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Supreme Court rejects appeal in Boy Scout case

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Supreme Court rejects appeal in Boy Scout case

 

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/13047756/

 

Atheist father asked court to bar recruiting in public schools

 

The Associated Press

Updated: 10:45 a.m. CT May 30, 2006

 

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Tuesday from an atheist father over Boy Scout recruiting at his sons public school.

 

John Scalise had asked the court to bar public schools from opening their doors to Boy Scout recruiters and promoting membership, arguing that the group discriminates against nonreligious boys and parents by denying them membership if they dont swear to religious oaths.

 

Scalises dispute with the Scouts dates back to 1998, when his son was a third-grader in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

 

He claims he and his son were barred from a Scout program at the elementary school because they would not pledge to do my duty to God and my country. They are nonreligious Humanists.

 

Michigan courts ruled that the school-Scout partnership did not advance religion in violation of constitutional dictates.

 

 

Attorneys for the Scouts and Mount Pleasant school system told justices that the appeal was frivolous.

 

A Michigan appeals court said that Mount Pleasant schools allowed other organizations to use class facilities, including a hospital group, an Indian tribe, a Baptist church, and a hockey association.

 

Scalise argued that his son, Benjamin, was taunted by classmates and humiliated by a Boy Scout recruiter in front of other students. Benjamin Scalise is now 17.

 

The Supreme Courts last Boy Scout case was in 2000. Justices ruled 5-4 at the time that the Boy Scouts can bar gays from serving as troop leaders. The ruling was written by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died last year.

 

Scalises attorney, Timothy Taylor of Mount Pleasant, said taxpayer-funded schools are too cozy with the Boy Scouts.

 

Its going on all over the country and has been for decades, he said.

 

 

 

The case is Scalise v. Boy Scouts of America, 05-1260.

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This is what bugs me about our country. If the following is true, "Benjamin, was taunted by classmates and humiliated by a Boy Scout recruiter in front of other students", then Mr. Scalise should not be asking the schools to bar recruitment but should take the Boy Scout recruiter and classmates to task.

 

Merlyn makes a good point, I would not want my children's classtime ate up by endless appeals by various groups for membership but a blanket "no" to all doesn't make sense either.

 

Also, can someone define "non-religious humanists" for me (and please, don't tell me it is defined as more than one non-religious humanist). (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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Merlyn ain't gonna like this! Neither will the ACLU! Ring up another win for the BSA!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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acco40 you can think of non religious humanist as agnosticism. It is the same as secular humanism. While not atheistic secular humanist do not believe in a deity who takes an active role in the affairs of humans or the earth. They believe that it is our responsibility to create a better world and that no god or gods will step in to assist in any way. Think of it as a religious philosophy that advocates human values instead of religious values, or rather the values dictated by religous dogma.

 

evmori I find it somewhat humorous that the ACLU is fine and dandy when it comes to the aid of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, but other times they are the scum of the earth. I must meet this Merlyn person, he sounds down right intelligent!

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Ed, it may be another hard-fought win for BSA, but you and I both know its not over.

 

BSA-haters will find other ways to attack the organization (or attack those who either support BSA or fail to toe the line in attacking the BSA).

 

It doesn't matter how many lawsuits BSA wins, the anti-BSA forces will keep coming back until they get what they want, which is to bend BSA to its will.

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The Scalise case (as it was eventually argued) ended up being about use of school facilities and outside groups passing out fliers, and not about in-school recruiting. The Powell case in Oregon is about in-school recruiting, and so far the courts have ruled against allowing that. And as long as the BSA attempts to get the goverment to practice religious discrimination against atheists, there will be lawsuits.

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By the way, it'll be interesting to see if Brad Royal is now kicked out:

 

http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4966791&nav=0Ra7

...

Brad Royal is scout master of 27 scouts. Royal and scout masters nationwide were worried they might lose the ability to recruit scouts and hold meetings in public schools.

 

"If not there? Where? I don't want to recruit them off the street corner," says Royal.

 

Scout Master Royal is also grateful for the outcome even though he's agnostic.

...

 

http://www.bsalegal.org/faqs-113.htm

 

Q. What allows the Boy Scouts of America to exclude atheists and agnostics from membership?

 

A. The Boy Scouts of America is a private membership group. As with any private organization, Boy Scouts retains the constitutional right to establish and maintain standards for membership. Anyone who supports the values of Scouting and meets these standards is welcome to join the organization.

 

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Scoutmaster Royal is toast. I can hear the black helicopters from my tent right now triangulating on his position. They should be landing anytime to hand him his walking papers. Instead of "Ride of the Valkeries" blaring, its AC/DC "Another one bites the dust".

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A win is a win is a win! And I know it isn't over. Every time the ACLU loses, they try even harder!

 

Would someone please explain to Merlyn that an agnostic & atheist are not necessarily the same thing. There are many agnostics who believe in God!

 

The Powell case isn't over yet! And there is a great chance the BSA will triumph again!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Gern,

"Another one bites the dust" was by Queen, not AC/DC, unless they did another version I'm not aware of.

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Ed, I know what an agnostic is, but the BSA legal website seems to think that atheists and agnostics are excluded from the BSA.

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From the Scalise v. BSA appellate court ruling:

----

Boy Scouts provided informational literature and recruitment flyers for distribution through this system in Mt. Pleasant classrooms. In November 1997, Ben Scalise was a third-grader at Mt. Pleasant's Fancher Elementary. After bringing home a Boy Scout flyer distributed at Fancher, he and his father attended a Cub Scout gathering. At the meeting, Mr. Scalise volunteered to become a den leader. Later, having reviewed Boy Scouts bylaws and mission statement, Mr. Scalise learned that Boy Scout leaders were required to endorse the Boy Scouts'declaration of religious principle, and youth members, depending on their status as Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts, were required to recite either the Boy Scout Oath or the Cub Scout Promise and to abide by either the Scout Law8 or the Law of the Pack.

 

In January 1998, Mr. Scalise sent Boy Scouts a letter explaining the declaration of religious principle to be repugnant to his humanist beliefs and requested an exemption from the requirement. Boy Scouts refused and revoked Mr. Scalise's membership. Subsequently, Mr.Scalise removed Ben from Boy Scouts.

----

 

My own comment - it is Mt Pleasant, not Mount.

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Regardless of what it says on the "BSA Legal" web site, I think it is safe to say that there is no definitive answer as to whether the BSA actually bans agnostics. While the current BSA policy seems to be to "require" a belief in a "higher power," the exact parameters of the required "belief" are a bit fuzzy. It is fairly clear that if a Scout dutifully recites the Scout Oath and Law when expected to do so, an issue will rarely arise. (Most, but not all, of the actual cases of youth members being terminated from membership (or denied advancement) for failure to believe in God have resulted from the youth's refusal (initiated either by themselves or their parents) to recite the required Oath, Promise, Law, etc., followed by questioning as to the youth's beliefs.) Other than that, if a Scout is asked "Do you believe in God?" (which I suppose could happen in some units, though not mine), it is anybody's guess as to what the reaction might be to the various possible answers that fall within at least some definitions of agnosticism, such as:

 

"I don't know." (I suspect that if this came up at an Eagle BOR, this answer might present a problem in some councils, and the Scout would probably, shall we say, be "given an opportunity to expand on his answer.)

 

"Yes but sometimes I wonder." (Probably ok.)

 

"I think so, but I'm not sure." (I'm, um, not sure.)

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