Conventional collectivist created authority is a deception in consciousness. You are your own Authority!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Public School Sponsored Private Cheerleaders for Jesus

I sympathize with the young Texas public school cheerleaders who want to spread the Christian gospel right out on the field at middle and high school football games. They believe that Jesus is watching the game from up in heaven and is on their side. After all, they don’t understand why anyone might object. They don’t understand the United States Constitution or the First Amendment Establishment Clause.  

I can forgive them for their youthful ignorance. But I can hardly forgive the Kountze Independent School District for caving in to their demands after initially prohibiting them from displaying banners containing religious messages during their cheerleading routines at school-sponsored events.  They should know better.
The banners represent the private speech of the students who made them, asserts Beaumont attorney David Starnes, who represents the cheerleaders. The school district, however, still contends that it retains the right to restrict content because the banners are government speech.
Well of course the banners are government speech – not private speech. Of course the school has the obligation to prohibit religious government speech. The cheerleaders just like the football players are representatives of the school. Their activities are school sponsored.
But Thomas Brandt, the attorney representing the district, said that the district would not forbid any banners that were religious in nature, but would do so if they contained language that was offensive or in poor taste.
Huh? The school can sponsor religious speech on the part of the cheerleaders but can censor all other speech? That’s preposterous! Jesus is OK, but swastika’s or “WHITE POWER” signs aren’t, is that it? If it really is private speech then the school cannot pick and choose what is acceptable and what is not; that would amount to viewpoint discrimination which the First Amendment prohibits.
If the school district permits Jesus banners, then it will have to permit any and all banners whether offensive or not. Suppose one of the cheerleaders, an atheist perhaps, held up a large banner declaring that: “NOTHING FAILS LIKE PRAYER,” or “GOD IS IMAGINARY.” I don’t think for one minute that the school would permit that. I think the school cheerleading coach would confiscate those banners and kick that student off the squad.
This also begs the question: Is it OK for the football players to display religious messages on their helmets and uniforms? Would that also be considered private speech?  How about the coaching staff and the referees? They’re all representatives of the school participating in school sponsored events. Shouldn’t they be allowed to display religious banners? Would that be private speech? No! Absolutely not!
The fact is that all those banners are perfectly OK if they’re displayed by students and private citizens in the bleachers, up in the stands or anywhere else off the field where no one could conceivably confuse them with government sponsored speech. In those circumstances it is definitely private speech protected by the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause which must not be censored. 

What's not permissible under the First Amendment is public school sponsored private cheerleaders for Jesus.


  1. "Of course the school has the obligation to prohibit religious government speech."

    Only if the First Amendment has been repealed.

  2. Doh. I misread what you wrote to read "prohibit religious private speech."

    You are, of course, correct that if the public speech of private individuals magically becomes "government speech" by virtue of having religious content, the school has an obligation to prohibit it.

    1. There's nothing magical about it, Tom. Public speech of private individuals is protected by the First Amendment. Private individuals can espouse religion all day long in the public square. The government must not infringe upon that right.

      But when private individuals, e.g. teachers, are representing the government, what they teach in the school classroom is government speech whether it is religious in nature or not. It's not private speech. The school authorities have the obligation to regulate it appropriately. Public school teachers have no First Amendment right to teach whatever they want.

      Likewise, when private student individuals put on their identical school football, or cheerleader, or marching band uniforms, they are privileged to participate in a school sponsored activity; they represent the school, the government, just like the teachers. They're not engaging in a private activity, therefore any speech in connection with it is government speech and the school has an obligation to regulate the content.