Comments about ‘Cheerleaders fight for right to wave Bible-passage banners’

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Published: Saturday, Oct. 13 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Steve C. Warren

Like the players and coaches, the cheerleaders are representatives of the school. If they were sitting in the stands along with the general public, it would be perfectly OK for them to exercise free speech by wearing clothing or waving a flag with religious sentiments.

I suspect those who claim to be defenders of free speech would not be so eager to support the cheerleaders if their flags contained the words "Belief in God is for losers" or "Satan saves"

Danny Chipman
Lehi, UT

If fans want to come and wave their own biblical banners, they should be allowed to do so. However, during a game at least, cheerleaders, coaches, and players all represent the school, which must represent the entire student body--Christians and non-Christians alike.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

when was "or prohibit the free exercise thereof" excised from the constitution?

Ogden, UT

To lost in DC 11:56 a.m. Oct. 13, 2012

when was "or prohibit the free exercise thereof" excised from the constitution?


That is not the problem area. These cheerleaders and football players could have held a private rally outside of school grounds (not authorized or approved by the school which is a de facto government authority) and the Constitution would not be implicated. The problem comes from the fact that the school, by its actions, gives the appearance of approving one form of religion over any others (in other words, the school's actions establishes a religion as the preferred religion in violtion of the First Amendment Establishent Clause). Nothing is restricting free exercise of religion; just that it can't be done pursuant to school (government) approval.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

thank you for the thoughtful, polite, and cogent comment.

However, despite its eloquence, it shows an ignorance of the conditions that led to our freedom of religion statutes and the feelings of the author of the first such statute in this hemishpere, Thomas Jefferson.

In colonial America, the Church of England was the official state church of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jefferson saw the exclusion of other religions from the public square, and wrote the first such statutes to ensure all expressions of religion were welcome in the public square. To deny the cheerleaders or anyone else, regardless of their affiliation with a public entity, or the lack thereof, is contrary to Jefferson's intent that the public square be open to religious expression.

to say the school allowing such action establishes a religion is an extreme stretch of the imagination.

May I suggest "Thomas Jefferson, a Life"? I believe the name of the author is William Sterne Randolph. It was available for sale at Jefferson's Monticello, and is a very thorough and interesting biography of our third president.

Steve C. Warren

@lost in DC

"to say the school allowing such action establishes a religion is an extreme stretch of the imagination."

The Establishment Clause does not say establishing "a religion." It says "an establishment of religion."

Big difference. The cheerleaders and school are in violation.

Huntsville, UT


Save your crocodile tears. If you really believed in The Constitution, you'd apply it to all Americans and not just the ones you agree with.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: RanchHand Huntsville, UT
"Save your crocodile tears. If you really believed in The Constitution, you'd apply it to all Americans and not just the ones you agree with."

The US Constitution does apply to all Americans equally, and you have the same EXACT EQUAL rights as anybody else. The problem comes when some want a different set of equal rights.

Pendleton, OR

The correct constitutional position should be that the "school", which is personified by its School Board and hired functionaries, should take no action regarding any religious speech, action, or other attention that is either supportive or disrupting to said speech, action or other attention. The students should be allowed to make such speech, either religious or not, that is not a problem to good order and discipline whether they are perceived to represent the school or not. Just because one is a student at some school does not mean they are acting for or on behalf of that school, even in school programs. After all if a student athlete was caught stealing, nobody would claim they were stealing on behalf of the school.

However if their actions or speech take on a causal effect to disorder, e.g. rioting, fist fights, other conflict then the "school" should step in and take such action to maintain a safe learning environment. That does not necessarily mean stopping but may mean some other regulating decision.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

NO law respecting...by forbidding, they in essence make a law respecting establishment. It does not say, "that establishes" no does it say "that prohibits establishment" It is neutral. By forbidding the signs, it abandons neutrality and IS making a law respecting the establishment of religion in direct violation of not only that phrase, but the following phrase I quoted earlier.

The sole motive of the "freedom from religion" organization is to remove religion from public life, contrary to Jefferson's intent. by removing religion, they establish a law respecting religion, which violates the constitution.

I believe your comment also evidences an ignorance of the conditions surrounding our freedom of religion laws and the intent of the authors. When you have read the Jefferson biography, let's talk again.

to what do you refer? Nice to make a blatant, open accusation with no specifics. I know of no rights I have that you do not.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Prohibiting religious banners is no more a restriction on freedom of speech than to prohibit atheists from entering a church with a bullhorn to shout their views when people are trying to worship. Freedom of speech does not include the right to choose your venue.

When these cheerleaders wave Bible-passage banners on the sideline, what they're doing is clearly something other than the cheer leading activity for which they tried out and were selected. How well-rounded is an education that doesn't prepare a student for going out into the real world where keeping one's word and honor are expected of them?

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