Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Federal Government Defunds Youth Programs Because of Religious References


Julian Whittington, sheriff of Bossier Parish, La., is standing up for religious freedom after the federal government recently cut funding for the Sheriff’s Office youth programs, including the Bossier Young Marines. The reason? The sheriff wouldn’t sign a letter banning voluntary prayer and the mention of God.

According to Whittington, the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights cut $30,000 for the Young Marines program. The sheriff told Fox News that DOJ officials had an issue with a voluntary student-led prayer and an oath that mentions God.

“We were informed that these are unacceptable, inherently religious activities and the Department of Justice would not be able to fund the programs if it continued,” Whittington told Fox News. “They wanted a letter from me stating that I would no longer have voluntary prayer and I would also have to remove ‘God’ from the Young Marine’s oath.”

The oath states:

“From this day forward, I sincerely promise, I will set an example for all other youth to follow and I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon God, my Country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines. These I will honor and respect in a manner that will reflect credit upon them and myself. Semper Fidelis.”

Whittington was told he would not receive funds unless he drafted a letter promising to not allow prayer or mention God. The Sheriff refused. 

“I flat said, ‘It’s not going to happen,’” he told Fox News. “Enough is enough. This is the United States of America – and the idea that the mere mention of God or voluntary prayer is prohibited is ridiculous.”

The Young Marines program has been in place for more than ten years, without issue, and both have been successful at reaching at-risk youth. The federal funds were used to purchase uniforms and supplies.

The Sheriff has received an outpouring of support from those in his community, with some organizing rallies promoting his efforts to protect the needed programs. 

The issue also caught the attention of Rep. John Fleming, R-La, who told Fox News that “his office is looking into the matter,” and that he would “lock arms with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.”

Unfortunately, this situation is not surprising considering the developing pattern of religious hostility coming from every area of the federal government, including the Department of Defense, the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Liberty Institute will not back down when it comes to protecting Americans’ First Freedom, and we will continue to expose and oppose the federal government’s escalating efforts to regulate religious liberty. However, we need your continued support to ensure we are successful. Please pray for our legal team as we gear up for the many cases and challenges that lie ahead, and please consider a gift today to help in this important effort. Each gift is critical in our unwavering commitment to defend and restore religious liberty in America.

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Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit