Monday, August 08, 2005
The ACLU's Relentless Pursuit of the Boy Scouts
Powerline's Scott Johnson penned a piece in the Weekly Standard detailing the ACLU's 30 year war against the Boy Scouts of America. After having read this, and followed the Hedgehog's various pieces on the same issue, I've decided to throw my two cents into the debate.
In the interests of full disclosure and to inform the reader of my slant, I will state for the record that I am an Eagle Scout. I have been involved in scouting in one way or another since I entered the Cub Scout program at the age of eight. As a Cub Scout and Boy Scout I earned the highest awards offered by each of the two programs. My scouting mentor is none other than my Grandpa Frank, whose love for scouting kept him in close contact with the BSA for some 83 years. I believe in the program and enrolled my eight year old son, Corderinho, on his eighth birthday.
I have participated in more scouting activities than I can remember - everything from Courts of Honor to the rite of passage commonly known as Scout Camp. To put the program in a nutshell - Scouting guides young boys along the pathway to manhood. Scouting teaches valuable principles and skills that help young men make good decisions. It teaches there is a right and wrong in life.
And yes, someplace along that path you learn that plastic wrap has interesting applications in outhouses, and smoke bombs do really cool things when thrown into a campfire. Midnight raids on the campsites of fellow scouts can be dangerous. Mountain lake water is really, really, really, cold - even in August. That said, you can jump in, swim to the floating barge, and swim back - and live to tell about it.
You learn that nature, while beautiful and stunning in all its splendor, is very unforgiving of the unprepared. You can survive a winter encampment, and if you're really adventurous, you can do so in an ice shelter warmed only by a candle.
What is required of a scout? That he obey the Scout Law and be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Also he must live by the Scout Oath, and, on his Honor, do his best to do his duty to God and his country and to obey the Scout Law - to help other people at all times and keep himself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. (Emphasis mine)
Because membership and participation in the Boy Scout program is limited to those who profess a belief in a Higher Power and openly homosexual men are not permitted in the ranks, the ACLU has had the BSA in its cross-hairs for some 30 years. The ACLU believes membership in any organization, public or private, should be dictated by the ACLU standards, and not that of the organization.
Anything less, and the targeted organization is branded as discriminatory. Many organizations have cowered at the very thought of an ACLU anti-discrimination lawsuit. The BSA has not, and has thus far been successful in warding off the ACLU's attempt to dictate the membership requirements.
I'm not going to discuss whether or not the BSA is a public or private organization. I'll leave that to Hugh, the Hedgehog, and other lawyers to debate. I believe the ACLU has waged a 30 year war on the BSA for some very simple reasons.
They just plain don't like the Scouting Program. Sure, they'll say "If the BSA would simply change their program to suit our demands, everything would be fine." But surrendering to the ACLU would end scouting as it has come to be known. The churches (where the vast majority of Scout Troops are chartered) would simply create another similar program and call it something else. Whatever would be left of the BSA after that would quickly fade into obscurity - much like the Canadian program has.
They can't stand the fact that belief in a Higher Power is a membership requirement. It can't even be said the BSA is a Christian organization. You can be a Jew, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or any other religion (organized or not). The ACLU recognizes no power higher than itself.
Homosexuality is not an accepted part of the program. Openly homosexual men are not permitted to lead scout troops, and homosexual young men are not permitted to participate in scouting activities. One would think, with the recent sexual abuse scandals, the reasoning for this would be self-evident. For those of you who have problems with self evident stuff, please make sure your teenage daughters are sent to a summer camp run by men.
And finally, the ACLU can't stand the absolute standards of the scouting program. In scouting, you either fulfill the requirements, or you don't. In order to advance, you have to pass the tests. Exceptions are made for extenuating circumstances or physical conditions, but if you don't make it, you don't make it. 3% of those entering the program make Eagle.
The latest victory for the ACLU came from a black robed thug in Illinois. Said thug enjoined the Federal Government from allowing the BSA to use facilities at Ft. A.P. Hill for future National Jamborees. Only time and the appeals process will tell whether or not that ruling will stand.
The one thing you have to ask yourself in the midst of all these events - what right does the ACLU have to tell any organization, public, private or otherwise, how to run their membership rolls? Should it be acceptable that one person, or a small group of people should be able to, by force of judicial fiat, force their views on another group of people?
Regardless of your religious or political persuasion, I think you know the answer to that question.
Here endeth the lesson.