Maggie: When making signs to show off school spirit, you’ve got a lot of decisions to make: marker color, size, should I add glitter or not? But did you ever think of adding a bit of scripture? Well, some cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas did just that, and it’s stirring up quite a bit of controversy.
On game night each week, Kountze football players get pumped up by breaking through banners made by cheerleaders.
Caleb Darby: Whenever I run though the sign it just makes me feel like God is there with me. He has just come over the top of the whole team to protect us through our game.
Maggie: This year, cheerleaders started making signs with messages about faith and strength, like this one with a verse from the Bible.
Ashton Jennings: They weren’t getting very fired up by ‘kill the Cougars!’ So if we say ‘you have power, God gives you the strength,’ then, I mean, that makes me want to do hard.
Maggie: But after someone complained, the superintendent ordered them to stop.
Lawyers for the Texas Association of School Boards told the superintendent not to allow student groups to display any religious signs or messages at school-sponsored events.
Caleb: It just hurts me to see that they are trying to take this away from us.
Maggie: Caleb and his fellow teammates say they take pride in running through the signs. In their minds, it demonstrates who they are and what they believe. But the district says if students are in school uniforms, representing the school, they can’t promote a particular religion because it violates the separation of church and state. There’s no problem with religious messages and signs up in the stands though.
Gabriel Haga: I don’t go against showing your religion, but yet I do go against people trying to force other people into a religion.
Dixie Ayala: You shouldn’t mix things like religion and school because not everybody has the same religion.
Maggie: Many in the community have rallied in support of the banners. An attorney sued on behalf of the cheerleaders who believe they have the right to put Bible verses on the run-through signs.
Morgan Coplan: We are getting the word of God out and just showing our spirit through Him. And He has touched our football team, our school.
Caleb: If you don’t like it, don’t come to our games. That’s how I feel about it.
Maggie: Students and parents also created a Facebook group page called Support Kountze Kids Faith. Within 24 hours, more than thirty thousand people signed up to join the site. The population of Kountze is only about two thousand.
Ashton: I’m actually thankful for it because if somebody wouldn’t have complained, or if there hadn’t been any opposition, we wouldn’t have had this chance to express God’s word in this big of a way.
Maggie: A judge said the cheerleaders could hold up the signs temporarily. And today, he is scheduled to decide whether or not the cheerleaders can continue to cheer through scripture.