Religious Banners at Football Games Put Faith & Football at Fore - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Religious Banners at Football Games Put Faith & Football at Forefront

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KOUNTZE (Kiii News) -

In the small town of Kountze, Texas near Beaumont, the issue of faith and football are once again front and center.

Cheerleaders at the local high school want to put bible verses on banners during football games.

The school district says a lawsuit is forcing it to prevent that practice.

In this town of 2,000, faith is a big part of many lives. It's how some students can display it that's put this tiny town on the world map.

"They wanted to inspire the football team, they are cheer - leaders."

Tonight Kountze ISD school board members listened as parents, students and graduates shared their feelings and sometimes their faith.

"I've learned just to share my faith and being told you can't do that is not easy," Kountze High School Cheerleader, Savannah Short said.

It started last fall when cheerleaders painted Christian scripture on signs for the football team.

"To encourage the football team and the opposing team and fans with a positive message," Rebekah Richardson said. "That was it."

The Wisconsin based organization, Freedom From Religion, filed a lawsuit.

The district initially told the cheerleaders no more scripture until the courts
stepped in.

"There are lots of religious liberty attacks across the country.Tremendous hostility where the government is interfering with student's speech," Jeff Mateer, Attorney at Liberty Institute said. "Kountze is another example where the government is attacking student's and their free speech rights."

But not all the speakers tonight backed the cheer team

"If next year a Hindu student or Muslim student, Buddhist, makes the cheer team is she going to be forced to hold a religious banner, kicked off for not agreeing with it?  Where do you draw the line?" Lindsey Brackin, Kountze High School graduate said.

No matter their role at the school  or in the community it's become a learning experience for the entire town.

"They did it to encourage of football boys.  we didn't want to say things like drown the sharks or scalp the Indians," Ron Rogers, Kountze High School athlete said.