Wednesday, July 3, 2013

In ? We Trust

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

How hard is it to lose $30,000 in government funding? Invoke God's name and find out! Louisiana Sheriff Julian Whittington had done so for 10 years as part of his local Young Marine's initiative. After a decade of voluntary prayers, the only complaint he's received is from the U.S. Justice Department -- which unfortunately happened to be funding the project.

Not anymore. The DOJ pulled its annual grant for uniforms and supplies when the Bossier Sheriff refused to remove "God" from the Young Marine's oath. After a random audit of the program, a Justice attorney fired off an email to Whittington objecting to the group's religious references. "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 Sheriff fumed. "I flat said, 'It's not going to happen. Enough is enough. This is the United States of America -- and the idea that there mere mention of God or voluntary prayer is prohibited is ridiculous."

He's right. DOJ may have federal funds, but they're allocated by a Congress that prays before every session! If the Justice Department has a problem with the word "God," then it had better start printing its own currency, because "In God We Trust" is on every bill. (A fact the DOJ didn't seem to mind when it accepted its $26 billion budget). To say that a successful program for at-risk kids needs to deny God to qualify for government funds is nothing but ideological extortion. It's the same tactic the Obama administration has used in the contraception-abortion mandate, the IRS tax exemption scandal, and other federal grant applications. Ignore your beliefs -- or else.

Can Bossier's program survive without DOJ's help? Absolutely. Sheriff Whittington says donations are pouring in from outside the parish. It's the administration's double standard that outrages people. The government is cutting off a character development program because of a voluntary prayer -- while at the same time sending billions of dollars to a Planned Parenthood organization that defrauds Medicaid, covers up statutory rape, botches abortions, accepts racist donations, encourages sex trafficking, falsifies medical facts, and endangers women's safety.

If you teach kids irresponsibility, the government rewards you. But try teaching them to avoid "anything that would bring disgrace on God and country" and you're suddenly ineligible for taxpayer funds. Of course, the irony is that the DOJ's $30,000 investment in Sheriff Whittington's youth program is a whole lot cheaper than spending millions of dollars cleaning up the mess Planned Parenthood's sex education leaves behind in the form of teen pregnancy, abortion, and disease. Under this President: break the law, win funding. Honor God, and lose it.

Unfortunately, this is just part of the broader effort by the Left to stamp out religious freedom and, more specifically, Christianity. Congressman John Fleming (R-La.) is just one of the incensed Louisianans. "[The Obama administration] is willing to throw the youth overboard and remove the funding just in the name of making this an atheist, agnostic, secular organization." More than 1,000 kids have graduated from the Bossier program, which is not "inherently religious" as the DOJ claims. Even if it were, the DOJ would be just as justified in funding the outreach as it would be in subsidizing any number of faith-based social services. If the government has money for taxpayer-funded dance lessons, pickle promotions, kazoos, and bathtub toys, surely it has plenty left over to help troubled kids.

In the meantime, Sheriff Whittington is moving forward -- with or without Washington's help. This Thursday at the Bossier Sheriff's Office Viking Drive Substation, he's even hosting an "In God We Trust" rally from 1-4 pm. Stop by to enjoy a cookout and sign the pledge in support of the Young Marines. For more on this story, click over to yesterday's edition of "Washington Watch" and hear from Sheriff Whittington himself.