Bible Banner or Banned Bible?

The students at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High had to give up a tradition that began after 9-11. The school’s football team had the tradition of starting the game by running through a banner with a verse of Christian scripture painted on it. The banner tradition is fairly common for high school football – we used to do it in little league football games – but the addition of a verse is generally something only seen a Christian high schools.

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High is in northern Georgia, and the Bible belt extends that far. The context of this high school seems as if it is overflowing with southern Christian culture.  Thus, the removal of the banner has had a direct impact.

The issue started with a mother of a football player called the superintendent and suggested that someone might file a lawsuit over the banner if it isn’t removed. Catoosa County schools Superintendent Denia Reese – realizing the legal ramifications – agreed and called for the removal of the banner – and subsequent ones used by cheerleaders on the sidelines.

Despite my Christian faith and the frustration of the folks down in Northern Georgia, I believe this was actually the correct decision.

On the one hand, the school is making sure it isn’t in violation of the first amendment by promoting  establishment of religion. The reality is, having a public banner with a biblical verse on it suggests promotion. I am completely aware of southern culture and the fact that Christianity and scripture is utilized by a multiplicity of folks. For the folks down in Georgia this banner wasn’t proselytizing, it was expression who they were – save some students and families.  But the line is too fuzzy.

On the other hand, the school is promoting the free exercise of religion. Parents, fans (students or community members) are free to make banners with verses on them. Moreover, the football team is allowed to huddle and  have an optional prayer before the game. Faith is not being erased.

I would argue that there is a possible midpoint as far as the banner, and other public expressions of faith, is concerned. Religion is a set of beliefs, with a set of practices that are supposed to align and support those beliefs. Many scientists – in both the hard and soft sciences – are religiously connected. Some individuals are religiously connected to the United States and patriotism. Depending on the verse Christian scripture should be used, but it should be used beside Islamic scripture, Jewish scripture, non – (formal) religious quote etc. If that is done we are expressing the diversity of beliefs in American and not promoting any one of them. And acknowledging wisdom in various religious traditions.

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    • bobbygee
    • October 3rd, 2009

    The Bible banner does not have to do with the establshment of a religion. The world freaks out when the word of God is mentioned. The Bible makes even crazier.
    http://bobbygee.wordpress.com/

    • elliek
    • October 4th, 2009

    I have to agree with you. I kind of appreciate what schools do to try to protect religion. I know a lot of times people feel like Christianity is being picked on, but I try to put myself on the other side – what it the kids were running through a banner that had a passage from a religious text that I didn’t believe in – that would be upsetting. Also I think you make a good point that although the school is saying they can’t promote it, the parents and students can.

      • Kevin
      • October 28th, 2009

      You say what if the kids ran through a banner that had a passage of religious text that you didn’t believe in…the banner contained Biblical Scripture…and ALL of those are truth and should be believed. Therefore, it would be great to have my children to pass through. Why is that a violation of someones rights I don’t know because if the ones involved are in agreement, then it should violate their rights to display it. If you don’t like reading it, do like you do with the anything else DON’T LOOK AT IT!

      • @Kevin, sorry I have been quite busy over the past couple weeks. I agree that Biblical scripture is true, but this isn’t about my personal beliefs. Example, if there was a banner with a passage from the Koran, I as a Christian wouldn’t feel comfortable having that message propagated via the public school system and my public dollar/support. In this case there are folks who don’t follow Christ and thus don’t appreciate the scripture being promoted via a government that is supposed to be no respecter of religion. I completely agree that the the Bible is the Word of God and that is the Truth – that is by no means my issue -, but I want to make sure that I am showing people why it is the truth not forcing them to believe or deal with my beliefs. I think the nuance is important.

    • muqeem
    • October 7th, 2009

    Muslims Believe In JESUS
    (Peace be upon him)

    To know more please visit : http://islam100.wordpress.com

    We are presenting this not to placate you out of policy or diplomacy. We are only articulating what our Creator had commanded us in the Noble Qur’an (Which is translated as follows);

    “Say (O Muslim), “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Abraham (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat [the twelve sons of Ya’cub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and ‘Iesa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam)”. [Chapter 2: verse 136]

    As Muslims we have no choice. We had said in many words:

    ” WE BELIEVE IN ONE CREATOR, WE BELIEVE IN ALL HIS PROPHETS, WE BELIEVE, THAT JESUS (peace be upon him) WAS ONE OF THE MIGHTIEST PROPHETS OF GOD, THAT HE WAS THE MESSIAH AS WELL AS THE WORD OF GOD, THAT HE WAS BORN MIRACULOUSLY- WITHOUT ANY MALE INTERVENTION (which many modern-day Christians do not believe today) , THAT HE GAVE LIFE TO THE DEAD BY GOD’S PERMISSION, AND THAT HE HEALED THOSE BORN BLIND AND THE LEPERS BY GOD’S PERMISSION.”

    Islam respects all religions. Nevertheless, Muslims consider the view of Christendom to be a misguided one. The Noble Qur’an highlights the important aspects of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him) mother, his birth, his mission and his ascension to heaven.
    VIRGIN MARY:
    Story of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him) in the Noble Qur’an starts with the conception of his mother, Mary, when the wife of Imran, Mary’s mother, vowed to dedicate her child to the service of God in the temple. This is mentioned in the following verses (Which is translated as follows);

    “(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imran said: “O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing” “Then when she delivered her child [Maryam (Mary)], she said: “O my Lord! I have delivered a female child,” — and Allah knew better what she delivered, — “And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast.” “So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance, He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zakariya (Zachariya). Every time he entered Al-Mihrab (a praying place or private room) to (visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Maryam (Mary)! from where have you got this?” She said “This is from Allah” Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit” [Chapter 3: verses 35-37]

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