BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Bossier Parish Young Marines Program has garnered massive support after the decision by Bossier Parish Sheriff to keep prayer in the program, in spite of losing federal funding. This support, however, is being met with some opposition by advocates of the separation of church and state.
More than 20,000 people have signed the petition in support of the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Young Marines Program. Hundreds also showed up to a rally last week to show support, and among those present were Governor Bobby Jindal.
But some are saying just because it is popular, and supported by public officials, does not make it legal.
"They are paid by the tax payer, therefore, the tax money should not be used in the promotion of religion at all, particularly with children," says Dr. Randall Lord.
Lord is a local chiropractor and Libertarian who has run unsuccessfully to represent the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana. He describes himself as "a strong advocate for the separation of Church and State."
"Children are very influential and it's easy to indoctrinate them and the Supreme Court says you cannot do that," says Lord.
Sheriff Whittington has made it clear that he will not remove God or voluntary prayer from the program, even if it does mean less federal grant money. A total of $30,000 in funding was lost for both the Young Marines program and the similar youth diversion program also sponsored by the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office.
Several organizations and churches donated checks during last week's rally, to help fund the young marines, raising about $20,000.
At the rally, State Representative Jeff Thompson showed support of the youth group.
"I think the message is clear. Enough's enough. We were created by our creator," says Jeff Thompson.
"Politicians typically jump on the bandwagon of whatever is popular," says Lord. "Just because Bobby Jindal came to support it does not make it legal."