Community members are rallying around Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School cheerleaders after they were banned from displaying signs with Bible verses urging fans and players to “commit to the Lord” and “take courage and do it.” The banners — the paper ones that football players crash through at the beginning of games — have been common sights in the school’s football stadium since 2003, local officials say. “The cheerleaders are not trying to push a religious cause, to shove religion down someone’s throat,” said local youth minister Brad Scott, who was LFO High’s class president in 2004. “The cheerleaders are just using Scripture to show motivation and inspiration to the players and the fans.” Catoosa County Schools spokeswoman Marissa Brower said a Fort Oglethorpe resident lodged a verbal complaint to Superintendent Denia Reese last week, saying that the display of a Bible verse on the football field is a violation of federal law.
A school system statement released Monday said the message constitutes “a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution for signs with Bible verses to be displayed on the football field.” Mr. Scott said the ban prompted a rally tonight in support of the cheerleaders outside the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Battlefield Parkway so people can show their support for the cheerleaders and their signs. A Facebook page called “We Support the LFO Cheerleaders! LET THEM HAVE THEIR SIGNS BACK!” also has been established. Mrs. Reese lends her personal appreciation, if not her official support. “I regret that we had to ask the LFO cheerleaders to change the signs used in the stadium prior to football games,” Mrs. Reese states. “Personally, I appreciate this expression of their Christian values; however, as superintendent I have the responsibility of protecting the school district from legal action by groups who do not support their beliefs.” An area outside the stadium has been designated so the signs can be used there, she said. “I rely on reading the Bible daily, and I would never deny our students the opportunity to express their religious beliefs,” she said. “I appreciate that our community has rallied in support of this LFO tradition.” Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb vehemently disagrees with the ban and said he’ll call on the City Council to support the cheerleaders and their signs. The signs don’t infringe on anyone’s religious rights and are good for school spirit, he said. “I’m totally against them doing away with it,” Mr. Cobb said, adding that the cheerleaders’ rights are being abused. The mayor said football coach John Allen made the signs a tradition around 2003 and it has continued ever since. “If it’s offensive to anyone, let them go watch another football game,” he said. “Nobody’s forced to come there and nobody’s forced to read the signs.” Current head football coach Todd Windham said the school system must obey the law, despite everyone’s opinions. “Just my standpoint, I thought the banners were unique,” Mr. Windham said. “I really feel for the girls who prepare the banners and I think they really do a good job. They prepare a whole season’s worth during the summer and they put in a lot of work on those.” However, officials say the school system’s position centers on the trust between students’ parents and what the system teaches. “Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that school activities will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with their religious beliefs,” the system’s release states. “As a result, the courts prohibit rabbi-led prayers at school sporting events, Wiccan posters in gymnasiums and reading the Quran over the school public announcement system.” Catoosa officials say the U.S. Supreme Court has “ruled that religious activities at high school football games create the ‘inescapable conclusion’ that the school endorses the religious activity.” Such violations open the system to “lawsuits resulting in injunctions, unnecessary legal costs and damages that have to be paid by the local taxpayers, and possibly the loss of federal funding,” according to the statement. Mr. Scott said the “separation of church and state” has nothing to do with cheerleaders who are not “part of the state” and simply want to offer an inspirational message with signs they made on their own time. Mr. Scott, who ministers to some of the cheerleaders who attend his church, said the most recent sign he saw quoting from Timothy 1:7 could be considered inspirational in many settings. “All those words; ‘power, love, self-discipline’ can be applied to the game, encourage the players and show school spirit,” he said. Local resident and 1992 LFO alum Jeremy Jones called the decision “premature.” “To act on the complaint of one person ... seems premature,” Mr. Jones said. “The cheerleaders have raised their own money for this project and have worked hard to make these signs.” Several players were upset by the ruling and decided to hold a team prayer after they took the field last week, Mr. Windham said. “That was something new, but it was something they wanted to do to show support for the cheerleaders,” he said. Following each game there is a player-led prayer, he said, but under their interpretation of the law, the coaches cannot lead a prayer. Staff Writer Lyndsey Young contributed to this story.Print This Post
In a nutshell, your deeply held beliefs are the basis of your decisions which lead to outcomes in your life. If you want different outcomes, it is your beliefs that must change. That is the Cliffs Notes version of Sunday's message.
Think of some of the most significant decisions in your life.
What were the deeply held beliefs behind those decisions?
Think about an area in your life that is a source of discontentment right now.
What belief will need to change for you to get the desired outcome?
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
How does this verse run counter to our culture?
Is it easier or harder for us to trust in our culture?
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
How do these verses affect your future?Print This Post
Saturday night's comedy show was great! Dan Pace started things off with a lot of very funny local humor. Interesting thing about Dan is he has plans to walk all the way to sin city (Vegas) while visiting rescue missions along the way. You can check it out at http://www.rescuethemission.com/
Barnes & Miner had a hilarious set as well. The crowd laughed heartily for the whole 50 minutes. For those of you that were there, I challenge you to find a better night for $5. Here are a few things I learned from the show:
- Why some girls play the tuba.
- Just what a real marriage is.
- How 'The Biggest Loser' can inspire us to eat ice cream.
- Don't play the hokey pokey with lepers.
TNC received some good news. We have an opening act for Saturday's comedy show. Dan Pace is a 25 year veteran of comedy and host of Charlie Goodnight's Clean Comedy Showcase. Dan has worked with Jerry Seinfeld and Jeff Foxworthy - to name just a few marquee comedians. Dan has played everywhere from Buffalo To Vegas. It should be a great evening of fun.Print This Post
We are starting a sermon based small group. A sermon-based group promotes the development of relationship centered around the study of God's word from the most recent Sunday message. At each group meeting we will take time to share what is happening in our lives, discuss a portion of the Sunday message and support each other through prayer and encouragement. Since I will be creating notes for my group, I thought I may as well post them for the rest of you to consider.
Message – “Attending and Knowing are the Most Important Things”
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1)
Does this diminish the need to attend church and read the Bible?
Go further into James and read Chapter 2, verses 14-26.
If your faith has no substance, how can someone see the evidence of your faith?
Write down 3 things you know Jesus said.
What would it take for you to do what you wrote down?
Community can encompass many areas, work, family, friends, neighbors.
In what ways would your community be influenced by doing these things?
We hope you have been enjoying the urban legends film fest. We are half way through a really great series. Join us this Sunday as Jon discusses a Spiritual Urban Legend near and dear to his heart. Also, the film this week just might give you a chill.Print This Post
A book I've been reading challenged me yesterday to bless someone I did not know. To go to some public place, a coffee shop, mall, whatever, and do something nice and out of the ordinary for someone you observe. I extend the same challenge to you this week. Let me know what you did and how it made you feel.Print This Post
Proverbs 5:23 He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.
I read this recently. It is in a section warning against adultery. It doesn't have to be about adultery. It works on many topics. Eating, exercise, laziness to name a few. Think about it for a moment. What topic does it speak to in your life?Print This Post
(CNSNews.com) - America is in need of a new “Great Awakening” – an awakening that some Christian leaders say can only come about if Christians get on their knees.
“America right now is facing great complexities. We have a financial struggle that we’re in, we’re facing health-care issues that have us scratching our heads. Our place in the world has shifted. We’re a nation that really needs help from beyond ourselves. We feel like God is the help,” The Rev. William (Billy) Wilson told CNSNews.com.
Wilson, executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, is a member of the Awakening America Alliance, which is sponsoring “Cry Out America” on Friday, Sept. 11 -- an event calling for thousands of Christians to “gather at noon at county courthouses across the nation in repentance, to pray for the lost, to cry out for God to send another ‘Great Awakening.’”
It is an awakening that can only come about if Christians “wake up” and unite in prayer, Wilson said.
“Part of what we’re doing is calling for the American Church to wake up – and then to pray for a pervading -- and pervasive -- awakening in the nation that really brings truth and transformation,” he added.
“Biblically, the Church has tended to go to sleep at precisely the wrong moment,” Wilson said. “The disciples on Gethsemane slept through the night while Jesus was in prayer, and in the morning they simply were not ready for the pressures that came. And in many ways, the American church has been in a state of slumber.”
America’s decline in morality has been obvious, Wilson said, but there are now clear signs that American Christians are in need of a wake-up call.
“Statistics tell us, as of last year, on any given Sunday in the United States, only 17 percent of Americans attend church. That number continues to decline each year in America,” he said.
“People would say that they are church-going, and a lot more than that would say that they attend church regularly, that’s true – but on any given Sunday, only 17 percent of our population is in a local church. Only 9 percent of that is evangelical,” the Protestant leader added.
Wilson said in the Christian community, divorce, abortion, teen sex, pregnancy outside marriage and addictions -- such as gambling or use of pornography -- all occur at rates that parallel national averages.
Statistics from pollster George Barna seem to bear that out. A 2004 Barna Research survey found that at a time when the national average for divorce was 33 percent – 26 percent of Evangelical Christians; 33 percent of non-Evangelical born-again Christians; 34 percent of mainline Protestants; 30 percent of atheists and 28 percent of Catholics had been divorced.
The prayer event is being held on 9/11 – but it is not designed solely to commemorate the tragic happenings of that day.
“When 9/11 happened we all were shaken in America -- there was a lot of prayer that went on that day and in subsequent weeks we were a nation that felt vulnerable at that point, we felt like we need help from beyond ourselves, so a lot of people prayed,” Wilson said.
“Yet the reality is that 8 years later, we are more in need spiritually as a nation than we were on 9/11/ It is true that we have not had a terrorist attack recently on our shores, not a major one, at least – so people may have relaxed at least in that regard. Yet underneath, there is a growing remnant of Christian believers who realize that America’s spiritual situation has become ever more desperate. So they are binding together, uniting together in prayer and there is a rising tide of prayer and intercession going on in the American church, which is a great sign for the possibilities of awakening.”
“So really this is all about a bigger issue than just 9/11 and a moment of prayer. It’s about the need for a new awakening in the United States.”
In studying America’s spiritual history, Wilson said Christian leaders have discovered that America has known great spiritual awakenings --and times of spiritual decline.
“For the last 20 to 30 years, America has been in a spiritual decline. That has happened before in American history, so it’s not without hope spiritually,” Wilson added.
The nation may already be under God’s judgment, Wilson admitted.
“America has really pushed the edges of God’s righteous law by some of the judgments that we’ve made,” Wilson said. “The good news is that judgment sometimes precedes revival.”
“One of the common denominators in every great awakening in America has been what Jonathan Edwards, who was a preacher in colonial America in the first Great Awakening, called ‘united extraordinary prayer’ – out of the ordinary, not your normal prayer meeting at church. So on 9/11, we will have a moment of united extraordinary prayer to seek God for a new spiritual awakening in the nation,” Wilson told CNSNews.com.
Awakening is more than just “a good feeling,” he said.
“It’s more than just a few more people going to church, it’s a deep transformation that says people have become aware of God in their daily lives and in their home life again – and God has invaded, pervaded society in a new way,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the prayer event is not meant to compete with the annual National Day of Prayer observance in May or national prayer breakfasts.
Information about “Cry Out America” is available on the organization’s Web site.Print This Post
True North Church presents a night of comedy with Barnes & Miner on Saturday, September 26. Check out all the info at mytruenorth.org. Tickets will be available Sunday mornings in the lobby or can be reserved online. At only $5 a ticket, it is a great way for you to introduce someone to True North.Print This Post
The top-selling Bible in North America is undergoing its first revision in 25 years.
The update to the New International Version, the Bible of choice for conservative evangelicals, promises to reopen a contentious debate about changing gender terms in the sacred text.
The revision is scheduled to be completed late next year and published in 2011, officials said Tuesday.
Past attempts to remake the NIV for contemporary audiences have been plagued by controversies about gender language. Supporters say such changes are more accurate and make the Bible more accessible, but critics contend they twist meaning or smack of political correctness.Print This Post
I showed the Bigfoot Announcements video to a lady at work. After viewing it, she said that she knew people that go to her church that would hate that video. Really? Hate it? So it made me think about all the little differences that churches have from the type of music to the style of clothes. I explained to her that True North doesn't feel like it is any better than the church down the street that is exactly the opposite of us in style. All churches fulfill a need for the people who attend there.
True North probably would not be my Grandmother's cup of tea. She wouldn't hate it. She is just used to her church that she has attended for over 80 years. I am grateful that she has a place she is comfortable with. I do know that she would laugh at Bigfoot giving the announcements though.
In case you missed it, here is the video...