When the Government restricts freedom of religion or freedom of speech of anyone, we all lose!

    October 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • ialsoagree

      I know right? We should make signs that say "Jesus is a liar and the devil, and everyone who worships him will burn in hell" and make students walk through it. After all, those might be someone's personal beliefs, and they have the right to express them!

      October 19, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  2. chris

    I love it christians are mad cause they couldn't put a slogan on a banner, but have no problem with little girls, shaking their buts, a full grown men.... You guys to get your priorities straight

    October 19, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • GuyinCanada

      hah so true. I'm sure at least 1/3 of these God loving cheerleaders will get pregnant before they finish highschool. And they'll celebrate their victory with underage drinking and flashing their chests for the camera. gotta love highcshool

      October 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Tee

      First let me point out that you are a pervert!

      God is a personal preference. As I said earlier, Pepsi is my personal preference, Dunkin' Donuts is my personal preference; signs with Coke or Krispie Kreme slogans, logos should not be allowed.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  3. no nothing

    This is a non-issue. Really this is a HIGH SCHOOL foot ball game. Life does not begin and end at high school football game, just the game. As an Atheist I am not offended every time some puts a bible quote on something in a public place. This is not establishing a state religion.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • ialsoagree

      Please tell that to the muslim student who has to run through a sign proclaiming Jesus as his savior.

      I'm sure he'll be thrilled to know his rights weren't violated just because *you* weren't offended.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Scott

      Thank you no nothing. I realize that most Atheists are like you, but unfortunately the loud mouthed jerks (see other postings) give an incorrect view of Atheists.

      Thanks again for your comment,
      Scott

      October 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      "This is not establishing a state religion"

      Perhaps NOT establishing a state religion, but certainly endorsing one religion over another, and essentially it's the same thing. FAIL...

      October 19, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • no nothing

      Hey Guru I can see why you work at college admission and not a professor.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @no nothing, I can certainly see why you chose your name, because you obviously KNOW NOTHING... By the way, I was a full professor before I turned 30. I elected to become VP of Enrollment Management at the largest university in the state of South Carolina because I wanted to serve students in a much larger way. I retired after 30 years in higher education and now work as an independent consultant, what are you up to these days? Just curious.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Scott

      thecollegeadmissionsguru,

      So you couldn't get a job in industry, eh? 😉

      Those that can do,
      Those that cannot teach,
      Those that cannot teach administrate.

      Scott

      October 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • rachelfox27

      You have to realize that in a Texas town of about 2,100, most people claim Christianity. They may not be devout followers, but they believe in the idea. The chance that they have a Muslim is not likely. I do not agree that the cheerleaders should be allowed to do this at a school event, but it no one in their town or school objects, then why bother. Until a student stands up and says "I'm not comfortable with this" they will continue to fight for the right to display Christian Bible verses.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Scott, those who boast and attempt to ridicule someone else's level of expertise should be sure not to post sh!t like "have ran into."

      You're a dolt.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • YoozYerBrain

      Scott said to TheCollegeAdmissionsGuru in reply to the Gurus long list of public service accomplishments;

      So you couldn't get a job in industry, eh? 😉
      Those that can do,
      Those that cannot teach,
      Those that cannot teach administrate.

      Scott, that's the most ignorant of many comments you have made. You need to watch this Taylor Mali video and get some learnin boy.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU

      Congrats to TheCollegeAdmissionsGuru for retiring after 30 years of making a positive difference! You, unlike Scott, show what makes America great! Scott, no more comments until you watch that video you jerk!

      October 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  4. David

    And the war by Christians against separation between church and state continues . . .

    October 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  5. mk

    @tallulah13

    I'm betting the football players have been taught that it's god that decides whether they win or lose the game, so they better pay homage.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Dick

      The people taken in by the whole Tebow praying fooforah were so pathetic too. He lost so badly...

      October 19, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • tallulah13

      mk: any god who cares more for the praise of football players than for the welfare of innocents who are being murdered in his name in Africa is petty and weak and unworthy of worship. Of course, there is no evidence to indicate the existence of any god, even the football-loving christian god.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  6. Scott

    I just love watching the komrade left get their skivvies all wadded up when they come up against conservatives and/or Christians exercising their First Amendment rights ... of which the komrades CLAIM they support. This is why I spell hypocrite l-i-b-e-r-a-l 😉

    Scott

    October 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Huebert

      How supportive would you be if these cheerleaders were using Rastafarian banners?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      I love to see christians getting all gung-ho about spitting on the Const-itutional rights of others. It exposes the reality of just how much they hate America.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • ialsoagree

      Yeah, I mean, there's nothing wrong with bringing signs onto a football field that say "Christianity is a lie, there is no God, all Christians are wrong. Lets have a great game! Good luck!" and making Christian players run through it, right?

      That's what freedom of speech is all about, right?

      Hey, don't "get [your] skivvies all wadded" up!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Sorry my misinformed and incoherent friend, but this is NOT a free speech issue, it is a separation of church and state issue, you are confused. Everyone is free to worship as they please, however, they are NOT free to inflict their religious beliefs on those who do not share said belief; i.e. Christian banners at a PUBLIC high school football game.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • no nothing

      Thank god that this country is not a Christian nation no matter how bad the Christians want it to be The founding fathers got it right, NO STATE RELIGION.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Also @Scott, IF you think by calling liberals/atheist Komrades, you are somehow offending me, it doesn't, but nice try.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Veritas

      @Scott: You display a high level of uneducated ignorance in making an assumption that all atheists must also be communists. Logic 101: just because many on the left are atheists doesn't mean that all atheists are to the left on the political scale. There surely must be some rational thinkers among the "conservatives" also.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Scott

      Veritas,
      All? No. But the majority that I've ran into that are loud mouthed types are komrade libs.

      Scott

      October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • WASP

      @scott: privet dura. yah prosta gavarit eta vy
      phatabis nahoy durock suca. vat menyah komrad ochin harashoh, conservative sabaka. 🙂

      October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How many have you "ran into," you cretin?

      October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Scottie, why don't you answer the question lal posed above? Would you support free speech rights if students made a banner that was full of quotes from the Koran? How about some that stated that "There is no god?"

      Would that be okay with you?

      October 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Scott

      Tommy,
      So long as they aren't "hate" comments, then yes. That would probably rule out the atheist stuff, but not the Koran.

      Scott

      October 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, right, Scott. So you'd be fine with banners that say "god is a myth" then, right?

      Sure you would.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Expressing disbelief in the existence of a deity isn't "hate speech," oh great Captain Scottie, Industrialist.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How many atheists do you know, Scottie? Do most of them know that "have ran into" makes one sound like a buck-toothed moron?

      October 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • YoozYerBrain

      I am a conservative you moron! I believe in the America that Jefferson and Paine fought for, not the one that Billy Graham and W fight for, cuz that's not AMERICA. Freaking mor on! Try using something other than yer a$$ to do your thinking....

      October 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  7. georgia

    Rufus T. Firefly, WASP and Larry L. great comments. Thanks.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • WASP

      @georgia: thanks. i believe in the america created by the founding fathers, i fear the more time passes the more the conservative christian right is trying to move us away from those established truths that make all equal.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  8. georgia

    Firebird I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks

    October 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  9. georgia

    Greg, I have the right to attend a football game with out anyone advertising their particular religion. It's not Sunday school, it's a football game. And this isn't about Atheists, it's about separation of church and state. This school was not a private Christian school.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • SL

      This high school football program should be allowed to put almost ANYTHING on their banners they see as fit including about GOD. If you don't like what you see GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Well said!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • tallulah13

      So SL, would you be just as happy to protect the "rights" of the cheerleaders if they expressed muslim faith, or atheist lack of belief on their banners?

      October 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Tee

      I'm a Pepsi fan, so if I see any Coke signs, I'm suing!

      October 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  10. The Master

    Steve Thomas screwed up. He should have defaulted to banning this, not condoning it.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  11. Louis

    So, they're quoting lines from scripture and evoking free speech, eh? What's to stop a rival team from displaying something these girls find offensive, like some particularly "colorful" rap lyrics, for example?

    October 19, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  12. Dzerres

    We never see any other banner but Christian stuff. None. Come on, let's see the Jewish banners, the Muslim banners, the atheist banners. Those same people who are trumpeting all of that "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion" stuff would be heading for their cars in the parking lot to retrieve their guns.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Mike D

      Exactly. To these hillbillies "freedom of religion" means "Christians can do and say whatever they want, and screw the rest of you."

      October 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Scott

      You komrades are really having to reach on this one, aren't you komrade Dzerres. 😉

      Scott

      October 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • malkittens

      Scott, really intelligent and thoughtful response – not. PS your ignorance is showing

      October 19, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Will S

      It's a small town in east Texas. There probably aren't any Muslims, Rastafarians, Pastafarians, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, or Atheists living there. Heck, there probably aren't even any Catholics. Well, maybe there's one Atheist...the one who complained about it in the first place. You know, the single lady with six cats who drives a VW Beetle.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  13. thisIsAwesome

    arguing on the internet is awesome.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  14. WASP

    "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."

    so i guess this covers it, case closed cheerleaders fired.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  15. Draka

    We can"t get the attorney general or the govenerof Texas to prosecute dads that will not pay child support but I am glad they have time for this

    October 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Savemefromchristiantexans

      election year....plus.. It's Texas, deadbeat dads are the norm, so nobody gives them a second thought..... but god help you if you're not christian!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • WASP

      @draka: and the greatest "dead beat dad" is..............................god. lmfao
      to be such an influence in christian life the guy just isn't ever around when you need him.
      i say we take god to court for back childsupport. XD ROFLMFAO now that would be one hell of a case.
      court:" in the case of humans verses god i find in favor of the plantiff due to god's failure to appear."

      October 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. Not all Atheists Suck

    It is amazing that in a democratic society we are allowing ourselves to be ruled by the few. Atheist, Christian, Muslin it doesn't matter normal people would not be offended by banners or other religious symbols. Lets call these people what they are no good, nosy, troublemakers, and that want to force their opinions on others. If I see a Muslim religious symbol I don't get offended. In fact I would like to know more about it. Not all atheists are bad.....just these losers.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • ialsoagree

      Firstly "these loser" atheists haven't done anything. It's the cheerleaders who brought the lawsuit against the school.

      Secondly, how would you feel if you had to run through a banner proclaiming Allah to be your God?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Scott

      Concur Not All!

      Scott

      October 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      Scott, Not All.. please answer how you would feel about you or your children running through a banner proclaiming your true muslim faith? How far are you willing to protect religious freedom?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Not all Atheists Suck, perhaps not, but I wonder if the ones who do suck, do they swallow? PS, I'm an atheist, but couldn't refrain from making the comment.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  17. ontherighttrack

    Kudos to Kountze for fighting for GOD! I'm all for everyone having their own beliefs but don't stop each other from expressing them. We need to be more accepting of each other and not be so quick to judge one another. GOD BLESS US ALL!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Mike D

      Yep, I'm sure Jeebus is up in heaven just doing backflips over some cheerleaders putting a Bible verse on a sign at a game. I can think of no greater victory for christendom.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Huebert

      May you be touched by his noodley appendage.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • chris

      Yeah cause jesus loves little girls running around in short skirts, shaken their booties for full grown men

      October 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Tee

      Well said.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  18. Dave

    According to this...banners praising Satan would fit right in.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Savemefromchristiantexans

      So...if the signs said "Praise Allah" we'd all be cool with this right? Wait...no...freedom my butt.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • S.M.

      Actually no, they wouldn't. Satan is typically a western/christianized belief. That would still be considered promoting one religious view over another. In fact, if the girls just had no association with the school and cheered from the stands there would be no problem with them having whatever signs they want. In that case it wouldn't appear that the school is sanctioning their viewpoints.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Louis

      S.M.
      There would be a problem with any girls in the stands, however, if their sign was considered "offensive" in any way. Consider how much backlash the atheist billboards have gotten. Can you imagine what the reaction to such signs would be at one of these games? Down deep, I suspect these girls and their supporters value free speech only as far as it protects what they want to say.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  19. Silly Atheists

    To bad atheists can't understand that "Separation of Church and State" means that the State buts out of religion and religious matters. But that can't quite understand the second amendment either, so I am not surprised...

    October 19, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Louis

      It's a public school supported by ALL of our tax dollars though, so where do you see a "separation" here? It's like having a state-supported Christian school.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • ialsoagree

      You say atheist, but what about muslims? What about buddhists? What about wiccans? What about hindus?

      Is it fair that students of those religions have to run through a banner proclaiming Jesus as their savior? How have their first ammendment rights NOT been violated?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Huebert

      Silly Christians can't read supreme court cases.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman

      October 19, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • cmc

      Actually, it's the religious fanatics that don't seem to get that public schools are run by government tax dollars; therefore, they are the ones that don't seem to understand when to butt out.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Nii

      LOUIS
      It aeems you can't decide what you want with your tax dollars. If I wanted mine to support only my defense and health and another wanted other programs there will be no need for a budget would there. You only have to file your taxes and add a letter explaining which Departments you want to have them. No wonder some call some Atheists silly. Hatred is silly and hatred inspired by religion is a disease. See if u don't have this. Make sure you are not a Hatheist or a Dumbeist.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      Right. Except that public schools are funded by taxpayer dollars and therefore, by definition, an extension of the state, you myth believing, gun toting, knuckle dragging freak.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      @Nii:

      There is nothing silly about expecting equal rights under the protection of the Const.itution. There is nothing silly about respect for fellow humans, even if they don't share your particular belief. What is silly is religious showboating at sporting events.

      I feel sorry for the football players. There isn't a word about them, and without the games, there wouldn't be a story. I wonder how they feel about this?

      October 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Louis

      Nii
      People usually have no trouble funding public schools with their tax dollars, but not everyone wants Christian schools. Those who do can fund them privately, just like the Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, and other "speciality" schools like those just for girls, or boys, or that focus on things like the arts.

      Once you take down this wall then what's to stop politicians from awarding extra funding to preferred schools, raising a voter base loyal to them as the "defender" of their faith?

      October 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • no nothing

      WRONG It means that the state will not establish a official religion of the government, silly christian.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  20. gotigers

    The cheerleaders chose scripture that tries to get God on their side... just lookin' for a little advantage against the visiting team! A prayer that asks God to cause their school bus to crash might also help. Texas parents are apparently proud of their children for breaking the law.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • The Master

      They might as wall pray to satan then for all the good prayer does!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
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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.