“Hold That Line! Hold That Line!” (Luke 3:7)

Ken AshfordConstitution, Godstuff, Red Sox & Other SportsLeave a Comment

I don't have all the facts, just this:

Cheerleaders at a north Georgia high school will have to fall back on school spirit alone to inspire the football team tonight against a longtime rival because the school district will no longer allow them to hold up signs bearing Bible verses.

The Catoosa school district banned the signs over concerns they were unconstitutional and could provoke a lawsuit, the Associated Press reports.

That has angered a number of people in this deeply religious community near Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School and many held a rally last night to protest the ban.

For tonight's game against Ridgeland High School, an area outside the stadium has been designated for displaying the signs. Football fans will be allowed to take their Bible-verse signs into the stands as long as they're hand held, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

A sign at a recent game read: "Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

School superintendent Denia Reese says she invoked the ban after getting a call from a Ringgold, Ga., resident, Donna Jackson, who allegedly said the signs could provoke a lawsuit. The school's attorney agreed.

Reese also said that Jackson filed an open records request for financial documents on the purchases of supplies used to make the banners, the Times Free Press reports.

Jackson denies the allegations, calling them "absolutely false."

I'm not sure it is unconstitutional, to be honest.  The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that students can pray at football games (or pre-games), so long as the prayer is not school-sponsored or school-funded or broadcast over school equipment.  That's the bright line, and there's nothing (yet) to suggest that the religious banners and signs were bought and paid for by the school district.  In fact, the Chattanooga Times Free Press says "the cheerleaders said they raised all the money to make the banners".  If that's true, I think they're okay.

The larger question for me is: What the hell does God have to do with high school football?


Score a touchdown for Jesus?  Oh, come on.  And what happens if the other team scores a touchdown?  Who is that for?  Satan?

I'm no biblical scholar, but I don't think "goal" as used in Phillippians 3:14 was intended to mean the goal line in a football game.  And in fact, in the Kings James Version of the Bible, that passage reads: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Generally, speaking, the Bible doesn't serve well as a football playbook (ignoring the fact that the Bible predates football by about seventeen centuries).  Take Joel 2:8, for example:

They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks.

Well, that might work for short running plays where your team is inches from the goal line, but you've got to put the ball in the air once in a while, right?

Another one that won't work, Genesis 4:8:

"Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

That's probably an egregious foul.  Just guessing.

And why no Galatians 3:3 banners?

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Yeah, I guess that banner wouldn't go over too big.

Of course, I think the most problematic verse for football players is Deuteronomy 14:8:

The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.

Not sure how you can score a goal if you are forbidden to touch pigskin.