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."
I'm sure there is a website, yet I hope you'll consider giving to you local troop. I'm sure if you call your local middle school counselor, they could hook you up with the right person. :)
And so is winter camp! My boys and camp staff daughter are there this weekend, along with my husband. Talk about a quiet house...
I can imagine, even better all the HOT-WATER you want for a looooooooooooonnng soak.
Wow. I just did that. You're good!!
This is coming to our house next weekend, btw...
Bush is working on that ... Roberts ... Alito ... ?
Thanks... I'm heading there now.
Even better idea... thanks!
Sadly, the Girl Scouts of America on the other hand is a puppet of the ACLU, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood. amoing other things, they have Planned Parenthood speakers at national meetings. Just today I had a girl scout come to my door to sell cookies. I gave her a couple bucks 'for herself' (so she wouldn't be sad) but I told her that I could not buy any cookies.
Now comes the really tough part for the boys. He'll need to meet with his Scoutmaster and get the Eagle Briefing and find out who his Eagle Advisor will be.
Then He'll need to map out a plan of action for Leadership in the troop, what Merit Badges he has to knock off, come up with an Eagle Project idea, clear it through the SM, the Unit Committte, the District Advancement Chair, then plan it out, execute it, and report it. All before his 18th birthday.
Once that's done there are two actions left the Eagle Board of Review and You getting to plan His Eagle Court of Honor. That's right You get to plan it. Closest the mother of a son comes to planning a wedding.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The mere fact that the ACLU is PAID with taxpayer money for civil rights cases is a violation of the second part of the First Amendment. The law finances an attack on the free exercise of religion with the ACLU attack dogs taking taxpayer money to make the attack. Congress made that law and it is a direct violation when that money is used in this fashion.
What we need is for the government to stop subsidizing all these frivolous ACLU lawsuits. The GOP needs to grow some balls and do something.
This is the one you want on your shirt and your resume.
My troop met in the auditorium of an elementary school. It was sponsored by the PTA. School buildings are available for public meetings during non-school hours. The parents of the scouts in my troop were all taxpayers. It was a legitimate public meeting held off hours. There was no "funding" of the troop with public monies.
Balboa Park Scout camp was leased for $1 per year, but the Scouts paid 100% of the cost of maintaining and improving the property. It was available to the tax paying public to swim at the pool and use the Scout maintained parks. The gays and atheists care nothing about the value of the maintenance and improvements shouldered by the Scouts. They care only about forcing their perversion on the Scouts.
I think the value of the improvements and maintenance of the park should be professionally estimated and the capital gain in improved value should be paid directly to the Scouts as they are evicted to please the gays and atheists. Let that money come from the taxpayers who benefitted from the improvements. The city can deduct that money from funds allocated for gay pride parades, AIDS hospice and other outrageous use of public money.
I'm sorry that I have lived to see the day that the Boy Scouts would be fair game for a bunch of maniacs.
Has anyone actually ever sued the ACLU for violating their civil liberties?
May I suggest the book "The ACLU vs. America" to read. It will make you cry, angry, smile, and hopeful. It's well worth the $15 at the local bookstore.