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Everything posted by whitewater

  1. According to Wikipedia: "Baden-Powell wrote this alternative oath called the Outlander Promise for Scouts who could not, for reasons of conscience, recognize a duty to a King, for individuals or members of religions that do not worship a deity, and for members of orthodox religions that do not use the name of God in secular settings." It seems it intended to cover religions that didn't worship a diety (such as Budhism) or those that don't use the word god in certain settings. I don't see any mention of atheists so it doesn't appear to be inconsistent with BP's belief in the importance of religion.
  2. I think another reason it's such a big deal and why the FBI is involved is that there is considerable money involved as well. It costs money to sign up a boy ($10?) and these fees for underprivilidged boys where paid for by contributions by various organizations. That's where the fraud comes in.
  3. Merlyn, I already mentioned that the Girl Scouts' lease was excusively negotiated and was approved at the same meeting as the BSA lease. I believe the Campfire Girls and YMCA leases were also exclusively negotiated. There is nothing illegal or wrong with an exclusive negotiation. The City received value in the deal. The point I'm trying to make is NOT that the other deals might be illegal (they aren't). My point is if you are going to make it more difficult for a religious organization to lease public land then you are being hostile toward religion which is illegal viewpoint discrimination. That point is moot however since the court erred when it considered the BSA to be a religious organization. In doing so, it ignored Supreme Court precident that stated that the BSA was not a religious organization for purposes of the Establishment Clause. In fact, if the BSA were a religious organization in this context, the entire Dale case would not have been necessary since it has been well established that religious groups can choose their own leadership.
  4. So Merlyn, you are saying that the BSA should be held to a different standard than other groups? There were at least 8 other groups that were allowed exclusive negotiations for leases. If the BSA is not allowed to do the same because of their views, then that is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. Whether or not the BSA calls itself a religious organization is irrelevant- what matters is the legal definition. I can call myself a religious organization but the IRS isn't going to give me a tax break.
  5. Merlyn, You stated that (regarding the BSA lease): "That's not relevant - some or all of those leases may not be legal, either. That doesn't change the fact that the city didn't follow its own open bidding process for the BSA lease." It is only irrelevant because the judge made it so in his twisted logic. It should be very relevant in order to show that the City leases parkland out in a religion-neutral manner. Now it can be argued that the BSA is being discriminated against because of their viewpoint, and not given the same deal as other groups. Viewpoint discrimination is illegal too. If I understand the ruling in this case correctly, the judge invalidated the BSA lease because he felt they were a religious organization and exclusively negotiating the lease with them violated the Federal Establishment Clause and the California No-Aid Clause. Personally I don't think they qualify as a religious organization in this context. The primary purpose of the BSA is secular. Applying the 3 prong test from the Lemon-Kurtzman case doesn't raise any concerns: (1) The primary purpose is secular, (2) There is no advancement or inhibiting of religion and (3) There is no government entanglement of religion. Merlyn also argued that the City didn't follow their own open-bid process with the BSA lease. I don't believe they are required to. There are no statutes or policies requiring them to and at least 8 of the current leases to other groups were negotiated exclusively. In fact, the Girl Scout lease was exclusively negotiated and it was approved at the same meeting as the BSA lease. Another point: Even though the BSA has 100% usage of parts of their parcels at various times, they still attempt to provide access to others. As I understand it, they even make some campsites available during their Cub Day Camp. I think it is ironic that the plantiffs in the case, Barnes and Wallace, admit to never actually trying to use the property. In fact, one of them admitted never even going near the Scout camp because they objected to a chapel being there (sounds pretty hypersensitive to me!) I wonder how they feel about the Jewish Community center being on park property and hosting Sabath services, or the Presbyterian Church leasing park land and hosting Church Day Camp on it. Oh that's right, they aren't evil discrimatory organizations like the Boy Scouts (sarcasm).
  6. Merlyn, The $1/year lease that was not open to bidding was the same deal granted to quite a few other groups. (In the terms of the lease the Scouts also pay $2500/year in administrative fees.) In fact the Girl Scouts' lease was extended in the same way, without bidding, and was approved at the same hearing. Of the 123 leases to non-profit groups that San Diego has granted, 96 of them pay less than the Boy Scouts do when you add in the administrative fee. In return for the low rent, San Diego receives development of the property and doesn't have to maintain it- a considerable savings. Sounds to me like the City is getting the sweetheart deal. The City also leases part of the park to true religious groups: the San Diego Calvary Korean Church, the Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, the Jewish Community Center and the Salvation Army. Why aren't you and the ACLU attacking them as well? As far as the value of the land, since it is dedicated parkland by the City of San Diego's charter, its value is purely speculative since it cannot be developed. However, the plantiffs in the case speculated that the Fiesta Island Aquatics Center was valued at about $1.25 million and the Balboa Park property was worth between $1.25 million and $1.9 million. The Boy Scouts have invested over $2.4 million in each. I did mis-speak when I said no one complained. I should have said that no one came forward with an offer to continue to develop and maintain the property. I see in an earlier message that Merlyn claims no one came forward with an offer because the City didn't request proposals. I contend that no one else has the resources to do what the Boy Scouts have with the property.
  7. Merlyn writes: "No. But the first amendment covers much more than that; it doesn't prohibit "establishment of A religion" but "establishment of religion". " That just illustrates the true heart of the argument. Most of us involved in Scouting realize that belief in God is only a part of the program. The aim of Scouting is to develop good citizens and a belief in God is a tool chosen to arrive at that goal. The primary purpose of the program is secular. And I find it hard to believe that the average observer equates Boy Scouts with religion. I also believe the San Diego case is an example of judicial activism. There are too many things wrong with the case for it to stand on appeal. To start with, it seems to be a stretch to find that the plantiffs even have legal standing to bring the case. In reading the judges decision in the case, he also appeared to be biased against the Scouts. Merlyn also wrote: "Prohibiting cities from making special deals with discriminatory organizations IS protecting the rights of the American people." Where is the special deal? The Scouts spent more money developing and maintaining the property than it was worth. There was a public comment period where no one complained and no one else came forward to offer to run the property. The only other youth organizations with the resources to take on such a property already lease similar property in the park on similar terms. How is any of this protecting the American people? The City of San Diego ended up paying $940,000 to the ACLU for their legal expenses, the BSA is out mega-bucks defending their position, and if they do end up losing the lease the City will have to fork over the $700,000 a year it takes to run and maintain the property. Is that defending the rights of the American people?
  8. I continue to take exception when people call the BSA dishonest and unethical. I will admit to them being somewhat inept sometimes, though, especially when it comes to PR. I think the policy makers in the BSA believe strongly that it is not improper for a school to sponsor a Troop, as do I. They did consider it prudent to sever ties with schools in order to avoid the inevitable expenses of defending their position. That doesn't mean they now believe their original position was wrong or that they are now somehow unethical. They just felt their time and money was better spent elsewhere. I do agree with tjhammer that there is a difference between the BSA and Scouting at the local level. These issues never come up on a local level.
  9. Since when is joining a private organization, or even a club, a "right?" When my son was 5 he wanted to play baseball but the local team didn't start taking kids until they were in first grade. He didn't meet the eligibility requirements, so he didn't play.
  10. I have no problem with a Scout coming back from camp with only 1 or 2 merit badges if they had fun and learned some Scouting along the way. The primary purpose of a long term camp is to practice the patrol method and everything that goes along with it. I hate that so many camps have become merit badge factories. I think thats the reason many camps have dining hall cooking now- so they can cram in some more time for merit badge classes. I also have a problem with the quality of merit badges earned at camp, but thats another issue.
  11. I've seen several posters remark that homosexuality is immoral and others seem to think that there is nothing wrong with it. I think another way to look at is whether or not homosexuality is normal. The people who believe that homosexuality is OK also tend to believe that it is an inate trait- something people are born with. The others tend to believe that it is nothing more than a behavior. It should be noted that, despite some people's best efforts, there has never been a biological component of homosexuality identified. There are also groups that still consider homosexuality to be abnormal behavior that can be treated- NARTH is an example of one. They believe that the American Psychiatric Association caved to political pressure when they removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. There are also organizations of ex-gaysalthough I admit I don't know much about them or how many there are.
  12. I don't know of any cases where the BSA has had to directly pay anything to the ACLU, but defending itself against the attacks has been very expensive. I think what evmori is referring to are the large fees that the ACLU collects when it wins a civil rights case. Title 42 Section 1988 gives a court "discretion" to award attorney fees to the prevailing party in civil rights cases but I don't know of any cases where the court refused to award the fees (though they may be smaller than requested). That is our tax dollars. Last February the City of San Diego agreed to pay $950,000 to the ACLU in the lawsuit involving the Boy Scouts. There are a lot of similar awards. A million here, a million there... pretty soon we're talking about real money.
  13. Sorry Packsaddle- I guess I misinterpreted your comments. I thought that you were implying that the BSA WAS bigoted and hateful in their policies and SHOULD be more open, inclusive and tolerant. My point was that I have never seen bigotry or hatefulness practiced on the unit level. I do disagree with you that the government has interacted with the BSA illegally and that the law is fairly clear here. I think the the law is somewhat muddy here. (Although I do admit to seeing both sides of the argument.) And if the BSA believes they are correct in their position that does not make them dishonest. The core of the argument is in the interpretation of the constitution. Some people believe there must be total separation of church and state- that nothing of a religious nature has a place in government. I don't think you can (or should need to) totally sanitize government of anything that has a religious conotation. This was asked earlier, but I don't think anyone responded: Where in the constitution does it say it isn't allowed to post the 10 commandments on public property? How is that etablishing a religion? How is sposoring a Scout Troop establishing a religion? It all boils down to how you interpret the constitution and I think they are interpreting it wrong.
  14. I believe the Spiral Scouts are also touted as an alternative to the BSA because they welcome homosexuals.
  15. I sorry but I have a real problem with anyone that calls the Boy Scouts bigoted and hateful. I've been involved with Scouts over 30 years and I've never seen bigotry and hatred in the program. Are the Girl Scouts bigoted and hateful for not allowing boys to join? What's the old saying? Everyone's crazy, the ones to watch out for are the ones that say they're not. I've found that often the people that are complaining the loudest about bigotry are really bigots themselves.
  16. I'm not arguing the legality of it. I'm arguing the philosophy of it. Sorry I wasn't clear. Yes religious discrimination is treated separately in the constitution but it is the interpretation of it that not everyone agrees with. I don't feel that it is necessary to completely remove everything religious from government to comply with the intentions of the constitution. I think it is going to go to far. When a tiny cross has to be removed from a city seal or a display of the 10 commandments along with other historic documents can't be displayed on public property we are getting too zealous. Soon we'll have to remove "In God We Trust" from the currency. Is it necessary to sterilize religion from everything public?
  17. ..and anyone that is willing to give the faith of their choice a try is welcome to join Scouting. My basic belief is that we can't totally sanitize government of religion as long as government is run by people who are religious. All we can hope to do is to be fair. I don't think that removing anything and everything with a religious conotation from sight is being fair. Rather I think we should see that there is equal access to all. Is it ok that a school sponsor a girl scout troop? They discriminate against boys. Is it ok for a school to have a boys basketball program? Isn't that discriminatory to girls? I don't see how this type of discrimination is any different.
  18. jd asks: "Can someone explain to me in simple, not threatening words, why they think a public school, funded by public tax dollars, is an acceptable owner of a Scout Unit, which by its chosen nature disallows some of those taxpayers and their children?" I don't see it as wrong or discriminatory unless the school only sponsors the Scout troop and uses the troop as its sole after hours youth program. It doesn't appear any more discriminatory to me than a school sponsoring a chess club. The chess club is for those that play chess. It would only be a problem to me if the school forced everyone to learn chess and join or refused to sponsor or allow other clubs. If a school sponsored a Scout group but refused to sponsor an atheist group that asked then I would see a problem. Also, some of us are distrustful of the ACLU because of their socialist origins and what we perceive as their agenda. Merlyn adds to this distrust because of his very apparent and outspoken vandetta against the Boy Scouts.
  19. They may offer some services to all military personnel and they may be required to respect others beliefs, but the primary purpose of an Imam is to minister to Islamic personnel. I sincerely doubt that non-Islamic personel require being led in Islamic prayer or help interpreting the Koran. I also doubt any Catholics could receive Communion from an Imam. So the military isn't really removing clergy and replacing them with generic chaplains, they are trying to accomodate all faiths as much as possible. So the Boy Scouts accomodate most faiths with the exception of atheism. Rather than tear them down for that why not just make sure that alternative organizations like Scouting For All receive a fair shake when it comes to government sponsorship. Why do we always have to look for the lowest common denominator, instead of helping everyone get a leg up?
  20. So let me see if I understand this- it's OK for the military (i.e the government) to tell clergy how and to whom to administer their religion to?
  21. ScoutingAgain offered some cases that the ACLU was involved in that supported the argument that they were defenders of liberty and that they at least sometimes supported just causes. I'd like to offer some other cases that the ACLU has been involved in (or is about to get involved in): 9/22/2004 Phoenix Requires Porn Filters in Libraries, ACLU Up In Arms (http://www.reclaimamerica.org/PAGES/NEWS/newspage.asp?story=2102) After experiencing the tragic effects of pornography, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, has issued a ban on internet pornography in the citys public libraries. Not surprisingly, the ACLU is planning to challenge the ban. 7/1/2004 ACLU Challenges Ban of Nude Teen Camps (http://www.reclaimamerica.org/PAGES/NEWS/newspage.asp?story=1881) On June 29, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Virginia, claiming that a state law banning child nudity camps is unconstitutional. The ACLU argues that the law violates the childrens right to privacy. 6/1/2004 ACLU Forces L.A. County to Remove Cross from Seal (http://www.reclaimamerica.org/PAGES/NEWS/newspage.asp?story=1762) On June 1, L.A. County officials voted 3-2 to remove the cross from the county's official seal following threats of a federal lawsuit from the ACLU. 4/22/2004 ACLU and Media Giants Lobby for F-Word (http://www.reclaimamerica.org/PAGES/NEWS/newspage.asp?story=1680) Following the FCC's decision to prohibit the use of the "F-word" on the nation's airwaves, the ACLU and several major media giants are protesting the decision, demanding that the F-word be removed from the list of prohibited language. 4/16/2004 ACLU Sues School over Teachers Prayer Group (http://www.reclaimamerica.org/PAGES/NEWS/newspage.asp?story=1671) On April 12, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit against a Bossier Parish School Board in Louisiana because school officials have permitted faculty members to participate in a teacher-led prayer group designed exclusively for adults. The ACLU appears to be quite liberal in its interrpretation of the 1st Ammendment. They are strangely silent on the 2nd Ammendment though.
  22. OGE: I agree that the judges decide the case and they are the ones that probably deserve the criticism. However, the point was made in another discussion that the ACLU was simply defending the constitution. My point is that they are pushing their own agenda.
  23. In the interest of fairness: If the ACLU is truely concerned about upholding the constitution and they don't have a vandetta against the Boy Scouts there must be some cases where the ACLU actually supported the rights of the Scouts or of a Troop somewhere. Anyone know of any? Personally I think the ACLU only uses the constitution to support their agenda. They interpret it the way they want.
  24. I liked Gene P's question: "What GOOD purpose did the ACLU serve here? Where will there be a benefit to anyone?" The BSA has done more than any other youth organization to positively shape the development of young men and boys in the last 100 years. But since it is politically incorrect to discourage atheism or homosexuality, they are vilified with the likes of the KKK. It's throwing the baby out with the bath water isn't it? Kinda like the Seinfeld show where he's never happy with a girl because he can't stop focusing on her flaws. There is a lot more to the Boy Scouts than the reliious aspect and I can virtually guarantee that the homosexual issue never comes up in a Troop setting. I find it impossible to believe that the intentions of the activists involved in the attacks against the Boy Scouts are simply trying to ensure that the letter of the law is followed. They will continue to go after the Scouts even when there is no direct sponsorship of Troops. They are trying to gain acceptance for their beliefs and lifestyles and are trying to make an example of the Boy Scouts. In the end it's the boys that suffer.
  25. I read that the administration is "cleaning house" at the CIA so it's probably not fair to lump those resignations in with the others in the cabinet.
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