BEAUMONT, Texas, May 9 (UPI) -- A group of Texas cheerleaders can continue to display signs with Christian messages, a state judge ruled Wednesday.
Hardin County 356th District Court Judge Steve Thomas found the cheerleaders at Kountze High School did not violate the First Amendment ban on an established church, the Houston Chronicle reported. Lawyers from the Liberty Institute representing the cheerleaders argued they pay for their own equipment, make their own signs and have a right to represent their own religious views.
Under Texas law, Thomas said, the cheerleaders' signs are "private speech."
Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Wisconsin said the case should be heard in federal court. She said the cheerleaders wear uniforms bearing the school name and thus spread the message that "Christians are insiders."
"In our opinion, this court just said that Christianity is an official school religion," Gaylor said.
The cheerleaders and their parents went to court after a former school superintendent in Kountze, a small town in Hardin County on the Louisiana line, banned the religious signs.