Earlier this summer, headlines blared across many conservative oriented and mainstream websites declared, “DOJ Defunds Youth Programs that Reference God.”
A Young Marines program run by the Bossier Parish Sheriff in Louisiana was notified that they would be denied future federal support of their program due to the Sheriff’s refusal to sign a pledge to the federal government that he would bar prayer or mentions of God in the program.
The program which has been a local tool for helping at risk youth become successful, productive members of society will now have to replace the $30,000 grant through private donations.
One section of the program’s oath that offended the Holder Justice Department 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.”
One can only imagine the reaction if the Bossier Parish Sheriff had shown the audacity of having Young Marines sing “God Bless America” or for that matter the fourth verse of the National Anthem which includes the following “offensive” words, “Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, And this be our motto: In God is our trust.”
Just imagine the conniption fits coming out of D.C. if the Young Marines were asked to memorize the preamble of the Declaration of Independence which unequivocably states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In fact, apparently the guardians against religious expression at DOJ have never actually looked at the very money issued by the United States government with its emphatic “In God We Trust” printed for all to see.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal argues that the Obama Administration attack on programs that mention God by withholding money that has our nation’s devotion to God emblazoned on it, is a wrongheaded view of our Constitution’s First Amendment.
Speaking about the issue at a Bossier Parish rally, Jindal explained, “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.”
The irony in the debate is that no one is arguing that the program is not worthy of being funded. The Justice Department had funded it in the past with the existing oath and relatively minor reference to God in it. The Justice Department would have continued to fund the program if God had been omitted or the Sheriff had engaged in a wink and a nod, taking God references out of public documents while keeping Him in the program itself.
Incredibly, the DOJ made a choice based upon what was clearly a new interpretation of what was an appropriate theistic expression to punish at risk kids in Louisiana by taking away program funding.
However, if the Justice Department is willing to sacrifice kids on the altar of their anti-God point of view rather than measuring results, perhaps the real question is should the federal government be funding these programs at all?
It would seem reasonable that rather than impose New York City community standards on Louisiana, that the federal government should cease and desist from spending tax monies collected from the people of Louisiana to attack their values. With the federal government out of the way, individual states could determine which programs work and fund them or not based upon locally based standards.
Perhaps Congress which opens every session with a prayer, and uses taxpayer funds to pay a Chaplain for both the House and Senate will weigh into the debate on whether DOJ should deny at risk youth money or not.
In a town full of double speak, the debate from those supporting the DOJ position just might reach new heights in Capitol Hill hypocrisy.
Rick Manning is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Rick on twitter @rmanning957.