A judge ruled on Wednesday that high school cheerleaders from Kountz High School in Southeast Texas are allowed to display banners with Bible verses on them at school football games.
"The Kountze cheerleader’s banners that included religious messages and were displayed during the 2012 football season were constitutionally permissible," said State District Judge Steve Thomas. "Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events."
Last fall, school district officials had told the cheerleaders to stop showing the banners before football games. In one picture, the cheerleaders are seen holding a banner that reads, “If God is for us, who can be against us” with “Romans 8:31” written in the bottom right-hand corner.
The school officials barred the banners after receiving complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The advocacy group said the banners violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which bars any government organization, such as public school, from establishing or endorsing any religion.
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But the cheerleaders' legal team argued that the ban was infringing on the girls' free speech rights. They said the banner was not forcing anyone to believe in the Christian faith. A Facebook group called “Support Kountze Kids Faith” was created in support of the cheerleaders and has more than 45,000 members.
The school district eventually reversed the ruling and allowed the cheerleaders to display their banners. The reversal prompted Judge Thomas to release today’s summary judgment, which eliminates the need for a trial. The trial was previously scheduled for June 24.