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1st Amendment and BSA

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Again, I know I should look away but yet I am inexplicably drawn in.


Merlyn has never said that a BSA unit could not meet in a Public School as long as the BSA unit is treated the same as any private organization. Merlyn does say that the Public School could not Charter a BSA unit, which is different than allowing the BSA unit to meet on school grounds under the same conditions as other private organizations.


So, to review, Merlyn does not want Public Schools Chartering BSA Units although BSA units can certainly meet in a Public School as long as the BSA Unit is treated the same as any private organization.


Now, as to what Merlyn wants, I am not a mind reader, but I can read text. Merlyn has no problem with a private person putting up a Nativity scene at Christmas on that persons personal property. He does have a problem with a town putting up a Nativity Scene at Christmas on Public Grounds using taxpayer funds.


For those who keep claimimg Merlyn wishes to live in a world without religion, you guys are wrong. Personal rights to express religious views on personal property is Ok with Merlyn, he just doesnt want tax money used.


I am not sure Merlyn has ever advocated that the BSA allow in Atheists, he just wants the BSA to be the private organization the Supreme Court said it was and practice the legal discrimination that they said the BSA could and not get tax payer money or support. I think he also is not too happy with the BSA saying to be the 'Best kind of Citizen" you have to beleive a God or gods but I have done enough conjecture at this point


I hope I have this correct, but I am pretty sure I do. If not, Merlyn will correct me as he should as I am trying to tell others what Merlyn thinks, that is usually best left up to the person in question but in this case, Merlyn's message seems to get garbled to quite a few people.


Governmental Units cannot Charter BSA units, BSA units can meet in Public Buildings subject to the rules that all private organizations have to follow. Thats it, how does it always end up with a proclamation that Merlyn wants religion out of our Culture? He has never said so, that I have seen.


Well then, I can't wait to see what mistakes I have made, I am sure there are some (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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Gonzo, when I was in the Cub Scouts, in the 1960's (before any of this was an issue), my pack was chartered to the public school that I attended. The Institutional Representative (now called Chartered Organization Representative) was one of the school administrators. I remember going into his office a couple times with papers sent by my father (the Cubmaster, later Pack CC) for him to sign. (The annual charter, presumably.) I did not, at the age of 9 or 10, study these documents in detail, but I have to assume that the principal was listed on the charter as Executive Officer, Institution Head, or whatever the terminology was at the time.


Apparently, nobody realized at the time that this was unconstitutional, because the issue of atheists in the BSA hadn't come up yet. Or maybe the BSA didn't actually exclude atheists at the time. In any event, it does now, and a public school cannot be the CO. Meeting there on an equal basis with other groups, not owned by the school, is a different issue.

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nobody realized at the time that this was might be unconstitutional


a public school cannot should choose not to be the CO so as to avoid pointless litigation(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Ok Beavah, I think you are playing word games here, but I'll play along for a minute. I'm saying it's unconstitutional. I have explained why in previous posts. If you are saying that it instead "might be" unconstitutional, then you are also saying it "might be" constitutional. How? Please explain how it could possibly be constitutional for a public entity to own and run a program that excludes atheists.

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I'm glad you have ruled that YOU decided it's unconstitutional! I thought it was the SCOTUS, at least since 1803 in it's landmark ruling in Marbury vs Madison.


It's settled, NJCubScouter has spoken!


I hope the remaining 12-15 schools that charter units will stop, then and apparently only then will this matter be put to rest.

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Gonzo, show me where I claimed to be a court. I expressed my opinion. I don't think there's any doubt about this issue. If someone has a different opinion, I think they should clearly say so and explain their reasoning, as I did earlier in this thread. And I agree with you about making this a moot issue, except I don't see why the BSA (through its local councils) doesn't just find new CO's for however-many units remain chartered to government entities. Isn't that part of every DE's job, to find new chartered organizations?

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My suggestions - since nobody asked :)


1) Beavah, admit you are wrong and Meryln will volunteer to work at a soup kitchen.


2) Ed - give it rest.


3) Personally, I don't agree with it...but I am willing to put up with it to the point where my Scout begins to take a discriminatory tone towards those that are not permitted to be Scouts....then he is done. Perfect, what else would one expect from an engineer? Engineers make sure things work, scientists just pontificate. :)


4) NJCubScouter - one well deserved atta boy!


5) Why does this thread give me dj vu all over again?(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I know Ed, that's why my comments were mostly in jest. It's just that you and Merlyn seem to bring out the worst in each of you. That said, the worst in each of you is better the the best I've seen in some folks!

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Yah, while I'm eatin' my pie, I'll respond to NJ just so he/she doesn't think I'm ignorin' da question, even though I've laid out my argument in previous posts.


NJ, you're makin' a claim that da practice is unconstitutional for da same reason Merlyn blathers on about. But honestly, it's an open question, eh? There's never been a binding decision rendered by any precedent-setting court. And while you and Merlyn make a fine emotive argument, it's not a legal argument, eh?


I think if yeh found the right test case - a district that chartered BSA units, and ran an American Atheists club, and set aside school time for muslims to pray led by a local imam that the school vetted (so they could run background checks and keep kids safe), etc. then yeh make a very simple argument.


1) The chartering of a unit serves a public purpose. It teaches citizenship and life skills that are consistent with the district's mission while providin' outside resources that a cash-strapped district doesn't have, so it's consistent with many community partnerships. Da unit provides a gathering place and social connections for kids with that interest (which has been shown to improve achievement). It also attracts students that would otherwise feel uncomfortable/excluded because of their beliefs and would tend to go to charter / private institutions; it therefore improves district revenues in some states. Furthermore, and most important, the state has a compelling interest in vetting those who have contact with children in the schools to ensure the safety of students, and that is best accomplished by being able to approve volunteers.


2) The district is respondin' to an identified interest/need of families and students, and does that on an equal basis by finding resources to support atheist groups, muslim groups, etc. Therefore, the policy of chartering for no-cost services based on student/family choice does not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion even though the services da family selects are religious in character. See Zelman.


3) No district funds are used, da leadership is all volunteer, and the district does not have involvement in selecting leaders beyond ensuring they have met the district's background check, behavior, and quality standards for all programs. That clearly does not rise to "excessive entanglement" by the standard of any prior case. Da district owns the donated equipment, which allows it to be used for other school activities like the science club filed trip, so again "ownership" serves a secular public purpose consistent with a broad array of community partnerships.


So that disposes of da 3-part test from Lemon, eh? And if anything, da current court is on da conservative side with respect to Lemon anyways.


When yeh look at other precedent, da court has tended to try to strike a delicate balance. Rulings have gone against prayer in "captive audience" type settings or by government actors (school employees). But we're not talkin' prayer, or a captive audience setting, or school employees here, eh? That puts it on da other side of the balance, where the court tends to uphold da practice. Da court has even denied cert. on a case which upheld captive-audience recruiting by the BSA durin' school time, and this wouldn't even be that invasive.


In many ways, a school chartering a BSA unit is functionally equivalent to da federal government chartering the BSA, eh? ;) Do yeh think our federal charter is unconstitutional?


Given the current makeup of SCOTUS (and especially their somewhat bold, even ill-advised, willingness to overturn or redirect precedent), I think da case of a school policy like that which made it that far would be upheld. It'll never happen because it just ain't worth the expense when yeh can achieve the same thing by shufflin' paperwork.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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