Texas AG Defends Cheerleaders' Football Bible Banners

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is defending the cheerleaders at Hardin County High School who are fighting to keep displaying their Bible banners at football games.

Kountze Independent School District Superintendent Kevin Weldon initially told the students they could not use the homemade signs after the Freedom from Religion Foundation informed him that a resident had complained.   
 
Then a judge stepped in and issued a temporarily restraining order allowing the cheerleaders to continue putting scriptures on their banners.
    
Abbott says his office is prepared to file a brief on the cheerleaders' behalf if the Freedom from Religion Foundation sues.

"[The FFRF] incorrectly claims that allowing Kountze High School cheerleaders to display banners decorated with Bible verses at football games amounts to a 'serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment,' Abbott wrote in a letter to the Kountze superintendent.

"That exaggerated claim is not supported by the Constitution," he wrote.

"Instead, it is based solely on FFRF's distorted, anti-religion view of the First Amendment, a view that is unsupported by court precedent and has recently been rejected by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals," he said.

The Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending religious liberties, has joined Beaumont attorney David Starnes in investigating the Kountze Independent School District's move.

"We are disappointed that Kountze I.S.D. is banning student speech on banners because it is from a religious viewpoint," Starnes said. "Such discrimination and censorship is unfortunate and illegal."

"Once we complete our investigation, we will take appropriate action," he said.

Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford said such actions by schools in the past have not held up to legal scrutiny.

"These government school officials will never learn that students' religious rights are protected," he said. "We have successfully passed state laws protecting student religious speech and have won restraining orders to final judgments protecting student religious speech."

A Facebook page created in support of the cheerleader and their signs already has more than 16,000 supporters from all over southeast Texas.

Some parents have even created T-shirts and signs to display around Kountze.

Related Link:

The Liberty Institute

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