Skip to comments.ACLU threat causes Boy Scouts to drop public school ties; churches urged to fill void
Posted on 03/10/2005 9:23:17 PM PST by Coleus
ACLU threat causes Boy Scouts to drop public school ties; churches urged to fill void
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The Boy Scouts of America is removing the charters of thousands of scouting units from public schools after an American Civil Liberties Union threat to sue taxpayer-funded institutions that charter BSA units.
The ACLU sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America in February threatening legal action against public schools and other governmental agencies that charter Boy Scout groups on grounds that their sponsorship amounts to religious discrimination and violates the separation of church and state.
Boy Scouts open their meetings by holding three fingers aloft and repeating an oath in which members vow their allegiance to God and country, resolve to help others and commit to keeping themselves morally straight. Central to the BSA's stated mission is character development and values-based leadership training.
ACLU leaders view these conservative emphases as warrant for legal action, according to documents on the ACLU website.
While BSA is continuing to assess the number of Boy Scout and Cub Scout units that will be affected, BSA national spokesman Gregg Shields said units whose charters will be pulled from public schools would number in the thousands. BSA is America's largest youth organization that includes thousands of units and 1.3 million adult volunteers.
Defending against a wave of ACLU lawsuits would cost schools untold thousands of dollars, Shields said. Instead of risking financially draining litigation, the BSA is pulling scout units from schools as a matter of stewardship, he said.
"We obviously don't want that [expensive lawsuits against schools] to happen," Shields said. "Instead, the Boy Scouts have tried to protect the resources of our education partners by moving our charter from public schools to other community-based organizations such as parent-teacher organizations or Salvation Army units or nearby religious organizations."
Shields said the Boy Scouts of America is counting on community organizations such as churches to take up the charters of scouting units that have been removed from public schools and other governmental organizations.
Removal of a scouting unit's charter from a school will not necessarily remove its presence from the school, Shields said, noting that groups will still have access to public school facilities; they just won't be chartered by the schools.
"Boy Scout troops will still have the same rights as any other community-based group to meet in school buildings, but the charter will not be held by the school administration," he said.
"We hope to make this a seamless transition that won't even be noticed by the youth and barely noticed by our 1.3 million generous volunteers who give their time to help American youth," Shields said.
Shields said community groups already have begun to fill the void left by the shift from public school charters. While many churches already sponsor Cub Scout packs, Shields urges many others to get involved in all levels of scouting, an institution whose core values can fit well within the standards of most conservative evangelical congregations.
Churches can help in two ways, he said: by seeking to pick up a scout unit charter from a local school or by starting a new scout troop. He pointed out that charters involve very little money and merely provide individual units with an official place to meet and organize their activities.
"[Chartering a scouting unit] is not a complicated process," Shields said. "Many churches find scouting so in line with the mission of the church that they'll use Boy Scouting as an auxiliary to their youth program.... The values of the Boy Scouts certainly fit well with my church and I think they would most others."
The ACLU's threat also precludes other government organizations such as police, fire and recreation departments from holding charters for scouting units. BSA will seek groups such as fire and police department auxiliaries to pick up these charters, Shields said. But far more scout units are chartered by public schools than other governmental agencies, he said.
The latest threat of litigation is the latest chapter in a 25-year assault the ACLU has waged against the Boy Scouts. The ACLU has sued BSA 14 times over the past 25 years using similar accusations, Shields said.
The most widely publicized case involved a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 upholding a New Jersey troop's removal of an assistant scoutmaster after it became known that the man was an avowed homosexual. Despite the legal victory, the ACLU and other scouting opponents have continued their efforts across the country.
Last fall, the ACLU threatened to sue the U.S. Department of Defense for chartering BSA units, causing the Pentagon to drop its BSA sponsorships.
By attempting to remove Boy Scouts from public schools, the ACLU is attempting to undermine an organization that has exerted an overwhelmingly positive influence on millions of school-aged children, Shields said.
"For decades, many, many school administrators, teachers and parents have recognized the benefits of having a scouting program in their institutions," he said. "Those involved in scouting have become better citizens and students because of the opportunity.
"However, the ACLU has ignored the schools' and the parents' rights to choose to participate or not in Boy Scouts. No one is forced to join Boy Scouts. Let's say a child has parents who are atheists. Nobody will force that child to join the Boy Scouts. Most Americans and the vast majority of parents value their freedom to choose [to participate in] the Boy Scouts and [support] the values they stand for."
Well, it goes beyond that. Have you noticed that the KKK and similar groups, including BLACK HATE GROUPS are not hammered on by the ACLU with the vigor that the Boy Scouts are? No, the philosophical divide in this country is far more insidious (and dangerous) and what I see is that we are losing ground (see my post #29) steadily, not just Boy Scouts but right-thinking people and their freedoms. Actually, we are allowing ourselves to lose ground is what I'm seeing (our elected "representatives" are not doing their job).
Denying a place in the public square to God is, in and of itself, a religious act. One party says that God is present in every aspect of life and His presence may be acknowledged by those who wish to do so whether publicly or privately. The other side says that either God does not exist or that public areas such as schools should not be a venue for acknowledging His existence. To accept the latter despite the voluntary nature of the former is as much a religious act as is a Mass.
"DEMOCRATIC DELEGATES BOO THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA "
There were reports that the delagates spit on the Eagle Scouts as they were preparing for the flag ceremony.
I wish the Dems would keep their promise and move to Canada and Europe.
This is in reality what the commie pinkos over at the ACLU want... Boy Scouts out of easy access to the bulk of children, so they can be raised without exposure to the fundamental building blocks of character and easily molded into their little minions.
The law that lets the ACLU use tax payer money to sue the government needs REPEALED IMMEDIATELY!
The ACLU wants the religion of secularism to be the only acceptable religion in this Country!
The ACLU wants the religion of secularism to be the only acceptable religion in this Country!
This disgusts me no end. I hope the ACLU burns in the hottest hell provided for them and SOON.
I agree wholeheartedly. What can we do as individuals to put a stop to this nonsense?
This is a continual spiritual battle between righteousness and unrighteousness. People need to pray warfare prayers against the forces of darkness, ACLU included. It's clearly demonic and satan wants to destroy America's faith in God by trying to take God out of our everyday lives (Boy Scouts, school, public places). PRAY as though your life depended on it because it DOES!
ADF is doing an excellent job of fighting ACLU tyranny and I am sure they would welcome more support.
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In our Fact or Fiction section, we attempt to clear up some of the common myths regarding issues such as "separation of church and state," the ACLU, and equal access.
We need some lawsuits, or interventions in ACLU lawsuits, not just DEFENDING against "establishment" of religion cases, but asserting our rights under the "free exercise" clause of the first amendment. It seems to me that the flip side of every ACLU case is a claim that NOT to allow the practice is a limit on the free exercise of religion. I confess I have not done the legal research, but it seems about time for the pendulum to swing the other way.
I had the good fortune this last August to get to know both an Aussie and a Kiwi Scout leader, plus a few of their Scouts. I can report that they aren't afraid to have a good time. The Kiwi's re-enactment of a Maori war challenge was especially impressive, and after an incident that will not get detailed either here or anywhere else where a BSA official might read it, I was awarded "partner in crime" status by the Aussie leader.
Unfortunately, most volunteer fraternal organizations are losing members. The BSA has problems getting leaders for the same reasons; people are too wrapped up in their jobs and their leisure activities to consider volunteering in civic capacities.
In 1988 an amendment to the civil rights laws was passed that enables parties that prevail in civil rights suits to have their legal fees reimbursed by the Federal government. The ACLU has used this to good effect.