Poor Georgia cheerleaders. You thought you were just doing your job, cheering on your football team to victory with the words you found most inspiring. But those words came from the Bible, and now you’ve made headlines and your school won’t let you cheer the way you want to cheer anymore. Tear.
This is the latest story in the war over religion in public schools.
A high school cheerleading squad in Georgia is getting flak after parading religious banners at football games. The squad, from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, was displaying enormous “run-through” signs at the beginning of games with Bible verses such as “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called in me Christ Jesus.”
The tradition began in 2001 and until recently, nobody seemed to mind. When one of the townsfolk complained to the school district, the Superintendent decided to ban the signs from games even though she personally appreciated them.
Well, the townsfolk fought back. They created a facebook group called “We Support the LFO Cheerleaders! LET THEM HAVE THEIR SIGNS BACK” and held a rally at a local Chick-fil-A.
Local youth minister Brad Scott told the local newspaper, “The cheerleaders are not trying to push a religious cause, to shove religion down someone’s throat. The cheerleaders are just using scripture to show motivation and inspiration to the players and the fans” (Momlogic).
He has a point. But, even though the cheerleaders weren’t necessarily proselytizing, and even though most of the community finds the signs inspiring, it simply may not be legal.
Charles Haynes, with the First Amendment Center in Washington, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the signs violate the law because cheerleaders, in uniform at a game, represent the school.
“I don’t know how a judge would rule, but I would say, from past cases, that the courts would see this as carrying school sponsorship, just like if the school football team came on the field with verses on their shirts,” Haynes said.
In the meantime, the school’s principal is trying to compromise; she designated an area 50 yards from the field where students can display religiously-themed signs.
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Have a wonderful weekend!