10 Updates

T-Shirts and Ted Cruz: Escalating The Holy War Over Religion In Public School Sports

Apr 25 2014, 5:33pm CDT | by

The impending removal of a Bible verse from just about anything associated with the Parkersburg (W. Va.) South High School wrestling program represents, in the eyes of the Freedom From Religion...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

13 weeks ago

T-Shirts and Ted Cruz: Escalating The Holy War Over Religion In Public School Sports

Apr 25 2014, 5:33pm CDT | by

The impending removal of a Bible verse from just about anything associated with the Parkersburg (W. Va.) South High School wrestling program represents, in the eyes of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, things progressing as they should when the Madison, Wisc.-based atheistic organization is requested by someone locally to address a complaint of an unholy mix of government and religion .

In mid-April, the foundation sent a letter to the school requesting that it take down all references to a Bible verse on the wrestling wall, web site and team T-shirts. Within a few days the district scrubbed Philippians 4:13  off the website  and announced plans to repaint the wrestling room . “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is a statement that the Wood County Schools figures won’t wash legally when it comes to explicitly or tacitly approved religious displays. The foundation can give cover for locals making that decision. The idea is that the organization can serve as a flak-catcher in these situations , so the complainer is not the focus of anger (that name isn’t revealed in initial communications), and the district can blame it for forcing the school to do something, sigh, it didn’t really want to do.

“We simply seek to have the school come into compliance and to do so without the need for litigation,” foundation staff attorney Patrick Elliott said in an email. “Most school administrators make changes and that ends the matter.” Elliott estimated that about 350 school-related complaints have come to his organization just in 2014. (The most prominent complaint of recent weeks is against religious activity alleged fomented by Clemson University football coach Dabo Swinney .) But only three complaints — from all years — are currently in foundation-driven litigation, he said.

Not all is over yet at Parkersburg South. Parents are pushing back against getting rid of the T-shirts  – or preventing future printings of them — that contain the Bible verse, saying they paid for them, not the school. This could put the Wood County school district between the proverbial rock and hard place. If the school doesn’t do something about then T-shirts, then maybe the Freedom From Religion Foundation gets involved. (It hasn’t stated a course of action.) But if it does ban the T-shirts, then it could get sued — by the parents.

This happens. And as an example, I’ll give you Kountze, Texas, site of a battle over cheerleaders making religious-themed banners for the football team to run through before games. The battle involves not only the school and the cheerleading parents, but it’s drawn in all sorts of political interest, including the state’s two U.S. Senators, one of whom was on the losing end of a very prominent Supreme Court case that expanded the definition of school-sanctioned religious expression.

In September 2012, acting on a local complaint, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter requesting the Kountze Independent School District stop allowing the banners to be used. Even though the cheerleaders said they were making the Bible-themed banners of their own accord — not with explicit permission of the school — the foundation still objected, citing, among other precedents, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 ruling in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe , which also involved a small-town Texas school.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 (current justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Baden Ginsburg were with the majority; Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were with the minority) that a student-led prayer over the public address system before a football game was tantamount to school endorse of religion. According to the majority opinion, the prayer, “on school property, at school-sponsored events, over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of school faculty, and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly encourages public prayer” made it pretty clear that the school was endorsing a religion.

With that in mind, the administrators at Kountze ordered the Bible-themed banners removed. After all, anyone at a game would assume, with the school-backed cheerleaders using school materials to create a banner held up on the school football field for school football players to run through, that Kountze district was endorsing this.

The parents of the cheerleaders responded by suing. A county court — which in October 2012 granted an injunction allowing the religious bannners to come back – ruled in May 2013 the school was not required to eliminate religious speech , so the banners were permissible, though the district said the ruling also made it clear that it had the right to regulate what is put on there. The cheerleading family’s attorneys disagreed. The school district has appealed the decision, and the case is pending . Briefs have been filed — including one in support of the cheerleading parents put forth together by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn , following the lead of Gov. Rick Perry and state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had filed briefs supporting the original lawsuit.

In its response to Cruz and Cornyn, the school district took pains to point out that their brief was “irrelevant and mistaken” because it had nothing to do with what was actually ruled by the lower court, and because the senators “misunderstand the facts of the case and misconstrue the relevant precedents.” The district seemed to think this was interesting in Cornyn’s case, given his brief contained the same argument that lost him the  Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe  before the U.S. Supreme Court when he was Texas attorney general .

But Cruz and Cornyn, and Perry and Abbott, all Republicans, know where their political bread is buttered in conservative East Texas. Especially Cornyn, whose brief with Cruz was filed two weeks after Kountze’s House representative, Steve Stockman, filed to run against Cornyn in the 2014 U.S. Senate Republican primary as a even more right-wing alternative. (Stockman, who was giving up his House seat, lost.) Meanwhile, Abbott, who is running for governor this year, appeared in nearby Beaumont and gave an atta-girl to the Kountze cheerleaders as a an easy crowd-pleaser .

So do the administrators at the Kountze Independent School District. In the past, the school has referred to its appeal as a “clarification”  of the lower court judge’s decision. Kevin Weldon, the superintendent at the time the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter of complaint arrived, told a local TV station at the time that personally, as a Christian, he was with the cheerleaders. But professionally, he had to follow the law . (Weldon left to take another superintendent job in late 2012 .)

Personally, as a Christian , I wish people would stop trying to find ways to codify their religion in the public sphere. All Christians certainly don’t celebrate or express their faith in the same way; I’m sure plenty of Christians, for example, would have problems with the fact that my church performed same-sex marriage ceremon ies. It’s also easy for me to see, given the diversity of my children’s schools , that trying to have one kind of prayer as something everybody would embrace would fail miserably. As a Christian, I feel like my faith could be expressed and developed in much more productive ways than ensuring a Bible verse is displaying prominently somewhere in the local public schools.

I also get that communities where religion and schools have mixed for years (in Parkersburg, the Bible verse had been up since the 1990s) would be extra resistant to some outsiders (even if an insider brought them in) telling them to change their ways, especially when, say, the Freedom From Religion Foundation can be as smug about its beliefs as any Christian it takes to task.

However, the organization is right, legally and morally, regarding displays of religion at school events (and in the public realm in general), which really only serves to make people madder. I would suggest to the Parkersburg South parents not to launch a lawsuit over T-shirts, if it comes to that. You have better things to do — and examples to set — with your time, money and faith.

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Melbourne Rising Media Launch
KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Federal Aviation Administration Bans All US Flights To Israel
KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

INDIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-TRADE
PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the s ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Government Weekly Cabinet Meeting
KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over R ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Iskandar Johor Open - Previews
JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involvi ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Sc ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

UN body concerned about impact of Gaza violence on women
United Nations, July 26 (IANS) The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Friday expressed its deep concern about the impact of the ongoing Gaza conflict on women's health and access to safe births.
 
 
DG: No survivor in Algerian plane crash, probe launched (Roundup)
Algiers/Paris, July 25 (IANS) Algeria Friday declared a three-day national morning for the victims of the Air Algerie flight AH 5017 that crashed over Mali the previous day with no survivor yet found from the plane wreckage, media reports said.
 
 
Earth missed solar catastrophe just a year back: NASA
Washington, July 25 (IANS) Just a year ago, on July 23, the Earth missed being hit by a giant solar flare from the most powerful storm on the sun in over 150 years, NASA has said in a sensational revelation.
 
 
McDonald's Japan withdraws chicken products of Chinese origin
Tokyo, July 25 (IANS/EFE) The Japanese subsidiary of McDonald's Friday announced the withdrawal of all its chicken products sourced from China, following the expired meat scandal that led to the closure of Chinese meat processing firm Husi.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Zoe Saldana pregnant with twins!
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) "Avatar" fame actress Zoe Saldana, who is married to Marco Perego, is reportedly pregnant with twins. The couple is delighted with the news. The 36-year-old is around three months pregnant...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Hezbollah to offer full support to Hamas
Beirut, July 26 (IANS) Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah Friday pledged his full support to the Hamas movement during the latter's ongoing fighting with Israel in the Gaza Strip, despite their blatant difference...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Sandra Bullock too scared to stay in LA
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Actress Sandra Bullock may move out of her house here after the armed stalker incident in June. She is reportedly planning to settle down in Austin, Texas. The 49-year-old was left shaken...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Israel, Hamas agree on 12-hour ceasefire in Gaza
Gaza/Jerusalem, July 26 (IANS) The Islamic Hamas movement has agreed on a 12-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip starting from Saturday morning, a Hamas official said late Friday night. Hamas spokesperson in Gaza Sami...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
I'm open to having children: Cameron Diaz
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Actress Cameron Diaz is upset that her comment on motherhood has been misconstrued. She clarifies that she is not opposed to children. "I've never said I didn't want kids...I said, 'I haven...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Apple Loop: iPhone 6 Launch Dates, iWatch Patents, And Where To Find Those MacBook Stickers
Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop covers Apple’s Fall launch events, mobile payments in the next iPhone, a potential iWatch patent, thoughts from the Q3 2014 earnings call...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Paris Jackson asked to reconnect with family
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Late pop star Michael Jackson's daughter Paris, who has returned here from her boarding school in Utah, has been advised to reconnect with her family. After she made an attempt to take her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
UN body concerned about impact of Gaza violence on women
United Nations, July 26 (IANS) The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Friday expressed its deep concern about the impact of the ongoing Gaza conflict on women's health and access to safe births. "Reports of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kate Upton always wanted curvy figure
Kate Upton has always wanted a curvaceous figure. The 'Other Woman' star, 22, admits she ''begged'' for a shapely body when she first started modeling and was overjoyed when people started praising her sexy shape....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jenny McCarthy's son reported her to police
Jenny McCarthy's son called the police on her. The former Playboy model admits Evan, 12 - whom she has with ex-husband John Asher - once reported her for texting on her phone whilst she was driving. Speaking on Sirius...
Read more on Celebrity Balla