Judge Rules That Kountze High School Cheerleaders Can Display Banners with Bible Verses at Football Games

There’s finally some resolution in the case of the Kountze High School cheerleaders. And it’s not a good one.

The backstory, as you may recall, is that the cheerleaders held up banners with Bible verses on them to pump up the football team:

Last year, Superintendent Kevin Weldon told them to stop the promotion of religion, but in October, a judge temporarily ruled in favor of the cheerleaders, allowing them to continue hoisting the banners until this summer when a final decision could be issued.

That decision, released this afternoon, has come much earlier than expected:

A Hardin County district judge has ruled in favor of a group of Kountze Cheerleaders who want to continue displaying religious banners at football games.

356th District Judge Steve Thomas Wednesday ruled that the Kountze Independent School District cannot prevent the displays.

In fact, his ruling (available here) said that no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events.”

Which makes no sense at all. Did Thomas not get through the first page of the Constitution during law school?!

He went on to say:

The evidence in this case confirms that religious messages expressed on run-through banners have not created, and will not create, an establishment of religion in the Kountze community.

Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events. Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law requires Kountze I.S.D. to prohibit the inclusion of religious-themed banners at school sporting events.

The Religious Right is gloating already and I don’t blame them. They found a way to subvert the law:

“The Court’s order today that the cheerleaders’ run-through banners are constitutionally permissible vindicates our clients’ rights and brings this case to a successful end,” said Roger Byron, an attorney with Liberty Institute. “We are pleased that the judge ruled to protect the cheerleaders’ display of banners with religious messages at sporting events. This is a great victory, not only for these cheerleaders, but for religious liberty of student leaders across the country.”

Initially, this case was between the cheerleaders and the school district. But over the course of the past several months, the district (under new leadership) joined with the cheerleaders to support the Bible banners. That led Judge Thomas to “issue his summary judgment so as to avoid a trial.” That trial would have occurred this June, but with Thomas’ decision, it’s over for now and the cheerleaders will be able to hold up Bible banners next season.

Forget the fact that some of the cheerleaders might not be Christian.

Or the football players.

Or the students who come to watch the game.

In Kountze, Texas, Christianity is the school’s official religion and it’s hard to see how any reasonable person would think otherwise when they see cheerleaders in school uniforms holding up Bible verses for football players (also in school uniforms) on the school’s taxpayer-funded football field as school administrators watch from the stands.

The question we need to be asking is: Would the ruling have been the same if the students were promoting verses from the Koran instead of the Bible? Would they have been given the free pass this judge just handed them?

I’m reminded of the speech given at a public hearing about the case by Kountze alum Lindsey Brackin (class of 2005) in regards to why this case was so important:

No one is trying to persecute these students for their beliefs. They have a First Amendment right to read their bibles, pray, wear crosses, and express their religion in many other individual and group ways while at school. There are several religious organizations on campus for this purpose. If they wanted to hold individual religious signs in the bleachers or off field, they would be very much within their rights. The problem occurs when one team forces another team to make a public proclamation of their faith on the football field. High school is hard enough without added peer pressure to participate in something that you don’t necessarily believe in.

I understand why students and their parents are afraid to join the FFRF’s lawsuit against the banners — I myself have been threatened with bodily harm for speaking out against this religious bullying, and I saw a sign posted in the middle of town stating “IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT LEAVE- WE BELIEVE!”. As a non Christian who was born and raised here, I am appalled that people are insinuating you must buy in to this religious fervor to live here. I can not imagine how the non Christian students in this school feel after seeing and hearing such hatred, but I am sure they are honestly frightened and bewildered. One in four people in the U.S. are not Christian — it is irrational to try and present this school as being made up entirely of Christian students. A public school should be a safe haven for students of ALL religions, and non religions, not a pulpit for one group to try and push their agenda.

Please remember that while THIS particular group of cheerleaders appear to be in agreement on allowing religious statements on the run through banners, some of them will graduate and be replaced by new students. What will the reaction be if that student is a Muslim, a Hindu, or an atheist? What if she does not want religious statements on the run through banners? Will she be removed from the team? I hope the parents here are able to put themselves in the shoes of others and see the long term negative consequences that their actions will have on this school and its students for years to come.

A press conference is scheduled for 5:00p (CT) at the offices of Kountze lawyer David Starnes.

I’ll post more updates as they come in…

***Update***: The Freedom From Religion Foundation is hoping to hear from affected families so they can challenge this ruling:

Freedom From Religion Foundation officials — who were not a party in the suit — were disappointed with the outcome, stating that they hope enough students, teachers and parents will contact them so they can take the case to federal court.

“We did not expect justice in a Texas state court,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation’s co-president. “It’s impossible to imagine a judge approving cheerleader messages saying, ‘Atheists rule — God is dead’ or ‘Allah is supreme — pray to him for victory.’”

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

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.

  • jdm8

    Most normal teens would just have a simpler expression that says something like “Go Bobcats!”.

    Such a wordy banner suggests they might have a stick up their collective asses.

    • Canadian Atheist, eh!

      Something in me doubts that this is entirely “student led.” Call me crazy.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        It’s about as student-led as the “Prayer By The Pole” at my old elementary school that is supposedly being led and organized by fourth graders.

  • randall.morrison90

    So, Mehta, you think that Christians should be silenced if there are people who are not Christians around?

    Which of course then tramples on their rights.

    Rights have to be balanced, but it is amusing that these high school girls are such a threat to you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      No. Hemant is saying that the school should not be allowed to endorse one religion over another or over irreligion (or to endorse irreligion over religion) – and he’s right.

      A person holding banners like that in the stands would probably be fine, but the school displaying them isn’t.

    • RobMcCune

      Christians shouldn’t use positions where they speak for or otherwise represent a government entity to advertise their personal faith.They don’t have a right to use any means given to them to proselytize, representing a public school entails responsibility to the public and the student body.

      It would be amusing that you think religious freedom gives people carte blanche authority with any position they are given, if so many people didn’t think like you.

      • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

        I agree. I’m a Christian and I just think this ruling by the judge is kind of out there and it seems to my un-lawerly-trained mind that there’s plenty of precedent he’s going upstream against…

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          It also flies in the face of http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/05/06/164194/scotus-texas-cheerleader/

          So it seems Cheerleaders have the right to religious expression, but not the right to refuse to cheer for their rapist. Would be interesting to see what would happen if a cheerleader refused to hold the banner because it violated her religious views. Or a player refused to run through them for the same reason.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            There is no place for the public school to promote any religion. Not only is it against the law, but like most things public schools try to do, they probably get it horribly wrong *anyway*.

            I consider myself part of the religious right (edit: insofar as I am religious and conservative), and this is just embarrassing. Also, counter-productive. How many children will grow up with terrible memories of being forced to pray, having religion foisted upon them, etc.

            I realize that’s not why most of you object to this, and I do think it’s illegal and inexcusable, but religion should be something that you come to, not that’s forced upon you. That’s just common sense.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              I can’t speak for anyone else, but I hope why most of us object to this is the exact same reason you do. This isn’t about if God exists, or which god exists, but about everyone’s right to make their own choice in the matter without being influenced by the government. No god needs the government’s help.

          • indorri

            That link… I have never seen anything that enraged me so much in my entire life. I honestly think the Fifth Circuit judges should be unconditionally stripped of their positions and banned from practising law for life.

          • http://www.facebook.com/matt.potter.73 Matt Potter

            So in your link the court actually called cheerleaders a “mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams” and then this judge writes “Neither the Establishment Clause nor any other law prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events.” Call me crazy but those two statements seem to be polar opposites.

    • Gus Snarp

      Kountze alum Lindsey Brackin (class of 2005) summed up the appropriate balance of rights in the large blockquote in the post. Go back and read that again. Or should I say, read that instead of just reading the headline and making a knee jerk comment.

    • Sue Blue

      Oh, here we go with the screams of “persecution” again. What part of the First Amendment don’t you understand? In the interest of fairness to all, government institutions can’t become involved in favoring one religion over another; public schools are government institutions. If these cheerleaders were waving these banners at a private religious school, there’d be no problem at all; they could knock themselves shouting for Jesus. This is a public school with students from a variety of religious or non-religious backgrounds – why should they have to be silent in the presence of Christians? Do you think quotes from the Koran should be allowed? How about atheist banners? Why not just have a religious free-for-all at every school function, where everyone’s time is wasted while varying creeds jockey for attention and overshadow whatever event is actually supposed to be going on?

      These students have every right to believe whatever they want to – they have every right to pray in school and practice their religion as long as it
      doesn’t disrupt school functions or result in proselytizing, bullying or oppression of other students. This, to me, would qualify as proselytizing.

      Asking that Christians keep it to themselves as they would want others to keep their views to themselves is not persecution; it’s just mutual respect for the rights of all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jim.christensen.1297 Jim Christensen

        In other words, the Christians must be silenced.

        Should Muslims or atheist we allowed to speak out?

        Yes, if the students want to. In this case, the cheerleaders wanted to speak out about their beliefs. This did not involve any act of Congress.

        You just want to use the power of the government to make people “keep it to themselves”. That’s how it starts; students should be learning to say what they believe, not hide it.

        And strange how everyone gets so riled up by a bunch of teenage girls.

    • Edmond

      Christians IN GENERAL should not have to worry about being silenced. They should have the same rights as anyone to express their beliefs, in certain settings. Such as out in public, on their own time.

      But students who are participating in a school function, using school resources, on school grounds, and acting as school representatives should not be given free advertising time by the school to promote their religion to those who are attending the school function. No one is attending the game to hear how fantastic someone else thinks their religion is. The banners should focus on the game only.

      Threats can start small and grow larger very quickly. Maybe you didn’t read the entire post, where the school graduate said she had been threatened with BODILY HARM for opposing school-based proselytizing. Many Christians already think they own the entire country and every damn thing in it. All it would take is for no one to vocally oppose them, and this attitude will quickly spread, until they believe that no one MAY oppose them (and now it looks like that’s been the result).

      Should EVERY student have the right to promote their religion at such events, or ONLY Christians? Would you still be talking about “rights” if the Muslim students decided they wanted time on the field to tell you about the glory of Allah? Should we delay the game while every known point of view gets a moment to peddle its wares?

    • roz77

      You clearly have no idea how these things work. Normally people get to do what they concerning their personal religious expression as long as the government does not have a compelling interest. However, if the government (or a public school) has a compelling interest, they can restrict religious exercise. Preventing an Establishment clause violation is a compelling interest, so if the school would be violating the Establishment clause by allowing the banners to be displayed, so they are justified in banning them.

      It has nothing to do with Christians being silenced if non-Christians being around. It has everything to do with whether allowing the banners to be displayed violates the Establishment clause or not.

    • Wild Rumpus

      WHOOOOOOSH! (that’s the sound of the point of this article flying completely over your head) Like most Christians, you didn’t read the whole text, you just pick and choose the lines that are important to you.

    • WallofSleep

      So, Randall, you think the Constitution should be ignored if there are christians around?

      Which of course then tramples on everyone’s rights.

      Rights are not just for christians, but it is amusing that our Constitution is such a threat to your faith.

    • NewDawn2006

      You seriously don’t think of anyone other than yourself do you? We live in a big country randall with a lot of different people in it. You and the other christians don’t own it. The rest of us, who don’t believe as you do, have just as many rights as you do. Just because you and your kind have been given special privileges that have gone unchallenged for all this time doesn’t mean they were right or Constitutional. You know what that is, right? The document that frames our government? The one that has an Establishment Clause? Familiar with that? Obviously not. Public school is a government facility. You can do whatever you want on your own time. On public school time… No religion. If you want to live in a country that is controlled by religious leaders may I suggest you go to Iran and see how it is going for them.

      I am curious though. How is showing favoritism toward your religion balanced? Your definition must be different than… well… everyone’s.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      See Santa Fe v Doe. The majority doesn’t have to be silenced, as long as they insure that the minority also has practical opportunity to express themselves. If the effective silencing of the minority does not trample the minority’s rights, then there is no trampling of rights in compelling silence to the majority; the government is only prohibited from closing traditional or private forums, not from ending a limited public forum. If compelling silence to the majority infringes their rights, so does doing so to the minority. Therefore, government has a duty to insure a forum is effectively open to both majority and minority, or the forum must cease to exist.

      Contrariwise, this ruling seems to pretty much fly in the face of SFvD. The district seems unlikely to appeal; they just want this to go away. I suppose a Pastafarian or other religious minority could sue demanding access to the forum, but I suspect it would likely need to be one of the cheerleaders. Or perhaps a would-be-cheerleader Pastafarian might use the banners as evidence of creating a religiously hostile and/or discriminatory environment.

      The FFRF may find a secularist at the school, to serve as plaintiff in a lawsuit claiming that this is an unconstitutional establishment. That might be possible despite this lower court ruling (based on the SCOTUS court ruling), since the secularist was not a party to this lawsuit, and thus remains entitled to be heard in court.

      Or it may just sit around as a legal backwater for another couple decades.

    • Stev84

      If Christians are so silenced why don’t they ever shut up?

  • Sue Blue

    When is Texas going to secede and form their own little theocracy? Our national average IQ would go up 20 points and we’d be fiscally better-off too, since the “we don’t need no Obamacare or guvmint stimulus money or anything Federal whatsoever” state is one of the biggest recipient of federal government subsidies (i.e. “guvmint handouts”).

    • RobMcCune

      We could try outlawing slavery again, it worked twice before.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Not only does TX receive guvmint handouts, they are now reconsidering the money that was taken away from family planning initiatives thanks to our Jesus-addled governor. The True Christian Legislature figured out the cost of their bizarre anti-choice fantasy…It makes Baby Jesus cry:

      “Texas lawmakers indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women
      will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a
      result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control.
      The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273
      million — $103 million to $108 million to the state’s general revenue
      budget alone — and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those
      infants under Medicaid.”

      Hypocrites.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/us/likely-increase-in-births-has-some-lawmakers-revisiting-cuts.html

      • rwlawoffice

        So in your twisted world view its better to kill them then to find a way to care for them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          No. It is better that there not be unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Not at all the same thing.

          And notice that Carmelita is calling out the hypocrisy of some of the legislators: they’re happy to deny women basic healthcare, but as soon as they understand that would cost them money, a certain number backpedal without acknowledging their mistake.

        • Antitroll

          How long does it take you to scan all these posts and pick fights with certain ones? Does wasting time convincing yourself your not a bad person and not going to hell take most of your day, or all of it?

          • MrModerateAZ

            Hell? Really? I thought we have moved past all that. And we can talk about all the “killing” that goes on in the uterus all day…

    • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

      It’s so ironic that one of the reasons they seceeded from Mexico was because they where tired of Mexicans being religious zealots.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        The Mexican abolition of slavery was a bigger proximate cause, combined with the cultural divide between Texas and the rest of Mexico and perceived and actual discrimination against Texans by the Mexican government.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Actually, Texas is a net contributor to the federal US budget – although the net contribution per capita is far lower than some other states. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_taxation_and_spending_by_state

      Nor is average IQ particularly lower in Texas than in other US states – Google tells me that it is ranked ~35th, but the spread nationwide is only ±4 points or so, which is approaching the level of systematic errors. And IQ is pretty much worthless as a metric of anything other than being good at taking IQ tests. Innate intelligence is the same everywhere.

      There are assuredly problems with the culture of Texas, but perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes does not help.

  • Mariève Lapierre

    I would have been offended by these banners even when I was still a Christian. They’re turning the Bible’s message into ridicule, without even needing the help of non-believers. You think winning a high school football game is part of “God’s plan for you”? Really?

    • Gus Snarp

      Actually, I think the best plaintiff in a lawsuit would be a devout Christian who believes this practice is insulting to God. Or maybe a devout Christian from another public school that faces them annually.

    • allein

      And how pious of them to write The Word Of God on a banner for the express purpose of tearing it to shreds. (I wonder how these cheerleaders would respond to the “write ‘Jesus’ on a piece of paper and step on it” lesson from a few weeks ago.)

  • WallofSleep

    Any opposing team that beats them on the field should roll out an even larger banner that says: “GOD LOVES US MORE THAN YOU!” I’d wager that would bring a swift end to all these god-bothering banners.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      I was thinking of using Qur’an 8:65 or some of the parts from the Bhagavad Gita that order Kshatriyas to fight because it is their inherent duty, but that works too.

      • Gus Snarp

        There are some great ones in the Tao Te Ching:

        When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.

        and:

        Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.

        Seem particularly appropriate.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          I was thinking of:

          He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.

    • cary_w

      Isn’t that pretty much what the banners in the pictures are saying? What I really can’t understand about this case is why Christians aren’t offended by the students using their savior’s name in this way. If I did believe in God I would be horrified at the idea that He gave a damn about sporting event, or the implication that He would help one team win over another because they prayed harder! What ever happened to God loving everyone?

  • Gus Snarp

    I noticed that this ruling is on the case where the Cheerleaders were suing the school district, but the quote from Lindsey Brackin mentions an FFRF lawsuit. Is there such a lawsuit also in play here? I can imagine the school district choosing not to appeal, but I think this ruling is wrong and would likely be overturned on appeal. If the school district does not appeal, then a lawsuit to end the practice, such as one from the FFRF, is the only remedy and I think that’s important so that this precedent doesn’t stand.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      AFAIK, FFRF does not have anyone with standing willing to go forward. So until they do, this is ‘resolved’. When the eventually do (possibly in another copycat district) this will probably go back to the courts.

      • Gus Snarp

        Well crap, that’s what I was afraid of. Here’s hoping they find a plaintiff or the school district decides to appeal.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Well it sure won’t be the district. They’ll be overjoyed with this result. Their problem has been how to not get sued for damages, and how to not piss off their constituents (which II’m sure they also privately agree with). ‘Losing’ is the best thing that could happen to them. Now they have an excuse to let the banners go forward, which is what they always stated they wanted to happen, even if they were advised otherwise legally.

          The party in the hot seat now is the District legal team, for giving ‘bad’ advice.

          • Gus Snarp

            Yeah, that’s my thought too. Why fight it, now they can do what makes the voters happy and be insulated by a judge’s ruling.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      FFRF filed an amicus brief but they were not the ones filing the lawsuit.

  • notterriblysurprised

    Judges are elected in Texas so politics (aka reelelction) probably played some role in this decision.

    The link is to the Order but not the opinion which would set forth the legal reasoning. I’m assuming there is an opinion, but could not locate one online as yet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      Ick. Elected judges means majority really can rule.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I’m guessing that this is allowed on the grounds that the banners are created by students and that students are allowed to freely express religious beliefs. I think that it definitely crosses a line when it becomes a team activity, not just a personal statement. This effectively makes the cheer leading club exclusionary to non-Christians.

    What are the options for appeal? Any efforts being made toward that?

    • Keith Harrison

      I guess I don’t see the problem here. Much as I dislike the signs, I think students should be able to express themselves (when such expressions are not harmful to others). They aren’t representing the school administration or staff, so there is no infringement of the Establishment clause.

      Now it may be true that some cheerleaders will feel left out because they aren’t Christian, but I think it’s perfectly legal for a group of people to democratically decide on what action to take, even if that means going against the desires of a minority. In other words, if a majority of the cheerleaders voted to use the religious signs, I don’t see anything illegal about that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        They aren’t representing the school administration or staff, so there is no infringement of the Establishment clause.

        By what stretch of thinking are school-sponsored cheerleaders not representing the school?

        • onamission5

          This.
          Cheerleaders and athletes at my high school had to sign behavior clauses because they are considered to be representatives of the school– especially when attending school sponsored events, and most especially when wearing their school provided uniforms. How then are they not representing the school when they mouthpiece for their religion at a school event while wearing school logos and colors, but they are representing the school when they get drunk at a party?

      • cary_w

        I don’t see how you can say that a group of cheerleaders wearing official school uniforms, performing school sponsored routines, at a school sponsored sporting event are not representing the school. These girls didn’t just show up out of the blue with their signs and walk out on the field uninvited, some coach or teacher clearly gave them to OK to do this and needs to be held responsible. If their coach really just let them do whatever they wanted with no guidance, then s/he is being horribly negligent. I mean what sort of coach would do that? “Just go out on the field and do whatever you want!”. Next year they could do a strip tease or something! But they came up with it on their own, so it’s their free expression to do it, so it must be OK! This is why there are teachers and coaches at schools, to make sure the kids are doing things that are appropriate. Making fun of someone else’s religion is not appropriate.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erik-Wiseman/1496080461 Erik Wiseman

        I suggest you find and read the rulebook/guidebook for pretty much any school sponsored extracurricular activity you would care to name.

        Every school extracurricular activity I was ever involved with had a code of conduct explicitly stating that participants are representing the school during that activity and any time we wore the uniform (if applicable) and that under no circumstances should we wear a team/band uniform outside of the activity so as to completely avoid the implication that any action we took outside of the actual activity was in any way condoned by the school.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

        “In other words, if a majority of the cheerleaders voted to use the religious signs, I don’t see anything illegal about that.”

        Your understanding of a pure democracy is correct – majority rules. But public schools are not pure democracies – they answer to our government – also not a pure democracy and one with laws. The school must provide a safe haven for ANY student who wants to go there, not just the Christian ones.

        Endorsing one religion over others at a public school is the government endorsing religion. This breaks the establishment clause of the constitution. Precedent agrees too – lots of cases. This judge got away with a technicality since the school board switched sides and then nobody was there to prosecute.

        I hope someone can step up to the plate so we can teach the town that they are still part of the USA.

      • roz77

        “I think it’s perfectly legal for a group of people to democratically decide on what action to take, even if that means going against the desires of a minority. ”

        When it comes to religion in public schools, the Supreme Court has actually held the opposite.

  • Librepensadora

    What worries me is that the First Amendment is being violated by lawyers and judges who do not understand how unleashing the mob mentality of fundamentalist Christians will endanger the lives of not only atheists (and other freethinkers) but mainstream liberal Protestants, Catholics, and everyone who does not believe their way.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Or maybe they do understand, but don’t care.

    • Marc Remillard

      I’m more worried about the entitlement mentality of liberal atheists who are happy to destroy the First Amendment because any mention of God in a public fora sends them into a shivering fit of apoplexy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        Wrong. The objection is not to “any mention of God in a public forum”. It is to a school promoting one religion over another.

        The “entitlement mentality” here is possessed by the school, members of which feel entitled to promote their particular version of Christianity over other religions and over irreligion.

        • Marc Remillard

          Ahh, then you have no objection here because the school isn’t promoting religion. In fact, the school board unconstitutionally ordered the girls to quit. So, do tell, how do you get that the school is promoting what the girls are saying when they went to court to prevent them from saying it? The logic pretzels you folks make are really pretty, but not particularly helpful.
          Where is your evidence of bullying and threatening on the part of the school board? In its original form, the board threatened the CHEERLEADERS, not the ONE atheist who complained. In fact, it was the whining of the single atheist who prompted the order and the subsequent show down in court.
          You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            In fact, the school board unconstitutionally ordered the girls to quit.

            That was not unconstitutional.

            I am guilty of sloppy language. By “the school” above, I meant the population of the school and not the school board. And the bullying and threats of violence by members of the school are documented.

            In its original form, the board threatened the CHEERLEADERS, not the ONE
            atheist who complained.

            It is not a threat to say “We can’t promote religion on the field. You can’t have those banners out there.”

            In fact, it was the whining of the single
            atheist who prompted the order and the subsequent show down in court.

            It is not whining to say “The school is promoting Christianity. That’s against the law. Stop it.”

          • MrModerateAZ

            Is whining the same as expressing one’s opinion about constitutional fair treatment? (any time you use “whining” and “folks” in the same paragraph, something is up) Fact is, the new board (I guess the one who made the correct call got the boot) got on board with the judge’s ruling quick-like and all were happy banner-waving cheerleaders with nun o’ that contravasty mucking up their clean fun.

          • roz77

            “In fact, the school board unconstitutionally ordered the girls to quit. So, do tell, how do you get that the school is promoting what the girls are saying when they went to court to prevent them from saying it?”

            Wow, you really don’t understand how to analyze Establishment clause cases, do you? In order for the school to be justified in banning them, the school must have a compelling interest. If allowing the banners would have violated the Establishment clause, the school has a compelling interest and can ban them. So the entire analysis of this case looks at what happens if the banners are allowed to be displayed. No pretzels there.

  • Pbypby1000

    Great! Here is one they can use: Ezekiel 23:20

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I’m sure this point has been made before, but has anyone considered formal accusations against the Bobcats for (attempted) cheating? Obviously, they don’t have an actual God-given advantage, but their intentions are to include supernatural forces to aid them. Although I suppose theistic opponents, on teams which don’t celebrate God before each game, might be intimidated by this and thereby suffer performance anxiety or diminished confidence.

    Nevertheless, I think it’s time to begin a tradition of wearing Halloween costumes (particularly anything devilish or otherwise troubling to Christians) to all Bobcats games.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Difficult to show actual harm before the court, which is required for a controversy with standing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erik-Wiseman/1496080461 Erik Wiseman

        Doesn’t need to be in court, the league should be just fine. Attempted collusion, perhaps?

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          Before the league seems much more practical than in court, but also more likely to simply fail at a laugh test. Trying to claim bad sportsmanship might get marginally more consideration, but still unlikely to prevail.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erik-Wiseman/1496080461 Erik Wiseman

      >…, but their intentions are to include supernatural forces to aid them.
      Oooh. I wonder if this could be short circuited by accusing the cheerleaders of attempting witchcraft to ensure victory. I’m sure that would go down really well.
      More realistically, attempting to incorporate a Wiccan ceremony into pregame activities could be entertaining.

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

        It’d be more entertaining than the game, that’s for sure.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    356th District Judge Steve Thomas was appointed by Rick Perry. That explains it all

    • Marc Remillard

      That judges picked by conservatives can read and apply exactly what the law says? Why yes, it does say that.

      • hailey

        Judges interpret constitutional laws. Plenty of play for a judge to use personal bias and pressure from powerful friends to conform a law to fit his or her wants.

      • baal

        Only that’s not what the law says. This judge is clearly legally wrong.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Six hour Christian prayers? No problem. Bible-tastic banners? No problem. Field trip with a Jesus-y lunch? No problem.

    But dis your school’s athletic program in a tweet and you could get suspended.

    A school spokeswoman told the Eagle: “There was a negative reaction from
    many students, including threats of fights in the school. It caused a
    major disruption to the school day. Other students were also suspended.”

    • Marc Remillard

      Anyone threaten to fight over the banners? Non sequitur.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        Yes, they did. Did you read the quotes in Hemant’s original post?

      • Matt D

        When you’re looking at posts, the blue part are hyperlinks that take you to sites/areas with the facts asserted. All you need to do is click them.

  • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

    Now they should follow Mr. Paul Aints example and take at least three letters from their name.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      I’d prefer they change from “Bobcats” to something blatant like “Christians,” though I appreciate your cunt joke.

      • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

        Also if we change the name from “Bobcats” to “Raging Beaver” would be an improvement.

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

          We’re both getting more down votes than up votes. Maybe we need to add trigger warnings.

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

            I know you two are joking around.

            I’ll even admit to snickering.

            But really… do we have to go right for the “female anatomy == Bad Thing” trope?

            • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

              I’ll leave that question to Kyle. I wasn’t discussing anatomy.

          • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

            I don’t really care about downvotes, When I post something it is because that what I think, not because I want to become popular; most of the time it means that I said something that is true and someone got hurt. But most of the time it’s just that I hate those politically correct talibans and they hate me because I call things by their name. It’s really pitiful that some atheist have less sense of humor than a muslim extremist.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              most of the time it means that I said something that is true and someone got hurt.

              Or you said or wrote something that is blatantly false or gratuitously offensive and people do not like that.

              politically correct talibans

              Argumentum ad taliban is just as much of a logical fallacy as argumentum ad hilterium. And political correctness / political incorrectness are irrelevant to the basic rule of not being gratuitously insulting.

              Sexist, ablest, racist, homophobic, and transphobic slurs are all unacceptable. If you don’t want to be called out for using them, then don’t use them. And you shouldn’t use them anyway.

              • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

                That’s political correctness. In my country many atheist hold the idea of the “right to offend”, which means that people don’t have the right to be offended. It’s a bit complicated to explain in a few words, but that’s the main idea. At least I’m glad we’re not so overly whiny over here.

                Actually there’s an article of that thought it is in spanish, so if someone knows how to read spanish or has someone that can translate here it is.http://egosumqui.blogspot.mx/2010/08/politicamente-incorrecto.html

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  There is no right to not be offended, but that is not the same as you having a right to be offensive and not be challenged for being so.

                  Within the limits attached to that right, you have the right to say whatever you want. Just like I have the right to call you on things you say that are unacceptable and should not be said. And if you write something here that the moderators of the blog do not want to have written here, they have the right to erase it (freedom of the press doesn’t mean you are free to use their press).

                  Political correctness is not inherently bad, nor is your being politically incorrect necessarily meritorious. Saying bigoted things just makes you a bigot.

                • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

                  Well, Free speech means that I can b as offensive as I want wether you like it or not, you can always ignore it if you can challenge that, but also I can totally ignore it the same way I do with many of the whiny haters over here or as you can do if you don’t like it.

                  Erasing what I write would show that american atheists are just as intolerants as the people they say they. They would be exactly on the same level.

                  If you have the sense of humor of a brick, fine by me, just don’t try impose your hyper-sensibilities on me because I’m going to ignore it.

                  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ho1b420_LUo/TflXkTJ7TCI/AAAAAAAAEAM/hewgi4LYi0k/s400/PI%2B-%2BLibertad%2Bvs%2Bcorreccion.jpg

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  Free speech means that I can b as offensive as I want wether you like it
                  or not, you can always ignore it or you can challenge that, but also I
                  can totally ignore it the same way I do with many of the whiny haters
                  over here or as you can do if you don’t like it.

                  True – but only in public forums or your own private forum. Your freedom of expression on someone else’s blog is entirely subject to their approving it – their property, their forum.

                  Erasing what I write would show that american atheists are just as intolerants as the people they say they [sic]. They would be exactly on the same level.

                  Wrong. Not tolerating bigotry is in no way the same as being a bigot.

                • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Outcast Kyle

                  Being intolerant to the so called “bigotry” it’s intolerance wether you like it or not.

                  I tend to suppress most emotions most of the time but I like to
                  give free reign to anger since it’s the most positive and useful of all emotions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Cut out the sexist slurs. m6wg4bxw, that goes for you too.

  • Tor

    What a bizarre tradition. Do people really think god chooses sides in high school football? Surely the other team believes god will help them win, as well. I thought god saved his/her powers for the pros teams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Little/565071363 Paul Little

    I think this case must hinge on where the messages originate. If it can be successfully argued that the cheerleading squad, without direction from school staff, created the messages, then there is no foul.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Incorrect. They’re still using their school-sponsored position to advocate a particular religion.

      • Marc Remillard

        Irrelevant. There is no “school-sponsored position” exception in the Constitution.

        • Nicole Schrand

          The Constitution is not the whole of the law.

          • Marc Remillard

            The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law to the contrary is null and void. See U.S. Const. Art. VI, Cl. 2.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              Irrelevant. Placing restrictions on people’s rights when they interfere with each other does not violate the Constitution.

              • Marc Remillard

                And again, there is no interference here. The school has a duty to tolerate the speech, so there is no conflict with the school’s duty. Care to try again?

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  Again, the school has a duty to not promote a religion or to promote irreligion. The cheerleaders/athletes are given a special forum, sponsorship, and promotion as representatives of the school. In that position, their freedom of expression conflicts with the school’s duty to not promote religion or irreligion. In this case, the school’s duty to tolerate free expression also conflicts with its duty to not promote religion or irreligion.

                • roz77

                  Cheerleaders are given a special forum in which they get to express their religious views, and no one else does. Cheerleaders representatives of the school wearing school uniforms on the school football field during the school football game. That pretty clearly gives the impression of endorsement. Furthermore, there is an aspect of coercion here as well. What happens when a football player doesn’t want to run under the banner? His only option is either to participate in the activity or separate himself from it and effectively protest against. If you’ve read any Establishment clause jurisprudence, you’d know that that’s not a choice we can foist upon students.

                  So allowing the banners to be displayed would violate the Establishment clause, thus the school has a compelling interest that justifies banning them. Not unconstitutional, simple as that.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Really? Cheerleaders are the only ones? So, if a student in the stands holds up a sign that says “atheism rocks”, he will be escorted from the stands? Do you have a copy of that directive? I’d sure like to see it, because if you do, then this becomes a radically different case.

                  I can pretty much guarantee you that this high school’s cheerleaders have displayed far more secular messages on the banners over the years the school has been operating than religious ones. So, clearly, students are free to express no religious messages. You don’t want neutral if you want to allow “Go Tigers”, but not these messages. Your rule would outlaw religious expression in favor of secular expression. That’s not neutral by any stretch of the judicial imagination.
                  And most of the establishment clause jurisprudence you would care to cite is as activistic and plainly wrong as separate but equal.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Cheerleaders are the only ones? So, if a student in the stands holds up a sign that says “atheism rocks”, he will be escorted from the stands?

                  I’m having difficulty seeing how you get this, or what your argument is.

                  roz77 said the cheerleaders are ‘different’ (representatives of the school wearing school uniforms on the school football field during the school football game) unlike fans in the stands (student or not) who are quite clearly not representing the school. So according to roz77′s position, fans in the stands would not be removed. And, in fact, fans had signs both religious in nature, and promoting separation of church and state. And nobody was removed.

                  I can pretty much guarantee you that this high school’s cheerleaders have displayed far more secular messages

                  Secular yes, atheist no. Muslim, Hindu, Pastafarian, no.

                • Mary C

                  To Mark Remillard: Interesting that you are completely ignoring the argument that the cheerleaders are acting as representatives of the school. You haven’t tried to refute that claim at all – I’m guessing because you know you can’t. And since that claim is what makes the banners unconstitutional, every other argument you make (incorrect or not) is pure distraction.

                • Marc Remillard

                  I’m not. They aren’t representatives of the school. I’m REJECTING your argument because it is baseless.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          The Constitution and the amendments to it enumerate fundamental rights. They do not deal with how those rights are to be limited when they conflict with one another. For that, there is a much more extensive body of law, both statue and precedent. Wikipedia has an overview at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_in_the_United_States and, for the restrictions on free speech at schools in particular, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_speech_%28First_Amendment%29

          • Marc Remillard

            Uh, where is the conflict with one another in this situation? There is no right to be free from another’s expression of religion, as you atheists would have us believe. There is no Constitutional conflict, and no “extensive body of law” that would restrict the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights can stand in opposition to the exercise of those rights.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              There is no right to be free from another’s expression of religion, as you atheists would have us believe.

              Wrong. It depends on the situation. e.g. the old line “your freedom of movement ends where my nose begins”. In this particular case, the student’s right to freedom of expression conflicts with the school’s duty to not promote a religion.

              There is no Constitutional conflict, and no “extensive body of law” that would restrict the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights can stand in opposition to the exercise of those rights.

              Again, the laws deal with what happens when the rights of one person interfere with those of others.

              • Marc Remillard

                As the Fifth Circuit pointed out, there is a difference between tolerance and promotion. Here, there is ZERO evidence that the school is promoting the student’s message. There is no administrator or teacher requiring the cheerleaders to pick the messages. So, in the absence of that evidence, we have a tolerance situation. With very limited exceptions, and religious expressions are NOT one of them, schools are required to tolerate student expressions.

                So, this takes us right back to my question, where is the conflict? The school actually has a duty to TOLERATE the speech. So long as they also tolerate any banners put up by hindus, muslims, jews, and yes, even atheists, they are doing what they are supposed to do.

                • allein

                  Students in school-team uniforms as an official part of a school function are not representing the school? Seriously? They most certainly are giving the impression that the school promotes what is written on the banners.

                • Camorris

                  So, if a non-christian student group wants equal opportunity to hoist their run-through banner, what procedure do they use to get tolerance? If the cheerleaders are not representing the school as argued, then any other student group from the school should be allowed on field at the same time. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to see the football team bursting through a series of competing banners.

                  Is there any information about the decision making process these cheerleaders used in deciding display their banners?

                • Marc Remillard

                  Try out for the cheerleading squad next year. What’s so hard to understand about that? The only information I have seen indicated that it was ENTIRELY up to the cheerleaders. There was no influence whatsoever by any coach or teacher.

                • cary_w

                  “Here, there is ZERO evidence that the school is promoting the student’s message. ”

                  I would say that the fact that they are part of a school sports team and wearing their official school uniforms and at a school sponcered game and out on the field at a time when other students are not allowed on the field and performing a routine that was clearly practicesd and planned ahead of time, is all pretty good evidence that they are representing their school.

                  You do realize that cheeleading is considered an official sport in high school, don’t you? Just like the football team, they have a coach, must buy the coach approved uniform, practice on school ground and sometimes even during school hours, get grades or credit for participating, and must follow school rules while at events. This is not just a group of girls who decided to all dress alike and go down to the game with some signs they made on their own time. That would be a whole different situation, and in that case they would have free speech rights on their side. But they a school team, just like the football players. Under your reasoning the football players aren’t representing their school during the game either. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

                  Your argument that they came up with the idea for the banners on their own is equally absurd because what the hell was their coach doing while they were making these banners and planning their routines? It’s ridiculous to think that a coach would give them free range to do whatever they want on the field! Do you really think that’s going to work when the next group of girls wants to wear see-through uniforms preform provocative dances? The coach is responsible for what these girls do during their official cheerleading performances, who came up with the routine is completely beside the point. They can’t proselytize when they are representing their school, they need to be doing that on their own time, when the are not acting as cheerleaders for their school.

        • RobMcCune

          Then why are you advocating a “school-sponsored position” exception to the establishment clause? Does your free speech mean you don’t have to face consequence for telling you boss to go fuck himself?

          • Marc Remillard

            I’m not. The establishment clause can only be violated by its strict text if CONGRESS passes a law establishing a religion — that is, a law proclaiming that the US has an official religion. Schools aren’t Congress and these girls acted as private individuals.

            As for your example, clearly from what you are saying you are laboring under a complete failure to understand the difference between private action and state action. The First Amendment is a proscription against GOVERNMENT action, not against private action. It has no applicability whatsoever between the relations between two citizens.

            • RobMcCune

              Sorry constitutional protections apply to the states and local governments, and they have since the 14th amendment. Again your playing the narrow definition in an amendment full of protections you otherwise interpret broadly.

              If we treated freedom of speech as narrowly as you treat the establishment clause then what you are typing right now is not protected since you’re neither speaking nor using a printing press. Further by your interpretation, the executive branch can totally mess with your rights to speak, exercise religion, print, and assemble, so long as their is no law that infringes on your rights.

              The First Amendment is a proscription against GOVERNMENT action, not against private action. It has no applicability whatsoever between the relations between two citizens.

              School teams are part of the school, they are created and funded in ways that student clubs are not. Athletes and cheerleaders can be removed from these teams as punishments for their actions in school or their grades. It’s pretty clear that the school treats athletes and cheerleaders as though they represent the school. Hence what they do as a team also represents the school, which is a government entity.

              • Marc Remillard

                Sorry, selective incorporation doctrine is blatant judicial activism. The doctrine is as obviously constitutionally wrong as was separate but equal. I don’t interpret, btw, I apply the words exactly as written without any reference whatsoever to what I personally want.

                You’re right about the free speech clause and other portions of the First Amendment. I don’t know why the Founders limited the First Amendment so severely, but they did. There is evidence that a lot of the writing was done for the very reason you suggest — so the states would be able to continue doing what they wanted. However, unlike liberals, I do not advocate fixing an obvious wrong by comitting an equally egregious wrong. We have Article V for that, and we should use it instead of undercutting the purpose of a constitution with judicial activism.

                As for your final paragraph, I was responding to your example of employment insubordination. But here, if you compare these facts with those in Sante Fe, even under that twisted definition of the First Amendment, you still have to come to the conclusion that this is private speech.

    • baal

      The banners are on the field, held up by the cheer squad and run through by the team at the start of the game as part of the game starting ceremony. It’s strains credulity to the limit to suggest that the school is not responsible for the opening ceremony.

  • rwlawoffice

    “The question we need to be asking is: Would the ruling have been the same if the students were promoting verses from the Koran instead of the Bible? Would they have been given the free pass this judge just handed them?”

    Why in the world is this the question that should be asked? Freedom of expression by students which is the basis for this ruling is the same for all. Heck even a quote from Dawkins that says God doesn’t care who wins football games would be allowed. What this judge didn’t buy is the stretch that private student actions not endorsed by the school is a school sponsored event.

    Also, why do the cheerleaders have to be quiet just because there may be atheists in the crowd or on the team? You said the same thing about a student body president that expressed his support for an expression of Christian faith. Why does the inclusiveness only work that direction? It seems that the only way a school member can be inclusive to you is if they shut up about their faith so as not to offend the atheists. I’m guessing you would not agree that it works in reverse as well.

    Also, this “the Christians would be up in arms if it was the Koran” meme is getting old and tired.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Once again, you are entirely missing the point. The point here is that the cheerleaders and athletes are representing the school. Because of that position, they are not allowed the same freedom of expression as, for example, individual students sitting in the stands.

      Official banners with a quote promoting irreligion would be just as out of place as a quote from the Bible, the Qur’an, the Gitas, the Tao Te Ching, or any other religious text.

      And the point about how this situation would be different if it were a quote from any non-Christian religious text is not “getting old and tired”, nor is it a meme in the current internet meaning of the word. It is a way of illustrating how severe Christian privilege can be.

      • Marc Remillard

        This entire line of argument is ridiculous. These students are required BY LAW to attend these schools. They can be arrested for truancy if they don’t go. And you want to argue that they “represent” them? I guess inmates represent their prisons too, right? So, no constitutional rights if you are deemed to represent an institution the law requires you attend. Got it.

        Show me PRECISELY where in the First Amendment it says, “freedom of expression, except for the representatives of schools” and/or “freedom of religion, except for the representatives of schools.” I can’t seem to find it in my copy of the Constitution.

        • Nicole Schrand

          No one is required BY LAW to be a cheerleader. It is a voluntary position, and one which, by its nature, and by legal precedent, puts a person into a role in which they represent the school.

          Nobody is arguing that students aren’t allowed free expression of their religious beliefs. The argument is that they are not allowed to proselytize WHILE ACTING ON THE SCHOOL’S BEHALF. That is to say, while representing the school, in uniform, voluntarily, on the field.

          • Marc Remillard

            Show me where it says that in the Constitution. Cheerleaders are not Congress.

            • Nicole Schrand

              Show me where US law has ever, at any point, been based solely on the Constitution, sweetheart. Because there is more to the law than that document.

              And yes, cheerleaders, while in uniform, represent the school, which is itself part of a governmental body. Promotion of a specific religion at a public school event by the school is no more tolerable than sectarian prayer being included in town council meetings. Both are divisive, unnecessary, and othering.

              Now, I have better things to do with my night than cry over your willful ignorance, so you have fun beating your head against the wall, now, alright, sweetie?

              • Marc Remillard

                And your citation for you claim that they represent the school for establishment clause purposes is…? Oh, that’s right, a Fifth Circuit case that doesn’t even use the word “representative.”
                Oh, and “sweetie”, the good guys won this one. I’m not the one banging my head against the wall.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              No. Again, they are allowed freedom of expression except when that freedom of expression interferes with the duty of the school. And yes, the cheerleaders and athletes of a school are representatives of it to the public, when that school is a publicly-funded government organization.

              Please go and read up on the relevant legal history. Here’s a couple of good places for you to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engel_v._Vitale , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe_Independent_School_Dist._v._Doe

              • Marc Remillard

                I suggest you read the exercept of the Fifth Circuit opinion I cited instead of Thinkprogress’ spin on the decision or Wikipedia’s entry that was probably entered by an atheist. Even if you go by case law, there are distinctions with different tests between schools TOLERATING student speech, as is the case here, and PROMOTING student speech, as was at issue in the rape case Nicole relies upon.

                BTW, I’m well “read up” on the judicial activism. I graduated from law school almost 16 years ago and have been practicing constitutional law for the last decade. I am forced to accept stare decisis in court, but never wikipedia.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  Wikipedia’s entry that was probably entered by an atheist.

                  You can look up many of the authors of each article under the “View history” tab. And since it is Wikipedia, if something is wrong you can fix it.

                  I graduated from law school almost 16 years ago and have been practicing constitutional law for the last decade.

                  Then I apologize for misunderstanding your background. But then I am confused by your attitude, given my own sharply limited knowledge of the relevant statutes and precedent. On the other hand, I cannot claim to have a representative sample of practicing lawyers’ views on church-state separation cases in my head.

            • RobMcCune

              Damn leftist judges with their process clause, applying constitutional protections to the states and local governments just because because it’s in the 14th amendment.

              What’s next? Equal protection under the law?

              • Marc Remillard

                The drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment did not provide for selective incorporation — they specifically provided for the “privileges and immunities” of the people on the federal level to receive similar protection on the state level. That the courts would take a phrase that clearly applied to PROCEDURE instead of the explicit substantive guarantees contained in the same amendment shows how activistic they indeed were. But you can’t stick a proscription that applies only to Congress on the states through the privileges and immunities clause, so you have to get to your desired result through turning procedural language into a faux substantive protection.

                Damn leftist judges, indeed.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          As explained above and abundantly elsewhere, the Constitution is not directly relevant here because it specifies rights but not what to do when they interfere – in this case, between the students’ rights to freedom of expression and the school’s duty to not promote one religion over another (or over irreligion, or irreligion over religion).

          And, as Nicole has said, the problem is not the students themselves having religious banners at the game. It’s that they display them when they are voluntarily acting as representatives of the school. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

          • Marc Remillard

            What is hard for me to understand is Nicole misrepresented what the Fifth Circuit held. At NO POINT did they EVER say “cheerleaders represent the schools for establishment clause purposes”. Heck, they didn’t even use the word “represent” in that opinion.
            “The Constitution is not directly relevant here…” Uh, wow, if that’s the case, then your entire argument is out the window, because the Establishment Clause is the only vehicle you have to override the free speech and free exercise clauses.

        • RobMcCune

          This entire line of argument is ridiculous. These students are required BY LAW to attend these schools.

          And you believe this gives christian students the right to use their school as a religious mouth piece?

          • Marc Remillard

            No, I believe that it means they aren’t required to check their free exercise rights at the door of the school house.

        • baal

          Again, if the cheer leaders as individuals pray, that’s their right. If they are on the field, doing the opening ceremony that’s not their speech. It is the speech of the school as an entity of the government.

          • Marc Remillard

            No, it isn’t. You people really need to read this. The Court cases have NOT gone the full tilt read the free exercise clause out of the Constitution way you seem to think they have.

            http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/religionandschools/prayer_guidance.html

            • baal

              And some reading for you Marc.http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_99_62

              TL;DR – the controlling case law for the Kountze case was ignored by this judge and that the outcome should have gone the other way is abundantly clear.

              Your link does not list case law. It links to a policy written by the administration of Bush the Lesser, it’s just that Federal policy under the prior president / Republican legislature. Even then you need to do better and point out what part of that policy allows agents of the school to coerce prayer in others. This event is not like a prayer at the flag pole outside of school functions. The football game is a school function and not some private pick up game that happens to be held on school grounds.

              • Marc Remillard

                You clearly didn’t read my link because it most certainly does cite case law. Footnotes, you are familiar with them, right?

                • baal

                  The issue is the ‘establishment of religion’. Having bible verses as the key feature of the schools opening ceremonies is clearly the government (school) using one religions holy words in a featured position. This is exactly what happens when the court house has the 10 commandments as a monument on the walk up the courthouse steps. Can you ignore the opening ceremonies? Yes. Is the government still engaging in religous speach? Yes. By selection one religious book (bibly) they are excluding all other voices, that tends to establish christianity as the State’s religion.

                  I did read your link and you have not addressed my point that your authority is bad.

      • Rwlawoffice

        My point is that the argument that Chritians would automatically get up in arms over a banner with a Muslim quote is getting old and tired. The principle of religious liberties and freedom of expression applies to all religions.

        As for all cheerleaders losing their right to freedom if expression simply because they put in a cheer leading uniform is notas simple as you make it. They have that right. The school providing the forum simply by hosting a football game doesn’t change that whether they are on the field or in the stands.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          The school providing the forum simply by hosting a football game
          doesn’t change that whether they are on the field or in the stands.

          They’re representing the school on the field, and are accorded a special forum and audience as compared to everyone else. That’s the difference, and that’s why it changes the balance.

      • Mary C

        I don’t think they are actually missing the point. I think they fully understand that those cheerleaders are representing the school. I think they just know that they can’t argue against it, and therefore they are not trying.

        The strategy seems to be just keeping repeating “private student action” and “duty to tolerate speech” over and over again and hope someday it sticks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erik-Wiseman/1496080461 Erik Wiseman

      I’m all out of polite for the day, so I shall be blunt (much as I hate to feed the trolls…)

      You’re an idiot if you think an expression of a faith other than Christianity would be allowed, or that the judge would have ruled in favor of the cheerleaders if it weren’t. Just try to use a banner that asks Shiva to help the football team crush the opposition and see what happens.

      • Marc Remillard

        You’re a moron if you think the opposite. Until you show me a case that backs up your wholly unsupported supposition, you are the one trolling.

      • Matt D

        That is assuming they are smart enough to understand other religions exist. So far, I’ve seen very few examples that these people even understand this simple concept, or choose to dismiss them as we do theirs. Self deception is a requirement for their faith to make sense in the first place.

    • Mary C

      “Heck even a quote from Dawkins that says God doesn’t care who wins football games would be allowed”

      Oh really? You really think that if the judge and the new school board didn’t agree with what those banners said that they would have been permitted to be displayed on the field at a football game?

      Do you honestly believe that the school administration would have let the cheerleaders display phrases from the Koran? Really?

  • Nicole Schrand

    I thought that Texas had pretty well decided already that cheerleaders were representatives of the school, in that case where they decided it was totally chill to kick a cheerleader off the team for refusing to cheer for her rapist (http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/05/06/164194/scotus-texas-cheerleader/?mobile=nc ). Which would make this ruling unconstitutional, no? Since a representative of the school supporting religion would be in violation of church-state separation?

    Texas: 0 for 2 on good decisions in these cases. Also no points for consistency.

    • Marc Remillard

      Your problem is your reliance on Thinkprogress instead of reading the opinion for yourself. The Fifth Circuit did NOT hold that the cheerleader represented the school. It said she was a mouthpiece for them to express support of the team. Furthermore, the Court drew a distinction that is very much relevant here, the duty of a school to TOLERATE student speech as opposed to their duty to PROMOTE student speech. The latter was at issue in the rape case, whereas the former is relevant to bible verse case.
      Here is the entire relevant discussion from the opinion itself:

      Finally, Appellants claim SISD, Bain, Lokey, and McInnis violated H.S.’s
      right to free speech under the First Amendment because H.S.’s decision not to cheer constituted protected speech inasmuch as it was a symbolic expression of her disapproval of Bolton’s and Rountree’s behavior. Courts have long held that public school students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Community Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 511 (1969). In order to determine whether conduct “possesses sufficient communicative elements to bring the First Amendment into play, [we] must ask whether an intent to convey a particularized message was present, and whether the likelihood was great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it.” Canady v Bossier Parish School Board, 240 F.3d 437, 440 (5th Cir. 2001) (citing Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 404 (1989)).

      Appellants contend the district court erred in holding that H.S. “did not
      convey the sort of particularized message that symbolic conduct must convey to be protected speech.” Even assuming arguendo that H.S.’s speech was sufficiently particularized to warrant First Amendment protection, student speech is not protected when that speech would “substantially interfere with the work of the school.” Tinker, 393 U.S. at 509. “The question whether the First Amendment requires a school to tolerate particular student speech . . . is different from the question whether [it] requires a school affirmatively to promote particular speech.”
      Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 270 (1988). In her capacity as cheerleader, H.S. served as a mouthpiece through
      which SISD could disseminate speech namely, support for its athletic teams. Insofar as the First Amendment does not require schools to promote particular student speech, SISD had no duty to promote H.S.’s message by allowing her to cheer or not cheer, as she saw fit. Moreover, this act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, H.S. was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of Appellants’ First Amendment claim against SISD, Bain, Lokey, and McInnis.

      http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/09/09-41075.0.wpd.pdf

  • unclemike

    I guess I can take small comfort in the fact that the banners always get destroyed and trampled, hehehe.

  • Marc Remillard

    The question to be asked is whether you people would have your panties in a twist if the cheerleaders were atheists and held up a run through banner that said “Atheism is Awesome, Religion Sucks.” And, of course, in the place within yourself where you have to be honest, you know you wouldn’t.

    As long as it is not a government official forcing the signs and they are created voluntarily by the students, the Establishment Clause has no relevance. Stick to teaching math, because your con law skills are sorely lacking.

    • Nicole Schrand

      What constitutes a government official? Would a person who is expected to officially represent the school be such a person? A person who is considered an agent of the school? One who “serve[s] as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech?”

      Because that’s what legal precedent in Texas says cheerleaders are. If cheerleaders can be punished for not representing the school as it wishes to be represented, then surely the school should be held accountable when its mouthpieces are violating the Establishment Clause.

      • Marc Remillard

        Nope. Do cheerleaders set policy? Do they have the power to “establish” a religion for the school? For the city? Of course not. They are minor citizens who are forced to attend a government institution under threat of incarceration.

        The rape case you are referring to simply was completely different. There the cheerleader was refusing to do what she was supposed to do — cheer. Here, the cheerleaders are doing what they are supposed to do, cheer. Apples and oranges. Nice try, though.

        • Nicole Schrand

          Either the cheerleaders represent the school, and thus the school is responsible for their actions while in uniform, or they do not represent the school. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, darlin’.

          • Marc Remillard

            As I pointed out to you in your post, you misread the HS opinion. Nowhere in that opinion did the Fifth Circuit hold that cheerleaders “represent” their schools. It held merely that they are a mouthpiece for the school to promote its message of cheering for the team. So your entire argument falls apart from your false assertion that the Fifth Circuit held that cheerleaders were representatives.

            • allein

              “Mouthpiece” would imply they are speaking for the school, hence, representing.

              • Marc Remillard

                No, as the Court specifically held, the school was promoting its own message through the cheerleaders who served as its mouthpiece for THAT MESSAGE. That is not a holding that cheerleaders are a representative of the school for all purposes. That is NOT the same as TOLERATING speech that the school district did not originate.
                But given the way you folks like to twist words to mean things that their speakers/writers never intended, I’m not surprised by your effort here.

                • allein

                  So by that logic, while the school’s cheerleaders are cheering at a school football game, it would be reasonable to infer that the school stands behind whatever message they are conveying. These banners are part of the official school-sanctioned “opening ceremonies,” so to speak, of the school football game. If they were displaying the signs on their own time, in the stands as any other spectators, we wouldn’t have a problem with it. But they’re not.

                • Marc Remillard

                  No, it wouldn’t, and the Supreme Court has explicitly held so in saying that it almost goes without saying that school boards do not promote everything they tolerate.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          Do cheerleaders set policy? Do they have the power to
          “establish” a religion for the school? For the city? Of course not.

          Irrelevant. Cheerleaders and athletes voluntary agree to represent the school. That places restrictions on their freedom of expression when they are acting as representatives.

          Just like Hemant can’t advocate atheism when he’s acting as a high school teacher, and I can’t when I’m representing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

          • Marc Remillard

            Completely relevant. The only way you get to suppress their speech is if they can somehow be deemed a government official establishing a religion. And once again, there is NO CASE LAW holding that cheerleaders are “representatives” of schools for establishment clause purposes.
            And don’t try to tell me that teachers don’t advocate atheism in the classroom because I know better.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              And don’t try to tell me that teachers don’t advocate atheism in the classroom because I know better.

              Citation Needed.

              And if you actually have evidence of such cases, bring them to court and take down the teachers concerned.

              • Marc Remillard

                We aren’t talking about those reasons. We are talking about this case.
                I have given you one, my personal experience with the teachers in California. And, once again, as I pointed out elsewhere, THERE IS NO CAUSE OF ACTION. Discussing atheism isn’t discussing religion, therefore it is not establishing religion, therefore there is no First Amendment violation. No government official has EVER been successfully sued for discussing his atheistic views. Ever. Hasn’t happened. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. Clear enough?

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  As to your edit, upon what legal authority do you rely for your as yet
                  unsupported claim that you can’t discuss atheism at work because your
                  work is federally funded?

                  Once again, the restriction is not that I can’t discuss atheism or religion. It’s that I can’t use my position to promote religion or irreligion. This is specified in the contract Associated Universities has with the National Science Foundation to run the NRAO. For UCLA, you can pull the guidelines for professional behavior from the UCLA Office of Instructional Development (http://www.oid.ucla.edu/).

                  Similarly, teachers are free to discuss religion or irreligion, but can’t use their position to advocate one or the other. If you have cases of teachers using their positions to advocate atheism, then in all cases I am aware of they would be in flagrant violation of their employment contracts

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  As to your edit, upon what legal authority do you rely for your as yet
                  unsupported claim that you can’t discuss atheism at work because your
                  work is federally funded?

                  Once again, the restriction is not that I can’t discuss atheism or religion. It’s that I can’t use my position to promote religion or irreligion. This is specified in the contract Associated Universities has with the National Science Foundation to run the NRAO. For UCLA, you can pull the guidelines for professional behavior from the UCLA Office of Instructional Development (http://www.oid.ucla.edu/).

                  Similarly, teachers are free to discuss religion or irreligion, but can’t use their position to advocate one or the other. If you have cases of teachers using their positions to advocate atheism, then in all cases I am aware of they would be in flagrant violation of their employment contracts

                • Marc Remillard

                  I asked for LAW not a school’s internal policies. You can’t sue based upon the internal policies of the school. At best you can get the violator disciplined, but nothing more. And remember, you people asked me why I didn’t SUE.
                  Your link, btw, was singularly unhelpful as it went to a landing page. I suppose the only way you could have been more vague in supporting your position is if you just said “it is on the internet”. Care to cite a specific regulation? Can you?

          • Marc Remillard

            One more time, tell me EXACTLY where in the Fifth Circuit opinion the word “representing” appears. Here, since none of you can be bothered to go find my other post, I will paste the Fifth Circuit opinion here again. You will NOT see the word “representing” anywhere in the opinion.

            Finally, Appellants claim SISD, Bain, Lokey, and McInnis violated H.S.’s right to free speech under the First Amendment because H.S.’s decision not to cheer constituted protected speech inasmuch as it was a symbolic expression of her disapproval of Bolton’s and Rountree’s behavior. Courts have long held that public school students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Community Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 511 (1969). In order to determine whether conduct “possesses sufficient communicative elements to bring the First Amendment into play, [we] must ask whether an intent to convey a particularized message was present, and whether the likelihood was great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it.” Canady v Bossier Parish School Board, 240 F.3d 437, 440 (5th Cir. 2001) (citing Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 404 (1989)).

            Appellants contend the district court erred in holding that H.S. “did not convey the sort of particularized message that symbolic conduct must convey to be protected speech.” Even assuming arguendo that H.S.’s speech was sufficiently particularized to warrant First Amendment protection, student speech is not protected when that speech would “substantially interfere with the work of the school.” Tinker, 393 U.S. at 509. “The question whether the First Amendment requires a school to tolerate particular student speech . . . is different from the question whether [it] requires a school affirmatively to promote particular speech.” Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 270 (1988). In her capacity as cheerleader, H.S. served as a mouthpiece through which SISD could disseminate speech namely, support for its athletic teams. Insofar as the First Amendment does not require schools to promote particular student speech, SISD had no duty to promote H.S.’s message by allowing her to cheer or not cheer, as she saw fit. Moreover, this act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, H.S. was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of Appellants’ First Amendment claim against SISD, Bain, Lokey, and McInnis.

      • Marc Remillard

        And, of course, all of this is the wrong analysis. Don’t speak to me of “Lemon tests” or any other judicial activism. The text of the Constitution is plain enough:

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

        We start here, are cheerleaders members of Congress? No. Case dismissed.

        But let’s go a bit further, does holding up a banner establish a religion? In other words, if students of the school reading the banner do not become Christians, will there be repercusions? Got any evidence of this? I doubt if you do, but I’m willing to listen. In the absence of any evidence, case dismissed.

        • Nicole Schrand

          So your argument is that only members of Congress can violate the separation of church and state. And also that the Constitution is the only relevant document when interpreting US law. And that conversion to Christianity is the only possible “negative” outcome of school-sponsored endorsement of a specific religion.

          Bless your heart, you have fun with your purposeful ignorance.

          • Marc Remillard

            Do you often make up strawmen to knock down? My argument is that the First Amendment clearly restricts its proscriptions to acts of Congress, judicial activism notwithstanding. Second, I did not say other sources of law weren’t relevant. I said to the extent they conflict with the Constitution they are null and void and cited you the good ol’ Supremacy Clause.
            See, this only works if you address what I write instead of throwing out your preprogrammed talking points.

    • PegK

      I for one would definitely have my “panties in a twist” if the school was sanctioning signs saying “religion sucks.” As an American and also an atheist I would not be happy with any government institution allowing student athletes to use their positions to proclaim to a captive audience any religious platitudes whether sectarian or anti-religion. I guess you simply do not understand how many of us whole heartedly support the first amendment and do not want nor would we be happy with special privilege. We demand neutrality. That is all.

      • Marc Remillard

        But you’re good with teachers promoting atheism by prohibiting all discussions of religion in the classroom? You can be dishonest with me, but not with yourself. When you try to justify your double standard, it shows.
        When you start singling out religious expression for suppression as was the case here, you are NOT arguing for neutrality. You are solidifying your special privilege to exclude all things religious from the school setting.

        • unclemike

          To prohibit one thing is not to automatically promote the other.

          I call shenanigans on your entire premise.

          • Marc Remillard

            Call what you like, but it is the case. Particularly where what is taught in the schools often directly conflicts with the religious teachings children receive at home or at church. So what we get at school is the atheists viewpoint and nothing else.

            • unclemike

              No, what we get at school is the neutral position. But most Xtians feel completely persecuted if their worldview is not reinforced everywhere, so I’m not surprised by your posts.

              • Marc Remillard

                I’m not a Christian. I am, however, opposed to the destruction of the First Amendment that is being left in the wake of your war with Christians. We don’t get the neutral position at school. My daughter went to elementary school in California for several years. She reported on several occasions discussions of atheism with her teachers. It apparently worked because she is now as militant an atheist as you people are.
                You have the schools all to yourselves, no other viewpoints are allowed, and it is all unconstitutional. That’s the problem I have with your special rights agenda.

                • indorri

                  I wouldn’t want atheism promoted at schools either: if this is the case, I think you have a reason to complain and seek redress from the school.

                • Marc Remillard

                  It is way too late for that. She’s in her 20s now. Whether you want it or not (and I don’t believe you don’t — I’ve yet to meet an atheist who wasn’t militantly so) it is, in fact, happening. Moreover, there is no cause of action. A teacher discussing atheism is NOT promoting religion, ergo there is no violation of the establishment clause (as wrongly interpreted by way too many courts), and therefore no cause of action.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  I’ve yet to meet an atheist who wasn’t militantly so

                  Why do I get the impression that anyone who says “I am an atheist and don’t want to support religion” gets counted as “militant” by you?

                • Marc Remillard

                  Because you’re a militant atheist, obviously. Let’s go Jeff Foxworthy on this:
                  If you think this decision is a bad decision, you’re a militant atheist.
                  If you think “respecting an establishment of religion” is the same thing as “separation of church and state,” you’re a militant atheist.
                  If you feel the need to group with others and talk about your lack of belief, you’re a militant atheist. [This one has never ceased to amaze me. I don't believe in the Easter Bunny anymore, but I don't go to meetings and talk about it, like it was a 12 step program.]
                  If you believe that children should be forcibly removed from their parents so that their religious teaching can be subverted, you’re a militant atheist.

                • allein

                  No one is out there telling us we’re terrible, immoral, unpatriotic people for not believing in the Easter Bunny. Perhaps if people felt the same way about our not believing in God, we wouldn’t feel the need to talk about it. (And just for the record, I don’t belong to any atheist groups, and the subject rarely comes up in my everyday life. I’m not any kind of activist but I suppose in your mind, the occasional comments I make on this blog make me militant, too.)

                • allein

                  No one is out there telling us we’re terrible, immoral, unpatriotic people for not believing in the Easter Bunny. Perhaps if people felt the same way about our not believing in God, we wouldn’t feel the need to talk about it. (And just for the record, I don’t belong to any atheist groups, and the subject rarely comes up in my everyday life. I’m not any kind of activist but I suppose in your mind, the occasional comments I make on this blog make me militant, too.)

                • Marc Remillard

                  Other than morons like Pat Robertson who no one listens to anyway, who of any consequence is telling you that you are terrible, immoral, unpatriotic people? And if they are, so what? Hell, I’m a lawyer. People say all sorts of unflattering things about me and my profession all the time. There’s even a whole line of jokes, perhaps you’ve told one or two yourself? Its called “freedom of speech”, or at least it used to be until you atheists got ahold of it in court.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  who of any consequence is telling you that you are terrible, immoral, unpatriotic people?

                  Atheists are one of the least trusted groups in the much of the world (reference http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2011-25187-001 ). If you don’t think that doesn’t have serious social consequences, then you have some reading up to do. I personally am insulated from it, since I am accorded considerable privilege in current US society (almost entirely by the accident of being a straight white male whose parents had a certain amount of wealthy), but anti-atheist prejudice is a very real and strong thing.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Oh boy, another victim class. Give me a friggin’ break. My father in law is an atheist and he managed to have an entire 25 year career in the department of transportation of a SOUTHERN state. My mother in law is an atheist and she managed to go an entire career as a public school teacher in a SOUTHERN state.
                  Spare me the victimhood tears, you atheists don’t do it too well.
                  BTW, I actually enjoy lawyer jokes. I’ve often found that people who can’t laugh at themselves tend to be very insecure.

                • Stev84

                  Try many, many Republican politicians. And the vast majority of rural Americans.

                • Marc Remillard

                  And, assuming you’re right, that gives you the right to shut them up because…?

                • allein

                  Yes, they have freedom of speech. So do the rest of us.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Actually, according to you, they don’t. You’re against the banners here, remember?

                • allein

                  It has been explained numerous times in this thread why the banners are not simply individual speech.
                  .
                  I was replying to this comment:

                  Other than morons like Pat Robertson who no one listens to anyway, who of any consequence is telling you that you are terrible, immoral, unpatriotic people? And if they are, so what?… Its called “freedom of speech”, or at least it used to be until you atheists got ahold of it in court.

                  and your wondering why anyone cares to discuss atheism with like-minded people.

                • unclemike

                  If you think this decision is a good decision, you’re a militant deist.

                  If you feel a need to talk with others about a deity, you’re a militant deist.

                  Hey, this is fun!

                • Marc Remillard

                  The benefits of being a deist is you DON’T go to meetings and talk about it, thus freeing up your Sundays.

                • unclemike

                  You’ve never talked with anyone about being a deist? Really?

                • Marc Remillard

                  Not with another deist. In fact, I don’t even know another deist. Truth to tell, it usually only comes up when some atheist is calling me a radical Christian for defending the First Amendment as written. Oh, and homosexuality. Some people just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that it is indeed possible to be opposed to special rights for homosexuals without basing your argument on the Old Testament.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  There is no call for “special rights for homosexuals”. There is only a call for equality. And homophobia is bad no matter who is advocating it.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Homophobia is a made up word, created to advance the special rights agenda. If equality was the goal, they would not be trying to make sexual orientation a protected class (a concept that is antithetical to equal protection).

                • Matt D

                  Oh please, by all means, tell me what “special rights” I expect as a homosexual. I want equal rights, but I’m not aware of “specail” ones…explain what you mean or stop putting words in our mouths.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Spin off on a new subject, but I’ll bite. How about the right to completely redefine the definition of marriage? How about the right to force other people to serve you? How about the right to use government to force persons who want nothing to do with you to surrender their speech, property, and religious rights or starve? Is that enough special rights for you, or do you want even more?

                • indorri

                  By Columbia, did you really use the “special rights” malarky? Now I know you’re a lawyer.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Yup. I calls it as I sees it.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  If you feel the need to group with others and talk about your lack of belief, you’re a militant atheist.

                  Then by your definition, is every atheist who talks with any other atheist for any reason is militant? Most of the time, atheists I know aren’t talking about their lack of belief. At work, we mostly talk science – even in the coffee-hour chatter, religion/lack thereof comes up quite rarely. Online, there’s some science, some politics, quite a bit about ethics, a bit about cooking, and far too much about the problems of religious privilege in society.

                • Marc Remillard

                  I’m seriously starting to wonder if reading comprehension is a defect in atheists. Let’s take what I actually said — and you even quoted it for crying out loud:

                  “If you think “respecting an establishment of religion” is the same thing as “separation of church and state,” you’re a militant atheist.”

                  And compare it to what you said I said:

                  “So all of the people, religious and irreligious, who understand the importance of the separation of church and state are militant atheists?”

                  Understanding the importance of the separation of church and state is NOT the same as thinking that the establishment clause and separation of church and state are the same thing. If your purpose was to deflect and create a strawman to stomp, you succeeded admirably. If your intent was to engage me on what I said, you failed miserably.

                  And of course your next question is equally devoid of any attachment to what I wrote. I specifically said “and talk about your lack of belief, you’re a militant atheist”, yet you asked me if it was militant for atheists to get together and talk about anything at all. Where did I say it was “militant” to talk about anything at all? I didn’t. And yet you are the second one here who made the same inane observation. It has to be something peculiar to atheists.

                  Now, as to your final point, you actually responded to what I said, although you spun it. Yes, you can send your child to private school or homeschool. However, once you put your child in the public school system, that child is OBLIGATED to go by law until you make some other arrangement. By then, it is too late. Moreover, not everyone can afford the time or money to homeschool. So the poor and working people are at your mercy.

                  And it was you who first made the statement that children “should not be excused from learning science and history and tolerance of others on the basis of their religion.” I had you specifically in mind when I made that statement based upon this quote.

                • roz77

                  “If you feel the need to group with others and talk about your lack of belief, you’re a militant atheist. ”

                  So the cheerleaders are considered militant christians then right?

                • Marc Remillard

                  Persons that believe in something have a reason to get together and share their beliefs. Groups that don’t believe in the same something have no legitimate reason other than attacking those who believe. Again, which one of you has joined a group dedicated to not believing in the Easter Bunny?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  The vast majority of my discussions with others about god are political in nature. In what ways do other people believing in gods cause real harm. If people really and truly didn’t try to use their god as an excuse to affect my life, then I would see no reason to talk about it, other than perhaps in interesting epistemology discussions.

                • Marc Remillard

                  That’s not talking about your lack of belief though, is it?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I’m not sure why I or anyone cares what criteria you have for labeling anyone ‘militant’. I know my care on the matter has gone like a fart in a hurricane.

                • Mary C

                  It is…interesting…how militant you are about the idea that atheists should have nothing (related to their lack of belief in a god) to talk about. You seem very passionate in insisting that they have no reason to talk about topics related to atheism, and if they do choose to talk, there is something wrong with them.

                  And you call your daughter a militant atheist. And “blame” her atheism on a couple of school teachers who identified themselves as atheists. Hmm.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Nothing passionate about it. All I am saying is that I don’t understand why people who don’t believe in something feel the need to form groups dedicated to what they don’t believe in. I personally don’t believe in organized religion, but you won’t see me forming a group to talk about it. And yes, I think there is something seriously wrong with someone who feels the need to self-identify and seek out others with a similar non-belief. That whole thing is just alien to me. If you don’t believe in something, OK. That would seem, to most rational people, to be pretty much the end of it.

                  Care to answer my question that I posed? Have you joined any groups dedicated to not believing in the Easter Bunny?

                  Finally, where did I “blame” the teachers? Feel free to quote me. Is there something pathological about being a militant atheist that requires you to put words in other people’s mouths?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I’m a militant atheist because I talk to my husband, who is also an atheist! Obviously we militant atheists should just never talk to each other again about anything, including things as banal as “could you go to the store and pick up toilet paper on your way home from work?”, so we don’t hurt Marc Remillard’s feelings.

                  And yes, we do talk about our atheism sometimes. As in, have you seen what the Tea Party thought up this time? Man, religion sure makes people crazy sometimes! We live in Texas; there’s all too many examples for us to get angry about. By your logic, my parents, who keep Shabbat sort of and talk about their congregation (my parents were on the board for a long time and are still deeply involved) are militant Jews. That’s absurd.

                • Marc Remillard

                  I said “If you feel the need to group with others and talk about your lack of belief, you’re a militant atheist.” Do tell, how is “could you go to the store and pick up toilet paper” talking about “your lack of belief?” Non sequitur much?
                  Your example of your parents is just as much a non sequitur. People who actually share a common belief DO have a reason to get together and talk about it. What possible reason could you have for forming a group dedicated to not believing in the Easter Bunny? Atheism is the exact same thing. There is only one reason to do it — you want to attack and destroy those who do believe. That’s militant.

                • unclemike

                  I’ve taught for over 20 years in both northern and southern California, in both elementary and middle schools, and never, not once, have I ever seen or heard of any teacher bringing up atheism in front of their students.

                  A student might bring up the topic themselves, and a discussion might ensue based on a student’s question…are you sure it wasn’t your own attitude that pushed her to be such a “militant” atheist?

                  If what the schools in your area are doing is so unconstitutional, why have you never addressed the school board? The local news? The courts? I assume she was exposed to all this nasty unconstitutional atheism for years and years…

                • Marc Remillard

                  I can’t imagine why it would be my attitude. I’m a deist and I don’t go to church, but thanks for playing the shift the blame to the parent game that teachers do so well.

                  Wow, how many times do I have to say this, because it isn’t promoting religion, YOU CANNOT SUE A TEACHER FOR DISCUSSING ATHEISM. You have complete protection. But I’ll give you the same challenge I gave Michael, feel free to cite for me any law that you are aware of that would have given me a cause of action.

                • unclemike

                  BUT YOU CAN SUE A DISTRICT IF IT IS DOING SOMETHING UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

                  And you keep claiming that what they are doing “is all unconstitutional,” somehow. But I also mentioned talking to the principal, the board, the superintendent–unless…omigod..unless they are ALL ATHEISTS.

                  HOW FAR DOWN DOES THIS CONSPIRACY GO???!!!???

                  Look, I can barely get my students to do homework that I assign, much less something that never comes up in class (like “militant” atheism)–you think teachers have more influence over their entire worldview than parents do? You, who spend much more time with your own daughter than any teacher has? Whatever.

                • Marc Remillard

                  What I am referring to as unconstitutional is the keeping of all forms of religion out of public schools. It isn’t Congress, it isn’t an establishment of religion, therefore the free speech and free exercise clauses apply.

                  And I note for the record that you have failed to answer my challenge. You cannot cite a law that permits suing an atheist teacher for discussing atheism because no such law exists.

                  But let’s play your silly game. I talk to the principal, and let’s say he isn’t an atheist and agrees with me that the catch-22 is wrong. So he disciplines the teacher for…what? There is no law against it. How many school boards are you aware of that would actually be crazy enough to write a policy that says “atheism shall not be discussed”. The Freedom From Religion Foundation would have a field day with that one. So there is no district policy.

                  I’d ask you to tell me what the teacher gets disciplined for, but since you couldn’t answer the first question, I doubt you could answer that one.

                • unclemike

                  Teachers get disciplined all the time for stuff that isn’t illegal. Heck, teachers get disciplined for not returning phone calls fast enough.

                  Actually, all 4 of the school districts I’ve worked for had guidelines in the district guidebook on appropriate/inappropriate topics of conversation for classrooms. And 3 that I rememebr specifically mentioned “personal religious or non-religious affiliations” as topics to be avoided. And every district I’ve worked for also had classes where religions were freely discussed. These classes were called “Social Studies.” One was actually “World Religions.” Amazing that nobody went to jail.

                  There is no law against discussing atheism. There is also no law against discussing any religion. There are laws against teachers (and other government employees/entities) promoting one religion as best or true over all the others.

                • Marc Remillard

                  You don’t go to jail, you get sued. Civil vs. criminal. Big difference. Apparently, your friends at FFRF never heard about the subjects that your schools taught. And you know, I took social studies back in the day before a lot of the school decisions came out. And, in fact, I attended schools in the . . . get ready for it . . . south. Not ONCE did we ever study “world religions”. I never saw that topic until philosphy in undergrad.

                • unclemike

                  Cite me a case where someone was sued for just discussing religion (not advocating, not disparaging, not proselytizing) in a classroom.

                  I don’t doubt that your schooling in the “south” didn’t include a lot of subjects that we teach now. Things change. I never learned Algebra until 9th grade–now I teach it to 6th graders.

                • Marc Remillard

                  The point is, like this case right here, that even MENTIONING religion is taken by atheists to be PROMOTING religion. This case right here is an example. This is nothing but a series of references to religious text, that you people shrilly scream is promoting religion when it does nothing of the kind.

                • unclemike

                  The point is you keep getting called out on your bullshit statements and, when asked to back them up with evidence, you move the goalposts. Do judges let you get away with that crap?

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  But you can sue if they are promoting irreligion or religion in the classroom. Not the same thing as “discussing” atheism or religion.

                • Marc Remillard

                  I agree, personally, but that’s not what your buddies at the FFRF, the ACLU, and all the other anti-First Amendment organizations argue when it goes to court. Again, this case illustrates that point. These cheerleaders put up banners with religious text. They did NOT create banners that said “You must convert to Christianity” or “Christianity is the best” or any words to that effect. Yet here you are, in the absence of any evidence that the cheerleaders where promoting religion claiming that that’s what they were doing.

                • Marc Remillard

                  No, you cannot. Again, I challenge you or anyone else to cite just ONE case in which it was held that an atheist teacher discussing atheism in the classroom violated the First Amendment. Just one. Waiting… Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath…

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Again, I challenge you or anyone else to cite just ONE case in which it was held that an atheist teacher discussing atheism in the classroom violated the First Amendment.

                  oookay. I’ve looked back over this particular sub-thread, and I can’t find anyone saying that. The disagreement seems to be over discussing something vs. promoting something. Teachers can discuss religion or atheism. They can’t promote any particular religion, or the notion that there are no gods.

                  Particularly where what is taught in the schools often directly conflicts with the religious teachings children receive at home or at church.

                  Being taught at home that demons cause disease, and to visit a doctor is to show lack of faith in God, doesn’t make a class on bacteria and viruses irreligious. It just makes it ‘not wrong’.

                • roz77

                  ” feel free to cite for me any law that you are aware of that would have given me a cause of action.”

                  Ever heard of the 1st amendment?

                • Marc Remillard

                  Yup. It bars the establishment of religion. Is atheism a religion? No, it isn’t. Ergo, the First Amendment is inapplicable. Try again.

                • roz77

                  The 1st amendment applies to all religions as well as non-religion. A teacher can no more promote atheism to his or her students then they can promote christianity. Seriously. If you’re going to be so vocal in your opinion, at least do some research first.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Really? Does the word “non-religion” appear in the First Amendment? Are you aware of ANY court case that has upheld what you are claiming? Feel free to cite it. I find it hilarious that you say I should do my research and I’m the one who has been citing/quoting the First Amendment and even Supreme Court cases while you’ve cited…bumpkiss.

                • roz77

                  “Does the word “non-religion” appear in the First Amendment?”

                  You do realize that there is Supreme Court jurisprudence that goes along with analyzing cases like this right? The Constitution is not the only thing we look at.

                  From Wallace v. Jaffree:

                  “when the underlying principle has been examined
                  in the crucible of litigation, the *53 Court has
                  unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom
                  of conscience protected by the First Amendment
                  embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.”

                  The Supreme Court has made it clear that the 1st Amendment applies equally to all religions and non-religions.

                • Marc Remillard

                  That is a free EXERCISE clause case — NOT an establishment clause case. Try again.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  You have the schools all to yourselves, no other viewpoints are allowed, and it is all unconstitutional.

                  Citation Needed. And, again, if you actually have grounds to bring such cases to court, please do so.

                • Marc Remillard

                  And again, there are no grounds to bring it to court. You CAN discuss atheism with no repercusions because it is NOT advocating religion. That’s the wonderful catch-22 you people have gotten the courts to buy off on. Heck, as a strict constructionist, *I* buy the argument that promoting atheism can’t be seen as “respecting an establishment of religion.”

                  Now, if you know of a statute that permits suing atheist teachers for discussing atheism with their students, feel free to share it with the class.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  Now, if you know of a statute that permits suing atheist teachers for discussing atheism with their students, feel free to share it with the class.

                  Again, I’m not prevented from discussing atheism with anyone. Nor are teachers prevented from discussing religion or atheism from their students. They’re prevented from using their position as teacher to promote religion/irreligion.

                  In my case, both now and when I was employed at UCLA and at Caltech, using my position to promote religion/irreligion would have constituted a very serious breach of contract. Same for a teacher in the public school system (Hemant – am I correct on that one? I’ve only looked through a few of the relevant employment contracts)

                • Marc Remillard

                  The problems with your edited argument is two-fold. First, I’m talking about K-12, and you are talking about college. The standards are different. Second, you are just flat wrong that teachers can discuss religion and this case illustrates the point. You atheists AUTOMATICALLY assume that any time a particular religion is discussed the person doing the discussing is pushing or promoting that religion.

                • baal

                  Ah, so you do have dog in the fight. You want to re-fight your issue with your daughter with us.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Uh, no. There was no fight there. Never has been. I just used it as an example of how I know that atheism is allowed to be discussed in elementary schools.

                • baal

                  Atheism qua atheism or did she merely get taught some science and you’re characterizing it? If the former, you’d be in the right to complain the same way I did when my son told me about the proselytizing of one of his teachers.

                  Given how much you’ve posted against the general flow here and that you described her as ‘as militant’ as we are, that looks like a fight.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Atheism qua atheism. As in, “Ms _____ told me she doesn’t believe in God.” There was no fight, I simply said “OK” and that was it. She didn’t become an atheist until years later.

            • Mary C

              The absence of religious discussion in public schools does not equal promotion of atheism. Children are not told they can’t pray, or that they can’t wear their religious symbols, etc. It is so strange to me that Christians insist on feeling persecuted everywhere.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          But you’re good with teachers promoting atheism by prohibiting all discussions of religion in the classroom?

          No. Prohibiting discussion of religion is not the same as promoting atheism, but nor would I prohibit all discussion of religion. What is prohibited is teachers, when they are acting as representatives of the school, advocating one religion over another or over irreligion, or irreligion over religion.

          It happens that many religious beliefs are directly contradicted by science and history. Science and history must be taught accurately. Students are free to believe whatever they want, but should not be excused from learning science and history and tolerance of others on the basis of their religion.

          • Marc Remillard

            What YOU would do and what is happening are two different things. Teachers are absolutely forbidden from discussing religion at all. Some of the reasons are obvious, there are tons of people like you waiting in the wings to be offended and sue the school system if a teacher so much as utters “god”. That costs the system badly needed resources, so they just prohibit the teachers from talking about it.

            And, btw, discussion of atheism is NOT prohibited. They get to discuss it all day long because, rightly, atheism is not a religion so there are no establishment clause entanglements.

            So not only is religion left as a taboo topic, atheism can be discussed.

            ” Students are free to believe whatever they want, but should not be excused from learning science and history and tolerance of others on the basis of their religion.”

            Spoken like a true enemy of religious freedom and friend of totalitarianism. You people are scary.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              tons of people like you waiting in the wings to be offended and sue the school system if a teacher so much as utters “god”

              Not at all like me, actually. I am not aware of any such case, but again I am not a lawyer.

              Spoken like a true enemy of religious freedom and friend of totalitarianism. You people are scary.

              Incorrect. Spoken like a scientist who values reality. And last time I took the various metrics for totalitarianism/authoritarianism (Rob Altemeyer’s scales), I tested out very much against both.

              • Marc Remillard

                You don’t have to be a lawyer to read the papers or the internet. The Freedom From Religion Foundation brings these suits all the time.
                Being a scientist is not at all compatible with forcing people to turn their children over to you so that you can impose your values on them. That is totalitarianism in its most personal form.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  The Freedom From Religion Foundation brings these suits all the time.

                  The FFRF does not bring suits against teachers for simply discussing religion. I have just reviewed their list of current and notable cases to verify that: http://ffrf.org/legal/challenges/ongoing-lawsuits/

                  Being a scientist is not at all compatible with forcing people to turn their children over to you so that you can impose your values on them. That is totalitarianism in its most personal form.

                  It is not totalitarianism to require science and history be taught accurately. Nor is it totalitarianism to restrict people’s freedom of action to stop bigotry from being sanctioned.

                  Nor are people “forced to turn their children over” – to me or to anyone else. Mandatory education requirements allow for public, private, or at-home education, as long as the basic educational standards are met. And there are very good reasons for having such standards: universal education is necessary for anything approximating an egalitarian society.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  And of course AU and ACLU bring things kinds of lawsuits as well (not that FFRF brought this one). And all three organizations have members of all religious backgrounds, including deists. Granted, FFRF has a higher percentage of atheist members than the other two, but

                  this really isn’t an atheist thing, this is a religious freedom thing.

                  If only congress is prevented from making only laws respecting only the establishment of religion, then there’s nothing preventing each individual school board from requiring whatever religious practices they feel like.

                  Today’s decision not withstanding, it’s comforting to know that the courts in general don’t see it that way. That God for activist judges I guess?

                • Marc Remillard

                  No. Thank the Founders for Article V. If we want the proscription to apply to more than just Congress, and I certainly do, then we need to amend the Constitution and do it correctly rather than spin words to mean what they cannot mean and wink at the process.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Meanwhile, back on planet making-the-best-with-what-we’ve-got …

                • Marc Remillard

                  Last time I checked, the Constitution was on this planet.

                • Marc Remillard
                • allein

                  What? Teachers leaving their classes unattended and students skipping class, unauthorized, and all receiving no consequences for it, simply because they decided to have an impromptu revival meeting? No, we didn’t miss it; it was posted here. They are allowed to pray in school as long as it isn’t disruptive. When the teacher and half the kids don’t show up for class, for unauthorized reasons, it’s a tad disruptive.

        • indorri

          Dishonesty is claiming secularism = atheism.

          To see the irrationality if your implication, consider that if you were right, not establishing a religion would also be promoting atheism, and subsequently you would have to start promoting some religion to not promote atheism.

          Clearly, that is a paradox. But only when you think neutrality is advocacy.

          • Marc Remillard

            Not a paradox at all. The only way to violate the establishment clause by the strict text of the Constitution is for CONGRESS to pass a law that says “the official religion of the United States is X.” The failure of Congress to pass that law is simple compliance with the dictates of the Constitution.
            The other problem, as I noted elsewhere, is there is no prohibition on the actual discussion of atheism in the schools. It is, in fact, discussed.

        • RobMcCune

          You are solidifying your special privilege to exclude all things religious from the school setting.

          You use the words ‘privilege’ and ‘neutrality,’ I don’t think you know what they mean.

          • Marc Remillard

            If you were talking about yourself, that sentence would make more sense. You are trying to tell cheerleaders they can create a banner that says ANYTHING other than something religious and you want to claim you are being “neutral”?

            • RobMcCune

              If they’re not talking about religion, they can’t be sectarian now can they? I also have this crazy idea that Switzerland is neutral because it doesn’t take sides.

              Putting bible verses on signs makes a definite statement promoting a particular religious belief. Chances are that it doesn’t represent all the students of the school, which the cheer squad is supposed to do. It’s also a form of proselytizing which is being paid for by tax payer dollars.

              Now explain to me how a sectarian endorsement of religion is neutral, I can’t wait to hear how convoluted your answer is.

              • Marc Remillard

                Wow, right off the bat you undercut your own argument. You draw a distinction between sectarian (permissible) religious (presumably non permissible). One is allowed, one isn’t. Tell me how that is “neutral” again?

                Those banners were, AT BEST, statements of belief by the persons who made the banners. Nothing more. They are PRIVATE expressions and protected under both the free speech and free exercise clauses. And, btw, the clause is “respecting an establishment of religion”, not “respecting a promotion of religion.”

                Where, specifically, does the Constitution say “tax dollars shall never under any circumstances go to anything even remotely connected to religion”?

                • RobMcCune

                  You draw a distinction between sectarian (permissible) religious (presumably non permissible).

                  Still having trouble with the meaning of words I see. Sectarian does not mean permissible, look it up. Also you didn’t tell me how allowing a school team to promote one religion over others constitutes neutrality.

                  Those banners were, AT BEST, statements of belief by the persons who made the banners. Nothing more.

                  The chearleading team was created by the school, and represents the school along with the athletic teams. These are an official part of the school. And the entire team is creating and holding up banners with bible verses.

                  And, btw, the clause is “respecting an establishment of religion”, not “respecting a promotion of religion.”

                  Which is pretty clearly meant to keep the government out of religion and religion out of the government. You don’t interpret other first amendment protections so narrowly do you. Does freedom of the press apply to online journalism and publishing even though no printing press is being used? Technically you and I are not speaking, we’re typing, does this have free speech protections?

                • Marc Remillard

                  You’re the one deliberately misunderstanding words. I didn’t say that the words in parenthesis were synonyms, now did I? Is context a difficult concept for you to grasp? I mean, right after that I asked you to explain why you consider it neutral to allow sectarian speech but not religious speech — a question, btw, that you seem bent on refusing to answer.

                  I didn’t answer your promotion question because there was no promotion, and certainly not from the school. This was an expression of faith by the cheerleaders. No promotion and no school sanction.
                  It doesn’t matter that the team was created by the school. Heck, the school was created by the government, yet attendance there doesn’t require surrender of free speech rights. It is simply irrelevant that the school created the team. Apparently the Supreme Court didn’t know about you when it wrote “The proposition that schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor is not complicated.” Board of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 250 (1990).
                  And no, it is not “pretty clearly meant”. It means what it says, no establishing of a religion by Congress. These are cheerleaders. I can’t see how you could be confused, but I guess you can’t tell the difference between a bunch of old people in business suits in Washington, D.C., and some girls in short outfits on a football field in Texas.

                • RobMcCune

                  It doesn’t matter that the team was created by the school.

                  Yes it does, at least for your court case to be relevant to this one. Schools give athletic and cheerleading teams special support, and restrict participation based on student conduct. None of this is true for the bible club or the prayer club, or the chess club. These schools created their teams to represent them, and give them special treatment accordingly.

                  And no, it is not “pretty clearly meant”. It means what it says, no establishing of a religion by Congress.

                  I see, so the executive branch can establish all the religion it wants, abridge the free exercise thereof, freedom of speech, freedom the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, all without violating the constitution. Via the “I’m not touching you” precedent. I am truly thankful that your belief is not the law of the land.

                  Well since you garble definitions and context, it’s not surprising you’d fail to understand the constitution as well.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          No, I’m good with teachers promoting neutrality by discouraging evangelizing and proselytizing. I’m also absolutely good with science teachers teaching science and not religion.

          It’s not that religious expression must be suppressed. It’s that government agents may not privilege any religion over any other, or religion over non-religion. Teachers can believe anything they want. They can go to church, say prayers, wear religious t-shirts, and/or stand on street corners preaching at people. However, while teaching, a teacher is an agent of the state. While cheerleading, a cheerleader is representing hir school, which is a part of the state. Thus, when acting in those roles, people may not privilege any religion over any other, or religion over non-religion, because they are not only speaking for themselves but for the institution they represent. When the cheerleaders have that banner, they’re saying the school is Christian, not that they are Christian individuals. And the school, simply put, is not allowed to be Christian but must be neutral. Not atheist- it’s not allowed to be atheist either. Just neutral.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      And, of course, in the place within yourself where you have to be honest, you know you wouldn’t.

      Wrong. It would be exactly as unacceptable.

      As long as it is not a government official forcing the signs and they are created voluntarily by the students, the Establishment Clause has no relevance. Stick to teaching math, because your con law skills are sorely lacking.

      I am not a lawyer or a scholar of constitutional law. But both the Supreme Court and my legal consul say that you are wrong.

      • Marc Remillard

        It is obvious you aren’t either. I am. I also recognize judicial activism when I see it. Oh, and BTW, my opinion in this case was the one upheld by the Court. Go figure.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          BTW, my opinion in this case was the one upheld by the Court.

          Only by the District Court. If the judgement is appealed, things may turn out differently.

          • Marc Remillard

            I very much doubt it. The Texas state appellate courts are every bit as conservative. If it goes federal it is going to go the same Fifth Circuit whose previous opinion you keep misrepresenting. And finally, given the current make up of the SCOTUS and their more recent pronouncements on the subject, I don’t see them finding purely voluntary student led expressions of religious beliefs are unconstitutional.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              It is only unconstituional when they are in a context where the students are representing the school. And I will not attempt to predict the judgements of the courts.

              • Marc Remillard

                If that were the case then the court would not have come down on the side of student speakers at school sponsored events. Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 302 (2000); Board of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 250 (1990). “The proposition that schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor is not complicated.” Mergens, 496 U.S. at 250.

                Unlike what you people want, “private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression.” Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 760 (1995).

          • Stev84

            “Judicial activism” always and only means “A decision I don’t like”

            • Marc Remillard

              That’s how you liberals define it. Judicial activism is actually deciding cases not based upon law but upon personal opinion. You can usually detect it when things are found “lurking in penumbras” as opposed to specific text being cited.

    • indorri

      You clearly have no idea what the place “within ourselves” is.

      • Marc Remillard

        Yeah, I do. Its the place where you know I’m right no matter how much rationalizing you do on the internet.

        • indorri

          Are you always incessantly obnoxious when wrongly describing how other people think?

          • Marc Remillard

            Are you always incessantly obnoxious when wrongly demanding that 90% of the country surrender an explicitly guaranteed constitutional right so that you can get a special right found nowhere in the Constitution — the right to make other people shut up?

            • indorri

              No, because I am not incessantly obnoxious. That discussion is elsewhere in the page, by the way, if you want to continue it there.

              I will state it bluntly: I would be as upset if atheism were being promoted in schools as well. You are wrong to consider me to think otherwise. Egregiously and, from your tone, maliciously wrong. Stick to discussing the law, and quit your petty shots.

              • Marc Remillard

                I will state it bluntly, I don’t believe you. And obviously incessantly obnoxious is in the eye of the beholder.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  I will state it bluntly, I don’t believe you.

                  Why do you find it so difficult to believe that state-promoted atheism would be opposed by many of the people commenting here as much as a state-promoted religion?

                • Marc Remillard

                  Because of the incessant warfare that atheists have waged on the First Amendment. The bizarre lengths at which you are willing to go to shut religious people up in the public square. Your abject hatred of all things religious. It only stands to reason that this much venom has to have as its goal the replacement of Christianity with atheism as the dominant “belief” system.

                • RobMcCune

                  The bizarre lengths at which you are willing to go to shut religious people up in the public square office.

                  Fixed. That’s what cuts to the heart of the issue is people are using the government to specifically acknowledge and promote their religion. The only way you can possibly rationalize it is with talk of ill-defined squares.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Well, if it were “fixed” no one would be arguing against this decision since cheerleaders don’t hold an “office”. Care to try again?

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  Because of the incessant warfare that atheists have waged on the First Amendment. The bizarre lengths at which you are willing to go to shut religious people up in the public square.

                  Citation Needed on both.

                  It only stands to reason that this much venom has to have as its goal the replacement of Christianity with atheism as the dominant “belief” system.

                  I do not have much that much venom.

                  Having more people be atheists may be a goal. But if anyone is advocating acheiving that goal with anything other than entirely non-coercive persuasion, I will completely oppose them.

                • Marc Remillard

                  I suggest you spend some time on the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Google their name and look at all the cease and desist letters, threats of lawsuits, and lawsuits they have been behind. And they are only ONE such organization.

                  Your opposition to this decision and complete failure to recognize freedom of religion and freedom of speech for students belies your claim that you will oppose people forcing religion out of the public sphere.

                • RedGreenInBlue

                  Irrespective of the topic under discussion, whenever you reply to someone who has contradicted you (and in particular when you are replying to an ostensible statement of belief) simply by saying, “I don’t believe you,” any possibility of a discussion is over. Not only does it assume bad faith, but in this particular case is an implied claim that you know what the other person is thinking better than they do themselves. Not even a clinical psychologist, who knows in great detail *how* people think, would know the exact *content* of people’s thoughts; two commenters completely unknown to each other and statistically highly unlikely to be a pair of clinical psychologists, cannot possibly do better.

                  But then, how much smaller the internet would be if so many of us were not guilty of this ourselves from time to time…

                • Marc Remillard

                  There never was any possibility of discussion in the sense you imply. You people are bound and determined to run religious people out of all public spheres and write the free exercise clause out of the Constitution. The rationalizing that you do with respect to the free exercise clause reduces your words to the mere lip service that they are. Just so you can make sure no one ever says to you “Jesus loves you” again, you are willing to give the government complete control over all expression.

                  I find it annoying when people try to convert me too, but I would much rather smile and say “no thanks”, then have the government in control of speech.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

              90% of the country surrender an explicitly guaranteed constitutional right

              Incorrect. ~15% of the US is irreligious, and that rises to ~30% of teenagers and young adults.

              And, again, no right are being infringed upon.

              • Marc Remillard

                Depends on the poll you care to cite, but if you want to quibble about 5%, which, incidentally, is very close to some polls’ margins of error, I don’t care.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

                  You like the idea of the tryanny of the majority? That’s disappointing.

                • Marc Remillard

                  I said nothing of the kind. But what YOU are trying to accomplish is a tyranny of the minority. The majority should not be prevented from expressing themselves because it will hurt the all too sensitive feelings of the minority.

            • RobMcCune

              As a private citizen people have rights, when someone holds a position they have responsibilities which means they can’t do whatever they wish. When the cheerleaders represent a public school they represent an entire student body and a religiously neutral school. Outside of cheering, they can wear “I love Jesus” t-shirts all day everyday. That’s what I honestly believe whatever stories you want to make up.

              • Marc Remillard

                Do tell. Where in the Constitution does it say that citizens check their constitutional rights at the door of public office? So long as they make clear they are speaking for themselves and not for the government, I have no problem with a government official expressing his/her personal opinion.
                Fortunately, what you believe isn’t the law of the land. I hope it never is. Why would anyone want to do anything that can be interpreted as “representative” of a governmental institution if they have to surrender one or more rights to have it?

                • RobMcCune

                  So long as they make clear they are speaking for themselves and not for the government, I have no problem with a government official expressing his/her personal opinion.

                  Good, now be consistent and apply that to a group of cheerleaders representing their school at a football game, and were set.

                  Why would anyone want to do anything that can be interpreted as “representative” of a governmental institution if they have to surrender one or more rights to have it?

                  Cheerleader and athletic teams are official positions created by the school, this is what differentiates them from a student created bible club.

                • Marc Remillard

                  Why should I apply that standard to cheerleaders? No matter how badly you want to make them government officials, they are not. They are students at a school participating in an extra-curricular activity. Nothing more.
                  Cheerleaders are “official positions”? Really? What’s that job pay? Who do they get to order around? Who has to obey their edicts?

                • RobMcCune

                  Schools created these teams to represent them, and give them special treatment because of that. Does the bible club get let out of class early to go to bible practice? No. Can a student be kicked out of bible club for their grades. No. Does the district shell out lots of money to support the bible club and it’s facilities? No. Does the school hold a search for to hire a new faculty adviser for the bible club like a hold a search for a new coach? No.

                  Until that changes, school teams aren’t considered the same as any other school club, and they can’t promote religion when they are representing their school.

                  Be as obtuse as you want, you’re still wrong.

        • RobMcCune

          It’s the place within yourself where you make things up about other people.

    • Antinomian

      After reading all your posts Marc, it’s abundantly clear, the only panties being worn here are the “Panties of Persecution” being worn under your “Pants of Privilege”.

  • rgcustomer

    Did anyone expect otherwise? This is a country where the Supreme Court, made up entirely of religious believers (all Christian or Jewish) rejected an appeal to a case that had said “Furthermore, Congress’ ostensible and pre-dominant purpose when it …amended the Pledge [to include "under God"] was patriotic, not religious.”

    That court wilfully ignored the fact that pledging allegiance to a country “under” someone else, is necessarily a pledge to that someone else, and it’s clear that the public saw it that way at the time the change was made.

    So, a lower court is at it again, following their lead. This is nothing more than the majority smugly and brazenly ignoring the facts and the constitution, to exercise its power over all other religious minorities (polytheists, atheists, even monotheists who think printing the name or word “god” is very wrong, or who oppose the god “we” trust, or who believe in a goddess).

    This simply will not change until open atheists sit on the highest court. And that won’t happen until open atheists can be elected to the US Senate.

    • roz77

      “This simply will not change until open atheists sit on the highest court.”

      I get what you’re saying, but this just isn’t true. There have been plenty of cases where the Supreme Court enforced the separation of church and state, such as Santa Fe v. Doe, Lee v. Weisman, Lynch v. Donnelly, etc., and there were no open atheists on the court.

      • Marc Remillard

        All it takes is a liberal who cares nothing for what the document actually says. Liberals are always on the look out for the next class of victims they can “protect” while simultaneously destroying the rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

  • School Uniform

    If they are in <a style="text-decoration:none;color:black;"school uniform they represent the school.

    • Marc Remillard

      Ah, so in jurisdictions in which the school mandates ALL students wear a uniform, no free speech? How totalitarian of you. Thank goodness this isn’t the law.

  • baal

    Let’s note that the judge didn’t include an opinion with the order. This means he’s forcing the case to take longer or for our side to get tired and stop pushing. The district court level judge would be overruled by any appeals court and they’d order him to write an opinion to support his order. He couldn’t do that and be consistent with the law so the DC judge would then reverse his prior ruling.
    Given all that noise, it’s time to file under a new title (as I see Hemant’s update suggests that’s what’s likely to happen).

    • Marc Remillard

      I can’t speak for Texas, but that’s typical for state courts where I’m from. It is rare that you get a trial court opinion. That said, I’m not sure you’re right here because the news articles I have seen on it include language that looks like it would be from an opinion. For example, no law “prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events,” would seem to be from an opinion and not an order. I’ve been looking for the documents on this and haven’t found them.

  • guest

    Dear Texas,

    Please secede from the Union ASAP. We will help build a wall around your theocracy and stop all Federal funding and assistance immediately. Good luck.

    Sincerely,

    Every rational, Constitutional loving American

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1388662790 Emerald Eternity

    Five bucks says that at least one of the cheerleaders is engaging in pre-marital sex.

  • Mark W.

    “When it is said to them: “Come to what Allah hath revealed, and to the
    Messenger.: Thou seest the Hypocrites avert their faces from thee in
    disgust.
    The Qur’an (القرآن), Sura 4:61″

    I say the opposing team should put this on a banner and watch the Christians go nuts. That ruling would be overturned so fast people would get whiplash.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      In what fantasy world is an opposing team, also in East Texas, going to put a passage from the Qur’ran on their banner :-)

      Next season, BOTH sides in EVERY game will have bible passages. The amusing part will be when both sides have the same passage saying God is on THEIR side.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lex-Brolin/100000648140874 Lex Brolin

    Does it really matter if some of the players, some in the stands, some of the cheerleaders are not Christian? Really, how does this offend someone? I used to be an unbeliever, but was never offended by seeing verses or hearing about any religion. I would say if this kind of thing is offensive, one must really work on getting a life! Secondly, this country was founded on Biblical principles. Our government, in it’s wisdom of trying to please everyone, has gotten us all divided. The only way to get back to being a strong, prosperous nation is to get back to the foundation. I still respect your right not to believe, are someone that wants to practice Islam or whatever, but we need our foundation back. Society just doesn’t work while trying to please everyone. Personally, someone as outspoken as an atheist with a blog, I don’t believe should be teaching in our public schools – but I don’t get my way on that, and I’m ok with that because it’s my opinion. Nobody gets everything they want, and that should be ok as well.

  • marytrsNeverDie

    Apparently we are no longer the Home of the free and the brave. We are now the weak and easily offended. So you try to intimidate people (right or wrong) who are just excited about what they believe? All despot systems seem to always gravitate toward silencing descenders… apparently atheists are no exception.

  • Timothy Butterworth

    Prayer, Bible versus and sermons at football games go against the lord Jesus just as sports do as a whole. These “False Jew” Christians need to stop looking to the court to tell them their religion and look to The Lord to see the error in their ways!

    These are just more examples of “False Jew” Christians who claim the name of Jesus but are not part of him. Who think they can combine the old Jewish covenant with the new covenant in order to make their own that does not exist in an attempt to turn America into a new Israel.

    The Lord Jesus says you are to love you neighbor as your self and you are not to take up any form of arms against your enemies. Jesus further says you are to be a slave to your enemies and with them to Christ with love. If the other team asked them to carry their gear a mile they should carry it two.

    They obviously have no idea what those versus even mean!

    Victory over death by separating from the world as a reborn angle of God, no longer living a worldly life playing sports but using every moment in service to The Lord as he is the head of the body!

    Not even Satan can be against Christ or those who are truly in his body as man can kill the body but only God can destroy the soul.

    It is good organizations like The AU is steeping in to stop this profaning and perversion of The Holy name of God by these False Jew Christians and their blasphemy!


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