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quasi govt sponsors of BSA units

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Beavah, I had assumed that Gern was joking. Maybe I assumed incorrectly.


Ed, "separation of church and state" is exactly what at least some of the Framers meant, as indicated in their writings. In any event it doesn't really matter, because that is how the religion clauses have been interpreted -- correctly, in my opinion. Why would we want it any other way? The government should not be practicing religion, should not be imposing religious practices or beliefs on anyone, and should not be interfering in religion. The "wall of separation" metaphor seems as good as any a way to describe this concept.

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Since it was brought up....




This is one of the most misunderstood things ever!



Nobody ever intended for religion to be banned from government. Schools are not even metioned, but I suppose since schools get government funding ..blah, blah, blah!


The reson it was even brought to be was because , back in day, most kings used religion as the backbone to their power. They had Cardinals or Bishops who could say that if you didn't do this or that - you were in affect- breaking God's law.


Now,some countries like England had offical state churches. Meaning that 1 church was the offical church. Citizens HAD to pay taxes to THAT church. Matter of fact, The Anglican Church(church of England) was the only recognized church. Any other church was not recognized as anything more that a group of hoodilums hanging out together.

If you did not go to the state established/recognized church...you still had to pay taxes to it. And if you somehow didn't pay taxes to that church, you were in violation of the law.


Now, the founding fathers were wise enough to realize that all people ought to be able to worship in the way they saw fit , and under the religion they please, or not if that's how they felt. So as they wrote it...




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Scoutfish, I have a number of issues with things you said, but don't have time to deal with it all, so let me just address the big picture as it relates directly to Scouting.


The Government (whichever level you choose) is not merely made up of people. It is "THE people" -- religious people, atheists, everything in between, gay people, straight people, every other kind of people, not just as a crowd of individuals, but as one entity governing whatever area is involved. We have a federal constitution that says the government shall not "establish" "religion." Various states have laws that say that nobody shall be denied the benefits of government programs based on a variety of factors, which in (I believe) all states includes religion, and in some states includes sexual orientation. Now we get to the BSA, which has a system in which the chartered partner of each unit OWNS that unit. The pack, troop or crew is a program, or division, or subsidiary, or whatever term you wish to choose, of its chartering organization. However, that unit must also follow a national BSA policy that says gay people and atheists are excluded. As a result, the CO is running a program (the Scout unit) that discriminates on the basis of religion and sexual orientation. If the CO is a private organization -- a church, the American Legion, a parent-teacher organization, whatever -- then it can choose to be part of this discriminatory conduct. (Even if state law would say otherwise; that's what the Supreme Court said in BSA v. Dale.) And some organizations have chosen not to charter Scout units for exactly that reason. But a Government entity cannot make that choice. By owning a Scout unit, the Government entity would be discriminating on the basis of religion by excluding atheists. In some states, the Government also would be violating its own laws by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.


And it actually is just common sense. A public school or a police department, for example, cannot refuse to hire a teacher or officer on the basis that that person is an atheist. In my state, they are equally prohibited from refusing to hire a teacher or officer who is openly gay. So let's say the same school or police department owns a Scout unit, and agrees to follow BSA policies. Someone volunteers to be Scoutmaster, and the CO wants to appoint the person, but they can't, because the person is an atheist or is openly gay, and the BSA doesn't allow them to be a leader. You can see why that doesn't work, don't you? The government entity is now discriminating in violation of the law. And I didn't pick schools and police departments by accident -- at one time many schools did charter Scout units, and at one time many police departments chartered Explorer posts, when Exploring was a "traditional" Scouting program. The school issue has been mostly resolved by moving (almost all of) the units to other CO's -- some of which still involve meeting in the schools, but that's a different issue. The police issue has been mostly resolved by moving Police Exploring out of "traditional" Scouting.


So the issue of separation of church and state really isn't the issue. Its really much more simple: You can't own a discriminatory organization if it is illegal for you to discriminate, and if "you" are the Government, it's always illegal to discriminate against atheists, and sometimes illegal to discriminate against gay people. So if a volunteer fire department is considered a government agency, the same thing applies.

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I spent plenty of time on a VFD/ Rescue/ water rescue, went from a Jr member all the way up to Asst Chief.

The government NEVER owned me! PERIOD!


I did not work for the government! PERIOD! I did not take orders from or recieve pay from the government!


We recieved tax dollars on the county level from people of the community we served. We recieved money through donations. We used that money to buy equipment such as trucks, laddders, SCBA's axes, radios etc..which incidentally was to protect the entire community including churches!


We even used to drive a fire truck in the local churches vacation bible school parades! Uh oh! Did we just etablish a religion by government?



But we raised our own money to build our building. Not 1 single cent was from taxes. We raised the money for the land by having chicken dinners, BBQ dinners, pancake breakfasts. and such. Not a single pennny came from the government or through tax dollars.


Our department followed certain state laws and guidlines in order to operate, but we were a registered and chartered Incorporation.


As a group of people, we used to have scouts come and look at our stuff, give tours, etc.


We were not a government entity in any way, shape or form. We did use trucks that were HALF paid for with tax dollars.


But those trucks never thought about teaching scouts. Matter of fact, I don't think those trucks thought about anything at all.


Now, in all my years as a Volunteer fire fighter, I never reallly had time to think about sponsoring scout pack. But since I wasn't a government piece of propertiy, I don't see any reason why I couldn't. Afteral, my department was made up of the same people who owned or worked at the local hardware store, the school, post office, lumber yard.... Not government owned people!


Now, as for the definition of government tax funded...did any of you get any stimulus money?


Cash for clunkers?


Earned income credit?


401K allowance on your tax form?



Ever deduct donations to churches from your taxes?


Ever get a small buisness loan? Ever get welfare, medicaid, or such? How about that...(what is is now?) ... $10 for jury duty?


Look out! You might be considered a government entity!


(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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99.99% of my post was about the specific topic of "seperation of state" as most people MISUNDESTAND it.


But as you say.. if the government IS the people, they why cant the people still sponsor a scout unit?


If the government IS the people,then you and I ARE government...in which case, we have to drop out of scouting!


When my son turns 18, he is a legally responcible voting citizen, there fore will be government too.


Oh! Maybe that's why you have to get Eagle before 18 right? Because once you are 18, you become government?

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I was kinda joking. But come to think of it, why would an organization sponsor a youth group that didn't share its obligations to society, visa vie, membership? Wouldn't it be hypocritical to sponsor an organization that didn't share the same rigorous membership requirements of the host group?

Don't we want charter organizations that hold at least the same level of membership standards as the BSA?

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Okay, let me ask this:

Who has an issue with a VFD sponsoring a scout unit? Or a school for that matter?


Is it anybody in here?


Or rather, I should ask:


What person using this site that is either a scout, a scout leader ( or other scouting position such as leader, committee,etc....)has an issue with it?


What is the problem?


I mean, the way I see it, the whole point and purpose is about scouting. Not who sponsors it, what color building they have, how many windows there are or if they are on the east or west side of town.


As a parent of a scout, as a scout leader, and as a person who wishes the world wasn't going to hell in a hand basket... I'd love to see more scout packs and troops in as many places as they can effectively serve.



The point of scouting is the mentoring of the boys, not who might foot the bill for the rent or electric service.



I agreed to let my son join scouting becauuse of what scouting offers, not because of the CO. My son's pack teaches from the scout books and adds generic good morals..not any specific religions or political ideas. Not that I have any issue with the CO's ideas, but I joined scouting with my son, not the specific CO unit.


So, I guess to me, it looks like one clique of a social club knocking on another clique because of who they are, not what they do. Looking at another group who is trying to do the same thing, but knocking them because they are not you. But while looking at them, forgetting the real purpose: The boys.


And in my opinion, that's a way bigger problem than who might sponsor a pack/troop!



So please explain to me ( a new ADL and new to scouting) why the fact that the detail that a group gets a few tax dollars should be more important than the fact that they are trying to teach and mentor youth in scouting....just like we are?



I mean, being that this is a scouting site for scouts about scout stuff by and for people who support and endorse scouting...... it looks like to me that we should be happy that any group would also like to sponsor some scouts!


We should be welcoming the idea, not blasting away at it with minor technicalities!

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"Don't we want charter organizations that hold at least the same level of membership standards as the BSA?"


I'm a little unsure who the "We" are?

As a volunteer I don't have any say in who our CO's are and it seems the CO's set the standards.



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Scoutfish, your statement that: "Nobody ever intended for religion to be banned from government." is factually incorrect. One can go right back to the mid 1600s and study the history of the Massachusetts Bay colony (a group of intensely religious, Christian, Protestant, individuals, who left Britain because they disagreed with the King's religious pronouncements and the Church of England) and read the history of the religious and political leaders of that colony. These folks WERE founders of the American colonies and yet, many of them believed that governments ought to stay out of religion. The idea of "separation of church and state" actually pre-dates the first amendment in American history.


A fun read on the topic is "The Wordy Shipmates," but there are other, more scholarly works on this matter as well. This is not to mention what many of our "founding fathers" in the sense of "guys who helped to declare independence from Britain and/or helped draft the Constitution we have now" had to say on the topic.


Sorry. Study history more before you make such claims.


With regard to your question, in another post, **I** have a problem with public schools chartering scouting units. The government is not allowed to discriminate on religious bases. I believe that the BSA does exactly that. I have come to my own terms with the BSA, hope to advocate for change from within, and ultimately believe that it does more good than not, but it is still a discriminatory organization (and yes, the Supreme Court seems to have opened the door for it to continue doing so). As such, I do not believe that government entities like schools have a legal, constitutional ability to sponsor BSA units.


I would most like to see the BSA drop its discriminatory practices, so that schools and other gov't orgs could, once again, sponsor scouting groups. In the interim though, the BSA cannot have things both ways. If the BSA wants to retain its existing membership standards then the BSA cannot realistically expect government sponsorship.


That might be a minority viewpoint, but it is by no means a lone view point within the scouting movement.



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"These folks WERE founders of the American colonies and yet,"

Yeah, colonies,. Not the united states. They were not the people who drafted the Constitution, nor the Declaration of Independans . There were alot of groups. Ther were alot of colonies. Different ideas, different countries sent different explorers. Different reasons too. Some colonies were also founded by those loyal to England. Some were founded by very religious and some were athiest. Some were just a motley crue of different folks with all different kinds of ideas.


But they didn't write The Constitution.


Now as far as the other staement I made:




The governemnt is not actually chartering anything. The school is. Just because the school gets government funding does not automatically make it an entirely government entity. Because using that reasoning, the fact that the government is of the people ( meaning us) then we are government too, which means we can't have anything to do with scouting,.lest somebody say that government is teaching scoutng.


But then again, since the government gets all of it's money from you and I, in essence, they are spending my money on supporting a group that just happens to want to charter a scout unit.


Hmmmmmm..a group of people, who we put in office, gave some of my money to another group that helps the community. That "another" group, decides on it's own, that it would like to sponsor a group of kids in doing something besides sitting on their butts and playing video games. That "another" group wants to mentor kids in an activity that just happens to be the exact same activity my son participates in.


Umm, that's not government,. Thats a group of people who decided to volunteer their time to mentor kids.


It's just like saying that since you give your son an allowance, and he spends that allowance on beer one weekend, that you support underage drinking! You didn't tell your son to buy it. You most certainly didn't give permission, and I'm pretty certain you weren't even aware of the plans... but since the money came from you...you bought the beer!


Sounds different that way right? The government wouldn't be sponsoring the pack/troop. The school would. Axctually, the group of volunteers would, but I guess you couldn't just give Tom,Dick, and Harry a

charter could you? Nope! You'd have to put some sort of civic group or what not type seal and name on it!



And as I understand it, you have issues that BSA is predjudiced, but not enough to quit scouting....only enough to keep another type of group from sponsoring a unit.


Which incidentally, would teach based on BSA ideals, not government ideals.

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Scoutfish asks:

Okay, let me ask this:

Who has an issue with a VFD sponsoring a scout unit? Or a school for that matter?


Is it anybody in here?


Ohh! Ohh! Me! Me! (waves)


I got the ACLU to write the BSA and tell them to stop issuing charters to public schools, because that would require public schools to practice religious discrimination against atheists, which is a violation of atheists' civil rights. I have a similar opinion of VFDs that are publicly funded that charter units.


Do I win something?

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Scoutfish writes:

The governemnt is not actually chartering anything. The school is. Just because the school gets government funding does not automatically make it an entirely government entity.


Well, the fact that the school wouldn't even exist if the government decided to drop it, and that everything conducted by public school officials is under the auspices of state laws certainly makes it a government entity. It's a government-run school.


Let me ask you this: if a public school decided to charter a softball team through a private group in a similar fashion to chartering a BSA unit, would that be legal if the private group:

1) excluded atheists from the softball team?

2) excluded Jews from the softball team?

3) excluded blacks from the softball team?

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Scoutfish, I am sorry but you are incorrect. Public schools, by their very definition, are government entities. If you do not believe that, start doing some research.


As for this statement: "Some were founded by very religious and some were athiest" Please point to the American colony/colonies founded by atheists.


I used the Mass. Bay colony as an example of religiously-oriented founders who, none the less, often argued about separation of church and state because I wanted to make the point that even before the present Constitution was drafted in 1787, notable Americans were talking in clear terms about "separation of church and state." If you want to limit the discussion to people who were in Philadelphia in 1787 when the present Constitution was being drafted, fine, but do you think they were intellectually divorced from their forebears? In fact, many of the "founders" that you are talking about would have been extremely well-versed in this same discussion because they, themselves, had participated in these discussions in their state (and previously, colonial) governments. The specific words "separation of church and state" are not in the 1st amendment, it is true. But there is plentiful historical evidence that this phrase and its meaning were well known to political leaders in the 1780s and earlier in our history.



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It may be a minority position Lisabob, but youre not alone, count me in. Some day Id like to see some good data about just where the minority/majority line is among all the people who participate, support, or, belong to scouting. I had started a reply, my computer hiccupped, I lost what I was typing, and saw that Lisabob has stated most of what I had to say and more eloquently than I was going to say it.


I love scouting, I live and breathe it, I have been involved in scouting on and off for a few decades as a scout, as an uncle helping my nephew while his dad was serving at sea, and now as a leader for my sons. But I dont want the government sponsoring units. The VFD described doesnt sound like a government entity so sponsor away. But the school is a different matter. The government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, and is the expression of the peoples will, but it is limited in the things its allowed to do. Its limited so that we as individuals are protected from a tyranny by the majority. If the school/government can own an organization that prohibits atheists from membership than its establishing a religion. If it can exclude atheists today it can exclude catholics like me tomorrow (a not uncommon occurrence in our countrys past). And if it can exclude Catholics and atheists it can exclude everyone that isnt something like Muslim. And if it excludes us from scouts it can exclude us from the basketball team or the honors program.



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