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The ACLU Saves the Boy Scouts from God By: Cinnamon Stillwell and Lee Kaplan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 03, 2004


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in its quest to take any mention or belief in God out of American life, has now set its sights on one of our most beloved institutions, the Boy Scouts.  Mind you, not just a Christian interpretation of God, but any mention or belief in God as a requirement of membership. In a 1999 lawsuit, the ACLU of Illinois argued that the Pentagon, via the Department of Defense (DOD), should stop sponsoring Boy Scouts events on military bases.

And on November 15, 2004, much to the chagrin of Boy Scout supporters, the DOD agreed to settle the case by, in effect, caving in to the ACLU’s demands.  The ACLU strikes again, and our children are the losers.

A Boy Scouts of America (BSA) spokesman, Bob Bork, recently explained that the Boy Scouts is a multi-religious organization, not a Christian-only group.  He also said they recognize just about every religion.  But, he acknowledged, the Boy Scouts do require a belief in a God, so atheists are not allowed to join.  One wonders when the ACLU will get around to suing churches for not admitting adherents who might be atheists as well.

 

The DOD knuckled under, despite the fact that the Pentagon denied having violated a rule against sponsorship of non-federal organizations in the first place.  In an attempt to avoid further litigation, the Department of Justice handed a largely symbolic victory to the ACLU by declaring that “provided there is no sponsorship by the Department of defense personnel in an official capacity, Boy Scout units are permitted to meet on military bases and military personnel are permitted to remain active in the Boy Scout programs.”

 

At the heart of the lawsuit is the ACLU’s antipathy towards the Boy Scouts’ Oath, which includes a pledge “To do my duty to God and my country.”  By requiring all Scouts to take this oath, the ACLU claims that the BSA is practicing “religious discrimination” and that “direct government sponsorship of BSA units violates the religious liberty of youth who wish to participate but do not want to express a belief in God.”  Never mind that our coinage says “In God We Trust” and our pledge of allegiance has the passage, “One Nation Under God,” the ACLU wants to socially engineer the Boy Scouts to suit its secular point of view.  First it insisted on admitting gays and now it is denying the existence of God.

 

The Boy Scouts is not a federal organization and separation of church and state doesn’t apply.  So the ACLU went looking for an angle, a loophole as it were, that would allow them to go after the BSA as if it was part of the government.  The use of military bases and facilities for events like the annual Boy Scout Jamboree provided such an opportunity.  The ACLU complained that government funds benefited the Boy Scouts, with around $2 million each year going to support the Jamboree.  But despite the ongoing legal battle, the Jamboree at Virginia’s Fort A.P. Hill Army base will go on as planned this summer, although future events will rest on the outcome of the ACLU’s lawsuit.  What the ACLU seems to be forgetting is that Boy Scout troops are filled with boys from military families whose parents, not the military itself, have been running meetings on bases for years.  As always, what gets lost in the equation are the children themselves for whom the ACLU shows little concern.

 

The ACLU used similar tactics in San Diego when they sued the city for extending the Boy Scouts’ lease of the campground at Balboa Park in 2001.  The city settled and just like that, an arrangement that had been perfectly acceptable since 1918 was deemed unconstitutional.  Not content with that triumph, the ACLU then began harassing Scouts and Scout Leaders for using the parkland at Fiesta Island.  According to the BSA, the harassment included “thousands of dollars of parking tickets; photographing of Scouts’ vehicles by City Rangers; and selective enforcement of City regulations against Scouts.”  But the BSA fought back with its own counter-suit, asking for an end to the harassment, the reinstatement of the Camp Balboa lease, and the blocking of San Diego’s hefty $950,000 settlement with the ACLU.  One can only hope the outcome will reverse a trend of discrimination against the Boy Scouts based solely on their religious beliefs.  For in what has become an almost fanatical pursuit of freedom from religion, the ACLU has ironically become an agent of religious persecution itself.

So how does this affect you and me? Well, for one thing it costs the Boy Scouts, a venerable institution that produces patriotic and moral young men, millions of dollars and the support of city, governmental and military facilities that enable them to continue their good work.  The Boy Scouts fulfill an invaluable role in our communities, helping boys make the difficult transition to manhood by giving them a firm foundation upon which to guide their lives.  Their outreach to poor, inner city, and minority youth is unparalleled, often providing these boys with their very first taste of the outdoors and instilling a sense of responsibility missing from their lives.  Would the ACLU rather see such boys homeless on the streets or joining gangs?  Considering the ACLU’s insistence on protecting the “legal rights” of gangs, one has to wonder.

It seems that the ACLU’s advocacy for children, if it can be called that, extends only to the perverse.  Earlier this year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in support of a proposed nudist camp for children in Virginia.  Then there was the ACLU’s defense of NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association, in a wrongful-death suit brought by the parents of a 10-year-old Massachusetts boy murdered by a member.  Add to that the organization’s perpetual indignation at the Scouts refusal to hire openly gay men, and you have a pattern of injecting sexuality where it does not belong.  No wonder the ACLU chafes against the Boy Scouts’ Oath, which, along with a belief in God, asks boys to be “morally straight.”

 
It is for all these reasons that the ACLU’s continuing attacks on the Boy Scouts must be stopped, and thankfully, opponents are already gearing up for a fight.  Just last week, the House, in a non-binding resolution that passed by a 391-3 vote “commended the Boy Scouts and condemned the legal effort to limit government ties to the group because of its requirement that members believe in God,” according to the
Associated Press.  Arizona Republican and former Eagle Scout Rep. J.D. Hayworth, along with veterans groups, penned a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asking him to reverse the DOD’s settlement with the ACLU.  And although the measure did not pass, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist introduced the “Save Our Scouts” bill to allow federal support for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.  
 

It is clear that the ACLU seeks not only to limit the Boy Scouts activities, but to destroy the organization altogether.  And if they prevail, one of our nation’s most beloved institutions, a bedrock of American society, will fall by the wayside.  For the sake of our children and future generations to come, it is critical that they not succeed in their efforts. 




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