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CULTURE DIGEST: Bible verses allowed on cheerleaders' banners

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Cheerleaders at a Texas high school can continue their practice of using Bible verses on inspirational banners for football games now that a judge has issued a temporary injunction.


School officials had told the cheerleaders they could not include messages such as "If God is for us, who can be against us?" on banners that football players run through before games. Students and their parents then sued the school district, and a trial is expected to start next summer.

The ban was prompted by a complaint from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which now is seeking students and parents in the school district who will join a lawsuit.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry emphasized the state's commitment to protecting religious liberties for all.

"During this upcoming session, we'll continue to find ways to preserve religious expression and explore ways to protect people of faith from this ongoing onslaught," Perry said in a statement Oct. 17.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in the case.

"Those banners, which the cheerleaders independently produce on their own time with privately funded supplies, are perfectly constitutional," Abbott said.

He added, "Students' ability to express their religious views adds to the diversity of thought that has made this country so strong."

In Texas, the Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act signed by Perry in 2007 requires school districts to treat a student's voluntary religious expression the same as a student's expression of any other viewpoint on a permissible subject.


"The Freedom From Religion Foundation is legally wrong when it tries to bully schools into denying students their First Amendment right to share their religious beliefs," Abbott said. "Just as schools cannot command students to support a particular belief, those same schools cannot silence a student's religious belief. The Constitution does not give preference to those who have no religious beliefs over those who do."

'PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE' MARKS 10th ANNIVERSARY -- Rick Warren's bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?" will have continued life as Zondervan releases a 10th anniversary edition Nov. 6.

Warren is adding two chapters to the book that has remained for 10 unprecedented years the bestselling nonfiction hardback in history. Two new chapters, "The Envy Trap -- I must be like you to be happy" and "The People-Pleaser Trap -- I must be liked by you to be happy," refashion the book from a 40-day to a six-week individual or small group study.

In addition, the book will provide a video introduction and a 30-minute audio message by Warren for each chapter as well as access to an online community, according to Zondervan.

"There is an entire generation who was too young to read 'The Purpose Driven Life' 10 years ago but are now asking the critical question of 'what on earth am I here for?'" said Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. "This anniversary edition represents a new approach for a new generation incorporating a new understanding of barriers that keep people from finding their purpose, based on thousands of readers' letters I have received."


Since its publication, The Purpose Driven Life has sold more than 32 million copies worldwide in 50 languages including Afrikaans, Arabic, Farsi, Rwandan, Sango, Swahili and Zulu, according to Zondervan. The book released simultaneously at the top of the four major bestseller lists, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Publishers Weekly.

The hardback edition won the 2003 and 2004 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Christian Book of the Year Award.

"Millions of people -- from NFL (National Football League) and LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) players to corporate executives to high school students to prison inmates -- meet regularly to discuss 'The Purpose Driven Life,'" according to Time magazine.

In 2005, three years after the book's original release, Atlanta hostage Ashley Smith recounted persuading a captor to release her by reading portions of book. That same year, Starbucks, in its "The Way I See It" campaign, used a quote from the book, mentioning God on Starbucks cups.

FIRST IRISH ABORTION CLINIC OPENS AMID PROTESTS -- Ireland's first abortion clinic opened Oct. 18 amid protests from both Protestants and Catholics.

The Marie Stopes center in Belfast, Northern Ireland, began offering non-surgical abortions with more than 200 protesters gathered outside the clinic, according to the Associated Press. A woman may abort her child by taking a drug if she is less than nine weeks pregnant and physicians decide her life or long-term health is threatened, AP reported.


Abortion is illegal in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland apart from those exceptions.

The clinic's opponents expressed concern abortion will expand now that it has been narrowly permitted. "For Marie Stopes, this is only a first step," said Liam Gibson of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, according to AP.

Marie Stopes, based in Great Britain, is one of the world's leading abortion providers with clinics in more than 40 countries.

Annually, about 1,000 women from Northern Ireland and 4,000 from the Republic of Ireland go to Britain for abortions, AP reported.

COURT: POST-ABORTIVE GIRLFRIEND OF NETS' CEO MAY NOT SUE -- The former girlfriend of the Brooklyn Nets' chief executive officer may not sue him for refusing to keep promises he made if she aborted their child, a New Jersey appeals court ruled Oct. 12.

Reyna Purcell, 35, had an abortion in February 2011 even though she said she wanted to give birth to her child, according to the Associated Press. Her boyfriend, Brett Yormark of the National Basketball Association team, warned Purcell he would leave her if she did not have an abortion, she said. When she had the abortion, Yormark, 45, broke up with her shortly thereafter.

The appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that Purcell's claim of fraudulent and malicious coercion by Yormark was not binding legally because his promise was not in writing, AP reported.


359 BABIES SAVED SO FAR IN 40 DAYS FOR LIFE -- Volunteers with the latest 40 Days for Life outreach reported 359 babies had not been aborted by their abortion-minded mothers as of Oct. 22.

The 40-day effort -- which focuses on peaceful, pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics -- began Sept. 26 at locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia and seven Canadian provinces, as well as Australia, England, Spain and Uganda. It will end Nov. 4.

In recent reports:

-- A young woman waited in a long line to enter an abortion clinic in Wilmington, Del. While waiting, she heard a song offered as a prayer by 40 Days vigil participants. That song stayed with her, she said later. Inside the clinic, she requested an ultrasound. When she saw the image of her unborn child, she decided not to have an abortion.

-- A young couple walked past 40 Days volunteers and into an abortion clinic in Las Vegas, Nev. "The woman appeared determined to carry through with her scheduled abortion," a volunteer said, "but the father of the child entered the building in tears." They accepted information about a nearby pregnancy help center, however. Minutes later, the couple left the abortion clinic and went to the pregnancy help center.

-- A young man waiting outside a Baltimore, Md., abortion clinic for a woman inside asked a vigil participant, "How can you help me?" After he learned about the assistance available, he entered the building and soon left with the woman who had accompanied him to the clinic. She would not have an abortion, they said.


Compiled by Tom Strode, Erin Roach and Diana Chandler of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( ) and in your email (

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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