Cheerleaders chase victory to court over religious freedom

 Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Georgia Gay, Staff Writer

One of the biggest sports to ever draw a school closer together would have to be football. This sport turned tradition has put schools on the map, such as Kountze High School in Texas.

The cheerleaders for this small town football team, the Kountze Lions, were told by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (which advocates for separation of church and state) in 2012 that they were not allowed to write Bible verses on their banners. Since the cheerleaders wore uniforms that represented the school and displayed the banners at public school events, the display of Bible verses was deemed inappropriate. The foundation threatened to sue and, as a response, the parents of the cheerleaders sued back. They stated that the decision to write Bible verses was made by the group and since they provided the materials for the banners there should be no problem. 

The case was declared moot in 2014 though the parents remained tenacious. According to The Texas Tribune, the 9th Texas Court of Appeals threw the case out, ruling that because the policy was no longer in effect, the lawsuit was moot. However, on Jan. 29, 2016, the Supreme Court of Texas unanimously ruled that the case could move forward. 

"I'm pleased the Texas Supreme Court has ensured that the Kountze cheerleaders will be able to continue defending their right to express their faith - the most fundamental of American freedoms," said Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton about the case. 

Although the persistency and faith of the Kountze Lions made them victorious in court, the issue of religious freedom in school still stands. What is the fairest method of issuing religious freedom within schools? What are possible conflicts that will arise?

As stated in the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. All  U.S. citizens are able to practice any religion they wish, or none at all. And having none at all seems like the easiest way to go for many public school systems. 

"I believe that we should have religious freedom in schools, but if we do that we need to be acceptable to all religions because that's truly what religious freedom is," said Jon Ross, a freshman Christian studies major. 

Needless to say, the cheerleaders at Kountze High School, along with their parents, fought a long and hard fight.

"I do not believe that full religious freedom in school could work. However, a school such as North Greenville University that is a private Christian school works because it is based solely on one religion. To allow full religious freedom in public schools would cause too much commotion knowing human beings," said Brian Cordle, a senior youth ministries major.