‘If God is for us, who can be against us?” is the lettering on a run-through banner made by high-school cheerleaders.
Yikes! That doesn’t bode well for the other team.
In fairness, I’m old enough to understand that spirit banners sporting such a battle cry don’t really intend to speculate on the game-night druthers of the Almighty. I know the Friday night lights won’t go dim on account of a rain of toads. It’s high school football, not the Crusades.
But I’m also old enough to know that since granny was a schoolgirl, the high school experience has spawned a million adages learned outside the classroom. Books are judged by their covers. Sometimes, two wrongs do indeed make a right. And a stitch in time that is meant to save nine often creates 9,000 for someone else.
There seems to be some question as to whether it’s OK for cheerleaders to wield scripture on spirit signs, particularly those big banners the football team runs through at the start of a game.
A district judge granted a squad of Texas cheerleaders at a public school a temporary injunction allowing them to trot out faith-based signs until their case against their school district – which put a ban on the signs – goes to trial in June 20013. The argument was that since the signs were made off campus and were made with materials bought by the cheerleaders and not by the school, the words were their own.
Here’s where we get to the part about the life lesson: It’s not about the money. It’s not about where the banner was made. And it’s not about the spirit behind the sentiment, no matter how spiritual, fervent or well-meaning it is.
It’s about the choice you make to wear the school’s cheer team uniform that says you’re representing everyone at your school, even the ones who aren’t Christian and who might have an issue with this sign.
Even the Buddhist kid who just can’t juke.
Being part of a uniform-wearing, routine-polishing, pyramid-forming group means giving up certain individual rights. That’s not to say these kids are expected to leave their faith in their lockers; it just means they need to at least pretend to cheer for everyone, equally.
A uniform represents student body, faculty and staff. Doesn’t putting up signs that leave all but the most vocal group out go against a spirit of fair play and sportsmanship?
Officials such as Gov. Rick Perry who suit up on behalf of this issue are politicizing and complicating it, creating 9,000 stitches for those educators charged with meeting educational goals, enforcing codes of conduct and preparing kids for life after high school.
Nobody’s free speech needs to be compromised, because nobody is forced to be a cheerleader. Kids in the stands can wear their Jesus-fish pendants and scripture-ized T-shirts. They should even be allowed to hold up John 3:16 signs.
Of course, there might be a problem with the group that wants to hold up a sign that says “The end is nigh! Old Scratch is on our side!”
No matter. There’s always time for another lawsuit.Maria Anglin is a San Antonio Express-News columnist.