Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) Freedom to Pray Act would prohibit the federal government from withholding tax dollars to programs that include religious activity.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has decided to cosponsor the bill
“I am deeply encouraged by Sen. Graham’s support of the Freedom to Pray Act,” Landrieu said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department refused to fund the Young Marines program of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana because the program handbook says recruits must “develop and grow with special emphasis on the love of God and fidelity to our country.”
The program is supposed to keep kids off the street, but young men must swear an oath to “Keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.”
"This is clearly a serious overreach by the Department of Justice and I intend to do something about it," Landrieu said in a statement. "These kids are working to improve themselves and their communities; they deserve support, not unnecessary hurdles."
Landrieu believes that if something does "good work," then it should be funded, without regulation. It's a strange move for a Democrat, but in Louisiana Democrats are a little more purple than blue.
"To fix this problem, the Freedom to Pray Act will prohibit the federal government from withholding funds simply because participants are voluntarily praying," she added. "It's legal, it's constitutional and it should not be singled out by the Justice Department. The DOJ has plenty of problems to worry about – it should focus more on them and not a program that is doing good work for kids in our community."
However it doesn't appear that praying is voluntary, but rather compulsory, if one becomes a member of the Young Marines.
The bill would help Louisiana finally get its school voucher program off the ground. Republicans in the state have been foaming at the mouth to defund public schools as soon as possible.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher plan was ruled unconstitutional in 2012, in part because money collected for the public school system cannot be handed over to religious private schools.
Simon Brown of Americans United asked “without knowing how most of the voucher largess is being spent, who can say how much taxpayer money is being used for direct subsidies of religious activities?”