School District Fights Cheerleaders Over Their Use Of A Bible Verse Before Games

They might take down the banners but the billboards will be around until Jesus comes back.

Some cheerleaders in Texas are in the middle of a religious liberty conflict for putting Bible verses on the banner that football players run through at the beginning of games. The inclusion of Bible verses at sporting events has been quite common in Kountze, Texas. Often, the verse being used was Philippians 4:13. It says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

No one seemed to have a problem with this until the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the school district voicing their displeasure. Since that time, the school district and the cheerleaders have been in a legal battle against one another.

These battles have been common, even in the Bible Belt, as the culture moves closer toward full-blown secularism. Christians should not be surprised by this. That’s not to say that we should accept attacks on religious liberty. We just shouldn’t be surprised. In this world, you will have trouble.

Such trouble offers the perfect occasion for examining ourselves. Namely, do we really believe the verse that is so often cited at sporting events? To answer that, we have to look at the context.

When it comes to reading the Bible, context matters. Like any other book, you can make the Bible say whatever you want it to as long as you don’t mind using verses out of context. People make a lot of money for themselves doing this. If you don’t believe me, go turn on your television right now. Go to the religious channels and you’re probably going to find a well-dressed man and his purple-haired wife sitting in front of a gold piano and asking for your money. They’ll use a verse from the Bible to tell you that if you do give them money, you’ll get rich.

I’ll wait here while you run downstairs and take a look.

See, I told you so.

Paul wrote the book of Philippians while in the custody of a Roman government that cared absolutely nothing about his religious liberty. Yet, a major theme of the book is joy and contentment. So Paul didn’t tell his readers that he can do all things through Christ’s strength because he wanted to encourage them before the big game. Rather, he was teaching them that Christ’s strength has sustained him through his trials and triumphs. He is expressing confidence that Christ will pull his people through unjust jail sentences, sicknesses, poverty, and yes, even courtroom battles over banners at football games.

A mentor used to tell me that we are all walking billboards for what we believe in. The government can force the removal of a Bible verse from a sign that people will only see for three minutes. It cannot, however, remove the truth of that verse from a believer’s heart. School districts can try to ban public displays of faith but they can only go so far. They can pat themselves on the back when they censor another sign but there is nothing they can do to stop the public display of a Christian who takes seriously the command to love God and love neighbor. Even death itself cannot stop that. As one early church father said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation can use the power of the law to stop a group of high schoolers from raising a banner about Christ being our strength.

But there isn’t a thing in the world the Freedom From Religion Foundation can do to stop Christians from living under the strength of Christ.

They can take away the banner but they cannot silence the walking billboards.

That’s because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

Comments
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naraht
naraht

In terms of FFRF going after smaller counties, frankly the larger ones tend not to do things like this, both because they have more religious diversity and because they are more likely to employ lawyers telling them it is not a good idea. The number of counties that have a overwhelming (90%+) majority of (evangelical) protestants is much larger than the number of counties with an overwhelming majority of any other faith or sect (maybe a native american religion in a few counties dominated by a reservation, and probably Catholicism in Puerto Richo)

jay1723
jay1723

You do own public land as a member of the public. The government is an entity established by the public, its why the constitution opens as "We the People." I understand your point that we as individuals cannot use public spaces to the exclusion of other members of the public, but we can still use them. To that point the community can come together and decide as a said community to use that space to the exclusion of others, like if we wanted to put a fountain in the middle of a public park. That use which is decided by vote or more commonly by representation, is a democratic use of the land, and is subject to the artist mores of said community.

JaneKMiller
JaneKMiller

You don't own public land, the government does. Saying "everybody" owns and therefore you personally own it is a non-sequitur.

You can't put your own cross up on the Whitehouse lawn any more than you can put your own hotdog stand or banner ad there. All public spaces are regulated in all kinds of ways.

You are welcome to use whatever public space according the rules everybody agrees upon, however. For instance, I know of no public park in the USA where you are forbidden from prayer.

jay1723
jay1723

This is an argument of degrees, just because they will stone me to death in Pakistan doesn't mean that my rights won't be violated by lawyers here. I have the right to the free exercise of my religion, even on public land because I am a member of said public. If the public gets together and says hey we want to put up a statue of Hammurabi, they can. If that statue is of Moses thats also ok, its Art, art in support of religion is just as acceptable as art opposing religion. If the meaning is the only difference between one piece and another, that is religious discrimination.

JaneKMiller
JaneKMiller

The fake war on Christians is the one where you drive down any street in American and eventually see a Christian cross, and symbols on people's cars, private religious schools, Christian TV channels, etc. etc. etc. and the only place you do NOT see these symbols is in government-funded places like schools and courthouses.

You are perfectly free to hang up a cross in perhaps 98% of the surface area of our country so long as you own the land.

The phony "war on Christianity" is people complaining about the 2% that they don't own and can't own since it's government-owned surface area.

Maybe you should visit a country were there is a real war on Christianity. Hint: they won't let you put a cross in your living room window there...

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