Kountze is a quiet little town in east Texas, situated in the Big Thicket just north of Beaumont. Recently, it began to make national headlines when the school district banned the use of Bible verses on banners made by the cheerleaders for football games. Apparently, the cheerleading squad of the local high school had taken to dropping some God quotes on the banners football players would run through onto the field, and the district said that violated church and state restrictions.
Naturally, the cheerleaders fought the ban in court, and eventually the district relented, allowing them to continue using the Bible verses, but that hasn't stopped them from pursuing the court case.
The nonprofit conservative religious group Liberty Institute is trumpeting the case because it believes it needs to have the state define what is government speech and what is the constitutional free speech of the cheerleaders.
"For over two decades, everyone understood that the banners are the cheerleaders' speech, not the government's speech," says James Ho, an attorney representing the teens. "So the cheerleaders should have the right to include religious messages if they want to."
Even though the district dropped its objections, the group presses on because it fears the district could reinstate the ban at any time. By getting a clear decision on the matter, they hope Bible verses can receive permanent protection from anything they consider censorship.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
No word on if they also want to protect rap lyrics from censorship, but "Started from the bottom, now the whole team here," would make a damn fine banner.