Locals React to Kountze High School Bible Banner Controversy

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

They're big. They’re bold; and meant to be seen and heard. -- Regardless of which team you’re cheering for.

But instead of walking away with a football victory -- this week -- the Kountze Lions walked away with conviction after displaying words they say provide strength and encouragement.

"I believe their intentions were simply to support their team," said one parent at Kountze High School.

A day later, the superintendent barred the banners, and the town of 2100 found itself in the middle of a controversy that touched communities nationwide -- Including the Brazos Valley. A man who says he's Jesus from College Station sent a message to the Kountze superintendent offering a loophole. The letter said, "The cheerleaders can make as many banners and posters they wish with my name on them." Furthermore, he said, "Instead of citing a Bible verse one could just put the following in very small print at the bottom of each banner." The ‘following’ being his email address. News 3 left several messages for the man, but he has yet to return our calls.

Both Bryan and College Station ISD's issued statements on their policies.

"In general, our policies follow the guidelines set forth by the First Amendment. The District shall take no action respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Board for a redress of grievances. The risk comes in allowing certain forms of expression that may indicate the district is officially supporting or encouraging a religious sentiment. If that expression "...materially and substantially..." interferes with the operation of the school or the rights of others, it is not allowed. Public schools must remain neutral."

Meanwhile, College Station ISD says the district shall not discriminate against a student's voluntary expression of a secular, religious or other viewpoint unless the expression will materially and substantially interfere with the operation of the school or the rights of others."

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