Skip to comments.Boy scouts cutting public ties, Fear lawsuits over 'God' in oath
Posted on 01/21/2006 1:03:05 PM PST by Coleus
The fear of lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union has driven 216 Boy Scout, Cub Scout and related troops across the state - including 35 in North Jersey - to sever their charters with public institutions.
Many of them, including Troop 124 in Northvale, have enjoyed a long friendship with municipalities that have sponsored the Scouts, provided them with funding and offered a comfortable meeting space. But an ACLU threat has sent troops scrambling for new sponsors.
The Boy Scouts of America issued a directive last April for all troops to transfer their sponsorship by the end of the year from public organizations to private entities, such as religious groups, fraternal organizations or parent-teacher clubs. The intent was to protect taxpayer-funded institutions from litigation.
The ACLU has argued that government sponsorship - which includes funding - of the Boy Scout troops violates the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom because the Scouts swear an oath that includes affirming duty to God.
"In order to participate in Boy Scout activities, you have to swear an allegiance to God. You can't have a directly government-sponsored activity which says you have to swear to faith in God," said Ed Yohnka, an ACLU spokesman.
To be in compliance, the Northvale troop will reluctantly dissolve its ties with the borough in the next few weeks and rewrite a charter with St. Anthony Church on Walnut Street in Northvale. The local troop had held meetings in the basement of the public library for the past six years. Now all that may change.
Trip McMillan of the Northern New Jersey Boy Scout Council said local troops have handled the change with few problems. "We've easily been able to find community organizations willing to support us," he said.
Scouts may continue meeting at schools or borough halls because of the Support Our Scouts Act that clarifies federal law so no local, state or federal agency can deny Scouts access to public government property, Yohnka said. "The Boy Scouts have the right to use the borough hall for meeting space if everyone has equal access to the facility," he said.
This is not the first time the ACLU has gone after the Boy Scouts. The ACLU has questioned the Scouts' exclusion of girls and avowed homosexuals and atheists from its membership. A Supreme Court decision in 2000 affirmed the organization's right to establish its own standards for membership and leadership that would include belief in God and heterosexuality.
In this case, rather than strike God from their oath or put public entities at risk for expensive lawsuits, the Boy Scouts have yielded to ACLU demands. "This could sap thousands of dollars from schools that are already financially strapped to provide education to children," said Greg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America. "Obviously, we wouldn't want that to happen. We want to protect our partners so we are moving them to other, private organizations."
Threat angers leaders
Jose Gomez, scoutmaster of Troop 171 in Teaneck, was infuriated when he discovered this month that he would have to change sponsorship from the Whittier School to the PTA. "It's ridiculous," said Gomez. "There are many more important issues and they are wasting time worrying about this. This is a group that helps kids behave better and do their homework and listen more to their parents. That's what people should focus on, instead of about where we are having meetings."
Even Scout leaders of troops that did not have to make any changes were angered at the ACLU for picking on the Boy Scouts once again. "The ACLU is dead wrong," said Ed Lindey, assistant scoutmaster in Upper Saddle River. "The Boy Scouts is one of the most wholesome institutions in the world. We teach our boys to be kind and respectful of other people."
As for boys who do not believe in God, said Lindey, whose group meets in a church, they have the choice to join or stay away. But moving some troops to houses of worship could cause concern among families whose religion differs from the sponsor.
Norman Kasser, a scoutmaster in Hoboken, said the parents of Scouts in his three troops - two mixed-religion units that meet in churches and one that meets in a synagogue - don't mind that the meetings are in houses of worship. But he did admit that the rabbi and some members of the synagogue were initially uncomfortable sponsoring an organization that appears to discriminate.
Rabbi Robert Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken, where the troops meet, objects to the Scouts' anti-gay policies. However, the synagogue agreed to the sponsorship "because of all the good that the Boy Scouts manage to do and, second, because I know that our scoutmaster also strongly objects to the Scouts' anti-gay policy."
Others join the fight
The ACLU is not alone in this issue. California-based Scouting for All, a national non-profit educational and advocacy organization, reaches out to gay youth and is trying to get the Boy Scouts to rescind its policy against gays and atheists.
"Any organization that discriminates against any American should not be allowed to use public facilities. They should not be given taxpayer funded monies," said Scott Cozza, Scouting for All's president.
Boy Scout officials say the transition over the past year has shifted sponsorship of the vast majority of troops to private groups rather than public entities such as boroughs, fire departments, police departments and public housing complexes.
Yohnka, the ACLU spokesman, said the movement came after the Pentagon agreed in November 2004 to halt sponsorship of Scouting groups by military facilities after the ACLU filed a lawsuit. In April 2005, the ACLU of Illinois threatened litigation against other public institutions sponsoring Boy Scout programs.
"Government is supposed to be neutral with regards to religion," he said. But some Northvale officials are enraged by the ACLU's threat. They complain that the rights advocacy group is "picking on" an organization that influences young men to become better students and law-abiding citizens.
"We should be able to encourage good values in our kids. This left-wing agenda is taking God out of the country," said Northvale Mayor John Rooney, who added that he wanted to fight the issue in court but fears it would be costly to taxpayers. The nearly 70-year-old troop in Northvale has been sponsored in the past by the Redman Club, which is a fraternal organization, and by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but the troop outgrew those quarters.
The troop, which is 30 members strong and growing, has been sponsored by the town for the past six years. Northvale has given the troop funds, as well as space in the library basement for its bimonthly meetings and activities. The new sponsor, St. Anthony Church, lacks space to handle the troop, so leaders hope to obtain permission to continue meeting in the library.
The Northvale troop didn't have any trouble finding a new sponsor, but hard feelings remain. "The town loves us," said Joe Kraus, a seven-year assistant scoutmaster. "It's sad that we have to sever that union."
Guess the ACLU has no problem with portraying themselves as nothing but a cult of devil worshipers.
The Boy Scouts are doing the right thing, but it's not what their enemies wanted. They were supposed to cave; kick God out while welcoming homos in.
Sever the ties, shut the aclu up.
I say sever the ACLU lawyers from their.........power.
Something must be done to stop the terrorism on Americans being conducted by the aCLU.
I'll be donating directly to the Boy Scouts now.
Simply put: The ACLU has become an anti-American organization. They clearly want the United States as it is currently politically constituted to be abolished by judges with life time tenure.
Actually, it's for the best. The scouts should never have been funded with public monies.
I have been doing so for quite some time now. Their ideals as well as traditional conservative ideals can not be forsaken by those who wish to preserve our constitutional republic.
What a revolting development! Is there a web site that takes donations for the BSA? As a former Cub Scout, I will happily give something back to the organization that provided some guidance and fun as a youth.
The ACLU truly has declared war on traditional values. We need more people in a position of power (like Bill O'Reilly) to declare war on them.
It may be reaching the time when Christians come out of this evil society, governed by godless organizations such as the ACLU. Churches need to study the pattern of the city of Ave Maria, FLA, a Catholic city in the making. There are many dying towns in our agricultural heartland that could be repopulated with Christians who are tired of the ACLU running their schools and their city governments. A few hundred modern day settlers could go to these communities and establish Christan churches and schools. Think of the money that would be saved with no public school taxes to pay and very little crime and no city government to speak of. We really need to separate ourselves from Godless people who drag us down spiritually and economically. We owe it to our children to nurture them in a much more supportive environment for the growth of their faith.
Why is it that I have never, ever heard this argument:
Using common sense, would you put a non-gay man in his 20's in charge of Girl Scouts in their teens (who are becoming young women)? Would you allow this man, who is attracted to women, have the opportunity to possibly see them without clothes while camping? NO, of course not. Common sense says no.
So how come it is ok, by the ACLU's standards, to have a man, who admits to being attracted to males, have the opportunity to be alone with teenage boys (who are becoming men themselves)? See them change and shower at the campsites? The answer should be the same -- NO!
I have never heard anyone discussing on TV or in the newspaper this issue ever make that comparison.
Is 30 pcs of silver enough to cause the havoc and internal destruction it causes..??
Glad you said that Friends of Scouting Campaign is underway now. Call your local Scout Council to fine out how to Donate. Don't know what the Council is just go to www.scouting.org and it has a Council finder for you.
Go to http://www.scouting.org the National BSA site and your can foind all sorts of information to include the local council nearest you.
That's what I do.
Which policy is that? The one where responsible adults don't want homosexuals spending the night in small tents with little boys? How unreasonable!
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