A Louisiana lawman is livid over the federal government’s decision to cut off funds for two programs to help troubled young people — all, he says, because he refused to sign a pledge to bar prayer or any mention of God at their meetings.
Julian Whittington, the sheriff of Bossier Parish, Louisiana, told Fox News that the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights de-funded $30,000 for their Young Marines chapter as well as a youth diversion program. Federal officials objected to a voluntary student-led prayer in the department’s youth diversion program and an oath recited by the Young Marines that mentions God, according to Whittington, who blasted what he considers the government’s “aggression and infringement of our religious freedoms.”
“We were informed that these are unacceptable inherently religious activities and the Department of Justice would not be able to fund the programs if it continued,” Whittington told Fox News. “They wanted a letter from me stating that I would no longer have voluntary prayer and I would also have to remove ‘God’ from the Young Marine’s oath.”
The DOJ and the Office of Civil Rights are aware of the controversy but did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Fox News obtained an email written by an attorney for the DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights raised questions about references to God and church along with the phrase “love of God.” The attorney also raised questions about one of the five elements of the Young Marines Creed – “Keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.”
The attorney advised that DOJ rules prohibit “funding on inherently religious activities, such as prayer, religious instruction and proselytization.
“And any religious activities must be kept separate in time or location from DOJ-funded activities,” the attorney wrote.
The sheriff was told he would not be given any money unless he wrote a letter pledging not to pray or use the word “God.”
“I flat said, ‘It’s not going to happen,’” he said. “Enough is enough. This is the United States of America — and the idea that the mere mention of God or voluntary prayer is prohibited is ridiculous.”
The sheriff said the programs have been in place for at least ten years and until now — the prayers and the mention of God have never been an issue.
The Young Marine’s oath that the DOJ took issue with states:
“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.”
Whittington said he could not understand why the federal government would take issue with the oath or the prayers.
“Right here in good old Bossier Parish, Louisiana, in the United States of America — something as basic as voluntary prayer and the mere mention of God is offensive and prohibited (by the government),” he said.
Both youth programs have been hailed as a successful way to reach at-risk young people. Since 2002, more than 1,000 young people have graduated from the program, directed by a Bossier Parish deputy who is a former U.S. Marine.
The federal money had been used to purchase uniforms and supplies for the kids. But Whittington said it’s not about the money.
“The money is not the issue,” he said. “It’s the principle of the matter. What is going on here? Who is dictating what can or can’t be said in Bossier Parish?”
The sheriff fired off a letter to La. Gov. Bobby Jindal defending his decision not to compromise.
“This is an appalling situation where someone at the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. could, would and did go to great lengths to prevent even the mere mention of God in any way to the youth in these programs,” he wrote.
While Jindal has not yet weighed in, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told Fox News he is very concerned about the de-funding.
“There is a very wide effort coming out of the administration that seeks to stamp out freedom of expressions — particularly religion and especially freedom of Christian expression,” Fleming said. “They are willing to throw the youth overboard and remove the funding just in the name of making this an atheist, agnostic, secular organization.”
Fleming said his office is looking into the matter and vowed to “lock arms” with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“They (DOJ) don’t want anything to have any sort of religious support — even down to prayer,” Fleming said. “It’s sad and it’s inconsistent with the intentions of the framers of the Constitution.”
The Young Marines was founded in 1958 and has more than 10,000 members in 300 chapters. The organization focuses on character-building, leadership and promotes a drug-free lifestyle.
Mike Kessler, the national executive director of Young Marines, told Fox News that he was disappointed to hear about the controversy surrounding the Bossier Parish chapter.
“I’m saddened the DOJ felt it necessary to pull whatever funding they provide because clearly when a sheriff’s office takes the kids in — they are looking at the program as a way to help kids who might otherwise get into trouble,” he said.
Kessler said Young Marines does not promote a specific religious faith. He said he could not fathom why the DOJ would take issue with portions of their creed that mentions God and attending the church of their faith.
“That’s such a generic statement,” he said. “We’re not talking about the local Baptist church. We’re not talking about a specific religion. I don’t understand how much more generic we can be.”
In his book, “No Longer a Christian Nation“, the author at times takes a necessary lighthearted look at a sobering subject with a solution that only God can provide. The human family has made great strides in using technology and science to move itself towards self-reliance. Unfortunately, as the Holy Scriptures reveal to us, independence from God was not the purpose of our existence.
Whereas the founding of America was based on a realization that the nation’s independence was contingent upon a dependence on the almighty God, the United States as of late has been moving away from this essential notion.
The title of the book is inspired by quotes from President Obama who has been diligently and fundamentally transforming the country. As the nation navigates through these uncharted waters, the Bible is quite specific on what becomes of a nation that turns its back on God.
The American culture, the free-market economic system, and the laws that the Founding Forefathers have left its modern-day citizens have been seen as a blessing by the vast majority. Nevertheless, not every American agrees with this, and because these individuals are less than impressed with America and only focus on its imperfections, they have set out to totally dismantle the system which, in fact, is a system that has led to Americans experiencing one of the highest levels of individual liberty and economic freedom ever seen throughout world history.
But as Americans have become complacent in their lavish lifestyles with greater amounts of leisure time, the progressives are seizing the opportunity for change. An essential part of this dismantling is the eradication of the Christian faith. The approach that these so-called “progressives” use includes a process of destruction that usually works slow enough so as not to be noticed as Americans go about their daily lives. This planned change by the elite among us is carried out continuously and unrelentingly.
The system that was set up by America’s Founding Fathers relied upon having responsible citizens that, for the most part, are God-fearing, alert, and educated. In order to bring about the change they are looking for, the progressives have been working to separate American citizens from their belief in a Higher Being by entertaining them into oblivion, retraining their minds, and dumbing down the education system.
Over the years, they have managed to hijack most of the media, the entertainment industry, the schools, and the sciences, and by maintaining a majority of the voting bloc, they can keep their power and further their agenda of driving the nation further and further away from what the original American architects intended.
Without the concept of a Higher Being kept in mind, people now often view freedom as a license to do anything. With this “progression,” chaos becomes inevitable, and the progressives will be expected to “save the day” and throw out those freedoms and govern as dictators in order to suppress the unrestrained nature of the individual.
As the author retraces the historical hijacking of America, the believers in Christ are encouraged by the author to stay the course, come what may, realizing that the Holy Scriptures hold prophecies which speak about troubling end times. As the remnant followers of Christ find themselves in a changing, unrecognizable earthly landscape, they are further encouraged to focus on the author and finisher of their faith, Jesus Christ.