The sheriff of a small Louisiana town refuses to be cowed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s objections to his parish’s plans for a Fourth of July celebration that includes “patriotic and God-lifting music” and prayer with the food and fun.
Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington told a local newspaper that he plans to exercise his freedom to worship at the Friday rally along with a thousand fellow citizens, despite the ACLU’s objections that the free event is being held at a sheriff’s substation.
“Not only am I elected to serve the people of Bossier Parish, but I live here and my family lives here,” he told the Shreveport Times. “I think Bossier Parish is a better place with Christianity and Christian values involved in it.”
As a citizen and elected official, Whittington said, he does not work for the federal government and couldn’t care less what the ACLU thinks.
Bossier held its first “In God We Trust Rally” last Fourth of July, and the public’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive, he said.
“For a nation that was founded on Christian values, our government was formed around it, it’s on our money, it’s in our oath, we pledge as elected officials, to somehow now say that it’s somehow taboo, or you have to run with it is ridiculous,” Whittington said.
The state’s ACLU executive director, Marjorie Esman, disagreed.
“If the event is held on sheriff’s property, then by definition it is a public event that sends a message of government endorsement of Christianity,” she said in an email to the Shreveport Times. “The building is paid for by public funds, and maintained by public funds. If the religious messages are overtly Christian and suggest that Christianity is better than other religions, and if there is a link to public funding or support, this would overstep the law.”
Whittington scoffed at such notions.
“We’re not trying to push or convert,” he said. “There are no consequences. … But somehow, the very basic things we were founded on are now not in vogue or out of style or might offend somebody is ridiculous.”
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayer before a town meeting did not violate the Constitution, but Esman believes “God-lifting music” is a religious endorsement not covered by the decision.
Whittington said the narrow one-vote decision is a barometer of how invasive political correctness had become.
“It’s time to be worried,” he said.
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