Atheist activists have turned to a new-found War on Football, with secularists taking increasing aim at public schools in an effort to strip prayer and mentions of God out of athletics. Last week, TheBlaze told you about the epic battle unfolding between Christian cheerleaders and atheists in Kountze, Texas.
Now -- after the school district officially banned Bible scriptures on banners and athletic messages, a court has issued a temporary restraining order in support of the students.
As initially reported, the trouble started after cheerleaders in the city of Kountze came up with the idea to add Bible verses to football banners after attending a cheer camp. The words of encouragement were intended to inspire the football team, but following a complaint, the district’s superintendent Kevin Weldon banned any and all religious-themed designs.
While Weldon wouldn't share who made the complaint, he did say that he was reluctant to comply with it. Despite his hesitation, the Kountze Independent School District leader did inevitably bend to the demands of the anonymous church-state separatist.
Not surprisingly, Religion News Service confirms that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist group that generally leads these battles, sent the initial complaint against the district, calling the banners "inappropriate and unconstitutional."
“It is not a personal opinion of mine,” Weldon said in an interview with KVUE. “My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well. But I’m also a state employee and Kountze ISD representative. And I was advised that that such a practice (religious signs) would be in direct violation of United State Supreme Court decisions.”
To the delight of students who have rallied intensely to see the district's ban be overturned, a judge in Hardin County, Texas, issued an order on Thursday, September 20, that will temporarily block the anti-scripture provision. Parents of the cheerleaders are suing over the district's stance and are being represented by the conservative Liberty Institute in doing so.
"We are excited that the cheerleaders for the Kountze High School Lions can again do what they do best -- cheer on their football team without government censorship," proclaimed Mike Johnson, senior counsel with the legal organization.
While a hearing to further explore the issue will be held on October 4, cheerleaders, for now, can continue using Bible verses on their banners.
The restraining order forces the school to "cease and desist" enforcing the scriptural ban. The students have support from across the country, too, with more than 43,500 people joining the cause on a related Facebook page.
- War on Football: TX School District Bans Christian Banners at Football Games
- ‘Illegal’: GA High School Abandons 50 Years of Prayer After Atheists’ Threats
- Atheists Convince TN University to Ban Prayer Before Football Games
- Hundreds of Christians Hold ‘Rally to Pray’ to Defend High School Football Coach Against Atheist Attacks