Support sheriff’s efforts to fight funding cut due to religion
“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.”
Bossier Sheriff’s Young Marine’s Oath
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
United States Pledge of Allegiance
“In God we Trust.”
Inscribed on our currency
For over a dozen years, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s office has sponsored the Young Marine’s program. Monday’s issue of the BPT featured Amanda Crane’s excellent article detailing the loss of funding provided by the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG), provided by the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement. This funding apparently initiates from the federal government and accounts a majority of the program’s costs.
However, Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington has been notified that in order to continue receiving the annual $15,000 grant that largely supports the program, he must sign a letter pledging no prayer and no mention of God would be permitted in the program. In addition to the above-cited Young Marine’s Oath, the program offers the opportunity for voluntary prayer.
According to Whittington, “this situation arose when someone in the Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, in Washington DC, objected to allowing voluntary prayer and the mention of God in the Young Marine’s oath, recited at the beginning of the program’s weekly sessions.
Whittington response: “As Sheriff of Bossier Parish, I will never sign the requested letter preventing these ‘inherently religious activities’ from being part of our program.”
And then Whittington wrote his own letter … to Governor Bobby Jindal, and our Congressional delegation concerning the situation.
Whittington told Crane that this issue isn’t just about Bossier Parish: “This is an American issue. How do they think they can do this … Enough is enough, I don’t work for the people in Washington. I work for the people of Bossier Parish and the majority of people in Bossier feel the same as I do … We are not lining people up against a wall and forcing them to pray. It has always been a volunteer led prayer.”
Volunteer-led prayer is nothing new in Bossier Parish or likely most other cities and towns in this country. Tuesday, such prayer was offered at the Bossier City Council meeting; Wednesday the same was offered at the Bossier Parish Police Jury.
And a free, successful, decade-old program that seeks to build character and strengthen core values (discipline, leadership, teamwork and commitment), along with physical fitness, instructed by a Bossier Parish Deputy/former US Marine and several active US Marine volunteers ought to have the support of every Bossier Parish citizen – along with the rest of northwest Louisiana.
To that end, and in support of Whittington’s stand, Sen. Barrow Peacock sponsored Senate Resolution 192, which requests the Louisiana Congressional Delegation review the basis for the decision to discontinue the JABG grant to the Bossier Parish Young Marine’s program.
We can and should support Whittington’s and Peacock’s efforts. Readers who believe that this funding should be restored with no prohibition on the Young Marine’s Oath or voluntary prayer will want to contact members of our Congressional Delegation and express that sentiment and support for continued grant funding of the program.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org