By Hemant Mehta
A few years ago, the Kountze High School (TX) cheerleaders won a lawsuit that said they could hold up banners with Bible verses on them to support the football team during games.
Now an appeals court has affirmed that decision, opening the door to even more religious signs, held up by student athletes, at school-sponsored events.
You may recall that the cheerleaders were actually fighting their school district in court (not some atheist group) because then-Superintendent Kevin Weldon had told them to stop with the banners. So when Judge Steve Thomas ruled in favor of the cheerleaders in 2013, he was simultaneously telling the district it couldn’t stop them from being all preachy on the football field. Thomas wrote in his decision:
The evidence in this case confirms that religious messages expressed on run-through banners have not created, and will not create, an establishment of religion in the Kountze community.
Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events. Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law requires Kountze I.S.D. to prohibit the inclusion of religious-themed banners at school sporting events.
There were two big problems with this ruling, according to church/state separation experts.
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