Judge Temporarily Allows Kountze High School to Use Bible Banners at Football Games

The other day, I posted about a public high school in Kountze, Texas, where cheerleaders held signs with Bible verses for the football players to run through as they came onto the field at the beginning of their games. After a letter from FFRF was sent to the district, the school temporarily halted the prayer banners, causing thousands of residents to freak out. As of this writing, the now-closed “Support Kountze Kids Faith” Facebook group has over 36,000 members.

Now, there’s an update. State District Judge Steven Thomas of Hardin County has allowed the school to keep the Bible banners… at least until October 4th, when a court hearing will take place:

On Thursday, a judge granted a request by the nonprofit Liberty Institute law firm to temporarily bar the implementation of the ban. It also set a hearing for early October when the sides will be able to make their arguments. The cheerleaders planned to raise their 20-foot banners at Thursday evening’s junior varsity football game.

20-foot banner? Damn. Someone’s God is insecure…

Well, they should enjoy it while it lasts because court precedence is against them.

If this were a Muslim banner instead of a Christian one, you know damn well that the community wouldn’t be crying foul at all. They certainly wouldn’t be arguing that the courts are “discriminating” against the cheerleaders by stopping them from hoisting the banners. Instead, they would argue that religion has no place at a public school event.

They’re not doing that now because they’re blinded by their own beliefs. All they need to do is take one step back and see it the way the courts do (or should, anyway) — a way that suggests Christianity is no more special than any other religion.

***Edit***: I love commenter Gordon Duffy‘s idea:

I think a compromise is possible. While they wait for the hearing they should have bible banners, but they should let atheists pick the verses.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • RobertoTheChi

    Enjoy it while it lasts…

  • Gordon Duffy

    I think a compromise is possible. While they wait for the hearing they should have bible banners, but they should let atheists pick the verses. 

  • http://twitter.com/gman747 gary

    Nearly 38k members and not one person has considered that this is what your god wants. If I understand correctly nothing happens that god doesnt allow.  

  • Silver_fox-trot

    I almost wish that after the cheerleaders would create their god-banner that someone would sneak in and replace ir with a Muslim prayer or a buddist. Just to see the look on the peoples face as they try to explain why its unfair.

  • http://twitter.com/davehodg Dave Hodgkinson

    Scientologists should be all over this.

  • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

     So the your god is the biggest sadistic sociopath in the universe. Good thing it only lives inside your head.

  • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

    Ayone notce that when you say outloud the name of the school sound like “cunt’s high school”. Just saying.

  • Gary Frederick

    I think u misunderstood. I was stating that it is their god that is wanting them to stop. This thought seems to never cross their mind

  • Patterrssonn

    Thanks for remInding us what it’s like to be 13.

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

    Rest assured, there are those of us here who side with the district.  With all the Christian mud slinging around here, including Gubbnor Perry saying this is “spiritual warfare,” we are trying to maintain the moral high ground and act like adults.

    Interested parties can join the Facebook group I started yesterday, “Concerned East Texans for Separation of Church and State.”  In addition, we have a letter writing campaign to send positive letters to the administration, who are being vilified in our community for simply following the law.


  • Fentwin

    I detest the phrase “just saying”, as if it absolves one of what they just said. It tends to be uttered just after a typical immature comment, insult or uninformed opinion.

    I see it as a sign of childish mentality lacking the ability to form a cogent statement that can stand on its own merits. 

  • jose

     *huge grin*

    The sea of possibilities! Great comment.

  • coyotenose

     *somehow manages to break the Like button from hitting it too hard*

  • Willy Occam

    As a fellow Texas resident (Dallas area), it’s always nice to hear about reasonable people in this state, though they seem to be few and far between.  I must say, 36,000 is a lot of entitled Christians to take on, and sadly, that group seems to be more representative of the ignorance and small-mindedness in this state.

    Good luck to you and your group, Kacy!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    You can approach this from the viewpoint of a secular person asking for separation of church and state. But this isn’t the only approach. You could also claim to be a hyper-religious person, and that allowing athletes to run through banners with Bible verses constitutes desecration of scripture, and offends your deep religious sentiments ;>

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I am offended that they never seem to choose Matthew 6:5-6 for these public displays of scripture.

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

     Thank you, Willy!  As you know, it’s frustrating to take a stand against majority ignorance.

  • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

     Looks like some atheist have the same lack of sense of humor as christians.
    Just saying.

  • Skepdude

    They may need biblical assist at this time. I looked them up and with a 3-0 record they’re 55th in their Division and 160th in their Region.

  • Edward Tarte

    Edgar, your comment, making fun of the town’s name, is inappropriate.  I do not see it as humorous.  I do not see that it makes any worthwhile contribution to the situation.  I think it would be appropriate for you to withdraw the comment.

  • Baal

     In which Jesus reminds folks to pray in private.  Public overt piety was not ok in Jesus’s book – I’m thinking of the tale of the widow’s mite in particular.  Do the xtians not know the stories of the new testament or just think they don’t apply to their lives?

  • Baal

     My wife is now an atheist but did bible quiz competitively in her teen years.  Her first thought was that bible verses shouldn’t be run through or be disrespected by “bannerization”.

  • Baal

     ‘Just’ is a 4 letter word for me.   The person using it is usually trying to minimize or deflect criticism of otherwise crappy behaviour.

  • Barbara

    “20-foot banner? Damn. Someone’s God is insecure…”
    LMAO. Isn’t that the honest truth? I bet in the back of their minds, they know it’s not logical to believe in such a fruitless god. It scares the crap out of them. Then they feel compelled to blare their devotion to God for all to witness, so no one will suspect them of having brains powered by evolution. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    Actually, that might combine very well with Gordon Duffy’s suggestion.

    Probably just 6:6, since the banner’s only twenty feet or so.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Listen to any of the news videos about it, such as http://www.12newsnow.com/story/19601151/more-support-for-kountze-kids , and you’ll hear it’s pronounced ‘koontz’, which is not ‘cunts’ unless it’s said with an unusual accent.

  • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

    Sorry, it’s just that your comment wasn’t in any way funny.

    Just saying. 

  • Barbara

    Oh, hell, that thought would never occur to them. After all, their god is a jealous one and likes his ego boosted by asinine things like breakaway football banners.

  • Debaw315

     If these word are just merely words and there is no one supernaturally attached to them like God.  Why all the hoopla?  It should not mean any more to you as an atheist than having a sign that says  Go Team Go!.  They are just words to you because you don’t believe so why does it invoke such anger?   Just an exercise in freedom of speech,  just words on a piece of paper, no different than any other sign, just come from a book you don’t believe in.    I am not mad that many choose to be atheist, why are atheist mad that I choose to be Christian.  Chicago teachers who were just agreed on a contract walked for days carrying signs that stated their beliefs on why they were on strike.  Why is this any different, and again I say especially since it comes from a book, no atheist believe in.

  • Patterrssonn

    I think you’ll find Ed that after high school the things that you once found funny just come across as sad and childish. Think of those poo poo pee pee jokes you found hilarious at the age of five.

  • Grizzz

    Ids there someone here who could comment on the legality of this? It seems that if an injunction was issued the banners would have to stop 

    Anyone have any legal experience able to comment?

  • Grizzz

    LOVE IT!!!

    Cunt’s Football Team is the “Screaming Beavers”!!!!!

  • Grizzz

    Patterssonn equals a raging beaver with an entitled sense as a Utero-American.

    And you are not ‘just sayin’ by saying, ‘just saying’ you are being a pussy. If you are trying to make a statement or stand, have the balls to just stand up and make it clear without the little ‘just saying’ qualifier.

    How vulgar a saying, and how indicative of a lower class.

  • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

    So much for the freedom of speech. I love this “It’s ok to say what you want as long as I agree with you” attittude.

  • Gary B

     Ha, didn’t even think of that.  They’re basically making a public display of destroying it.  Maybe we should let them.

  • kagekiri

    Some suggestions:

    2 Samuel 12: 13-14″Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.  But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.””

    God’s justice: says you’re forgiven, kills your baby.Oooh, or Number 31:17-18[Moses said] “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”That’s Moses telling Israel to commit genocide on defenseless civilians, other than the ones that are spiritually acceptable to rape and enslave.Ah, Numbers 5:23″here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.”God. Aborting. Babies. Not pro-choice, by any means, but it’s nothing like pro-life either. It’s pro-”screwing over your offspring for your mistakes” and pro-forced-sterilization.

  • IndyFitz

    Excellent point, Edgar.  It always stymies me when fellow atheists come apart at the seams because they disagree with something unpopular.  In my experience here, it tends to be when anyone is afraid something might be perceived as misogynistic… and uttering the word “cunts” is sure to get everyone worried.

    Adolescent humor or not… who cares?  If you don’t find it funny, fine… but it sure seems over the top to lambaste Edgar.  Amusing how atheists, despite being ATHEIST, absolutely excel at “holier than thou” behavior.

    Just sayin’.  But I “just said” it with enough meat that hopefully these angry folks won’t feel I’m a pussy avoiding standing behind what I said.  Just sayin’.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson


    - Someone in the community wrote to FFRF
    - FFRF wrote to the school citing Santa Fe v. Doe
    - School asked district lawyer
    - District lawyer said “yes, it’s a clear violation, you’d better stop”
    - School principal said “Stop”
    - Attorney David Starnes filed court papers on behalf of Kountze ISD cheerleaders 
    - State District Judge Steven Thomas granted a temporary restraining order preventing the Kountze ISD from imposing a ban 

    So the court action was to stop the school district from banning the signs.

    Personally, I think this is clearly the same case as Santa Fe, and the banners have no hope in court.  But the final legality will be up to the courts.

  • IndyFitz

    But you do so while being RIGHT.  I know the other side thinks it’s right… but you know you are.  Congratulations on having the courage to do so.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Thanks Kacy.  And from that page, the original letter from FFRF 

  • Grizzz

    Fight the good fight Kacy. Let us know how we could help if needed.

  • Grizzz

    Thanks Rich.

    They have to know they are going to lose this, and this just gets me pissed because it ends up costing MONEY that is better spent. And taxpayers end up paying for the defense of these inbred hillbilly asswipes.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    From what I can see, the vast majority of the public think it’s perfectly legal and are convinced they’ll win.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the principal pushed out of his job, even though he has protested that he’s a Christian, he thinks they should be allowed, but he has to follow the district lawyer’s advice.  Guy really is between a rock and a hard place.  When they fight this and lose, and lose a bunch of money, he’ll be among those blamed for the loss of funds.

  • Grizzz

    And a single tear falls down my cheek as he walks the walk os shame from his dismissal…..*sarcasm*…..

  • Edward Tarte

    Edgar, I defend your freedom of speech.  I do not think it is productive to make fun of a town’s name.  But of course you have the right to do so.  IndyFitz, I am not coming apart at the seams. I am not over the top, and I am not lambasting Edgar.  My hundreds of YouTube videos all bear witness to the fact that I do not have a “holier than thou” attitude.  All I am doing here is something very simple:  disagreeing with Edgar’s making fun of the town’s name, Kountze.   What I am saying is nothing more nor less than a criticism.

  • Sam B

    Now forgive the ignorance of a non-American who doesn’t have this type of spectacle in sport, but…
    As a “Run Through” banner, are they not breaking the work of God, at least in a litteral sense?

  • Ibis3

     Thank you Edward.

  • Patterrssonn

    Is that you Fsq you old troll?

    You might want to retry your post you replied to me, not Ed. And stop giving Ed a hard time just because he hasn’t yet achieved full on misogynist assholery.

  • Randomfactor

     Maybe they should change to the Koran.

  • Deven Kale

     We would have the same problem if it was any other religious verse from any other religious book. It’s a government institution (a public school) giving preferential treatment to a religion. It’s simply unconstitutional, and it just happens to be we atheists that seem to be the only ones that are concerned with actually defending the constitution these days. If you really have a problem with the constitution being enforced, then I suggest you move to have it repealed or amended. Then there’s always the option of moving to a country that does elevate Christianity over all other religions, but I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t find any of those countries pleasant to live in.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    we atheists that seem to be the only ones that are concerned with actually defending the constitution 

    There are also a lot of religious people who understand and value the separation of church and state.  Probably a minority in that community, but they exist.

  • Deven Kale

    Thanks for pointing that out Rich, I didn’t mean to imply that absolutely no other groups cared. I’ve fixed it now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1351473675 Matthew Baker

    They can pick from a few of my favorites: Ezekiel 23:20,  Psalm 137:9,  Matthew 6:5-6, Matthew 5: 17-20,  Revelation 17:4, 1 Corinthians 14:34, 2 Peter 3:10   1 Timothy 2:12. Of course only Psalm 137:9 might be the only one one that might be appropriate for a football game.

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    You know, I tried to discuss this with a (religious) co-worker today… she saw no problem with it whatsoever since “all of the cheerleaders wanted to do it.”  I asked her if they put up quotes from the Qu’an or from Wiccan or Buddhist writings would that be okay and she said, “absolutely!”

    I dunno if I made the right arguement.  My previous attempt at “separation of church and state” fell flat when she said it was the *students* with the banners, not the school.


  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I would propose this scenario:  The quarterback, sadly, has an injury that puts him out for the season.  As luck would have it, a new kid moves into town, and he runs and throws like a pro.  Kid is a serious star.  Only problem is, he’s Jewish, and refuses to run through bible verses because he feels it’s desecration of the Holy Word.

    Should that kid be forced to compromise his religious principles to be on the team?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    *sighs and fixes the “Like” button with lots and lots of duct tape*

    That’s the third time this week!

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    I’ll admit to a moment of juvenile giggling, but I do agree with THIS comment.

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    I’d bet almost anything she’d say, “No, he can join the team on the field afterwards.”  I felt like I was talking to someone with blinders on, and can guess some of the responses now.

  • Shane

    It is funny that this comment keeps popping up on this page. Does it not scream your arrogance and ignorance to say this? Do you know the people of the community? I seriously doubt it so why take the high ground? And to follow up on Deven Kale he pretty much answered his own question. All changes to the constitution have started in the same fashion. This whole scenario has nothing to do with religion. If you were a part of the community you’d know that. However, none of you are from the community so you just flail like mindless atheist drones trying to stop something you don’t understand. The people of this community are fighting freedom of speech it has nothing to do with Christianity or any other religion. The failure to see that is just you being blinded by you hatred for religion as an atheist. 

  • Shane

    All that would need be done is make a sign for jewish scripture or walk around the sign itself. Which was offered long ago by the cheerleaders.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Actually, Shane, I have heard from several members of the community who are not atheists, and who oppose the banners as part of the pre-game.  I wish I could give you names to back that up, but as you can imagine, they’re kind f scared at the moment.

    Although I’m not from East Texas, I am a Citizen of the United States of America, and living under the same Constitutional protections that you are.  This is our country, and you don’t have the right to violate the Constitution just because you live in a different town.

    The school, and its agents (teachers, staff, team members in uniform at school events) don’t have an unequivocal right to free speech.  At that time and place, they are not just individual students, they are acting on behalf of a government entity, and what they ‘say’ has the danger as being construed as endorsed by that government agency.

    If it’s really not about Christianity, then have the cheer leaders use non-Religious messages and watch the problem vanish.  Or keep the religious messages to private individuals in the stands, and watch the problem vanish.

  • NewDawn2006

    ” Instead, they would argue that religion has no place at a public school event.”

    Nope.  They would argue that THAT religion has no place in schools.  Our Founding Fathers were, after all, xtian and wouldn’t want any OTHER religion being propagated in schools.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UW4GNCZDKVPBXALZCVAQKSIER4 Gary

    This is clearly an unconstitutional practice per a myriad of court rulings which have basically held that school-sponsored activities (these are the school’s official cheerleaders) may not endorse religion. These banners are so explicitly pro-Christian that there’s no question they will be found to violate the First Amendment. now, some folks may not agree, but that’s the way the courts have consistently ruled on this issue and will rule in this instance as well. Frankly, schools should not be used as conduits for the expression or practice of anyone’s religious beliefs.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UW4GNCZDKVPBXALZCVAQKSIER4 Gary

    To deb: so you’d endorse the idea of having the cheerleaders hold banners saying “There is no God” or “Jesus is just a myth”?

  • mambocat

    Let’s say I am God and there are four million children starving in Africa that I want to feed, and I am supposed to give a flying rat’s ass about who wins a high school football game? 

  • Debaw315

     Yes, they can hold up whatever they want, because of the first amendment, while I will not agree with it, they hgave a right to do so.  Even if they held up something from the Quran, I would not agree but I feel they have the right to express their belief.  It  does not anger me.  Just like on the news they give their point of view as journalist, I don’t agree with most of it.  But I don’t have to be angry they are expressing their point of view.     What I have been trying to find out is why atheists in particular want to defend this amendment.  What happened to make you choose for the rest of your life regardless of anything else you might do so defend this amendment.   How did you so come to love the United State of America that you felt so strong about defending this one amendment.   My other question is since most of this is directed at schools.  What else do you do to promote the health and welfare of these children that you want protected.  I have for years seen people promote a cause that really cost them nothing.   People boycotted K-mart at one time that was easy because Wal-mart was across the street.  So I didn’t quite get the sacrifice.   So if atheists are so bent on protecting are children why not use some of that energy to start programs that help them deal with many issues that kids today face.    Just check into your schools in your area and ask the teachers if they need volunteers.  See who needs a coat at school or new shoes.  See if one of the teachers needs supplies that they pay for out of their own money.  How do I know all this because I am involved with my local school.   I can assure you these kids need lots more than portection from someone holding up a verse from the Bible

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Just check into your schools in your area and ask the teachers if they need volunteers. ”

    Wherever did you get the idea that we don’t?

  • Debaw315

     So exactly what do you and any other atheist you know do in your local schools?  I think it is great if you do.   Through what I have read on the blog, no one has spoken about their community involvement other than to fight for the first amendment in regard to separation of church and state. 
    What has appeared is a great concern for these children to be protected by the law.  
    But I don’t hear concern for issues that these students face every day nor a suggestion as to how to help them.  So along with your concern to protect them from religion what are other areas of their life do you want to see improved.  Since this does not imply tone,  just to tell you I am not being cynical, these are questions that I wonder about not just with atheist but with anyone that expresses such passion in one area but in other areas has no concern what so ever.    If we are gong to be concerned about schools and students we need to be concerned about the whole and not just the part that interest us.  You get what I am saying.  I don’t know if I have conveyed my question very well.    I applaud anyone that tries  to be involved in their community regardless of their belief system. 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    My wife is a volunteer in our son’s school.  I am not a fingerprinted/TB tested volunteer, but am active in fund raising as needed.  Another example, I brought our telescope to my son’s preschool to let them see a projected view of the transit of Venus across the sun.  Kids loved it!
    That’s said, it’s kind of annoying to be even asked to “So exactly what do you and any other atheist you know do…” as if I have to defend myself to anyone.I have a couple of dollar match charity donation challenges up in these ‘Kountze’ threads that nobody has taken me up on.  Would you like to get $100 of my money to the youth oriented charity of your choice?  If the banners are ruled constitutional, you name the charity, I’ll pay up.  If, on the other hand, the banners have to be modified to be secular, or represent a wide variety of religions, then you have to donate $100 to 
    https://www.secularstudents.org/ Deal?

    Through what I have read on the blog, no one has spoken about their community involvement other than to fight for the first amendment in regard to separation of church and state.

    Really?  You’re turn.  How many articles have you read on this blog?  And how many articles have you read on other atheist blogs that are actually directed at, say, parenting?  And if you saw one of my comments on a non-atheist parenting blog, would you know it was from an atheist?  Of course not!I don’t walk around telling everyone I’m an atheist before I help.  If it comes up, I don’t hide it, but I don’t wear it like a giant cross around my neck.  And I suspect that some atheists in your community probably DO hide it, based on the kind of reaction they can expect from your community.

    Trying to insinuate that we don’t care about anything else, based on your extremely narrow exposure to our lives, is silly.  It’s like me saying that all you care about doing is trying to advertise for God, because that’s all I’ve seen.

  • Kountze Liberal

    I’m from the community and I don’t support it. no one is infringing on these students freedom of speech- they are representatives of the school when in uniform, not individuals. why is this so hard for people to understand?

  • Debaw315

     Ok so you are involved, that is what I wanted to know.  See I do not know much about people who are atheists so that is my quest here to find out from you how you do approach life.  Perhaps not you but many who take on a cause Christian as well as other religion thats all they live, breathe and think, and there is just so much more than just having a cause.  I have read some radical and caustic comments on here from both sides.  You do not have to defend yourself to me.   I am now reading more articles on this blog and several others because I am interested in how humanity thinks, even if it is not the same way as I think. 
    I was not trying to insinuate that you don’t care.  You know there is that weird bunch that protests at the funeral of soldiers, they seem to pretty rabid about their cause and that’s all they want to do.  There may be good stuff in their life but they do not allow anyone to see anything but their cause.    So my question was does this cause drive you to do what you do or have you got a life other than this cause.  They are only one example of people who are obsessed with their cause  I am not accusing you of that I am asking if that is the way it is.  The reason being humanity for the most part doesn’t care much about what is going on in the world around.  I am on an information seeking journey that is all.   

    So I have one final question and I don’t want you offended at me I am really trying to gain a point of view from this blog.  Is it that you cannot stand the constitution being violated or is it you cant stand the Bible.  It would seem the former but then I have seen comments on here that pretty much decry or defame anything out of the Bible.  You are not defending atheism  to me, you are merely giving me your point of view.  Please don’t be annoyed with the question I think what  we believe affects our going forward in life and so you believe different from me,so that affects how you live life.  And yes I can agree with you lots of religious people are not doing a great job of living either.
    Thank youu for being honest with me it brings more understanding to me. 

  • Debaw315

    I guess I have edged my real question long enough, however I realize I do not have the right to expect an answer from you.  What I really have wanted to ask on this blog, is what epiphany did you have that made you decide to be an atheist or were you taught this way all your life? Did something specific happen in your life that made you say I don’t believe there is a God?   With those questions asked I realize that is way too personal a question to ask on such a format. I would again make you feel like you have to defend what you believe by asking for an answer and I did not intend that at all.     I have not for one moment tried to change your belief.  That has not been my goal here I wanted a concise answer on how you came to your belief system.  But again that is none of my business.  Thank you for your time and the information you have provided. 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    No,  I just have a job.  My schedule is very flexible which is why I can comment on here so frequently, but when work comes up, work is first.  I’ll reply more later.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Is it that you cannot stand the constitution being violated or is it you cant stand the Bible.

    I wouldn’t phrase it quite as “can’t stand the Constitution being violated”.  I do think it’s important to take a hard line on the Constitution, and that no violation is “too small”.  But it’s not that someone is breaking a law, but that I think someone is doing something that I think is damaging to American values.  In this case that value being religious freedom.

    I do strongly believe in the 1st amendment, in full.  And I think the Free Exercise clause requires the Establishment clause.  I think anyone who claims it’s freedom of religion, but not freedom from religion isn’t capable of imagining their own religious freedom being in jeopardy.  The Danbury Baptists that Jefferson was writing to in his “Wall of separation” letter where concerned that their religious freedoms were not protected- from other Baptists.

    I’m not anti-bible myself.  I’m with Richard Dawkins thinking it belongs in school libraries.  It is an important part of our cultural history and heritage, and to the faith of most Americans.  In various forums I’ve supported the idea of people bringing bible verses to the stands, where it is legal.  There are many ways to demonstrate one’s faith that don’t involve Government.

  • Deven Kale

    As atheists, we’re more able to look at the idea of state sanctioned religion in a more realistic light than many (perhaps even most) people who are religious. When looking at the history of the world, it becomes obvious that any time any state/country starts requiring that it’s people follow any specific religion or any number of religious beliefs, the rights of everybody will quickly begin to fall to the wayside. Look at all the countries now with Sharia law being enforced, where women have almost no rights whatsoever. Look at Korea where people are punished for having any religion at all, and people are only allowed to worship their leaders. The same with Pol Pot who demanded atheism, where people were also punished for following any religion. My point is whatever the belief system- be it Christian, Muslim, or atheistic- being forced by government to follow it always ends badly. This is why our constitution has wording to specifically disallow any connection between our government and any religion. Yes, we’ve known joining religion and government is bad for at least that long. That’s also why it’s mainly atheists that are fighting for that separation, since we have a unique perspective on it.

    In the case of this school, it’s actually not the cheerleaders saying whatever they want that’s the problem, it’s the coach. Their coach has to okay everything that they do, including what goes on those banners. Their coach also happens to be a government employee and all her actions reflect back on the government. By allowing these Bible verses to be put on the banner, that is a government employee showing preference to a particular religion, which has consistently been ruled as unconstitutional by the courts.

  • Deven Kale

    I know I don’t speak for everybody when I say this, but I know that there are a lot of atheists who agree with me on this as well. The reason I am an atheist is because the religion that my  parents were trying to raise me in just stopped making any sense. The teachings were either fundamentally flawed or contradictory, and after a while I could no longer pretend that I accepted any of it. Upon looking at other religions, none of them made any sense either. I was then left with accepting none of them, making me an atheist. From what I understand, this is a fairly common deconversion process.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I wouldn’t say that I was ‘taught’ to be an atheist.  My mother was kind a hippie on an anti-authoritarian kick.  She was pretty anti-Christian but believed in a lot of other supernatural things like auras and astrology and past lives.  To say I was ‘taught’ to be an atheist I’d have to say I wasn’t taught that stuff, but I was and believed varying amounts of it.  Less as I got older.

    I did spend some time in my late teens trying to reconcile why people I trusted and respected were Christian.  I read the bible (KJV even) and some other apologetic books.  I really figured there was something I was missing, and based on what I had been told, if I tried hard enough it would come.  It didn’t.

    I could point to a lot of things in the bible that put me off, but at that time for some reason the animal sacrifice rules in Leviticus struck me in particular.  Strange that it was that and not Abraham and Isaac.  Now that I’m a father and wouldn’t think once, let alone twice, about giving my life for my son, that story is the ultimate deal breaker.  But then it was burning doves.  Maybe because Isaac is presented as a narrative, while Leviticus is a set of dictated rules with no room for analogy.

    And yes I know that was the Old Testament  and Jesus gave his life to give us a new set of rules.  The point for me is that a God who would even come up with a dumb idea like killing something to absolve your sin isn’t worth considering.

    But you didn’t ask for me to try to convince you of anything.

    I’ve always been skeptical.  I ruled out Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck at 4, and almost in the same breath added the Easter Bunny and Santa.  Much to my mom’s dismay.

    My mom, as it happens, has been born again and is a fervent Christian, as is my (half) sister.  My parents were divorced when I was very young and most of my dad’s family is also very religious, although my dad is a lot more ‘cultural’ about it than the rest of them.  I was baptized Catholic at the insistence of my paternal grandmother.

    I am very interested in how people who grew up imbued with faith deal with the loss.  Having read or heard a number of accounts, it rarely seems to be an epiphany.  More like a long drawn out struggle to hold onto a dear friend.  Many of them let go in stages- first giving up more extreme ideas like Hell and original sin, and embrace a more socialist Jesus.  But even then many of them finally toss it all up and admit they don’t believe any of it.  I have one relative who says she wishes she could still believe in Heaven, and that she would meet all her loved ones after death.  But wanting it to be true doesn’t make it any more believable.  Another thing I find with these stories is that they mostly have a sense of peace and less stress, not trying to rationalize religion into their lives.  And by that I don’t mean to say that religious people have stressful lives.  But I think people who don’t believe, but are afraid not to, life with a lot of stress.

  • Debaw315

    Thank you, I did want to know if it was personal and you have expalined it  very well how you came to your belief system.  I as well have not and will not attempt to change your mind on this subject I do I think it is great that we two stranger go  to the place of just  talking and not being offended with each others view.  viedw.  It has been a great learning experience for me.  I will not forget this conversation.  Thank you being otwo starnger got to ttbeliev you coam

  • Debaw315

     Hey Rich, I am replying on this post because the other box just got to small and it was jibberish at the end.  I was saying it was great that two strangers with different views could just talk  and not be offended by different points of view.  Thank you for you honesty.  When I see the post where people insult each other just makes me sad we don’t have to be like that.  I will not forget our conversation.  You articulated that really well and that is not a jibe it is an honest compliment.    I believe we all have very personal reasons of being in the belief system that we have.  I think it is clear to you by now that I believe in God, but I also believe in treating others who do not believe as I do with dignity and respect. I hope at the end of this that is what I conveyed to you.  I know some of my statements were not presented well to you at first.  My ineptness at expressing myself was responsible for that.  Just know my intent was never to condemn you, just to understand your belief system.  

  • William Branton

    but the Bible is not the atheists’ book .. so if they don’t believe the Bible why should they have a say in the verses on the banner ??  and remember Jesus never said not to pray in public.  see the historic event of the feeding of the 5,000 just a few pages past the “pray in your closet” verses … isn’t it interesting that this reference is not mentioned on the topic of Jesus and praying in public (wonder why ???) … and He also prayed in public when He was crucified.

    our nation was founded on Christian principles not the principles of other religions ..

    many of our founding fathers were Christians (not deists as some misrepresent the facts) and made public reference in their writings and speeches that they depended on the Lord and His guidance in their lives on a daily basis.

  • J. K. King

     Hi Deven, it’s J.K. King.

    Not to barge in, but our other thread went bad.

    Besides the other problems with your logical positivism that I mentioned, you cannot prove that murder, torture, rape, dope dealing, or other ills are bad. By opposing them you must use philosophy. That’s a fatal hole in your logical positivism.

    You asserted that everyone believes in a different god because of qualitative differences, and yes, billions believe in different gods.

    But billions believe in the same God. My God is 1) an eternal uncreated being 2) a spirit 3) all-powerful 4) all-knowing 5) sinless and all-holy 6) Love 7) “a consuming fire” (He will execute perfect justice) 8) a trinity, and 9) revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
    Others add speculation but not dogma. Therefore, billions believe in the same God. Jews and deists believe in 7 of 9 points, they merely have an incomplete understanding.  Einstein a pantheist? Can you prove it?

    And seeing God differently doesn’t create different gods. For example, Abraham Lincoln was variously viewed as a husband, father, son, president, lawyer, brother, rail-splitter, and special friend. None of these views are contradictory; they all believed in the same person.

    I empathize with you since you had to deal with religious clowns and bozos. But the truth is like panning for gold; you may get a ton of dirt and worms, but gold does exist.

  • Deven Kale

    When you’re speaking of fictional characters, then any small difference in definition creates another character. Especially, but not limited to, when speaking of gods whose differences are large enough to create entirely new systems of belief based on them.

    Most religions split off from their parent religions when the believers had such different views about what their god wants or does that they couldn’t reconcile the two, and therefore create a new god for them to worship. The only reason you are able to make the claim that “billions of people worship the same god” is because you list out so few of your gods characteristics. For example: Did he literally flood the entire world, just what we now call the Middle East, or is it all just allegory? No single god could have done all three, yet you’ll get all three of those answers depending on whom you ask. Even this one small example shows that there are at least three separate gods that people believe in. There are countless other examples.

    The fact that you wish to lump me into some category of “logical positivism” means nothing to me. The fact that you claim some of the things I believe contradict my logical positivism should only go to show you that I’m not a logical positivist, but since you love your labels so much you seem to have trouble recognizing that. This is not my problem, but yours.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.

    – Albert Einstein

    One person’s conclusion about ‘God’ should never be used as an argument for or against God.  But I do wish theists would quite trying to claim people who at most don’t deny the possibility of some non-personal god-like entity.