Today, Governor Bobby Jindal attended Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington's "God and Country" Rally where he called on the federal government to reinstate funding recently withdrawn from the sheriff's Young Marines Program. The funding has been denied because it allows opportunities for prayer.
Young Marines is a youth diversion program offered by the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office that helps improve the lives of Louisiana's young people and offers time for voluntary prayer.
Governor Jindal said, "The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. It was written to protect people of faith from government officials, and we are going to hold on to that freedom. I don't know if we can convince Washington, D.C. to continue funding this great program. I hope we can, but I know we are not going to give up our religious freedom.
"Sheriff Whittington's Young Marines program has helped a number of Louisiana youth better themselves and be successful, contributing citizens of this great state. That's why I stand in support of Sheriff Whittington and the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office. Today, we're calling on the Department of Justice to restore the funding to the Young Marines so it can continue improving the lives of our young men and women through prayer."
Governor Jindal also issued the following proclamation in support of Sheriff Whittington and the Young Marines Program:
WHEREAS prayer is a fundamental part of religious freedom and a right granted to all Americans by our forefathers when they founded our great nation;
WHEREAS the Young Marines Program offered through the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office challenges our young people, equips them with skills needed to pursue their dreams and offers opportunities for prayer;
WHEREAS the Bossier Sheriff's Young Marines Program has helped a number of Louisiana youth better themselves and be successful, contributing citizens to this great state;
WHEREAS the federal funding for the Young Marines Program, which had been allocated for ten years prior, was recently denied by the Department of Justice because God was discussed and voluntary prayer occurred at program meetings;
WHEREAS this revocation is an injustice and a denial by the federal government of basic rights to religious freedom guaranteed to Louisianians in the U.S. Constitution;
WHEREAS the Federal government is without authority to remove funding from an organization that strives to help young people succeed solely because voluntary prayer occurs in program activities;
NOW, THEREFORE, I Governor Bobby Jindal stand with the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office and call on the Department of Justice to restore the funding to the Young Marines Program, allowing it to continue improving the lives of our young men and women through prayer.