Cheerleaders will be able to once again raise banners proclaiming God’s Word at football games in Kountze, Texas.
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The Court of Appeals for the Ninth District Court of Texas ruled late Thursday in favor of the Kountze cheerleaders – declaring the inspirational Bible verses painted on run-through banners are private speech.
“We find the Cheerleaders’ speech on the pregame run-through banners cannot be characterized as government speech,” the court ruled.
In 2012 the school district had banned cheerleaders from writing Bible verses on run-through banners for the football team. That decision came after the notorious Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint.
“This is another great victory for the free speech and religious liberty rights of all Texas students,” First Liberty Institute president Kelly Shackelford said. “Hopefully this ruling will bring clarity and closure to this issue for all Texas students and schools.”
The cheerleaders garnered support from across the state – including Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
“The First Amendment protects the religious liberty of ever American,” Cruz said. “I’m proud to side with the cheerleaders standing up for free expression of religion and the Bill of Rights.”
First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s most prominent religious liberty law firms, represented the cheerleaders in their victorious court case.
“We are pleased that once again religious liberty is vindicated and that cheerleaders across the state of Texas have the right to have religious messages on banners at high school football games,” general counsel Hiram Sasser said. “No school district should be able to censor, ban or claim ownership of the private religious speech of its students.”
The cheerleaders’ courthouse win echoes one of the Bible verses painted on one of the original run-through banners: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
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