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Boy Scouts of America – Under Attack Again

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Boy Scouts of America Under Attack Again




Protecting Your Rights

By Jay Sekulow


Boy Scouts Face Another Legal Quandary


The Boy Scouts of America find themselves in another legal quandary this time over federal support of the National Scout Jamboree, an event held every four years in Virginia that attracts thousands of Scouts from around the country.


[A lawsuit was filed in 1999 claiming that support provided to the Boy Scouts by the Department of Defense was a violation of the separation of church and state. Those who filed suit contend the federal governments involvement with the Scouts is unconstitutional because the Boy Scouts require members to swear an oath which states, in part, On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.


In March 2005, a federal district court declared a 1972 statute passed by Congress that enabled the Department of Defense to provide support for the Scouts unconstitutional and ruled that it violated the Establishment Clause because it had a primary effect of advancing religion. Now, the case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. We are asking the federal appeals court on behalf of nearly 90 members of Congress to overturn the lower courts decision.


Our amicus brief filed in the case of Winkler v. Rumsfeld contends that the Defense Departments support comes in the form of non-religious supplies and services. The brief states: The militarys rental of forklifts and trucks, transportation and military equipment, restoration of Fort A.P. Hill after the Jamboree and provision of other secular services is clearly neutral and non-ideological. The only possible message that the militarys aid can be viewed as conveying is that patriotism, self-reliance, physical fitness and support of the military are positive things.


We also noted that the militarys support of National Scout Jamborees is part of its larger community relations program.


The military has supported events such as the Goodwill Games, Special Olympics, political party conventions and presidential inaugurations; and has assisted other groups like Girl Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA and the YWCA, the Police Athletic League and Campfire Boys and Girls. The military has not established a national religion merely by including the Boy Scouts within its community service programs.


It is our belief that the district court incorrectly applied the Supreme Courts Establishment Clause cases in reaching its conclusion. By comparing the case to decisions dealing with financial aid to students and private schools, the district court took a much narrower view of the Establishment Clause than it should have. We explain that the militarys support of National Scout Jamborees poses fewer Establishment Clause problems than the school aid programs upheld by the Supreme Court. For example, while some tuition voucher programs allow tax dollars to reach private, religious schools, the Boy Scouts do not receive any money from the military for Jamborees. Also, Scouts and other people attending Jamborees are there voluntarily, while students are required by law to attend school. We present a strong argument that the Establishment Clause does not require the military to sever all ties with the Boy Scouts merely because the Scouts include religion in their belief system.


We are hopeful the appeals court will reject the flawed legal reasoning and permit this important association between the military and the Boy Scouts to continue. CR]


Jay Sekulow is chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a constitutional law firm and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. The ACLJ is online at www.aclj.org

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It could eventually end up in the Supreme Court, but it will get overturned. That being said, after enduring the death march with 45,000 of my closest friends at the last Jambo, my vote goes for moving the event to a cooler climate such as Colorado.

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Ft. Carson is a stones throw from where I grew up. Spent some family weekends on base when my brother was stationed there during Vietnam. Pretty dusty and chewed up by all the tanks and artillary practice. Not what I would consider a garden spot of Colorado.

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My oldest son attended Jamboree this summer. It was one of the greatest experiences for him. Being 13, he got to see things and places that will stick out forever. He really enjoyed the activities with the Army.


I admit, I was a little scared, thinking that the Jamboree would be a good target for terrorists. But I also figured that they couldn't be much safer than on a Military Base, surrounded by the Army!


That being said, I think any of the Military Academies would be a great place, full of history, and places that ooze with tradition.


My youngest wants to go to the next one in 2010. I hope it stays on a military base.


You must remember, these people that attack Boy Scouts, are the same gutless wonders that believe that we shouldn't show pictures of the Twin Towers coming down, because it would anger people and upset those that did the deed or support it.

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SoDak to clarify: people who are opposed to repeated showings of the 9/11 footage generally do not argue that it will upset those who attacked us that day. They generally argue that a) it will upset those who lived through it, or had family and friends who did not survive the attacks, and/or b) it has become a publicity stunt or manipulative tool to play on people's emotions for calculated reasons (like ratings), and/or c) that endlessly repeated images of extreme violence are bad for all of us in a psychological sense.


I've never heard anyone else argue that showing that footage would upset the terrorists - in fact, just the opposite, I've heard some suggest that it will embolden terrorist groups to attempt similarly grandiose attacks.


To suggest that people who somehow suffered or were upset by what happened on 9/11 (wouldn't that be all of us?) and don't want to see repeated footage are "gutless wonders" is a little harsh, don't you think? Are fortitude and patriotism going to be measured by how many times one has watched the replays of the towers falling? I sure hope not.




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I agree with what you are saying. But I have heard about the people that don't want to offend that part of the world that the attackers came from. That is th wrong reason. The reasons that you listed are reasonable and defendable. Unfortunately, when you have policy makers at the media outlets making decisions not to publish political cartoons because it will offend a specific religious group, it makes me wonder their decisions on other things.

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