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quasi govt sponsors of BSA units

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Merlyn has memory problems. He remembers the non-establishment clause of the the First Amendment to the Constitution but can never recall the very next clause that guarantees the free exercise of religion. He wants to step on that clause.

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vol, the free exercise clause applies to individuals and means that individuals have the right to hold any religious belief that they wish to hold. That, however, has nothing to do with whether or not government entities can sponsor religious organizations.

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If your FD is staffed by volunteers and gets it funding through taxes under state law and the voters vote for the bonds to build stuff and elect fire commissioners I think you are a government entity.


Yah, yeh know, it's really hard to generalize this stuff across states, eh?


Da public can issue bonds to benefit private entities in many states. Bonds for stadiums, bonds for private or religious colleges even. If the entity has the power to tax, however, then in da U.S. that means they are controlled by a persons elected by the general public, and are a public body. So the taxing authority is public, but the recipients of tax revenue are often private.


vol, the free exercise clause applies to individuals and means that individuals have the right to hold any religious belief that they wish to hold.


Where are yeh gettin' that interpretation Lisabob? It's certainly novel. Generally speakin', we consider the Bill of Rights to apply to persons both natural and corporate. Thus the right to be secure in persons and property applies to both individuals and corporations, eh? And the court just came down pretty hard in wipin' out McCain-Feingold stating that corporate right to free speech is equivalent to individual right to free speech. Same has always been applied to the free exercise clause, recognizing the rights of both individuals and corporations (churches).




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Baloney, Beavah. Look at any Con Law book. It is certainly not something I am making up and it is not novel. The free exercise clause is NOT about government entities being able to practice religion.


The recent 1st amendment case about corporate free speech/campaign finance is quite different, as I am sure you are aware, from a scenario in which government might be construed as a practicing religious entity. Further, that case involves the question of whether corporations - not government - should be treated as legal individuals (and while I disagree with the outcome, the S. Court ruled that corporations are "people" in the eyes of the law). I believe that what Vol is referring to is a belief, in some conservative Christian circles, that the "establishment clause" is a fiction made up by liberals, intent upon restricting individual religious freedoms. While I disagree with this approach and also don't believe that the Supreme Court's rulings are consistent with this approach, Vol's approach is none the less quite different from what you appear to be suggesting.



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The BSA is not a religious organization. And I find it extremely interesting that people get their nickers all twisted because the government is a charter BSA partner yet the same people say nothing that the same government employs ministers and other religious people!

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We have had local Volunteer Fire Companies be CO's units.

Most times the Fire Company puts this under what I'd call another title. The CO is not the VFC, but the Auxiliary.

I'm not involved with any group of volunteer firemen. OJ is a volunteer Fireman and a volunteer EMT for a volunteer ambulance company.

I really don't know the details of where the money they need comes from.

I do know that most of the fire companies in the area where I live have clubs where there are bars where small games of chance are allowed (This upset a lot of local bar owners.) They also seem to rely on weekly bingo. Each year I get a request to send in a voluntary donation.

Talking with OJ, who really isn't into the finances of the fire department! He said when the department went to buy a new fire engine, that some of the money did come from State grants, some of the finance came from loans from the state and that some of this was only available in the form of matching funds.


I think many of us accept that the BSA does discriminate and because of this really shouldn't accept or be involved in areas where Federal Funding is involved.

This kinda brings up the question is there a magic number? How much federal funding in what areas is OK?

The Summer Camp for the Council I serve is in a State Park, the Council has a lease for the camp which I think runs for ten years at a time. The Council has leased the camp or a very long time and spent a great deal of money on making what it sees as improvements.

As far as I know everyone seems happy with the arrangement, the Scouts get the use of the camp. The State gets some money and the final word about what improvements it will allow.

I'm unsure if the fee the Council pays is or is not a fair amount?

I'm sure that some people will say that allowing the BSA use of State Lands is not right and is in some way the State condoning the discrimination that the BSA has in place.

There are in the same State Park other camps run by religious organizations.

Trying to not allow Scout units to benefit from anything that Federal funding is involved with, would be next to impossible. Are we going to not allow the local Cub Scout Pack to tour the local Post Office? Or have the local Volunteer Ambulance department which bought an ambulance with a percentage of Federal grants tour the ambulance?

The easy answer of course would be for the BSA to just stop discriminating. Bring back the Outlander Promise:

"On my honor I promise to do my best:To render service to my country;

To help other people at all times;To obey the Scout Law.


Or maybe a promise like Israel has :I promise to do my best to fulfill my duties to my people, my country

and my land, to help others at all times and to obey the Scout Law.


While I don't claim to know very much about the LDS church, I kinda think that it's only a matter of time until it has another revelation saying that discrimination against gays is wrong, like the revelation in 1978 about people with dark skin.

Maybe once the LDS church lightens up a bit, this will open the door for the BSA to do the same.

While I do think that in time the gay issue will go away. I kinda think removing God from Scouting is a real stretch.







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I believe that what Vol is referring to is a belief, in some conservative Christian circles, that the "establishment clause" is a fiction made up by liberals


Yah, Lisabob, then you're readin' subtext into vol's statement that I'm not, eh? In fact, that's an awful lot of subtext to be pullin' from Vol's sentence or two. Perhaps your own prejudice to his writing is showing? ;) I read him as referrin' to the BSA's, not the government's, right to expressive and religious association.


The issues of da rights of corporate persons is an interestin' one constitutionally. It has historically been a weaker protection than natural persons, though the trends are strongly the other way as government regulation has become more intrusive.




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I don't think any organization should charter a BSA unit if their own membership policies are more liberal than that of the BSA.


Yah, why's that, Gern?


If you're a school district, yeh can get grants that only serve one segment of your population, like Special Ed or the kids livin' below da poverty line who can get free lunch.


All kinds of programs are targeted to subpopulations.


So if yeh are an organization that serves kids, yeh might sponsor both a Boy Scout Troop and an American Heritage Girls troop, even though your organization's membership is more "liberal" (coed) than either da BSA's or AHG's.


Yeh find different programs to target services to different members of your membership.




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Perhaps I have read into what Vol wrote, Beavah. I based my interpretation on my recollection of past posts where I think that Vol has espoused the view that the "establishment clause" does not really mean "separation of church and state" in the way that is commonly accepted in Con Law discussions. And I also am aware that this is a common thread among many conservative Christian circles, when discussions of religious freedom and the first amendment arise. So I thought (and still think) that's what he was talking about.


I do not dispute that the BSA has a right to hold a religious position. Regarding your posts, I was talking about government entities, like schools, police depts, etc. The free exercise clause doesn't grant those entities a right to exercise any sort of religious belief.

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No, Ed, but it does appear in the writings of many of our founders, going all the way back to the Massachusetts Bay colony. Prohibitions against gratuitous wire tapping or the police reading your mail just for fun don't appear in the Constitution either, but governments still cannot have laws that allow for those behaviors.

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Ed, your right those words do not appear in the constitution. The words in the first clause of the first amendment are "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" The rules of the Supreme Courts, federal and state, have said the clause creates separation of church and state. The courts have said to enforce that clause that the state (both federal, and individual since the 14th amendment)cannot give support to any religious group or give them any preference over other groups. Courts have over the last 220 years have ruled and are ruling on the exact boundaries of that separation but have not disagreed that the clause does mean separation of church and state.


Also, Ed this is the question that I ask people who are so sure that Government should support religion. "Is your Faith, your Religion so weak that it needs government support to compete in marketplace of ideas?" I believe mine does not.(This message has been edited by Nwscouter)

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