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Cheerleaders’ religious signs draw fire

Community members are rallying around Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School cheerleaders after they were banned from displaying signs with Bible verses urging fans and players to “commit to the Lord” and “take courage and do it.”

The banners — the paper ones that football players crash through at the beginning of games — have been common sights in the school’s football stadium since 2003, local officials say.

“The cheerleaders are not trying to push a religious cause, to shove religion down someone’s throat,” said local youth minister Brad Scott, who was LFO High’s class president in 2004. “The cheerleaders are just using Scripture to show motivation and inspiration to the players and the fans.”

Catoosa County Schools spokeswoman Marissa Brower said a Fort Oglethorpe resident lodged a verbal complaint to Superintendent Denia Reese last week, saying that the display of a Bible verse on the football field is a violation of federal law.

9/18/09 At a football game on the school's field, cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School hold up a sign with a Biblical verse on it. After a complaint last week, the school has banned the cheerleaders from using any more signs with religious statements on them, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution.

A school system statement released Monday said the message constitutes “a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution for signs with Bible verses to be displayed on the football field.”

Mr. Scott said the ban prompted a rally tonight in support of the cheerleaders outside the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Battlefield Parkway so people can show their support for the cheerleaders and their signs.

A Facebook page called “We Support the LFO Cheerleaders! LET THEM HAVE THEIR SIGNS BACK!” also has been established.

Mrs. Reese lends her personal appreciation, if not her official support.

“I regret that we had to ask the LFO cheerleaders to change the signs used in the stadium prior to football games,” Mrs. Reese states. “Personally, I appreciate this expression of their Christian values; however, as superintendent I have the responsibility of protecting the school district from legal action by groups who do not support their beliefs.”

An area outside the stadium has been designated so the signs can be used there, she said.

UPDATE: Georgia: Rally in support of cheerleaders moved to larger site

“I rely on reading the Bible daily, and I would never deny our students the opportunity to express their religious beliefs,” she said. “I appreciate that our community has rallied in support of this LFO tradition.”

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb vehemently disagrees with the ban and said he’ll call on the City Council to support the cheerleaders and their signs.

The signs don’t infringe on anyone’s religious rights and are good for school spirit, he said.

“I’m totally against them doing away with it,” Mr. Cobb said, adding that the cheerleaders’ rights are being abused.

The mayor said football coach John Allen made the signs a tradition around 2003 and it has continued ever since.

“If it’s offensive to anyone, let them go watch another football game,” he said. “Nobody’s forced to come there and nobody’s forced to read the signs.”

Current head football coach Todd Windham said the school system must obey the law, despite everyone’s opinions.

“Just my standpoint, I thought the banners were unique,” Mr. Windham said. “I really feel for the girls who prepare the banners and I think they really do a good job. They prepare a whole season’s worth during the summer and they put in a lot of work on those.”

However, officials say the school system’s position centers on the trust between students’ parents and what the system teaches.

“Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that school activities will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with their religious beliefs,” the system’s release states. “As a result, the courts prohibit rabbi-led prayers at school sporting events, Wiccan posters in gymnasiums and reading the Quran over the school public announcement system.”

Catoosa officials say the U.S. Supreme Court has “ruled that religious activities at high school football games create the ‘inescapable conclusion’ that the school endorses the religious activity.”

Such violations open the system to “lawsuits resulting in injunctions, unnecessary legal costs and damages that have to be paid by the local taxpayers, and possibly the loss of federal funding,” according to the statement.

Mr. Scott said the “separation of church and state” has nothing to do with cheerleaders who are not “part of the state” and simply want to offer an inspirational message with signs they made on their own time.

Mr. Scott, who ministers to some of the cheerleaders who attend his church, said the most recent sign he saw quoting from Timothy 1:7 could be considered inspirational in many settings.

“All those words; ‘power, love, self-discipline’ can be applied to the game, encourage the players and show school spirit,” he said.

Local resident and 1992 LFO alum Jeremy Jones called the decision “premature.”

“To act on the complaint of one person ... seems premature,” Mr. Jones said. “The cheerleaders have raised their own money for this project and have worked hard to make these signs.”

Several players were upset by the ruling and decided to hold a team prayer after they took the field last week, Mr. Windham said.

“That was something new, but it was something they wanted to do to show support for the cheerleaders,” he said.

Following each game there is a player-led prayer, he said, but under their interpretation of the law, the coaches cannot lead a prayer.

Staff Writer Lyndsey Young contributed to this story.


Click to view image: '7b738d336ef4-0929_web_nga1_lfo_signs2_t305.jpg'

Added: Sep-29-2009 Occurred On: Sep-28-2009
By: gregory_peckory
In:
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Tags: religion, cheerleaders, banned, religious signs,
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States (load item map)
Views: 8064 | Comments: 38 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 2 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • they should have quoted the koran, seems more acceptable nowadays.

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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  • always has to be at least one lib bitch about stuff like this

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • where ever there is god there are child molesters looking to convert you.
      the country was started to get away from nuts like you and i'm not a lib,....i would however like to see every religion go away before people like jim jones or the nazi pope or child rapist mohamid destroy us all.
      if you support jehova you support molesting children simple as that.
      HEY REPRESSED FAG THERE IS NO GOD.
      i would be happy to join the nwo just to put your kind in religious prison.
      my atheist people have More..

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • well thats real funny.....ive always been a christian and i dont molest children...and in fact i dont know anyone personally that has.....let me guess your type of people have never ever had anyone that has done that to a kid.....its funny how people like you only look at the people that claim to be religious when they do something like that and want to say all of them are the same....and by the way bullets from my guns could careless who you are.....when the day come that you are talking about[ More..

      Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • I'd love to see more of this. Wide spread, in-your-face revolt against the libtards. Don't like it? Tough shit. It's high time to shove back and beat these candy assed, whiney bitches down. Christianity should guide (not rule) this country, and anyone who has a problem with that should be forced to eat it in silence or "GET THE FUCK OUT!"

    Just my ever-so-humble opinion...

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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  • Well I consider myself a christian altho not a great one as I am imperfect.
    I respect others rights for religion or belief I respect the freedom of speech.
    I may not agree with some views but hey thats what lifes about thier are polar opposites to everything you believe.
    It could be unconstitutional as it is a publuc school funded by govt$ (seperation of church and state).
    But is a church really involved or is it just the kids where do you draw the line?
    As far as athiests go hey we will fi More..

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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  • There's always some despicable unbeliever out there who has to cry and moan about people who possess beliefs and moral fortitude. It really is unfortunate, but not surprising.

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

    • You're a little judgmental for wanking off Christianity.

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • So you would have no problem if they decided to put up banners saying "Don't believe in fairy tales, believe in yourself" I could give a rats ass about your beliefs but why do you have to shove them in my face when I'm there just watch a football game. Why are you Muslims, Hebrews and Christians always shoving your crap in peoples faces? Keep you bs beliefs in your homes and churches, PLEASE!!

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • Comment of user 'gregory_peckory' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • just do what I do, directly challenge anyone who wants cram religion down your throat. Call them out on the BS. The Last idiots that knocked at my door telling me they wanted to introduce me to Christ were quickly and politely told that so long as they were on my property and attempting to indoctrinate me, they would be subject to immediate violence. They left in a hurry and oddly enough, they (and none of their kook friends) have ever been back.

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • All Christains are "people who possess beliefs and moral fortitude"? I agree on wacked out "beliefs" but Last I checked "Christains" have KILLED in the name of thier lord.

      How many Christains actually go to church of have read the bible? How many convicts have declared thier faith after commiting felonies?

      Whenever you use absolutes to define "thier people" your very narrow minded.

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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  • entinlude dunnit.

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Christians just selectively declare one interpretation of one subset of the conglomeration to be the absolute truth as dictated by anthropomorphic vapor, while another arbitrary subset is archaic and doesn't apply anymore.

    I love how every Christian sect values their "Christological narrative," while ignoring that a member of yet another sect will call pretentious confabulations.

    They all like to pretend theirs is the only Christianity as they ignore the other 38,000 sects of Christ More..

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

    (1) | Report

  • Can some one please point me toward a country that doesn't bitch, murmur and complain about freedom, freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion?

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • The problem is that a lot of people say they're christian instead of acting like it.

    I've gone to a religious school growing up and have been to plenty of churches that usually end up splitting over money... and damn, fellow believers were the biggest threat to my faith.

    And BTW, the cheerleaders were as whorey as the ones in the public schools.

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • Like most things about us such as blue jeans, dodge trucks, politics,...etc, religion is another consumerist thing that's 'sold'.

      Now lets go buy a 'Jesus Rocks' tee shirts at the christian store.

      Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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    • no one sold me on Christianity. I hate organized religion but the teachings of Jesus saved my life. When I had no one to count on his spirit carried me. Now I live by the Beatitudes.

      "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Blessed are they who mourn,
      for they shall be comforted.

      Blessed are the meek,
      for they shall inherit the earth.

      Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they shall be satisfied.

      Blessed are the merciful,
      for they sh More..

      Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • I moved 1000 miles to get away from that crap. Only to find the Borg are everywhere. I live in Northern California. I was born and raised and educated in the South and I have never seen more retarded Christians than out here in the Southwest and Northwest California. I guess dumbshits moved out west for gold and the Okies moved out west to stay alive. So, the Okies cancerized California and made it a bigger and better Christian factory.

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • Ranks about an 8.5 on the religious "push my beliefs onto you" meter. Thumbs down.

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • IDIOTS

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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  • Christians acting like they are somehow persecuted are just hysterical. Of course they have the right to say whatever they want. What they can NOT do is represent the school. It is there for everyone. Why can't you see the same people who don't want this done in the school's name are actually defending the rights of the christians also. Christianity happens to be the biggest kid on the block today, but someday it may not be, and you should not be subjected to majority opinion if/ when that becom More..

    Posted Oct-5-2009 By 

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  • The deal is no religion in gov't institutions. If you dont like then move to a country that mixes religion and gov't.......ummmmmmmm try Iran.

    Posted Sep-29-2009 By 

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  • One prick is all it takes to stop some girls from making signs the prick doesn't like?!!!
    Come on girls,stand up for your rights to say what you want!
    The more Christianity is persecuted the worse off we become as a country.
    That is plain to see for any open minded thinking person,whether you agree with Christanity or not.
    Call it a coincidnece if you have to.
    The same folks who whine over a sign are very likely the same folks who cannot see why it is wrong to kill babies,as long as More..

    Posted Sep-30-2009 By 

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