Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kountze ISD Rejects Students Religious Freedom, Files Appeal to Overturn Cheerleaders' Victory

IN THE SCHOOL

Just a few short weeks ago the Kountze High School Cheerleaders and all of America celebrated when Liberty Institute secured a victory in the famous Bible banner case.

But now, joining a host of radical left groups like the ACLU and the extremist Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Kountze ISD wants to eliminate the free speech rights of its students.

Faith. Jesus Christ. Hope. Love—these are dirty words for students in Kountze, Texas.

After failing to suppress private expression of faith and losing its case against the cheerleaders, Kountze ISD filed an appeal. 

“It is unfortunate that Kountze ISD keeps wasting taxpayer money fighting against the speech rights of these cheerleaders,” said Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for Liberty Institute.  “I do not understand why the school district cannot simply accept that it lost and move on instead of continuing to fight against these cheerleaders who simply wanted to encourage the players with uplifting messages.”

Instead of standing for the freedoms and the values that make America an exceptional nation, the Kountze ISD has taken the same approach as the Obama Administration in seeking to squelch free speech, especially that from conservatives.

Incredibly, last fall the Kountze ISD banned the high school cheerleaders from writing Bible verses on run-through banners at school sporting events. The Kountze superintendent made this horrible decision after the district received a threatening demand letter from Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Liberty Institute and our affiliated local attorney David Starnes were able to obtain a temporary injunction, allowing the student-made banners to continue. For the past several months, the cheerleaders faced an intense battle for religious freedom – a battle that included numerous hearings, many motions and pleadings, and days of intense depositions in which the young women endured hours of brutal questioning.

The May 8th order from Hardin County District Court Judge Steven Thomas put an end to more than seven months of litigation, but now this battle for freedom in America is going to a new level…to the Court of Appeals. 

Please pray for our attorneys as they redouble their efforts to protect the religious freedom of the Kountze Cheerleaders and all of our freedoms, and pray for the cheerleaders themselves and their families. Pray for continued courage and patience, as Liberty has seen how difficult school leaders can make things for students that simply want to express their faith.

While this case obviously affects the rights of your children or grandchildren, it actually affects the free speech rights of us all.

Liberty Institute doesn’t receive a dime of taxpayer support. The only way the Kountze cheerleaders and Liberty can win this fight is through the prayers and financial support from people like you.

While we do receive donated time from our amazing volunteer attorneys like David Starnes, Liberty still carries a big financial burden. Now, because of this appeal, Liberty will incur tens of thousands of dollars in costs as this case heads to appeal.

Unlike Koutze, which can raise taxes on its citizens, Liberty depends on caring people like you. Please give generously. We are winning. Every dollar will be spent wisely and will make a significant impact for our freedoms. 

About Liberty Institute

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.