At Friday’s football game, the people of Kountze, Texas will really have something to cheer about. Late last week, after a six-year struggle, the Texas Supreme Court finally put an end to the debate over Bible verses on high school rally banners. It had been a long haul for the families of Kountze, but the seven cheerleaders of 2012 who fought the suit were right: they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.When the superintendent caved to the bullying tactics of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the cheerleaders and their parents took a stand. Soon, this little town was at the center of a big debate over religious liberty. So big, it turns out, that even former Governor Rick Perry and then-Attorney General Greg Abbott weighed in. In an odd twist, the district fought to keep the challenge alive — even after local courts gave the cheerleaders the green light. That was probably the most infuriating part of the case, at least for local families — that the district is consciously funneling money away from education to fuel this gratuitous attack on faith.
First Liberty Institute represented the seven cheerleaders who made the signs, and the group’s Hiram Sasser celebrated that the journey had finally come to a successful end. “As the football season kicks off across Texas,” he told Fox News’s Todd Starnes, “it’s good to be reminded that these cheerleaders have a right to religious speech on their run-through banners — banners on which the cheerleaders painted messages they chose, with paint they paid for, on paper they purchased.”
The cheerleaders who fought back, including Rebekah Richardson who I profiled in my book No Fear, have long since left Kountze High. But the legacy of courage they left behind is something the whole town can be proud of. Because of them, generations of cheerleaders and students will be able to exercise their faith. Sometimes standing up for what you believe in takes time before it pays off. But the lesson here is as clear as it was when I talked to Rebekah in the beginning. If your conviction is rooted in your love for Jesus and obedience to His Word, then you’ve already won — no matter what the earthly outcome.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.