Another High School Hoists Banners with Bible Verses on Them

Check out this Christian banner seen at a high school football game recently. Can you guess where it’s from?

Nope, it’s not Kountze High School in Texas…

This is from Marbury High School in Prattville, Alabama:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is already on the case (PDF):

“We understand that each week a different bible verse is displayed for all to observe,” wrote Stephanie Schmitt, FFRF staff attorney. “You must take immediate action to stop these religious banners from being part of school-sponsored events.”

“Public high school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students. Autauga County Schools must take immediate action to ensure that religious messages are not part of any school-sponsored events. These religious messages displayed at football games constitute an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. A reasonable Marbury student would certainly perceive the banners ‘as stamped with [his/]her school’s approval.’

“No student should be made to run through a religious banner. For example, a Jewish football player should not have to run through a New Testament message to play. This practice offends non-Christians and nonbelievers alike.

There’s no way we know about all the schools that allow this practice to continue. We only know about the instances in which someone has spoken up about it. But it’s possible that the alumnus who contacted FFRF about this practice knew to do that only after seeing all the attention given to the cheerleaders in Kountze. Let’s hope that, after this, other whistleblowers come forward with pictures and proof that this practice is going on in their schools, too.

Even if it’s the South, even if the players and cheerleaders and coaches are Christian, these banners are still an illegal endorsement of Christianity. The schools wouldn’t even consider them if they quoted the Koran or Vedas… but write a Bible chapter/verse afterwards and they just let it slide.

It’s yet another example of Christians showing they can’t do the honorable, legal, or right thing on their own. Their churches never taught them how to do that so we have to take action by complaining (or possibly filing a lawsuit) in order to teach them a lesson.

Ideally, this case will be put to rest immediately and not become a media spectacle like the ongoing case in Texas.

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.

  • Gordon Duffy

    Again I would ask that they let a non-believer choose a bible verse for them. 

  • Grooney315

    Last score I could find, Prattville lost 21-17. I guess their god failed to show up for the game.

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

      Kountze lost last night too.  Apparently they “can do all things through Christ,” except beat Woodville, Newton, and East Chambers.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBAMPHNDKNSKDNVTY3VRYGWMYQ Jack

         So Newton > God?

        I’m OK with this.

      • http://www.ucedaenglish.com/ Uceda School

         Or beat anyone lately, really. Maybe they tried to go around Christ instead.

    • Byron Solomon

      Prattville is a different team.

  • Marcel Gagne

    How about starting a campaign of matching each bible banner with an atheist message? I’d personally love to see an atheist message next to every religious one.

    • Bell3000

      Isaiah 13:16 “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.”

      That would inspire me.

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

    I’m glad this is spreading (for now).  Maybe FFRF can find a plaintiff from this school, since they can’t find one in Kountze.

  • DelAnaya

    Why does so much of this weird christian stuff happen in the south? Why does that part of the country remain so religious? Are there cultural studies that show why a larger fraction of the southern population are stuck in the past?

    • skinnercitycyclist

       Pregnant women eating lead-bearing clay?

    • Annie

      The South still has many homogenous little towns that haven’t been exposed to other perspectives, and thus, they think their perspective is the only one.  Although many of these infractions do take place in the South, one has to wonder why so many of the larger, more organized non-profit religious hate groups have headquarters in the north or the west?

      Family Research Council: Washington, D.C.
      Abiding Truth Ministries: Springfield, Massachusetts
      Focus on the Family: Colorado Springs, Colorado
      Chalcedon Foundation: Vallecito, California
      Traditional Values Coalition: Anahein, California

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        FRC’s DC locale makes perfect sense when you want to try to lobby your religion into government.

        • Annie

          True, and I thought about removing them from my list for that very reason.  I left them on because it illustrates that this push of a Christian agenda is far greater than a couple of  little sleepy, southern towns  filled with simpletons, which is the connotation that seems to be implied whenever someone writes, “Why does this always happen in the South??”

          • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

            Very true point. Like grandma used to say, “Assholes and idiots are everywhere, no avoiding ‘em. You move and you’ll just find new assholes and a fresh crop of idiots.” (Grandma wasn’t one for mincing words)

    • Sue Blue

      Poverty, poor education, tradition, insularity…all are correlated with religion and all are   endemic in the South.  We all know that correlation does not equal causation, but there are numerous demographic studies that prove this correlation is consistent and persuasive.

    • Nunya

      I can answer that, as I actually live in the town in question. The first part of this equation is that religion is indoctrinated early, and the Bible is taught as a 100% literal account of history. Southern Baptist is the dominant denomination, and it is taught from a “do this or you’re going to hell” standpoint. To question the origins of the Bible, to consider evolution even in conjunction with the Bible principles falls under “… or you’re going to hell”. It’s fear used to control, even so much as influencing who you vote for (hence the permanent status of red state). The second part is that there always has to be someone to blame for the state of the world, and it’s mixed with a nostalgia for bygone eras. Hence, the reason for constantly trying to get prayer back in school. It’s out of a spirit of trying to improve society at a young age. 

      This being said, I know some folks who are supporting this. They’re big-hearted, kind people who believe they are supporting students’ freedom of speech, and they’re applauding the kids standing up for what they believe in. I just don’t happen to agree with majority ramming their beliefs down anyone else’s throat. There is a reason for separation of church and state. Schools are purposed for learning facts, principles, and putting them into practice. Religion is your particular belief system for explaining the purpose of life, or the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’. It’s not, by definition, a fact, so it has no place in education. It does, however, have a place in everyday life and how individuals conduct themselves. Being religious and attending school are not mutually exclusive. You can pray any time, anywhere. You can donate to charity any time. You can choose to not smoke, drink, or have premarital sex (though hardly anyone adheres to that). The one thing no one else seems to derive from the Bible is that you don’t do any of these things while trying to draw a bunch of attention to yourself, as the Pharisees did. You just do it.

  • Aaron

    It doesn’t matter. It’s going to be declared unconstitutional next summer and all will be right with the world.

    At least, this will be.

  • Pureone

    All those banners seem to have more interest in quoting Paul than quoting Jesus. I guess they didn’t think he had anything banner-worthy to say.

    • Birdie1986

      Or, maybe Paul was more into football than Jesus.

  • ZenDruid

    I would very much like to see John 11:35 on  one of those silly banners.

  • A Person with Common Sense

    The students did this on their own… not the school. And last I saw, there was no one forcing every football player to run through the banner. I did not see anyone forcing someone to bow or to even stop what he or she was doing during the prayer. I should know… I am a senior who goes to Marbury High School, and never once have I been force to do anything religious.


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