Cheerleaders’ religious speech stifled…school board doesn’t know First Amendment
Fort Oglethorpe, GA – The Catoosa County, Georgia, School Board has banned their cheerleading squad from holding up Bible-based posters during football games. This is apparently a knee-jerk reaction after Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School received one phone call questioning the posters.
Donna Jackson, the caller, says she was not objecting or complaining about the posters—just wondering whether the school would be sued for allowing the cheerleaders to do this. She claims she is unjustly being made the culprit, and meant no harm according to a Chattanooga WDEF.com report.
Yet, faster than you can say “step away from the Bible,” the School Board announced that the posters could present a Constitutional challenge and would no longer be allowed carried by the cheerleaders at the football field. CBS News in Atlanta reports that the Bible posters have been relegated to a “designated area.”
How many times does this need to be said? Students who participate in religious activities willingly, without coercion from school employees, have a perfect First Amendment right to do so. The cheerleaders had agreed amongst themselves to hold up the posters.
When is the last time our educators and school board members read The First Amendment? Or do they simply believe what they hear from the loudest anti-Bible activists?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment doesn’t say that other people have freedom from HEARING or SEEING someone else’s freedom of speech—but this point is seldom brought out.
The cheerleader case is just one of many in the last dozen or so years. Law firms like Liberty Counsel, the ACLJ, the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Law Association now battle well over 100,000 calls of this type per year.
There was the Syracuse kindergarten student whose artwork was folded so that Jesus couldn’t be seen when placed on the bulletin board, even after the teacher told the class they could draw anything they wanted.
The valedictorian in Colorado who mentioned Jesus in her graduation speech, and was then denied her diploma until she apologized to the whole school.
The students in Knoxville who were told they couldn’t read or discuss the Bible during recess; and the Nashville students who had to remove references of God from their “See You at the Pole” signs; even though SYATP takes place in the early morning before school hours.
Not to mention the thousands of cases brought against students singing about Jesus and God in school during Christmas (or should we say “Holiday”) presentations.
Christians in many countries around the world are currently facing life in prison for upholding the name of Jesus (like the Iranian Women reported here at The Underground). American Christians may soon need to decide how far we are willing to go to defend our faith (see Luke 9:23-25).
If your child faces religious discrimination in school, contact one of the law firms linked above, or present the school with the U.S. Department of Education’s document, “Religious Expression in Public Schools”.