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Texas governor opposes ban on religious banners

Published: Thursday, Oct. 18 2012 2:56 a.m. MDT

In this Sept. 19, 2012, photo, Kountze High School cheerleaders and other children work on a large sign in Kountze, Texas. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he is intervening in a lawsuit that cheerleaders filed against the school district. (The Beaumont Enterprise, Dave Ryan, File, Associated Press) In this Sept. 19, 2012, photo, Kountze High School cheerleaders and other children work on a large sign in Kountze, Texas. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he is intervening in a lawsuit that cheerleaders filed against the school district. (The Beaumont Enterprise, Dave Ryan, File, Associated Press)

HOUSTON (MCT) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that the state has intervened in a lawsuit in support of East Texas cheerleaders whose religious banners featuring scripture verses have been banned by school officials.

"As government leaders, we owe it to people of all religions to protect expressions of faith, to ensure everyone has the right to voice their opinions and worship as they see fit," Perry said during a Wednesday morning briefing in Austin with Abbott. "During the upcoming session, we'll continue to find ways to preserve religious expression and explore ways to protect people of faith from this ongoing onslaught."

Abbott was more blunt in his assessment:

"After receiving a menacing letter from an organization with a reputation for bullying school districts, the Kountze (school superintendent) improperly prohibited high school cheerleaders from including religious messages on their game day banners."

One of the cheerleaders' mothers said she was encouraged to see state officials support them in court.

"I think that's awesome, that they're on board with the girls and helping them fight for their rights," said Coti Matthews, who sued the district.

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