Judge Rules Texas Cheerleaders Can Keep Christian Banners, For Now

A judge ruled on Thursday that an East Texas school’s cheerleaders should be allowed to keep posting Christian Bible verses on the banners they bring to football games — at least for now.

District Judge Steve Thomas granted an injunction to the Kountze High School cheerleaders, acknowledging that banning them from writing Bible verses on banners not supplied by the school is a violation of their free speech rights, reports CBS News.

The ruling by Judge Thomas is not set in stone, however, as the lawsuit between the cheerleaders and the school district is set to go to trial on June 24, 2013, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The injunction granted by the judge will allow the cheerleaders to continue displaying their banners, pending the lawsuit’s outcome.

School officials originally banned the Kountze High School cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious messages during football games, because the Freedom From Religion group complained that the messages violated their First Amendment rights, which bar the government (including a publicly funded school district) from establishing or endorsing a religion.

NBC News notes that, when making his decision to ban religious phrases and symbols on banners, Koutze Independent School District Superintendent Keven Weldon stated:

“It is not a personal opinion of mine. My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well. But I’m also a state employee and Kountze [school district] representative. And I was advised that such a practice [religious signs] would be in direct violation of United States Supreme Court decisions.”

The cheerleaders’ case has received heavy backing from parents, residents, as well as Texas Governor Rick Perry and State Attorney General Greg Abbot.