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I’d Rather See Cheerleaders Championing Religious Liberty Than One More Girl With A Sex Tape

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An intense debate over “God, football and cheerleaders’ rights,” according to The New York Times, has a town in East Texas in an uproar over free speech. After making a series of banners with Bible scripture, public high school cheerleaders were told to cut it out by the school district officials  who “believed doing so violated the law on religious expression at public school events.” Fifteen cheerleaders and their parents reportedly then turned around and sued the Kountze Independent School District as well as the superintendent, Kevin Weldon. Their reasoning is one I support: preventing the students from including Bible verses on their message “violated” free speech rights. And even though freedom from religion is just as valid a pursuit, I much admire these young ladies for sticking to their guns and managing to captivate a nation. And for not releasing a sex tape while they do it.

After all, how else do young ladies often get into our news cycle? If some whiff of “scandal” isn’t thrown to their name, I can guarantee, it’s awful difficult to get the cameras to maintain focus for very long.

This particular case seems replete with individuals just trying to do the right thing. Lawyers are rightfully casting the teen cheerleaders as “courageous” for opposing their school district. And Weldon, the superintendent, is a Christian himself. However, he decided, in “a largely conservative Christian town,” to protect the law. In court this week, Weldon even commended the girls on their perseverance — and on the stand no less:

But he said that he supported the cheerleaders and that, as a Christian, he agreed with their religious viewpoints.

“I commend them for what they’re doing,” Mr. Weldon testified.

Weldon maintains that he would ultimately like to allow to the girls to keep their religious quotes on their materials, but that he needs an OK from the judge to determine whether he can legally make such  a decision.

The “high-profile courtroom drama” includes a 11th grade girl crying at cross-examination and the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, offering to step in on the girls’ behalf.

The girls do, however, seem somewhat divided on the intention of these banners. While one 16-year-old tells the paper that with the banners, she and her teammates are “getting God’s word out to those that need it,” other reports indicate no such motive:

At summer cheer camp, Kieara and other cheerleaders decided to inscribe religious messages on run-through banners — the 30-foot-wide, 10-foot-high paper signs that football players burst through as they enter the field. Rather than the typical slogans reading “Scalp the Indians” or “Pluck the Eagles” that they considered too negative, they came up with what they felt were more inspiring phrases. The first one read: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

These ladies also make their banners after school, albeit on campus. The squads are led by the girls themselves with adult assistance and supervision. Nevertheless, no school funds are used to purchase the supplies for said banners. It doesn’t appear that the girls are leading any sort of group prayer at these football games, either. Rebekah Richardson, a 17-year-old 11th grade cheerleader, even acknowledges the rights of others who do not share her faith:

“They can be offended, because that’s their right…”

The girls have organized in such a way that they have garnered a lot of support in their community, inspiring a Facebook page entitled “Support Kountze Kids Faith,” which has almost 50,000 members. To put that number into proper perspective, consider that the town’s population is 2,100.

While the cheerleaders’ parents and neighbors have no doubt assisted them in this free speech endeavor, their individual dedication to pursue this effort is worlds away from the other inane messages that get sent to our youth, particularly young girls. We, as well as our kids, can always benefit from seeing young woman garner media attention for reasons other than plastic surgery and sex tapes, regardless of where we fall on specific issues. Even if the cheerleaders don’t win their case, their mere presence in a news cycle forever obsessed with sexualized “Lolitas” and fame hungry teens is a victory on its own.

(photo: Rob Byron/ Shutterstock)