In the mind of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, the only thing worse than the conservative, God-fearing citizens of Bossier Parish are the no-nonsense elected officials here who stand boldly for our values. A leader like Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington is the ACLU’s worst nightmare, because he is completely unaffected by their standard intimidation tactics.
The announcement of the Sheriff’s second annual “In God We Trust Rally” for July 4th is giving the ACLU fits because they find it absolutely intolerable that thousands of patriotic citizens would want to come together again for a free event to celebrate Independence Day and show support for the national motto. Unfortunately for the ACLU, the Sheriff and the people still enjoy these fundamental rights.
The left cannot ignore that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month in Town of Greece, N.Y. v Galloway that Christian prayers at the opening of town meetings are constitutional. I was one of the attorneys who worked on that landmark case, where it was proven that town officials did not exclude the participation of minority faiths or attempt to force a particular religious viewpoint on the audience. Those same parameters will be followed here at the Bossier rally on July 4th, which is open to everyone.
Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court famously observed, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions.”
It is both lawful and wise for public officials to respect and cherish our deep religious heritage, and to invoke God’s protection and guidance over their work and our nation. Just because a few activists may suddenly find these public expressions “offensive” does not mean we should surrender our fundamental free speech and free exercise rights, or change who we are as Americans.
Ten years ago, we defeated the ACLU in their federal case against the Bossier Parish Schools for allowing students to celebrate Christmas on campus. They haven’t picked a fight up here since, but we’re ready if they do. Sheriff Whittington is right that our basic freedoms are under increasing assault, and this community has simply decided enough is enough. Thankfully, the Constitution is still on our side.
Mike Johnson is a Bossier attorney who serves as Chief Counsel for Freedom Guard. He may be reached at mjohnson@FreedomGuardNow.org.