Ga. Cheerleaders, Fans Want Bible Banners Back

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The Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School cheerleaders are not giving up on their fight to post Bible banners on the football field. And they are finding growing support in their north Georgia community, where more than 2,000 people have signed a petition which will be presented to the school board.

They say it's a fight to keep a long-standing tradition alive.

The Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Warriors faced the Ridgeland Panthers last Friday. But the spotlight wasn't on the long-standing Georgia high school football rivalry.

"I'm hearing from people that have not been to a football game in 30 years coming out tonight to support the cheerleaders," said Brad Scott, a local church youth pastor.

Fans of both teams lined up to support the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe cheerleaders, who would ordinarily hold up large banners with Bible scriptures for their team to plow through before the start of each game.

But after a recent complaint, the Catoosa County Schools Superintendent banned the Bible banners from the Warriors games.

"It broke my heart to have to tell those girls that they could not display that message on the football field," said Denia Reese, superintendent.

"The location inside the football field creates the impression that the school system is endorsing that particular religious message," she explained.

A cheerleader from a different school said "God matters more" than their rivalry. 

"They're our worst enemy basically, but this shouldn't matter right now. The signs and God matters more than just winning the game," said Taylor Clark, a member of the Ridgeland High School cheerleading team. 

While there were no signs of scripture on the field Friday, religious messages were easy to spot outside the game in cars, and in the stands.

"I believe in what they're fighting for," said supporter Barbara Johnson. "I believe it's the right thing for them to do."

However, there were signs of opposition -- at least two.

"We just wanted to let everyone to know that not everyone is united against this protest against for the signs," said Steve Harris. "Because honestly, it did make a lot of people uncomfortable and I'm glad that our school's finally changing."

The Warriors lost to Panthers in Friday's game. But both teams are now more concerned with wining the battle to bring the Bible scripture banners back before the start of each game.

Supporters say they will pack the school board meeting scheduled for next Tuesday to continue their fight.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.