SHREVEPORT, La. — A school board in Louisiana has unanimously voted to fight a lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State after it initially instructed the field crew to spray paint over a paid advertisement on the Benton High School football field that includes a Scripture citation and a cross.
Americans United had filed suit against the Bossier Parish School District earlier this year, asserting that “school officials throughout the Bossier Parish School System coerce students into religious practices and subject them to unwelcome religious messages and indoctrination.”
It said that prayers are delivered during school-sponsored events, that those events are sometimes held in churches, and that teachers and others encourage Christianity in the classroom.
Most recently, local faith-based fitness center Christ Gym purchased an advertisement in the end zone, paying the booster club $3,500 to advertise his business for the 2018-2019 season.
However, as the logo features the name “Christ Gym,” as well as a cross and a citation of 1 Timothy 4:8, Americans United took the matter to court. An attorney for the school board advised that the ad should be blotted out for the time being.
“The school board’s legal counsel advised the administration that the logo should be removed pending consultation with the court, as alleged violations had just been discussed with the court,” explained attorney Jon Guice in a statement, according to KTBS-TV.
“The Bossier Parish School Board was unaware of the logo and has not met to discuss the issue,” he outlined. “We understand that a lawsuit has been filed in state court challenging the removal of the logo and that a temporary restraining order has been signed against the Benton Football Booster Club.”
However, the field crew refused help to paint over the advertisement.
“Today on field crew, I was asked to paint over the Christ Fit advertisement on the football field. You have to stand up for Christ no matter what, and we told the coaches we wouldn’t do it,” student Jonathan McPherson posted to Facebook. “We ended up leaving the field and not helping them cover up the Scripture that was put on the field. No matter what people say, you have to stand up for Christ even if it can get you in trouble with the school or anyone else.”
Christ Gym owner Billy Weatherall has also expressed objection, noting that he has a signed contract for advertising. He posted a video on social media, advising that he believed it would honor Christ to take a stand.
“God will honor those who honor Him. And guys, let me tell you, I believe it’s not honoring God for me to stand down and tell you that it’s okay, because it’s not. I’m never gonna say it’s okay,” he said. “Christ is everything to me and I will stand on that forever.”
The video has gone viral, generating 26K views as of press time.
Weatherall also posted a reminder to social media that “[t]he enemy IS NOT the booster club, faculty or administration. THE ENEMY IS SATAN!” He pointed to Ephesians 6:11-13, which reads, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.”
While the ad was painted over for a time, the board voted unanimously on Tuesday to fight the lawsuit and to restore the advertisement to the field.
“The vote was unanimous; the logo is going back on the field,” Weatherall wrote. “A huge thank you to this community for standing behind what is right. God always wins!”
As previously reported, some judges believe that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution is being misconstrued as courts have been stuck in a rut of bad case law rather than viewing the text in light of the Christian roots of early American history, and the need for the federal government not to establish a national church in the midst of doctrinal disagreements between Puritans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Quakers and others.
“Alexis de Tocqueville understood and described this religiosity well. In his Democracy in America, written in the 1830s after he had spent several years traveling around the country, he said: ‘It was religion that gave birth to the Anglo-American Societies. This must always be borne in mind. Hence, religion in the United States is inextricably intertwined with all the national habits and all the feeling to which the fatherland gives rise,’” U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal wrote in an extensive opinion earlier this month.