(KOUNTZE, Texas) — Cheerleaders in a small East Texas town that worships two things — God and football — are now fighting back after the Bible verses they painted on banners to display at games were banned.
The cheerleading squad at Kountze High School, just north of Beaumont, Texas, would show their support for the team, and also display their religious beliefs, by painting Bible verses on the banners players run through before every game.
“We just wanted to encourage the boys,” one cheerleader said.
The banners apparently offended someone, though, and that unidentified person complained to an atheist group, which argued that the Bible banners amount to a public school’s advocating a particular religion, which is unconstitutional.
“This is not a Christian school and they cannot misuse their authority,” Annie-Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, said.
Ultimately, school superintendent Kevin Weldon forced the cheerleaders to stop using scripture on the banners. That was when the squad members put down their pompoms and picked up the phone, calling attorney David Starnes, who argues that the banners are not school sponsored.
“It was student led…student initiated,” Starnes said.
The girls came up with the idea by looking at the social networking website Pinterest, where they saw that cheerleaders in Georgia had done the same thing with their banners a few years ago. Those were banned by their school, too.
The community is now cheering for the cheerleaders, with signs of support and online. A Facebook page dedicated to their fight now has nearly 50,000 followers, which is 25 times more people than live in the town of about 2,000.
Kieara Moffett, a cheerleader at Kountze High School, said that the she believes this is about freedom of expression.
“They have the right to say whatever they want,” she said. “But it’s our religion and we want to portray that.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire