KOUNTZE, Tx. – Four months after a district judge ruled that cheerleaders could legally display Bible verse banners at school football games, several religious organizations have joined a court brief challenging the decision.
As previously reported, public school cheerleaders in the tiny east Texas community of Kountze are fighting for the right to display banners with inspirational Bible verses at sporting events. Following a complaint last year by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, school officials ordered the cheerleaders to stop including Scriptures on their signs. However, the Liberty Institute—a religious rights organization—legally challenged the school’s action, and in early May a Texas judge ruled that the banner displays were constitutional.
Despite the ruling in the cheerleaders’ favor, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Thursday filed a 79-page “friend of the court” brief in Texas’ Ninth District Court of Appeals. Although the document was written by ACLU attorneys, several other organizations are listed as sponsors of the motion, including the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Muslim Advocates, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Hindu American Foundation, the Sikh Coalition and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“According to the 2010 U.S. Religion Census, more Muslims live in Texas than any other state,” the ACLU asserted in a news release announcing the participation of the groups. “Texas is second only to California in the number of Hindus and ranks third in the number of Buddhists.”