WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., lauded the addition of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as a co-sponsor of the Freedom to Pray Act, her legislation to prohibit the federal government from withholding or revoking funds to programs whose participants engage in voluntary religious activities.
The Freedom to Pray Act would allow the Young Marines Program in Bossier City – and other programs in similar situations – to conduct voluntary religious activities without fear of losing their federal funding.
“I am deeply encouraged by Sen. Graham’s support of the Freedom to Pray Act,” Sen. Landrieu said. “I will continue to work to build support on both sides of the aisle to get this important legislation passed and put an end to the Department of Justice’s overreach. Programs like the Young Marines in Bossier City are making positive contributions to young individuals and their communities—they deserve our support.”
Meanwhile, local Congressman John Fleming, R-District 4, has released a statement saying no new law is necessary.
Fleming and Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., released the following statement in response to Landrieu’s legislation:
“While I appreciate Senator Landrieu looking into an absurd situation created by the Obama Department of Justice, the senator’s legislation is redundant and doesn’t advance the issue,” said Fleming. “Existing statute and case law provides ample protection for voluntary prayer at the Young Marines program, and Senator Landrieu’s bill is merely a restatement of that law. There is an abundance of case law about ‘viewpoint discrimination’ and precedent is already on our side, with the Supreme Court saying ‘viewpoint discrimination’ of religious speech is unconstitutional.
Therefore, a legislative remedy is a distraction, when an immediate remedy is available to the Bossier Sheriff. The Department of Justice can and should act immediately to restore the funding. I have called on DOJ to do exactly that in a letter to Attorney General Holder, and I hope Senator Landrieu will join that effort and also call on him to act to reverse this clearly unconstitutional decision by DOJ. Giving him another law to ignore is not the answer.”
Sen. Landrieu has been working on this issue since June 2012 after she learned from a constituent e-mail that the Young Marines Program might lose federal funds from the Department of Justice (DOJ) because of voluntary prayer and the mention of God in the program.