|Cheerleaders in Kountze, east Texas, with their banners.|
Governor Rick Perry of Texas has announced that the state government will intervene to preserve the religious liberty of cheerleaders who display religious banners during school football games.
The cheerleaders and their parents filed a lawsuit against the school district in Kountze, east Texas, after it banned religious messages on the banners.
Texas is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of a high school cheerleading team fighting to continue featuring religious messages on banners at football games, Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, said Oct. 24.Mr. Abbott and Rick Perry, the Texas governor, said at a press conference that they will work to ensure the cheerleaders’ freedom of expression.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot sought to intervene in the case in support of the cheerleaders’ rights, stating, “We will not allow atheist groups from outside of the state of Texas to come into the state, to use menacing and misleading intimidation tactics, to try to bully schools to bow down at the altar of secular beliefs.” Texas Governor Rick Perry stated, “Anyone who is expressing their faith should be celebrated, from my perspective, in this day and age of instant gratification, this me-first culture that we see all too often.
They sat in front of photos of football players taking the field by tearing through a banner held by cheerleaders that said “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
A petition filed with Texas District Court of Hardin County by Mr. Abbott said the state was seeking to intervene in order to defend the constitutionality of Texas statutes.
“The State also has an interest in defending laws that were specifically enacted to preserve religious liberty, because a challenge to those laws could potentially erode the religious liberties of all Texans,” it said.
The school district banned the religious messages after a Wisconsin group that seeks to enforce the separation of church and state wrote to the superintendent that the banners were an endorsement of religion by a public entity.
“We will not allow atheist groups from outside of the state of Texas to come into the state to use menacing and misleading intimidation tactics to try to bully schools to bow down at the altar of secular beliefs,” Mr. Abbott said.
The cheerleaders produce the banners on their own time with private supplies. Last month, the cheerleaders won a temporary order allowing the use of religious messages on banners. There will be a hearing Thursday.