A Texas judge has decided to continue allowing, for now, a Southeast Texas high school’s cheerleaders to use run-through banners with biblical verses at football games.
State District Judge Steve Thomas said Thursday at the end of a day of testimony that he needs more time to issue a final ruling. He extended a temporary order granted last month to allow the banners. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18.
Kountze High School cheerleaders have used run-throughs at football games with scripture verses, such as “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”
Some background, from the New York Times:
School district officials ordered the cheerleaders to stop putting Bible verses on the banners, because they believed doing so violated the law on religious expression at public school events. In response, a group of 15 cheerleaders and their parents sued theKountze Independent School Districtand its superintendent, Kevin Weldon, claiming that prohibiting the students from writing Christian banner messages violated their religious liberties and free-speech rights.
On Thursday afternoon, the two sides met in a courtroom on the second floor of the Hardin County Courthouse. It had all the trappings of a high-profile courtroom drama: Lawyers from both sides haggled over the Texas Constitution and the cheerleaders’ own constitution, a police officer with an assault rifle and binoculars was stationed on the roof, reporters filled the jury box, and one witness — Kieara Moffett, an 11th grade cheerleader — teared up on the stand during cross-examination.
The superintendent’s decision has outraged many students and their parents, and has brought national attention upon a small town about two hours outside Houston. The cheerleaders’ supporters have put up lawn signs and started a Facebook page called Support Kountze Kids Faith that, with nearly 50,000 members, far exceeds the town’s population of 2,100.