A Louisiana sheriff is standing firm on not accepting Department of Justice funds for the Young Marines program after he was told he couldn’t mention God if he wanted the funding. Bossier Parrish Sherriff Julian Whittington said the demand infringes on his religious freedoms.
Whittington said he was appalled at the funding condition, spelled out in a letter from the Justice Department saying any mention of “God” or any “voluntary prayers” could not be included in the program if it was to receive the $30,000 in funding.
“Last time I said the Pledge of Allegiance, it had God in it,” Whittington told KTBS, a local TV station. “The last time I picked up a dollar bill this morning, it had God on it. You mean to tell me that we can’t have voluntary prayer or mention God in our program?”
Fox News reported that the Justice Department took issue with the Young Marine’s Oath, which says:
“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.”
Local clergy members are standing behind Whittington.
“We want to make sure that program stays in place and I want to applaud the sheriff for taking a stand the way he did to not compromise the integrity of the program for a few grant dollars,” Pastor Doyle Adams Sr. of Elizabeth Baptist Church told KTBS.
Whittington said it’s not about the money, but the principle. The character-building program has been in place since 2002 and has been sanctioned by the U.S. Marine Corps. Young men and women between the ages of 8 and 18 are taught discipline, leadership, teamwork and commitment.
Local supporters have come forward, Whittington said, and the program is ready for a group of new recruits starting this week.
Watch the KTBS report here:
H/T: Fox News