I tend to try to report the political news, and not the sensationalist news, but given that BOR had only been covering this story for the last few days, I might as well give my take.
From what I understand, these High School cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas (Hardin County, between Liberty and Jefferson) printed Bible verses on their signs before Football Games. Any person above the age of 12 with average intelligence should be able to understand why this is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. This separation of the Church and the State, this iron wall between the two, has been applied to the States and Municipalities through the effect of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. Again, they teach this stuff in the ninth grade.
The major critique of Governor Perry, Attorney General Abbott, and district judge Steve Thomas (who just yesterday extended an injunction allowing the use of the signs) is that the School District’s ban on the signs restrict religious freedom, equating the action with people like Tim Tebow praying during a game or a Baseball player pointing to the heavens after hitting a home run. However, there is a very powerful distinction between an individual and a group.
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (also from Texas) that “student-led, student-initiated prayer at High School football games violate the Establishment Clause”. From here, one must only need to see that religious items (such as written Bible verses) are tantamount to spoken prayer, which the precedent of the Supreme Court has been for fifty years. It is worth nothing that the Santa Fe case was 6-3, with both O’Connor AND Kennedy joining the Liberals, meaning that there is no current threat of the Supreme Court overturning the case.
The logic behinds these cases are that whether it is the Football team, the Student Council, or the Cheerleading squad, there are institutions comprised of students which must espouse the positions of the School, as they are officially representing the school. The issue of the entire Cheerleading team carrying posters quoting the New Testament is very different than something like an individual football player writing “John 3:16” on his eyeblack. One is an individual decision of religious freedom, and the other is a position that reflects the entire school.
I think, though, what truly made me angry about this was reading the summary of the hearing on the subject held yesterday. From the Beaumont Enterprise:
Kountze High School cheerleader Kieara Moffett was the first to testify Thursday, saying Scripture signs were meant to inspire everyone – not just Kountze players. She cried while on the stand, saying she felt her religion wasn’t good enough when she was told she couldn’t use the signs.
This is where I draw my line in the sand and go to war: war in defense of liberty and the constitution. It has always been a pet peeve of mine when Christians have attempted to play the role of persecuted minority. It seems that these radicals feel entitled to “preferential” treatment because they are the biggest religion. Can you imagine the controversy that would arise if a group of Muslim cheerleaders wished to hold signs quoting Koran verses in the original Arabic.
The Government, nor any of its institutions, including Public Schools and their representatives, may not endorse one religion over another, or religion over irreligion. It is not that difficult of a concept. Shame on you, Governor Perry, shame on you, Attorney General Abbott, for wanting to idly stand by and support this injustice.