Kountze, Texas, population 2,115, now has more than 30,000 people weighing in on a Facebook page dedicated to a group of high school students embroiled in a nationwide controversy over the separation of church and state.
This year cheerleaders for Kountze High School decided to put Bible verses on the paper banners that the football team runs through at the start of each game. Someone mailed a complaint to the Kountze ISD superintendent. Kevin Weldon said he immediately contacted legal counsel and the Texas Association of School Boards which advised him the practice should end immediately.
Parents involved in organizing extracurricular activities were sent the following email from the superintendent:
"Per the advice of TASB Legal, please do not allow any student groups to display any religious signs or messages at school-sponsored events. I appreciate your immediate attention and conveying this to your staff and sponsors of student groups. For example, the run-through signs at the football games. "
But in this small town in Hardin County, 30 miles north of Beaumont, faith and football are as intertwined as much as anywhere else in Texas. And students and parents are fighting back.
"It means I'm playing for the Lord Jesus God and my teammates," said senior Darrion Harper of the banner he and his teammates prefer to run through.
Harper was among dozens of students who gathered at a home on the south end of town Wednesday to paint scores of new banners and placards to display at the next 7th and 8th grade football game and, after a bye week, at the next game for the varsity team. Students and parents also painted similar message and Bible verses on their car windows to take their protest through town.
"It is not a personal opinion of mine," said Kountze ISD Superintendent Kevin Weldon in a phone interview. "My personal convictions are that I am a Christian as well. But I'm also a state employee and Kountze ISD representative. And I was advised that that such a practice (religious signs) would be in direct violation of United State Supreme Court decisions."
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SOURCE: KHOU 11 News