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Military's aid to Boy Scouts is a front in larger legal war

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Specifically, what I was thinking at the time of my earlier comments is this. IMO, I think that it's pretty clear that conservative Christians are trying to mold BSA in their image, using the existing history of the organization to do so ("See? They're just like us."). Why do I think that? B-P seemed to be pretty open about his views of what qualified as a belief in a higher being, and yet there are some religious groups that aren't welcomed within BSA. It's pretty clear that some religious groups are more "equal" than others, even if they are accepted within the organization. Can you point to BSA statistics or policy that would support that? Of course not.


So, my point was that B-P probably wouldn't have been in favor of a particular religious movement claiming BSA as "it's own". I think that that's what's happening at this point in history. IMO.

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Yes, those quotes make a good case, although they are from a website clearly trying to tie BSA to Christianity. You can probably pull specific statements from a person's writings, take them out of context, and use them to support many different perspectives.


Lastly, all I said was that I didn't think that B-P founded Scouting for it to be defined as a "religious organization". After all, wasn't he the one who said it was all "a game"?





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P-S, as I expected, you've pulled the "out of context" card. All I can say is, that charge can be leveled against *any* quote from *any* source.


At least I provided quotes, which so far you've not done (and I understand you've already said you don't plan to).


So, since it was *you* who posited that BSA's current policies don't comport with the Founder's beliefs, it really should be your burden to support that claim -- it really shouldn't be up to me to show otherwise.

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listen to B-P's own words in this recorded speech. You may have to listen to it a few times to understand the words, at the 1:08 mark or so, he makes the comment "their spiritual character is developed by their being brought face to face with the wonders and beauties of nature."


If spiritual development wasnt important, why would he have mentioned it in a 3 minute speech explaining Boy Socuts? He talks about charactor development, citizenship and "healthy camp life" (fitness). These are still the aims In his last sentence he mentions God, I think spirituality was B-Ps idea of the characterisitc of a scout


Number 4 Address to the Public


http://www.chsscout.net/rescenter/video/index.shtml#section4(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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Well, I'm getting confused now. I said that I didn't think B-P would have approved of Scouting being defined specifically as a religious organization, and later added, who's views reflect those of a particular religious group, in the U.S. that being conservative Christians.


fgoodwin, are you saying that B-P would have been in favor of Scouting being defined in such a way?


And yes, I agree with you that it's possible to use any quote taken out of context to support almost any position. So, I'm not sure why you think there's a lot of value in doing so.

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I disagree with your thesis that BSA reflects the views of conservative Christians -- clearly, UUs, Episcopalians, Buddhists, Muslims and many others are members of BSA.


So, I guess I'm still waiting to see your support of that contention. BSA has a faith component, and as such, is fully consistent with the Founder's views.

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I've worked with boys from many religious groups, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jewish, Unitarian, Buddhist, Ba'hai, Moslem, Wiccan, and Hindu. I've worked with many boys that didn't belong to any formal religion.


Scouting describes itself as non-sectarian.


There may be some conservative religions that embrace Scouting ideals. That doesn't suddenly make the BSA sectarian.


Due to membership numbers some groups have more influence than others. That's not going to change anytime soon.


But aren't we straying from the original topic?


None of that has any bearing regarding accepting federal assistance through the DOD for the Jamboree.


"A federal judge ruled late last month that the Pentagon funding is unconstitutional because the Boy Scouts are a religious organization, requiring Scouts to affirm a belief in God. The case was initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union."


Two clauses of the First Amendment concern the relationship of government to religion: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.


The First Congress that proposed the Bill of Rights also opened its legislative day with prayer and voted to apportion federal dollars to establish Christian missions in the Indian lands.


So I don't think they meant to erect a wall between government and religion.


Federal dollars provide military chaplains for troops stationed overseas. Does that violate the Establishment Clause? Then again, failing to provide a chaplain might violate the Free Exercise Clause rights of those same troops.


Is the federal government stating that an organization that believes in a supreme being cannot be supported by the government? Then is the government favoring atheism? Does that then violate the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution for theist groups?


The relationship between the BSA and the military regarding the Jamboree has been described as symbiotic. Both parties derive a direct benefit.


Maybe the military should just offer the same opportunity for any non-profit youth organization to conduct a tent city program with a minimum 30,000 persons in attendance at Fort A.P. Hill for the benefit of a U.S. military training excersize.


The offer would be available to theist and atheist youth groups alike. Then there would be no discrimination, both would have the same opportunity.


Of course any group doing so would also have to invest millions of dollars just as the BSA has done in the past. That's only fair.


That would serve the military's training needs and provide equal access to any youth program that qualifies.



Cliff Golden

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Thanks, Cliff, I agree 100%, and it's exactly what I said way up at the top of this thread.


Unfortunately, I closed my post by saying that BSA could avoid many of these issues by not trying to define itself as a religious organization, since I didn't believe that that's what Baden-Powell had in mind. Others spun this to become a discussion on B-Ps position on God and religion in Scouting (a different topic than my comment), and we were off to the races. It's an interesting topic, to be sure, but, as you said, not the topic here.


As long as the military is willing to support all groups equally, there shouldn't be a problem. I don't know if they do that or if this is a special accomodation just for BSA. There probably *is* a problem if the military says they'll just do this for BSA, unless, I suppose, BSA is paying fair market price for use of the facilities.





(This message has been edited by Prairie_Scouter)

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...BSA is paying fair market price for use of the facilities...

I was thinking, the BSA puts money into the facility too don't they?


If the Military's reason to do this is for its training and recruitment, then shouldn't BSA be charging for the use of the scouts?


I would also make a comment that if this was at a BSA facility say Pilmont the Military would pay to be involved, for the above reasons.







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Prairie_scouter writes:

As long as the military is willing to support all groups equally, there shouldn't be a problem. I don't know if they do that or if this is a special accomodation just for BSA


The judge struck down a federal statute that provided for military funding of the jamboree; that's all the statute did, it didn't provide for general funding. The ACLU press release says:

The Judges decision reasoned that the government aid was not offered to a broad range of groups; rather, it is specifically targeted toward the Boy Scouts, which . . . is a religious organization from which agnostics and atheists are excluded.

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Thanks, Merlyn. Then, I'd have to say that there's a problem. I think it's ok for the military to support Jambo, but in the context that they should provide similar accomodations to other youth groups, like Girl Scouts, Indian Guides, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.


But this gets me back to a question that's come up before. Is BSA a religious organization? And, what is it that defines an organization as being "religious"? Is there legal terminology, or is it more like "if they say they are, they are?" In which case, posts here indicate that BSA has gone both ways. My impression has always been that BSA is a non-profit youth organization that has some religious content, but that, to me, doesn't make it a "religious organization". The fact that they exclude gays and atheists reflects a particular religious view, and I think that that's a problem if you're trying to be "non-sectarian", but does that in and of itself make BSA a "religious organization"?

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Good question, Ed. I don't know what the answer would be. If you say you're a religious organization, does that imply you're supporting a particular religion? Are there any groups you can think of that specifically identify themselves as a religious organization, but don't support a particular faith? I suppose there are, but I can't think of any immediately. Salvation Army, maybe?

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The issues isn't whether or not the BSA is a religious organization or not or if it's a religion. The issue is the BSA dicriminates based on religious beliefs, or lack thereof. There are private clubs that discriminate based on religion that are neither religious or a religion. They are free to discriminate based on religion, gender or even race as a private organization.


But, if they are truely private, they do not look for government funding or support. In addition to the constitutional issues there are many laws and regulations that prohibit the government from dicriminating based on race, gender or religion, and by extension those agencies that recieve government funding.(The posts regarding HUD faith based funding for example.)


To maintain funding for the Jamboree I think the BSA needs to be able to demonstrate that the DOD recieves a tangible benefit for it's investment in the form of training, recruiting and or logistical exercise. I'm not sure offering the same opportunity to other youth organizations would be enough. Do those organizations have the same or similar dicriminatory membership policies? I believe anyone can be a member of the Y, I don't know about the Boys or Girls clubs.


In terms of scout recruiting, how many mothers might be concerned about letting their son's join and participate in scouting if they thought membership involved military recruitment? (I have nothing against the military, but have read several recent articles about parental concerns regarding military recruitment in schools.)


The next question is if we do want the government to offer similar opportunities to other groups, just how much of your tax dollars to you want to spend on DOD training exercises involving youth groups versus other government needs?(I'll admit though the cost of the Jamboree is next to nothing compared to some other government expenditures I would question, but a few million bucks here, a few there and as they say, it begins to add up. A scout is thrifty! A scout pays his own way.)


Ultimately if the BSA is going to survive as a truely private organization, and maintain it's right to establish it's own membership criteria, it will need to wean itself from government support. This doesn't mean the BSA should be denied access to government facilities, just that it will have reconcile itself to the same access that other private organizations have.







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