Gov. Bobby Jindal pledges state’s support with proclamation
State and federal officials have taken action to support Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington’s stnace against removing mentions of God from his youth programs.
Congressman John Fleming, M.D., and Senator David Vitter released the following statement as they issued a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, calling on the Department of Justice to end its religious censorship of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Young Marines program:
“This administration knows no end to its attacks on religious freedom,” said Fleming. “The Department of Justice (DOJ) is trying to pull the plug on a successful youth program in Bossier Parish because students are allowed a moment of silence in which they may choose to pray before each class. DOJ officials clearly know they’re wrong in this as they’re now vainly trying to deflect blame. The DOJ needs to take responsibility for its action, stop impugning the integrity of Sheriff (Julian) Whittington and the Young Marines program, and respect the First Amendment rights of the participants.”
“It’s deplorable that the administration is discriminating against this laudable program to help Louisiana youth just because they mention God,” said Vitter. “The Department of Justice needs to take immediate action to fix this.”
Federal funding totaling approximately $30,000 has been removed from the BSO’s programs due to their use of prayer and mention of God. The Sheriff was told that funding would be restored if all mentions of God were removed from the programs and Sheriff Whittington has refused to remove the wording and prayer.
Young Marines is a youth diversion program offered by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office that helps improve the lives of Louisiana’s young people and offers time for voluntary prayer.
A rally was held Thursday, July 4 featuring local, state, and national representatives including Fleming and Gov. Bobby Jindal in support of Whittington’s stance. Jindal also called on the federal government to reinstate funding recently withdrawn from the program.
“The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. It was written to protect people of faith from government officials, and we are going to hold on to that freedom. I don’t know if we can convince Washington, D.C. to continue funding this great program. I hope we can, but I know we are not going to give up our religious freedom,” said Jindal.
“Sheriff Whittington’s Young Marines program has helped a number of Louisiana youth better themselves and be successful, contributing citizens of this great state. That’s why I stand in support of Sheriff Whittington and the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office. Today, we’re calling on the Department of Justice to restore the funding to the Young Marines so it can continue improving the lives of our young men and women through prayer,” he continued.
Whittington plans to fund the programs out of the department.