A Young Marines program in Louisiana is getting attention after refusing to back down over a prayer.
The Shreveport Times of Shreveport, La., reports that the Bossier, La., Young Marines program lost at least $15,000 worth of federal funding because of a voluntary prayer program cadets can recite.
The decade-long institution of praying during program meetings has never been questioned or criticized, staff said, but a random audit of the program called its federal funding into question.
According to reports, the Department of Justice requested that the word “God” be removed from the prayer in order to maintain the subsidy, though the DOJ said in a statement that the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement was the entity that decided the program was not in compliance.
Despite the financial hit, Bossier sheriff Julian Whittington has said he won’t have the prayer removed or altered.
“We’ve never had one complaint from anybody for anything,” Whittington told the Shreveport Times. “”I said, ‘Keep it. We’re not doing it. Game over.”
The move has led to an outpouring of donations from locals to keep the program going and messages of support from all around the state. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and country music star Lee Greenwood paid a July 4 visit to Bossier for an “In God We Trust” rally to celebrate the Young Marines’ decision to keep God in their prayer.
“The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion,” Jindal reportedly said. “It was written to protect people of faith from government officials, and we are going to hold on to that freedom.”
Jindal said if the decision regarding the program’s funding wasn’t overturned, he would personally donate money to help keep it going.