By Tony Perkins, President
Family Research Council
The football team at an East Texas high school isn’t waiting until game day to go on the offensive. When a national organization tried to bully the town of 2,100 into compromising its faith, it’s the students who fought back. For three weeks, the cheerleaders at Kountze High painted Bible verses on signs for the Lions to run through before kickoff. That all changed when an offended citizen contacted Superintendent Kevin Weldon and complained. Despite being a man of faith, Weldon ordered the tradition to stop. “My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well,” he told reporters, “But I’m also a state employee… And I was advised that such a practice would be in direct violation of United States Supreme Court decisions.”
Attorneys at Liberty Institute say whoever is advising Weldon is flat-out wrong. It’s not the secularists’ job to play referee on religious freedom. “This is a well-established principle of constitutional law,” argued our friend Mike Johnson. “Students don’t have to shed their constitutional rights of free speech when they enter the school house gate.” Besides, Mike points out, “[These students] aren’t asking anyone to believe in Christianity or accept the faith. They are just well wishes.” If it’s upsetting to someone, let them watch another football game! Nobody is forcing these fans to come to games. Not a penny of the school’s money went toward the banners, cheerleaders say. In fact, they weren’t even made on school property.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) from terrorizing another small town in hopes that it won’t have the resources to defend itself. In this instance, though, Kountze has plenty of help. People across Texas–and the country–are coming to the students’ aid. A Facebook page that went up within 24 hours of the news, Support Kountze Kids’ Faith, had 30,000 likes in one day. Students can also count on our friends at Liberty Institute to take it to FFRF in court–starting yesterday when it persuaded a judge to temporarily block the ban from taking effect. The verdict gave cheerleaders at least two more weeks to raise their banners for the team and for Christ. If neither party budges, the two sides will battle it out in court on October 4.
Meanwhile, local parents are nothing but proud of the stance their teenagers are taking. “It means so much… [O]ur community has raised these kids with strong values that they’re willing to fight for it.” As cheerleader Ashton Jennings said, this controversy is giving Kountze the opportunity to raise an even bigger banner for Christ. “I’m actually thankful for it,” she said, “Because if someone hadn’t complained or there hadn’t been any opposition, we wouldn’t have this chance to spread God’s word in this big of a way.”
If Kountze’s worst problem is that its children want to glorify Jesus, then every town should be so lucky. Hopefully, more Americans will see the Lions’ courage and join the movement to cheer on religious liberty! Find out what’s at stake in FRC and Liberty Institute’s joint report, “Religious Hostility in America,” available for free here.
Follow the Leaders: Download FRCA’s Congressional Scorecard
With all the back and forth political ads, it’s tough to know who to trust. We can help. Log on to FRCAction.org and click on the Congressional Vote Scorecard. We’ll show you how your representatives stack up on things like abortion, the defense of marriage, health care, medical marijuana, judicial activism, conscience rights, and the war on women. Compare your values with the members, and then share the link with your family and friends. For more, visit FRCAction.org.
In Louisiana, If You Aren’t Forum, You’re Against ‘Em
I can remember when the Louisiana Family Forum was nothing more than a file folder in the backseat of my car, as I traveled the state with Randy Wilson trying to raise money to get the family policy council off the ground. Today, Gene Mills’s organization is a strong and influential voice for values in Louisiana. So last night, after 15 years of watching the Family Forum grow into the powerhouse it is, I was particularly proud to celebrate the milestone by speaking at last night’s Louisiana Legacy banquet.
Thanks to the work of Gene and others, Louisiana is no longer the punch line in bad political jokes. Measure by measure, bill by bill, the Family Forum is moving Louisiana forward, modeling what good government looks like–not just to the state–but to the nation. During last night’s gala, we honored 36 legislators whose actions, in this day of compromise and political correctness, are nothing short of heroic. Now our task, with the help of family policy councils across America, is to take those values to the nation. Congratulations to Gene Mills and the entire Louisiana Family Forum team on a decade and a half of faith, family, and freedom!
Wiggin’ Out! Values Bus Hopes to Bypass Iowa Judge
Another of the four Iowa judges who trampled the will of the state and redefined marriage is up for a retention vote this fall. And after helping to oust the other three, FRC Action is coming back to finish the job. This weekend, September 22-24, our team will be on hand to help launch the sequel to 2010’s Judge Bus with the “NO Wiggins” tour. Join us all weekend long, including Monday morning at the Iowa State Capitol (9:00 a.m.) with the Iowa Family Leader, other coalition leaders, and Sen. Rick Santorum, to show your support for the removal of activist Judge David Wiggins! For a complete scheduled of events with our Heritage Foundation partners, visit ValuesBus.com.
** Tune in to a special Values Voter Summit edition of Washington Watch Weekly, as we re-air the Religious Hostilities in America panel with Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.), Liberty Institute’s Mike Johnson, student activist Angela Hildenbrand, Fox News’s Todd Starnes, and myself. For more information or to find a station near you, click over to FRCRadio.org.
*** For more on the importance of the Israeli-U.S. alliance, check out the new Daily Caller column by FRC’s Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, “Over There, Israel Is Our Shield.”