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Judge Says Cheerleaders Can Quote Scripture

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - A judge ruled Thursday that a group of East Texas cheerleaders should be allowed to continue quoting biblical scripture on banners at high school football games.

District officials barred the Kountze High School cheerleaders from displaying banners with religious messages such as, “If God is for us, who can be against us,” after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained. The advocacy group aruged that the messages violated the First Amendment clause barring the government — or a publicly funded school district, in this case — from establishing or endorsing a religion.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders sued, arguing that the ban violates their free speech rights. State District Judge Steve Thomas ruled in favor of the cheerleaders during a hearing on Thursday. The Texas Education Code states that schools must respect the rights of students to express their religious beliefs.

Republican Governor Rick Perry has also spoken out in favor of the high school cheerleader group. “Anyone who is expressing their faith should be celebrated, from my perspective, in this day and age of instant gratification, this me-first culture that we see all too often,” Perry said Wednesday. “We’re a nation built on the concept of free expression of ideas. We’re also a culture built on the concept that the original law is God’s law, outlined in the Ten Commandments.”

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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