Submitted by Lt. Bill Davis
Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington has placed three “In God We Trust” banners at each of the three substations for anyone to sign to offer their support to restore funding to the Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marines program.
“Our July 4th ‘In God We Trust’ rally was an enormous success,” said Sheriff Whittington, “but we realize there were many people who were not able to make it to the event who wanted to sign the banner. Now they’ll have an opportunity.”
The banners will be available to sign on weekdays from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the three Bossier Sheriff’s Office substations: Benton Substation on 7076 Highway 3; Viking Drive Substation on 2510 Viking Drive; and the South Bossier Substation on 3135 Arthur Ray Teague Parkway.
The “In God We Trust” banners state: “President Obama: Please tell the Department of Justice we support restoring funding to the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Young Marines program.” Sheriff Whittington encourages anyone to come out and sign the banners to show their support.
The Young Marines program has been denied funding by the U.S. Department of Justice because of voluntary prayer and mention of God in the obligation, which the DOJ is calling “inherently religious activities.” Sheriff Whittington was told he would need to have any prayer separate from the program in order to receive the funding. He refused and has vowed to keep God and voluntary prayer in the program, and thus denied funding.
“I have said all along that this is not a Democrat issue, it’s not a Republican issue…it’s an American issue,” Whittington said. “It seems to me that if the federal government followed the U.S. Constitution and upheld our basic religious freedoms, we wouldn’t be dealing with this matter of overt overreach in the first place.
“The U.S. Congress opens each session with prayer, and yet a federal agency is telling our boys and girls in our Young Marines program they can’t have voluntary prayer,” said Whittington. “A program like the Young Marines that provides a positive impact on the lives of young people is one we should putting more resources into, not defunding them.”
Many have offered words of encouragement and financial donations to keep the program funded. The stance by Sheriff Whittington also has received national and international attention and gathered support by Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana state legislators, and members of the U.S. Congress.
“This whole matter is an infringement of basic religious freedom, and I am encouraged by the support of our governor and legislators,” said Whittington. “If their actions will restore funding to our Young Marines program and prohibit the federal government from withholding funding from other programs in order to preserve our religious liberty, we will certainly be pleased.”