Attorney Says Students Can Make Bible Banners On Their Own

Hundreds Rally In Fort Oglethorpe In Support Of Cheerleaders

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An attorney for the Christian Law Association says cheerleaders and students at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School may not be able to continue displaying Bible verses on their football banners if they make them at school, but they could make them at home on their own and bring them to games.

Attorney Barbara J. Weller of Seminole, Fla., said she has been in touch with a number of Chattanooga-area residents upset about the banning of the banners by school officials.

Several hundred people gathered at the polo grounds in Fort Oglethorpe on Tuesday night in a rally in support of the students' rights to continue to display the banners.

For a number of years at the school, cheerleaders have been making banners for the players to run through at the start of games with such Bible-based messages as “commit to the Lord” and “take courage and do it.”

A parent last week complained to Catoosa County School Superintendent Denia Reese about the banners.

School officials later said the signs will no longer be allowed because it is “a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution for signs with Bible verses to be displayed on the football field.”

Attorney Weller said, "Thank you for contacting the Christian Law Association and our law firm about a local school telling cheerleaders they may no longer display Bible verses on their football banners. We have received quite a few calls about this issue and I understand that the banners were made by the cheerleaders as an official school activity that was supervised by their cheerleading advisor. Since the school has now received a complaint from a parent, the school is obviously nervous that this parent might contact the ACLU and a lawsuit might be filed against the school for violating the “separation of church and state.” If such a lawsuit were filed against the school, the school would lose.

"However, that is not the end of the story. Even though the school would lose if the football banner with Bible verses were an official activity of the school, there is another way around this problem. The students themselves have free speech rights at the school, including the right to discuss religion. Therefore, if the students themselves make other banners with Bible verses that are not part of their official cheerleading activities or an official banner for the game, these student banners would be protected free speech.

"So I have been advising those who call us that while the students may not continue to put Bible verses on the banners they have been making officially for the games, the students have the right to make other banners with Bible verses on them, as long as they make the banners away from the school and bring them to the games to display on their own, without the school’s approval, permission or participation.

"The school may allow the students to engage in this form of free speech at the football games and the school would not lose a lawsuit filed by the ACLU if it were the students themselves making the banners and not the cheerleaders doing it as an official school activity.

"Finally, if the official school banners merely used the words, 'Power, Love, Self Discipline' on the official banners without reference to the Bible verse that includes them, this would not be religious expression and would not serve as the basis for a potential lawsuit."



Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us on Facebook ... (click for more)

Senator Overbey Nominated To Be U.S. Attorney For Eastern Tennessee District

State Senator Doug Overbey was nominated by President Trump on Friday to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District. Senator Bob Corker said,  “Doug Overbey is an outstanding choice to serve Tennesseans as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District. Doug has had a distinguished law career, spanning nearly four decades, and has served the Volunteer State honorably in the ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Every week I get emails full of inspiration and funny stories. This summer I have gathered a sampling of my weekly harvest and presented the collection as a reminder we ought to cherish laughter with those we love and the weekend. I am not only amazed how popular my ‘Summer Saturdays’ have become but this week I have gotten funnies from California, Texas and Arizona, to mention ... (click for more)

Lookouts Take Second Straight At Mobile Thursday With 4-1 Win

MOBILE, Ala.  -- Nick Gordon scored on a wild pitch in the first inning, leading the Chattanooga Lookouts to a 4-1 win over the Mobile BayBears on Thursday. Gordon scored on the play in the first to give the Lookouts a 1-0 lead after he led off the inning with a single, stole second and then went to third on a groundout. With the score tied 1-1 in the second, the Lookouts ... (click for more)

Katie Tingle Named Covenant Women's Basketball Assistant

The Covenant women's basketball program has announced the hiring of Katie Tingle as the full-time assistant coach for head coach Sarah Harris. Tingle replaces Kiaira Cooper, who recently left the program for an administrative position at Houghton College.  "I am so thankful to director of athletics Tim Sceggel and head coach Sarah Harris for this opportunity to ... (click for more)