AG Abbot continues stand for religious speech

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Bob Kellogg (

The Texas attorney general has sent a letter of support to the high school cheerleaders who have been banned from displaying religious messages on banners at football games.

Though a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation resulted in the banning of Bible verses from the breakaway banners in the Kountze Independent School District, a judge in Beaumont has issued a temporary restraining order, restoring the banners for now.

In his letter [PDF] to the district's superintendent, Attorney General Greg Abbott calls the FFRF's letter "menacing and misleading." He goes on to peg the organization as one with a "long history of attempting to bully school districts into adopting restrictive religious speech policies that go well beyond what is required by the United States Constitution."

Mateer, Jeff (Liberty Institute)Jeff Mateer of the Liberty Institute tells OneNewsNow Abbott has a record of supporting religious speech.

"We were very excited and appreciative of his agreeing to come in and voice really strong support for these students," the attorney states.

He asserts that students clearly have the right of free speech, even at school.

"Just because they go to the school, they don't lose their First Amendment rights. They don't lose their rights under Texas law," Mateer contends. "The … speech at issue is not government speech; it is their own speech, and therefore the government has no right to censor or in any way restrict what these students say."

A hearing is being held to decide if the banners are endorsed by the school, or if they represent the personal beliefs of the cheerleaders. Cheerleader Macy Matthews earlier told the Associated Press that no school money was being used and that the signs were not even made on school property.

The FFRF claims a resident complained about the Bible verses.

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