New York Times Editorial Sides Against Kountze Christian Cheerleaders

The New York Times had two pieces yesterday about the Kountze High School cheerleaders and their Bible-promoting banners.

The first focused on Kevin Weldon, the superintendent of the district. Weldon has personally supported the cheerleaders but still feels the law says otherwise:

Mr. Weldon, 53, is in a position that few superintendents in small-town Texas have found themselves: taking a stand on religious expression that has put him at odds with the majority of his students and his neighbors, not to mention the governor, the attorney general and, some in Kountze believe, his God.

“Myself and the board have said all along that we do not have a problem with the kids doing what they’re doing,” Mr. Weldon said. “We’re not hostile against any type of religion, but we also want to make sure as a school district that we’re following the law.

The second is an editorial siding against the Christian cheerleaders:

Those banners are not merely personal expressions of belief, but in that setting become religious messages endorsed by the school, the school district and the local government.

Texas’s attorney general, Greg Abbott, intervened to support the cheerleaders and Gov. Rick Perry endorsed the move. “If you think about it,” the governor said, “the Kountze cheerleaders simply wanted to call a little attention to their faith and to their Lord.”

These officials are blind to the dangers to religious freedom when government shifts from being neutral about religion to favoring a particular one.

It’s a travesty that a district judge has allowed the banners to be hoisted at games for the time being. It’d be worse, though, if the courts agree to that next summer when the trial begins.

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.