When Liberties Collide

A Different View of the Cheerleaders Bible Banners Controversy

This past week trouble was a brewin’ in an east Texas school. See this link for the background:

Cheerleader Story

It’s a classic case of what some would say is a conflict between 1st Amendment rights…if one uses the widely accepted misinterpreted “Establishment Clause”. Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion at battle with Freedom from Expression and Freedom from Religion. My purpose here is not to rewrite a proper interpretation of the Constitution. You can read it yourself and ask questions like, “What do the words ‘Congress shall not…’ mean. No, for me it is a settled issue.

But I do have several issues.
Fan 1: “Oh, can you believe that! Look at what they did! You can’t have those players coming through that paper with those bible sayings on them!!”
Fan 2: “Why not?”
Fan 1: “Cause it offends me and the Constitution demands a separation of church and state.”
Fan 2: “What offends you?”
Fan 1: “Them forcing their religion on me.”
Fan 2: “Forcing? How?”
Fan 1: “By having those words on that sign.”
Fan 2: “Do you believe those words?”
Fan 1: “No!”
Fan 2: “Are you saying those words have some special ‘power’ of control over your mind?”
Fan 1: “No.”
Fan 2: “So to you, those words are just letters on paper that really have no meaning to you, are not going to control you, and really don’t matter.”
Fan 1: “Exactly!”
Fan 2: “Then exactly how can you be offended?”
Fan 1: “I just am.”

Fan 3: “Do you see that? That sign over there with that reference to a bible passage?”
Fan 4: “Yep. What about it?”
Fan 3: “It offends me.”
Fan 4: “Really? What offends you?”
Fan 3: “That it is there.”
Fan 4: “What is there?”
Fan 3: “That obvious attempt to force their religion down my throat by placing that bible reference on that sign.”
Fan 4: “And what is that reference referencing?”
Fan 3: “I don’t know. I don’t read the bible. I don’t believe any of it.”
Fan 4: “Any? So you think it’s a good idea that I hurt you right now?”
Fan 3: “What? Why would you say that?”
Fan 4: “Cause the reference they wrote is Matthew 5:19 which says to honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Fan 3: “Oh….well they still can’t do that. Separation of church and state.”

In the two examples above, I have culminated the two most prominent “discussions” I was involved in in the comments section on some of the news web pages of this story. I was completely amazed that most of the individuals who were against the verses did not know why they were offended…or if their so-called offended conscience was grounded in reality. But alas, as a last resort when faced with the possibility of looking really stupid, separation of church and state became the cry. This of course only confirmed the possibility in my mind.

My main issue though is with the cheerleaders themselves. Constitutionally I’m with them all the way. They have the right to express themselves however they deem fit…even if I don’t agree. One debater accused me of being a hypocrite because he assumed that as a Christian I would be against it if the signs were in Arabic and were preaching Islam. Nope Go ahead. You have that right. I can choose not to be affected and controlled emotionally and physically by words I do not agree with.

My concern is with biblical accountability. Is what is written, written doctrinally correct, and for the right reasons? A Google image search will turn up many of the signs the girls wrote. Here’s one of them, “But thanks be to God, which gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The context of the verse is the victory given to us over death and the power of sin in our lives by Christ’s sacrificial death. But to take that verse, alone, and put it on a paper banner for football players to smash through all hyped up to pummel their opponent and rise to victory is irresponsible. Blasphemous even.

It may not have been their intention. They really may have thought they were spreading the Gospel. But that verse alone does not convey the Gospel. In the context of a football game, in the way it is used, it conveys something different. “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me.” Does that imply that Jesus is going to give your team the strength to win? But what if the other team are Christians as well, and they prayed that verse? With that application of that verse, one team will falsely be affirmed that Jesus gave them victory. The other team will think Jesus let them down.

So in the end, what may be Constitutionally right and true, liberty at its finest…may collide with what we assume we do within our Christian Liberty. We need to check our motives, for under the guise of “our right to spread the word”, what we may actually be doing is ethically wrong.

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