By now you’re probably all aware of what I’ll call the “Battle of the Bible Banners” in Kountze.
Here’s the synopsis: the cheerleaders at this high school in southeast Texas decided this season to start using quotes from the Bible on the banners they make to rally their team at football games. Instead of “Hammer the Hornets!” or “Cage the Panthers!” they’re displaying things like, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).But the signs caught the all-seeing, jaundiced eye of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. Their attorney contacted the superintendent in Kountze and told him the signs violated the separation of church and state. The supe turned to the school district’s attorney for advice, along with the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and after taking it all in, he told the girls to ditch the scriptures and stick with “Go!” or variations on that theme.
But “go” (away) is something this issue would not do. The cheerleaders’ parents filed suit, claiming their kids were being denied their freedom of speech and religion. They got a temporary restraining order against the superintendent’s directive.
Although the supe is a state employee, Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, sensing a photo op, sided with the cheerleaders. The anti-religion group appealed, but the restraining order was upheld. A trial is scheduled for June.
So at least for the rest of this season, if you play football against Kountze, you’re probably going to be looking at banners on the other side which indicate that God is over there, rooting for them.
And that’s the problem I have with the signs.
In this battle, as in so many others, the focus is on the wrong issue. Everybody is jumping on either the “For the Bible” side or the “Against the Bible” side. But what about the “Don’t Use the Bible As a Weapon” side?
(For the record, I found the same division over the prayers-at-football-games issue. It was either “For Praying” or “Against Praying” when I thought it should have been “Stop Preaching When You’re Suppposed to be Praying.”)
Kountze plays football in district 10-2A, division 1 – the same division Paradise and Boyd compete in. They’re 2-2 in district at this writing, having lost 64-10 to state-ranked Newton last Friday. I believe that tells you a lot more about Kountze’s defense than it does about their faith, Newton’s righteousness or God’s position on the whole Kountze-versus-Newton issue.
I’m pretty sure God loves people in Anahuac, Hardin, Kirbyville, Warren, Winnie and Woodville – even Newton – as much as he loves people in Kountze.
I don’t know how the trial will go or how much of a precedent it will set. But if sideline scriptures become kosher – even trendy – all over Texas, I fully expect things to get even more Biblical next season.
The Kountze kids right now are using mostly New Testament quotes. But for a football sign, that volume has way too much love-your-enemies stuff. If you really want to win, flip back into the Old Testament where the material is much stronger. My favorite is “Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.” (Psalm 3:7)
Now there’s a run-through sign!
If any of Kountze’s opponents’ mascot was a “Demon” or a “Devil” they could really make this work. But as best I can tell, they don’t play Dumas. Their opponents are Panthers, Buccaneers, Hornets, Warriors and Wildcats.
And honestly, it’s unfortunate that this has become a Christians-versus-Lions issue.
Because as it turns out, Kountze’s mascot is the Lions.
Now there’s a species that doesn’t have a particularly good record against Christians.