If Cheerleaders Don’t Convert You, Chuck Norris Will


Sorry, Chuck, winning a lawsuit so cheerleaders can hoist Bible banners at Texas high school football games actually isn’t a win for religious liberty.

You know, I always hedge when people ask me where I’m from, because the second I tell them I was born and raised in Texas, all kinds of stereotypes pop up in the conversation.

Yes, I can read.
No, I’m not a Republican.
Yes, I’m a Christian. No, not that kind.
No, I don’t ride horses, own a cow, oil derek or know JR Ewing personally.
And no, I do not think Texas should become its own republic.

But then, stories like this one come along that only serve to reinforce the negative biases against Texans that I try so very hard to debunk. Come on guys, work with me here!

Texas high school cheerleaders recently won a local lawsuit which allows them to continue to paint Bible verses on the large butcher paper banners the football players burst through when storming the field. They also wave “Bible banners” throughout the day. Not surprising, Texas Governor Rick Perry hailed the decision as a landmark of religious liberty. But a guy has to wonder how they’d respond to the Quran represented next to their Bible verses.

Pro-Christian bias aside, I’d be hard pressed to believe such a case would win anywhere other than Texas. After all, the cheerleaders clearly are acting as representatives of the school, and they are doing so at a public event, also sponsored by the school. So what I can’t figure out is how anyone determines this to be anything other than state-sponsored religion. Apparently I’m not the only one scratching their heads, as the case is now headed for federal court.

I tend to agree with the sentiments of Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who said, “When they (the cheerleaders) misuse their public podium to tell a captive audience that some of you have the right religion and the rest of you need to convert, that is not only bad law, that’s bad manners.”

Agreed. The only purpose this serves is to affirm the sentiments of the majority, or perhaps even that of a very vocal minority, and to shout down dissenters and skeptics into silence. Yes, it may make Christians feel really good to see verses from their holy text being smashed through by a bunch of heavily padded teenage boys, but honestly, how many conversions do they expect from this stunt?

Oh, and I’d also humbly add that claiming God is the reason you win a football game is just bad theology. Pretty sure God doesn’t care.

And if the siren-like allure of young cheerleaders doesn’t sway you, maybe a swift roundhouse kick to your sensibilities will do the trick.

Noted conservative and unprecedented badass extraordinaire Chuck Norris is making a case for every school district in the country to be required to teach from the Bible as a textbook in every public school. He and his wife, Gena, sponsor a program whose phone number is “1-888-BIBLE-NOW” (too many numbers, Chuck, but God knows I ain’t gonna tell him), with the aim, as stated in the video also linked to the cheerleader article of “changing the course of our country.”

There’s a sort of duplicitousness to this kind of church-state tampering that not only smacks of the dying age of Christendom, but it also reeks of a desperate Christian constituency, yearning to force-feed their religion on people who have summarily rejected such approaches in the past.

As for speaking out of two sides out of the mouth, it’s presented on the one hand as an academic and historic piece of literature, to be taught as such in the schools. And yet, at the end of the video, Norris makes the statement that, “We can change the course of our country, and God knows we need it.” This is such a thinly veiled deception that it only casts further negative light on a Christian faith already notorious for embracing a “win at all costs” strategy of evangelism.

So, I have a simple solution I’d like to offer up that, I believe, will solve all of these problems. See, there are these things called private schools, not funded with the public’s tax dollars, and whose populations are self-selected. Within said schools, you can post as much religious signage and teach the Bible as often as you’d like. In fact, I even went to such a school for years, where I attended chapel twice a week and even took a class that taught an overview of the Bible. About half of my classmates were Jewish, but they and their families didn’t complain about the religious inclinations of the school.

Why? Because it’s private and they had a choice to send their kids there or not!

So, with that said, let me assure you that there is probably no shortage of families who would jump at the chance to pay to send their kids to Chuck Norris High School, where you learn to kick ass and quote scripture while doing it. And meanwhile, those who either can’t afford such a choice or who simply believe in a true Jeffersonian separation of church and state can continue to send their kids to publicly funded schools without being browbeaten by Christians with a clearly subversive agenda.

Photo credit: Flickr / Erik Daniel Drost

About Christian Piatt

Want to follow along on this journey, and maybe even join in? Search "#MyJesusProject," or on Facebook and Twitter. You can also go to the My Jesus Project website to follow the project or add your email address to take part in it.

Christian Piatt (www.christianpiatt.com)
Author, Musician, Antagonist. God Nerd. Find Christian on:

TwitterFacebookHuffington PostPatheosSojournersRed Letter Christians


  1. Everyone remember what Jesus said about competition, kicking the other team’s ass, school spirit, and the importance of high school athletics.

    No, seriously. I don’t remember. What did he say?

  2. wellokaythen says:

    I see this more specifically as a free speech issue. My problem with allowing the Bible verses on the butcher paper is that I’m sure this freedom of speech is being applied selectively. This policy will likely not be applied consistently, like as you mentioned quoting the Koran. I don’t see these schools treating all religious quotes the same way. I doubt the school treats all quotes equally no matter where they’re from, so this is allowing some language and not others.

    And, let’s be real here. The school is not going to allow every Biblical quote. It’s not going to allow total freedom of Christian expression. Even there it’s going to pick and choose.

    But, hey, if these schools are willing to defend student’s rights to quote ANY passage from ANY book, no matter what, then I fully support their defense of this. If you open the door to quoting the Bible, then you open the door to all sorts of things that would make most high school administrators a little squeamish. The people I hung out with in high school (in Texas, by the way) were more likely to quote _The Anarchist’s Cookbook than the Bible_. If you’re willing to have that quoted in large font, then I fully support this policy.

    I look at those nubile cheerleaders and think about some of the more erotic passages. If I’m a student there, can I shout those out at a high school football game as well and be protected by freedom of religion?

    Just a reminder: there’s no copyright on “the Bible.” You can publish a bible that says anything you want to. You can write a gay porn novel and publish it as a version of the Bible. So, if you really let people quote from their bibles….

    • “I look at those nubile cheerleaders and think about some of the more erotic passages. If I’m a student there, can I shout those out at a high school football game as well and be protected by freedom of religion?”

      When it comes to yelling at cheerleaders, the geeky girls that I spent time with in high school would have preferred:

      “Suffer not a witch to live.”

  3. Will Best says:

    The local government levies a $7,000 tax on my house annually to pay for the school. In your world will it refund that money if I opt to send my kids to private school rather than pay for the community school?

    Should not the community school reflect my children’s values (which are ostensibly mine) and allow them to express those values accordingly?

    Does the school mandate these quotes (being truly establishment), or is this just a group of cheerleaders deciding to express their faith?

    Does the cheerleader’s expression of their faith prohibit you or anybody else from doing the same?

    You complain about their podium, is access to that podium being denied on the basis of religion? As in are Muslim, Hindu, atheist girls being denied entry to the cheerleading squad for their faith, making it impossible for their messages to appear on the banners?

    What about athletes in high school events praying to Jesus after they score? Should they refrain from doing that because they are on a football baseball field with hundreds perhaps thousands of spectators?

    Is it offensive to you when you see a person practicing their faith or showing support for their faith in public generally?

    What if one of the cheerleaders was wearing a Hijab in accordance with her faith. Does that not also constitute an endorsement of religion at a school function? What if the event took place on Ash Wednesday?

    • wellokaythen says:

      The Constitution sets up what’s usually called a “liberal democracy,” which means rule by the majority, bound by the rights of the minority or the individual. In a liberal democracy, like what the Bill of Rights is supposed to guarantee, the majority is NOT allowed to get everything they want just because they’re the majority. In fact, one principle behind the Bill of Rights is that it’s possible for the majority to be dead wrong. It’s possible that small groups of people will need protection against the will of the majority. The assumption is that no matter how many votes you have on your side there are some things you are not allowed to do. (Unless you amend the Constitution itself, which is meant to be very hard to do.)

      • Will Best says:

        Why are you replying to my serious set of questions with nonsense?

        There is no evidence the school administration, or teacher leader of the cheer squad has anything to do with this. I would further add that the minority in this case are the cheerleaders who are exercising their first amendment rights. The majority is the group of bullies that are trying to use the state to suppress these cheerleader’s first amendment rights.

  4. Jacob, excellent point. We still operate as a Christian nation or at least a religious nation whether people are practicing or not.

    Even the concepts of love thy neighbor, do unto others, follow the law, thou shalt not kill or covet your neighbor’s children and lock them in the basement for 10 years…e’hem…continue to resonate with our society at large. Most major religions have similar moral codes of conduct about right and wrong.

    But it’s clear that the school is blurring lines according to our civil rights laws.

  5. Great points Christian. In addition, if this school and cheerleaders (and Rick Perry and Chuck Norris apparently) are believers in the Bible, they should remember Romans 13:1-7 which essentially says obeying God includes following the law. If there is law separating church and state, the state is funding the school, and you want to obey God, then as representatives of this state funded school you shouldn’t publicly post Bible verses at school events. As Christians, we should be retaining and sharing our faith in much more personal and meaningful ways, while not blurring the lines of the law.

  6. Christian, it’s pretty obvious this is a conflict between church and state. If this were a parochial or private school, then they can promote their moral values freely. However with publicly funded schools, teachers and politicians should not be endorsing religion, politics, or morality. Or we need to include all forms of morality and religion to include all beliefs like Scientology, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Mormon, Atheists, Zoroastrian, Sunni and Shia Islam, etc. We get into the shakey moral territory about creation, faith, marriage, traditions, right and wrong, and how many wives are “ok”?, so on and so forth.


    Since you don’t own an oil rig, one question, do you own a cowboy hat?

Speak Your Mind