Cheerleaders' Scripture-Quoting Football Signs Face Constitutional Challenge

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M. Osborne's picture

Wow. Verses I hold as precious being trivialized and misapplied, and now it's the subject of public controversy. If you follow the link, you'll see they also have a sign, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

It's so strange that I'm taking offense for reasons so opposite to the reasoning behind the controversy.

This is not "John 3:16" being held up on a poster in the end zone as some attempt at drive-by evangelism (which is at least a worthy goal and a legitimate application of the verse, whatever else you might say about the method). This is a "My faith inspires me to do all things through Christ who strengthens me" where God becomes barely distinguishable from the higher power in Alcoholics Anonymous, and faith becomes a subjective matter of personal strength for moralistic ends, and Christianity becomes a religion in which God helps man achieve man's ends rather than in which God is in the world reconciling the world to Himself.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Rev Karl's picture

Calling upon the blessings of God for victory has not been limited to sports. The Japanese called upon their God for victory over the "devils" from the United States. Our military men called upon the God of the Bible for victory over the "devils" from Japan. Civil War soldiers called upon God to defend their righteous cause and defeat their enemies. Strange thing was, both Union and Confederate soldiers prayed nearly identical prayers to the same God. The Colonists called upon Almighty God to make them victorious over the British. And on and on it goes.

 

True, citing Scripture as a call to victory in a football game seems trite when compared to praying for victory in a life-and-death war. But, on the other hand, I find myself proud of young people who stand up for their faith in a public school setting when all the adults at the school have been censored. I once went to a high school graduation in Goose Creek, SC, where I heard more good Gospel preaching on one night than I usually hear on Sunday morning. And it was all done by the students!

 

The young people are limited by their age, knowledge and experience. I said and prayed for stuff when I was in high school that I would be embarrassed to admit to, today. I just had not yet matured. So it is with these young people. They are doing what they know to stand for their faith in a world that allows the practice of any and all faiths... except theirs.

 

Within their level of maturity and experience, I commend them for their public expression of faith. If they were 10 years older, I might have concerns. Today, I'd like to give them all a grandfatherly hug.

 

God be with us all.

Rob Fall's picture

you're right on.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

WilliamD's picture

Rev Karl wrote:
Civil War soldiers called upon God to defend their righteous cause and defeat their enemies. Strange thing was, both Union and Confederate soldiers prayed nearly identical prayers to the same God.

Strange way God answered them...the more righteous nation of the two was given vast revivals among their soldiers, yet He denied their prayers for victory and allowed them lose the war, judging them for the sin of slavery by using a less righteous nation as the instruments to judge them.  Now, 150+ years later, God is judging the Yankee nation by giving them over to their own wicked devices and by giving them a President that will lead them to their own destruction. 

Very ironic. 

M. Osborne's picture

Rev Karl wrote:

The young people are limited by their age, knowledge and experience. I said and prayed for stuff when I was in high school that I would be embarrassed to admit to, today. I just had not yet matured. So it is with these young people. They are doing what they know to stand for their faith in a world that allows the practice of any and all faiths... except theirs.

Within their level of maturity and experience, I commend them for their public expression of faith. If they were 10 years older, I might have concerns. Today, I'd like to give them all a grandfatherly hug.

If we separate courage to live openly Christian from biblical soundness, then yes, I'm also glad they're willing to stand openly as Christians. And I suppose I didn't really need to post about my vexation. I'm just concerned that the foolishness of "God wants our football team to win" will overshadow the foolishness of the gospel.

I will trust that these students are also standing where it matters, standing for biblical ethics where the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and sexuality, our duties to our Creator, etc. all matter.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Michael,

I think we do need to post about these types of things. What kind of Christianity are we winning people to with misguided, albeit sincere, displays like this.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

WilliamD's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
William I didn't know you were a charismatic. When did God tell you that the Confederate Army lost because God judged them for slavery?

 

Deduction from Scripture and God's dealings with nations (Habakkuk for example). It was the South's national sin (driven by the love of money). Yet, they were a more righteous nation than the North, who was mostly secular. 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

William

You make the hermeneutics of Jack Hyles blush here. You have deduced from Scripture a judgment of God not revealed in Scripture. But I heard FBCH is looking for a Pastor and with this method of Bible interpretation and application I think you may have a shot.

rogercarlson's picture

William,

I don;t agree with Alex much.  But your love for the South has clouded your Biblical interpretation.

 

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

WilliamD's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
William You make the hermeneutics of Jack Hyles blush here. You have deduced from Scripture a judgment of God not revealed in Scripture. But I heard FBCH is looking for a Pastor and with this method of Bible interpretation and application I think you may have a shot.

You're answers are always full of disdain and scorn. At least your answers to me are.

I didn't say it was revealed in Scripture, but does God judge nations in our modern day? Is He judging us now? Or is that so completely out of the question because God didn't send a memo?  I think anyone who looks at how God worked through Israel can see the same kind of action being done to modern nations and kingdoms. Doug Wilson would agree with me as he wrote a series of essays on this very subject concerning the North and South that I found to be very interesting. 

rogercarlson's picture

William,

You are right that Alex uses scorn and disdain.  He rarely makes his his point well.  But I think the larger point still stands.  To say the "North" or the "South" are more godly than the other really seems to be a stretch.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I'm not one to object to rabbit trails, but I think the Civil War is pretty far off topic.

The OP is about cheerleaders using Scripture signs at a ball game. 

For a rehash of the conflict between the North and South, please start a new thread. 

The 'please' is just being polite, as this is not a request. 

Thanks.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Michael,

I think we do need to post about these types of things. What kind of Christianity are we winning people to with misguided, albeit sincere, displays like this.

I think we've become far too accustomed to misuses of Scripture. From bumper stickers to T-shirts, God's Word is often used as a punch line instead being handled with reverence and accuracy. 

 

Rev Karl's picture

Susan R wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Michael,

I think we do need to post about these types of things. What kind of Christianity are we winning people to with misguided, albeit sincere, displays like this.

I think we've become far too accustomed to misuses of Scripture. From bumper stickers to T-shirts, God's Word is often used as a punch line instead being handled with reverence and accuracy. 

 

I agree with both of these comments. But you have to start somewhere.

 

I can remember being a teen in MA, and being one of those guys who was practicing his faith to the best of his ability, growing up in an independent, fundamental, non-denominational church. But I had no concept of how far behind the curve I was. It wasn't until I attended a Christian school - away from my home church - that I understood how short I fell of even the most basic of Biblical instructions. It was only when I saw other people living for the Lord in that concentrated environment that I could see how very far I had to go.

 

When I go to church today, I find myself dismayed at the type of practice of faith I see in even the most "Godly" of our young people. I have to remind myself that they have not seen what I have seen: experienced what I have experience. (I'm not talking about experiential Christianity, but observing a deeper, stronger practice of faith.)

 

We need to find them "where they are", and lead them (not drive them) to the next level.

 

Having said that, I still perceive that, generation after generation, the salt of the church continues to lose its savor.

 

God be with us all,

 

Karl

(American by birth: Southern by the grace of God!) Smile

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree, Bro. Karl, that how we handle 'young' (in age and spiritual maturity) Christians is important. IOW, we don't want to scold or mock or discourage folks from delighting in Scripture, even if they are misusing it. It should be, however, an opportunity for teaching the proper use of Scripture, and while I wouldn't want to discourage these young people, I also don't want to encourage them to continue to do this kind of thing.

The problem with this and similar situations, IMO, is that it becomes politicized and framed as a gov't vs. church debate, as if the church is being persecuted, which inspires people to 'fight' for something that is, well, theologically questionable.

Rev Karl's picture

Susan R wrote:

I agree, Bro. Karl, that how we handle 'young' (in age and spiritual maturity) Christians is important. IOW, we don't want to scold or mock or discourage folks from delighting in Scripture, even if they are misusing it. It should be, however, an opportunity for teaching the proper use of Scripture, and while I wouldn't want to discourage these young people, I also don't want to encourage them to continue to do this kind of thing.

Yup.

 

But, sad to say, the churches from which these young people derive probably think that this is "Top Level" Christianity.

 

In our society today, (and in years past) a good, Godly pastor can preach until he's blue in the face, and "his church" will still turn out young people who dress like public school cheerleaders (in church!), couples who think living together is no big deal, etc... Trying to teach up to the next level on something like this would probably get you a sideways glance and an "Are You KIDDING me???" expression in response.

 

I'm am in no way disagreeing with you. We must try, and work, and teach... and be ready for the fact that most of the time, they just don't get it.

Charlie's picture

Rev Karl wrote:

Susan R wrote:

I agree, Bro. Karl, that how we handle 'young' (in age and spiritual maturity) Christians is important. IOW, we don't want to scold or mock or discourage folks from delighting in Scripture, even if they are misusing it. It should be, however, an opportunity for teaching the proper use of Scripture, and while I wouldn't want to discourage these young people, I also don't want to encourage them to continue to do this kind of thing.

Yup.

 

But, sad to say, the churches from which these young people derive probably think that this is "Top Level" Christianity.

 

In our society today, (and in years past) a good, Godly pastor can preach until he's blue in the face, and "his church" will still turn out young people who dress like public school cheerleaders (in church!), couples who think living together is no big deal, etc... Trying to teach up to the next level on something like this would probably get you a sideways glance and an "Are You KIDDING me???" expression in response.

 

I'm am in no way disagreeing with you. We must try, and work, and teach... and be ready for the fact that most of the time, they just don't get it.

 

Or, maybe some churches are just not very good at discipleship? The last few churches I've been in didn't seem to have too much of those negatives. At least, that's not what characterized the congregation. 

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jim's picture

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044473480457806271372450738...

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Wednesday he will defend high-school cheerleaders who want to use Bible verses on banners at football games.

Mr. Abbott filed court papers to intervene in a lawsuit that cheerleaders at Kountze High School filed against the school district complaining that a new policy violated their freedom of speech. In September, district officials told the cheerleaders to stop using Bible verses at football games after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained.

...

 

Mr. Abbott said that since the cheerleaders create the banners without school funding, they qualify as free speech and shouldn't be banned.

"This is student-led expression, and that's perfectly constitutional," Mr. Abbott said. "We will not allow atheist groups from outside the state of Texas to come into the state to use menacing and misleading and intimidating tactics to try to bully schools to bow down to the alter of secular beliefs."

Joining Mr. Abbott at a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry said he supported the cheerleaders and denounced the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

"Anyone who is expressing their faith should be celebrated, from my perspective, in this day and age of instant gratification, this me-first culture that we see all too often," Mr. Perry said. "We're a nation built on the concept of free expression of ideas. We're also a culture built on the concept that the original law is God's law, outlined in the Ten Commandments."