Bible verses banned from field

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 10:45 AM
Last updated 7:34 PM
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FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga. — The Warriors of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School took the field Friday night without any Bible verses written on the cheerleaders' banner.

Senior Nathan Kaiser watches the players warm up in preparation for Friday evening's football game between Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School and Ridgeland High School in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. An incident during last week's football game led Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School to prohibit cheerleaders from writing scripture on motivational signs.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Senior Nathan Kaiser watches the players warm up in preparation for Friday evening's football game between Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School and Ridgeland High School in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. An incident during last week's football game led Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School to prohibit cheerleaders from writing scripture on motivational signs.

Instead, the football team ran through a banner that read "This is Big Red Country" before each bent on a knee to pray on the field of Tommy Cash Stadium.

The spirited display comes after the school district banned the banners last week over concerns they were unconstitutional and could provoke a lawsuit, angering many in the deeply religious north Georgia town of Fort Oglethorpe.

"I'm just kind of unnerved about it," said 18-year-old Cassandra Cooksey, a recent graduate who often prayed with her fellow marching band members before football games. "It seems like the majority of people in our community want this and they don't have a problem with it, so I think they should be allowed to have the signs if they want to."

The move has galvanized the community. Hundreds of people attended a rally this week supporting the signs, which included messages such as: "Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Many students attended class Friday wearing shirts with Bible verses and painted their cars with messages that read: "Warriors for Christ."

During the game, several other messages were visible in the packed stadium. Some people stood with signs that read "You Can't Silence Us" and some young men had Bible verses painted on their chests.

"When you get a whole bunch of teenagers mad, this is what happens. We stand up for what believe in," 16-year-old Shelby Rouse said over the roar of a pre-game pep rally.

Cheerleader Taylor Guinn said she is disappointed about the banning of the signs on the football field and believed there was nothing wrong with displaying them.

"It's done good because it brought a lot of glory to God," the 17-year-old senior said.

Players at the 900-student school began running through the biblical banners shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and school Principal Jerry Ransom said he enthusiastically supported it then. But Catoosa County schools Superintendent Denia Reese banned the practice after a parent complained.

Reese said the school board's attorney advised her the signs violated federal law because they were being displayed by the cheerleaders during a school-sponsored event.

"I regret that the cheerleaders cannot display their signs in the football stadium without violating the First Amendment," Reese said in a statement. "I rely on reading the Bible daily, and I would never deny our students the opportunity to express their religious beliefs."

The Anti-Defamation League, a human rights group, sent a letter to Reese commending the ban.

"There are legal ways for students to have religious observation in a school context and there are illegal ways, and we believe Reese is correct that the football game crosses a line," said Bill Nigut, the group's southeast regional director.

Tom Rogeberg, a spokesman of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, said he can understand banning cheerleaders on the field from displaying religious banners. But he said spectators in the stands must be able to continue expressing their beliefs freely as they did in Fort Oglethorpe on Friday.

"It's been long seen at sporting events with banners like John 3:16 being put up by fans," Rogeberg said.

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Ushouldnthave
0
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Ushouldnthave 10/03/09 - 11:01 am
0
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I'll never understand how the

I'll never understand how the expression free speech of individuals or a group of like minded people "violates the First Amendment". If the students were all wearing turbans or burka's to express their beliefs, would that be banned? PC doesn't stand for political correctness, it stands for persecute Christians.

soldout
1280
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soldout 10/03/09 - 11:01 am
0
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Taking God out of school has

Taking God out of school has really worked well............less violence, better achievement, less need for police, less need for strick rules etc. Wow; it has really worked good. God surely looks at us and laughs. We have become one of the dumbest generations to ever inhabit the earth. We are returning quickly to the dark ages. A depression and a revival might turn it around though.

NoPartyFan
2
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NoPartyFan 10/03/09 - 11:08 am
0
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I don't think God should be

I don't think God should be asked to choose a football team to root for. This is the same kind of group evangelism that got Pat Tillman killed by his own fellow soldiers. It was reported that he was killed because others in the troup thought God would not be on their side if an atheist was in the group. This appears to be some form of a popularity contest.

Roeschen
1
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Roeschen 10/03/09 - 11:11 am
0
0
I do not understand why we

I do not understand why we let the few rule the many. A few atheists don't like prayer so it is condemned in schools everywhere. If you don't like it, don't bow your head and pray - it is as simple as that.

FaceTheMusic
0
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FaceTheMusic 10/03/09 - 11:18 am
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The cheerleaders making and

The cheerleaders making and displaying religious banners at games is obviously unconstitutional, and it was long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The superintendent or principal should have stopped this before it ever happened. The cheerleaders are representative of a taxpayer-supported public school, which has students from a variety of religious backgrounds, both Christian and non-Christian. I expect the Jewish and Muslim students didn't appreciate some of the banners. Everyone's religion must be respected, but no one's religion should be forced on anyone else.

APiratesLife4Me
0
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APiratesLife4Me 10/03/09 - 11:23 am
0
0
One parent complained huh?

One parent complained huh? Ban her from the city and business as usual. Oh, and make sure everyone knows her name.

disssman
6
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disssman 10/03/09 - 11:27 am
0
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I notice the jewish community

I notice the jewish community applauded the decision. I wonder if these kids could be expected to defend Israel in the future if that nation was attacked? Or would the antidefimation league condemn use of bible reading christians in the army?

FaceTheMusic
0
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FaceTheMusic 10/03/09 - 11:28 am
0
0
God obviously wasn't too

God obviously wasn't too upset about the banner issue; Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe lost the game to Ridgeland 34-0.

FaceTheMusic
0
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FaceTheMusic 10/03/09 - 11:32 am
0
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No, the Anti-Defamation

No, the Anti-Defamation League would not condemn Christians reading the Bible in the army. They would, however, protest if they had to sit there and listen to it or if they had to view Christian banners in a high school football stadium that their tax dollars helped to fund.

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 10/03/09 - 11:35 am
0
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You are the same people that

You are the same people that would pitch a fit if they did put a verse from the qur'an or a word of blessing to the sun god on a banner...freedom of religion does not just mean freedom to worship your god.

jack
10
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jack 10/03/09 - 11:47 am
0
0
I don't think God should be

I don't think God should be asked to choose a football team to root for. This is the same kind of group evangelism that got Pat Tillman killed by his own fellow soldiers. It was reported that he was killed because others in the troup thought God would not be on their side if an atheist was in the group. This appears to be some form of a popularity contest.
Posted by NoPartyFan on Sat Oct 3, 2009 11:08 AM....I sure would llike to know where you got this pure BS from-Dailykook? I have never seen anyone in a fire fight even think about another person's religion. They are usually praying for themselves while the bullets fly. Obviousoy, you ain't ever been in the military, let alone a fire fight.

jack
10
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jack 10/03/09 - 11:53 am
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0
Face the Music, please show

Face the Music, please show us in the Constitution where it is not allowed to pray-ANYWHERE WE CHOOSE. Amendment 1
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... I guess the SCOTUS redefined the word "free".

jack
10
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jack 10/03/09 - 11:55 am
0
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I guess it would have been OK

I guess it would have been OK for the banners to have read Barack Hussein Obama, uhhuh, uhhuh.

wheeza
0
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wheeza 10/03/09 - 11:59 am
0
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I hope these kids continue to

I hope these kids continue to stand for God. Jesus told us that we would be mocked, but be strong. Our reward is in Heaven and Praise God for these children. They are warriors for Christ.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 10/03/09 - 12:02 pm
0
0
If one is averse to lawsuits,

If one is averse to lawsuits, one should avoid becoming a school board member- or a school board attorney, for that matter.

JM88
15
Points
JM88 10/03/09 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Just more suppression of the

Just more suppression of the free exercise of religion. Wake up, people, your liberties continue to erode by the day. Vote Ron Paul 2012.

wheeza
0
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wheeza 10/03/09 - 12:10 pm
0
0
My husband and I coach

My husband and I coach organized sports. We pray before each game. We do NOT ask God for a win but for safety for the kids. We will continue to pray!

grouse
1635
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grouse 10/03/09 - 12:23 pm
0
0
There shouldn't be any
Unpublished

There shouldn't be any pre-game prayer either. This is a sporting event, not a prayer rally. Besides, Jesus was very clear about how one should pray - in private.

Ushouldnthave
0
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Ushouldnthave 10/03/09 - 12:28 pm
0
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Facethemusic, the 1st

Facethemusic, the 1st amendment protects US from the government prohibiting the EXCERCISE of religion. It doesn't just protect our right to believe, it protects our right to express those belief's. It also allows you to express your dislike of Christianity.

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 10/03/09 - 12:35 pm
0
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Y'all knew the trouble would

Y'all knew the trouble would begin when prayer was banned from schools. So why is everyone so shocked?

HotFoot
17
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HotFoot 10/03/09 - 12:37 pm
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Why can't you get through

Why can't you get through your thick skulls the difference between expressing your personal religious beliefs and cramming them down everyone's throats in a formal, officially sanctioned manner? If this were a private religious school, it would be perfectly legal and acceptable. But it is a public school supported by tax dollars. Not just the tax dollars of the people of N. Oglethorpe, but mine, as well. Does every last person who works at or attends the school believe in the Bible from which those quotes were taken? I guarantee you the answer is "no". Each and every person in the bleachers and on the field is welcome to pray before the game, in private or in small groups, if they want, but it CANNOT BE THE POLICY AND PRACTICE OF THE SCHOOL. Period.

sjgraci
2
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sjgraci 10/03/09 - 12:50 pm
0
0
Funny that someone would

Funny that someone would profess support of a Libertarian when true Libertarians would never allow any display of any religion on public grounds. Good for the school board. You don't like it, go to private school where you are free to roll around the classroom as much as your crazy heart's content.

wheeza
0
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wheeza 10/03/09 - 01:07 pm
0
0
well grouse that is why we

well grouse that is why we ask the parents if they dont want their children to pray with us they dont have to. it IS a choice and all of the parnets allow their children to pray before each game. who said anything about a prayer rally? everyone is in agreement and we will continue to pray. of course we could sit here and debate "the word" all day about the proper way to pray but that is a waste of time and energy.

EARL84
0
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EARL84 10/03/09 - 01:11 pm
0
0
sigraci, you are free to go

sigraci, you are free to go roll around in the street. Please go do it

JM88
15
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JM88 10/03/09 - 01:14 pm
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Do those of you who support

Do those of you who support the school's decision on Constitutional grounds even understand what the establishment clause of the First Amendment was intended for? It was to prevent the establishment of a state church, as in England. It was NOT intended to remove religion from public life. That's why "nor preventing the free excerise thereof" is so important. Unfortunately, some have hijacked "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" and used it to bludgeon Christians while either ignoring or not understanding its context and purpose.

Tigger_The_Tiger
0
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Tigger_The_Tiger 10/03/09 - 01:20 pm
0
0
I think it would be wise to

I think it would be wise to remind all that the First Amendment states that CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.---------that being said....the Tenth Amendment would give the STATES the right to do all of those things. While I don't condone a state establishing an official religion, there is nothing in the constitution to prevent it.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 10/03/09 - 01:31 pm
0
0
Typical of right-wingers. The

Typical of right-wingers. The First Amendent is ungodly but the Second Amendment is hollow. They don't want the First Amendment stopping them from nailing their Ten Commandments on the school house door. And they don't want anybody infringing on their Second Amendment right to tote a gun in their drawers. Just never know when they'll suddenly be call up to serve in the militia and defend the country.

Tigger_The_Tiger
0
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Tigger_The_Tiger 10/03/09 - 01:38 pm
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gaspringwater.....when was

gaspringwater.....when was the last time you saw a lawsuit attempting to ban something religious that WASN'T Christian?

andrew412
0
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andrew412 10/03/09 - 01:40 pm
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I agree, it isn't appropriate

I agree, it isn't appropriate for cheerleaders to be holding up bible verses on the field. If the students are upset over this, why don't they just make their own banner and hold it from the stands? It would probably be just as effective and less controversial. I'm sure these kids are smart... they know how to compromise and be respectful.

Tigger_The_Tiger
0
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Tigger_The_Tiger 10/03/09 - 01:44 pm
0
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The cheerleaders ARE

The cheerleaders ARE students. Why do they not have the freedom of religion that every American has?

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