The sheriff of Bossier Parish, Louisiana, has decided that a local chapter of the Young Marines youth outreach his department sponsors will continue with the tradition of prayer, and will continue reciting an oath that embraces faith in God, despite the fact that those actions will cost the organization about $30,000 a year in funding from the federal Department of Justice (DOJ).
The outreach to youth in Bossier Parish is part of the national Young Marines program, which describes itself as a “youth education and service program” that “promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members.” Among their duties as members, Young Marine participants vow to “keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.” They are also required to recite the following oath upon joining: “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 my 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.”
Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said that the program has been very successful in the 10 years the parish has participated — prayer, oath, and all — graduating at least one thousand youth, many of whom have seen a real turnaround in their behavior, attitudes, and actions. He said problems arose after the DOJ performed an audit that uncovered the religious content of the program. “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.”
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