Two youth development programs in Bossier Parish, Louisiana will no longer receive federal funding because the organizations allow voluntary prayer at meetings and mention God in a program oath. The Department of Justice removed $30,000 of federal funding for these programs, which promote character development and encourage a drug-free lifestyle among troubled youth.
The United States Department of Justice contends that they will not allow programs with religious activities – like prayer, religious teaching, and evangelism – in federally funded programs. When asked to sign a pledge to ban prayer and to forbid any mention of God at meetings, the Young Marines and youth diversion program directors refused.
The Young Marines began in 1958, and has had more than 10,000 members in the organization since its establishment. The program endorses a drug-free lifestyle, encourages leadership, and promotes the mental, physical, and moral development of youth from age eight through high school graduation. Many Young Marine leaders are retired, active duty, and reserve Marines who desire to instill the positive values they learned from the Marine Corps. The program’s oath reads, “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.”
Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington was appalled by the restriction of these religious freedoms. “Enough is enough,” he told Fox News, “This is the United States of America – and the idea that the mere mention of God or voluntary prayer is prohibited is ridiculous.”