Boy Scout Jamboree vital for national security
July 28, 2005 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Boy Scout Jamboree vital for national security...so that they can get around the court decision forbidding federal funds to the Boy Scouts. [via rc3.org]
posted by jperkins (97 comments total)

 
Note that this has nothing to do with the anti gay leaders thing, and everything to do with how the Boy Scouts is apparently a religious organization.
posted by smackfu at 9:34 AM on July 28, 2005


Rafe of rc3.org put it better than I could (looks like Rafe is having problems with his individual blog entries. I've included a link to the actual entry in the FPP and am posting the full text of the entry here):

Jason Levine how supporters of the Boy Scouts are trying to subvert the Constitution in order to maintain federal support for the group even though its discrimination based on religion makes it ineligible for such benefits. Here's how it works:
Now you see why I find this so fascinating? It's clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith (like the Boy Scouts), and it's also pretty clear that there's no way the Senate would get the country to amend that ban out of the Constitution. So in order to get around it, the Senate is trying to pass laws that aim to prevent ordinary taxpayers from having sufficient standing to bring suit -- "what we do might be unconstitutional, but you don't have the right to file a court case to demonstrate that, so we can do it anyway." And as the final straw, they did all of it by declaring that the Boy Scout Jamboree is vital for national security.
These are the same people who constantly go around claiming that they're for strict interpretation of the Constitution. Spare me.
posted by jperkins at 9:37 AM on July 28, 2005


It looks like they've been suffering from a lot of "Wrath of God" stuff this year.

Bush decided to stay away, for fear of storms and bad weather.
posted by Balisong at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2005


Damn. In trying to avoid a nested blockquote tags, I made it unclear that all of my previous comment except for the intro bit is quoting Rafe's blog entry.
posted by jperkins at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2005


an organization that specifically excludes gay, athiest, and agnostic people.

While very much true in spirit, this isn't quite a solid claim. I, for instance, was an athiest boy scout. Don't get me wrong, it sucked -- I was surrounded by prayer and subtext, and not a little bias. But for the most part they don't seem as staunchly against athiests and agnostics as they do against gay people. I guess we're just one rung down on the offensiveness ladder, for them.

At any rate, the boy scouts shouldn't get one federal dime. Fancy constitutional footwork like this is despicable -- I'd love to see this kind of expose from a major news source.
posted by gurple at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2005


Well, at least it's finally out in the open that the Boy Scouts of America is a paramilitary and recruiting organization.

From the Culpeper Star-Exponent:
David Montroni, an elementary school principal from New Jersey and another scuba diving instructor, said supporting the use of Fort A.P. Hill for the jamboree was also to the country’s benefit.
Montroni said exposing scouts to military life was a valuable recruiting tool.

“All of these boys are a captive audience,” he said. “You’ve got 40,000 boys who are enamored of the soldiers and equipment and all that paraphernalia … It puts a glimmer in their eyes.”
“They’re chomping at the bit to see and learn and be all they can be.”

That was certainly true of 13-year-old Zach Rockwell, of St. Louis, who talked enthusiastically about the Adventure Camp being put on by the Army.

Zach said he was set on a military career, although, “it’s still a battle for me between Air Force, Army and Navy.”
I was in BSA from Cubs almost to Eagle. I never really faced much overt military or recruitment activities in my troop, but I remember the 75th anniversary Jamboree. It was at Camp Pendleton. They made a whole day out of climbing over static armor and vehicle displays and some live fire demos.

I chafed at the perceived authority-conditioning, but appreciated what little wilderness and survival skills that were offered and I soaked up. But on a whole, it didn't really seem like any of the troops I saw every really practiced what Baden-Powell tried to preach. I saw a lot of trash, destruction, and nature-abusive behavior by a bunch of kids and their mostly clueless parents/troop leaders.

“They’re chomping at the bit to see and learn and be all they can be.”

Dead? Indentured government property? Exposed to indescribable horrors and - if you're lucky - suffering from PTSD?
posted by loquacious at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2005


FWIW

My son's troop has many leaders with a strict religious, para-military bent. But it also has just as many who lean in the opposite direction...and we're located right on the buckle of the Bible Belt in the South. My son's troop is like any other gathering of people. It is not painted from a single can of paint nor with the same brush. And that's a good thing in my mind. BSA can sometime lean heavily towards the BS part, but it has also given my son many opportunites that he would not otherwise have had (eg. he spent 2 weeks last summer hiking 65-miles at Philmont Scout Ranch in the mountains of New Mexico). His troop has taught him respect, self reliance, outdoor skills, leadership skills. I've taught him to think for himself and to have a sense or perspective and context. You can jump on the bandwagon and poo on the Scouts, but I won't. It's not perfect but (from our personal experience) we've found it worthwhile.
posted by ElvisJesus at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2005


It's clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith (like the Boy Scouts)

That'll come as news to students at Wheaton with federal grants or loans or on ROTC scholarships, and to federal grant-holders there or at other religious schools.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:08 AM on July 28, 2005


But for the most part they don't seem as staunchly against athiests and agnostics

Back in the day that you and I were in, perhaps so. These days they have what they call the "Declaration of Religeous Principle". Its listed as something to affirm by signature on the adult leader application, meaning that not only can you not (technically) be an athiestic scout, neither can you be a leader. Quoth the declaration:
Boy Scouts of America believes that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. Accordingly, adult volunteer leaders of Boy Scouts of America obligate themselves to do their duty to God and be reverent as embodied in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, and the Declaration of Religious Principle. Because of its views concerning the duty to God, Boy Scouts of America believes that an atheist or agnostic is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys. Because of Scoutings methods and beliefs, Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as adult volunteer leaders.
[bsalegal.org]

Sadly, modern Scouting in America has become beholden to churches as sponsoring organizations in an ever-tightening spiral. Churches put increasing pressure towards developing anti-gay/anti-athiest policies, those interested in diversity get increasingly marginalized. Wash, rinse, repeat.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2005


It's clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith

This is completely factually incorrect. I suppose instead of making the argument, he decided that it would be easier to just assert, ipse dixit, that is "clear." He is idiotically wrong. Or, if you don't believe me, look at Bowen v. Kendrick. That would be the opinion where the Supreme Court says this guy is full of shit and didn't even bother to do a cursory legal analysis.
posted by dios at 11:13 AM on July 28, 2005


ElvisJesus: I hear what you're saying. I'm sure the reality in any given troop differs substantially from the national rhetoric. I just wish they'd left it to local troops instead of making a federal case (literally) out of their stance.
posted by tippiedog at 11:14 AM on July 28, 2005


Wow, thanks for that reference, Ogre Lawless. I had been conflicted, myself, about whether to get my eventual kid into scouting (if I end up having a boy) -- I had a lot of crappy experiences in Scouts, but a lot of good ones, too. But that seals it. I can't support an organization like that with a dime of my money or a minute of my time.

Does anyone know if there are any well-organized, non-Christy alternatives to the boy scouts?
posted by gurple at 11:22 AM on July 28, 2005


Interesting history of the Boy Scouts of America:
"In fact, at first the BSA's efforts to transcend religious and ethnic particularism scared off some conservative denominations, such as Lutherans, Catholics, and Mormons, according David Macleod's Building Character in the American Boy: The Boys Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners. But assimilationist pressures soon won these groups over, and by 1921 Catholics boasted the third-most troops of any denomination. For the Mormons, participation in the Boy Scouts became a way to convince suspicious mainline denominations of their Americanism. (By 1913 Scouting had become the official youth program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

....During the group's membership skid in the '70s – which was most pronounced in the Northeast – enrollment remained steady only in the Rocky Mountain region, where numbers were buoyed by the steady participation of 250,000 Mormons, whose percentage in the organization quadrupled from 1920 to 1980, to nearly 20 percent."

....By 1991 the BSA had retreated so far from its big-tent roots that, when a California appellate court struck down the complaint of a gay Berkeley Eagle Scout who was rejected as a scoutmaster, Scouting officials could explain, 'We are a private organization aimed at traditional families.'

....These explicit policies have made the Boy Scouts a safe haven for the conservative, centralized denominations that were once wary of it. The Church of Latter-day Saints now sponsors more troops than any other single institution. In fact, religious bodies now sponsor 65 percent of all troops, compared with just over 40 percent 15 years ago. And, according to some observers of the BSA's bureaucracy, the real clout within the organization now lies not with the national executive board, made up mostly of corporate executives, but with the relationships committee, which comprises representatives from all the major sponsoring institutions and which is dominated by religious groups. As Chuck Wolfe, a former member of the national executive board, told The Advocate magazine last year, 'The real driving force is the relationships committee.... That's where the money comes from.'

And, indeed, a significant part of that money comes from the Mormons. This grants the Church of Latter-day Saints substantial leverage with the national leadership. As one scout leader told Newsweek this year, "There is an unadulterated fear that [the Mormons are] going to bail out, that they're going to start their own program." The Mormons have invoked their power in the current controversy, threatening to withdraw their 412,000 boys if gay scout leaders are allowed to participate. [The New Republic | September 17, 2001]
posted by ericb at 11:28 AM on July 28, 2005


OHES NOES~~!!11

MORMONS ARE INVOLVED?????
posted by dios at 11:30 AM on July 28, 2005


The Boy Scouts are an organized NAMBLA.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:32 AM on July 28, 2005


The Boy Scouts are an organized NAMBLA.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:32 AM PST on July 28


True. Except for the gay part.
posted by dios at 11:34 AM on July 28, 2005


Really I don't think people are so religious, but a lot of people really don't like the homos, so religion is more of a polite way of exclusion.

So in a sense religion is a culture club that cements a people against what is perceived to be bad outside things aimed to destroy, like sugar sweet butt sex.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:36 AM on July 28, 2005


Other websites to check out: BSA-Discrimination.org, Scouting For All.
posted by ericb at 11:36 AM on July 28, 2005


ipse dixit -- Lat: he himself said it; an assertion by one whose sole authority for it is the fact that he himself has said it. (Barron's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition)

I'll be damned if I let dios control the discourse by peppering his comments with legal Latin that nobody else understands. He can't make himself sound as smart if we all know what he's talking about.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:40 AM on July 28, 2005


This is completely factually incorrect. I suppose instead of making the argument, he decided that it would be easier to just assert, ipse dixit, that is "clear." He is idiotically wrong. Or, if you don't believe me, look at Bowen v. Kendrick. That would be the opinion where the Supreme Court says this guy is full of shit and didn't even bother to do a cursory legal analysis.

Except that in reading that opinion, I immediately notice the following:
As to the second Lemon factor, the Act does not have the primary effect of advancing religion. It authorizes grants to institutions that are capable of providing certain services to adolescents, and requires that potential grantees describe how they will involve other organizations, including religious organizations, in the funded programs. However, there is no requirement that grantees be affiliated with any religious denomination, and the services to be provided under the Act are not religious in character. The Act's approach toward dealing with adolescent sexuality and pregnancy is not inherently religious, although it may coincide with the approach taken by certain religions. The provisions expressly mentioning the role of religious organizations reflect at most Congress' considered judgment that religious organizations can help solve the problems to which the Act is addressed.
Where the linked to decision in the FPP that regards the BSA Jamboree reads:
The Jamboree status is neither neutral nor is the aid it provides the result of the "genuinely independent and private choices of individuals." First, it is not offered to a broad range of groups; rather it is specifically targeted toward the Boy Scouts, which, as this court has already concluded, is a religious organization from which agnostics and atheists are excluded. Second, the aid is not based on the "independent and private choices of individuals." Rather, the aid is provided directory to the Boy Scouts pursuant to the singular choice of Congress to provide a significant amount of aid (almost $8 million in 2005) to the BSA Jamboree to the exclusion of other possible recipients. Given the Supreme Court's focus on the neutrality in approving government aid to religious organizations and the Jamboree statute's complete lack of neutrality in allocating aid, the court find that a reasonable observer would conclude that the Jamboree statute conveys a message of endorsement of religion. As such, the court finds that the aid provided by the Jamboree violates the Establishment Clause.
So, where his sweeping statment about the Establishment Clause wasn't correct in general, specific to the BSA Jamboree he was correct.
posted by jperkins at 11:40 AM on July 28, 2005


I thought more of you than that, The Jesse Helms...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:41 AM on July 28, 2005


/ashamed to have been in this stupid organization as a kid.
posted by wakko at 11:41 AM on July 28, 2005


Dios, actually, the "mandate" portion of his quote that you quoted ("It's clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith") makes him correct. Second of the Lemon tests ("The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion"). So I was incorrect in saying that he was wrong about the Establishment Clause.

And so were you.
posted by jperkins at 11:46 AM on July 28, 2005


As ericb notes, the inconsistency derives from the BSA's own statement: "'We are a private organization aimed at traditional families.'" — and its seeming inability to disconnect itself from public funding, using whatever double standards, backpedalling, weaseling and outright lying are necessary to justify its organization's discriminatory policies, whilst remaining on the public teat.

Replace "gay" with "black" or "Hispanic" and this country would be rioting in the streets.
posted by Rothko at 11:48 AM on July 28, 2005


I don't really see an issue with some form of boy-scout-like group being useful for national security.

You know, other than the fact that it smacks of Hitler Youth (sorry for the Godwinning....how DO you bring up a historical example having to do with WWII Germany in a legitimate fashion without Godwinning the thread?).
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:50 AM on July 28, 2005


I am an Eagle Scout, my home troop was sponsored at my Lutheran Church, the Scout Master was a local Cop. But there was about as much God in our troop as there were girls, which is to say, none. Scouts was a great opportunity to camp, meet interesting people, and camp (I liked the camping). I even went to the Jambo in the early 90's, a week which all I can really remember revolves around heat, and bad patriotic music. All of this is to say that it varies from Troop to Troop what actual level God plays. That isn't to say there isn't a covert (and overt) amount of God in the Scouts, some Troops and Scouts just relegate it from the forefront.

I have watched, with some interest, what was happening in Scouting in the last ten+ years, and it makes me sad. While I am nominally Christian, the idea that atheists and homosexuals should be excluded seems distinctly un-Scoutworthy, and generally bad for Boy Scouts in general. I too also wonder if I could direct a future son to Scouting, even though it was a distinctly positive experience in my life. And that is the rub - the Scout Law is a wonderful benchmark of living (although we learned reverent without directly relating to God), and Scouting in general is an excellent way to develop skills which would be difficult for "city kids" to develop.

I'm not ashamed as wakko is, but just sad.
posted by plemeljr at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2005


jperkins: the trial court opinion will most certainly be overturned on appeal as it directly conflicts with Supreme Court precedence. As such, it is little use to rely on that. (How many times a year do we see dumbass trial court opinions that don't stand a snowballs chance of hell in surviving appellate scrutiny?)

The opinion is clear in Bowen v. Kendrick... the controlling law in this area.... that as long as something doesn't have the primary effect of advancing religion, then giving money to religious groups is fine. Clearly the Boy Scouts has a secular purpose. You might not like its emphasis on religion, but proselytizing is not the primary purpose of the Boy Scouts or (despositively for legal purposes) the primary purpose of government funds to Boy Scouts. The trial court made a wrong ruling; its clear in light of Bowen. It will be appealled and overturned. One can be atheist and not be a Boy Scout. (People in this thread have proven that fact). The Boy Scouts provide a secular service. That they also have religious teachings is irrelevant. No money is given to them to spread religion; its given to them because of the service to young men. It is clearly authorized by Bowen.

To say what this guy said... that it "is clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith" shows a complete ignorance of the controlling law in this area.

______
Faint of butt: HA! Are you suggesting that the term was misused?
posted by dios at 11:53 AM on July 28, 2005


sorry for the Godwinning....how DO you bring up a historical example having to do with WWII Germany in a legitimate fashion without Godwinning the thread?

I was wondering about this myself and decided that instead of using "Hitler Youth" I was going to describe it so specifically that no one with the knowledge of them would be confused about who I was referring to. If anyone complained I was going to fall back on the Rovian, "I didn't say, 'Nazi.' I described them as the youth group of Germany's National Socialist Movement in the 1930s and 1940s."
posted by jperkins at 11:54 AM on July 28, 2005


MORMONS ARE INVOLVED?????

You betcha, dios. The troop I was in, that prayed at me loudly all the time and kept asking if I wanted to lead prayer (as though, after the last 1000 offers, I might suddenly change my mind and get religion), was a Utah Mormon troop. The Boy Scouts are huge in Utah -- meetings are nearly always at Mormon churches, and all ceremonies are at the Stake Centers (great big churches).

In Utah they tend to do the whole Scout thing faster than in other parts of the country. I got my Eagle at age 14, and that was about average. Maybe that's so they can avoid most of the alternative sexuality issues. Not that there are a lot of gays out of the closet in Utah high schools, either.
posted by gurple at 11:55 AM on July 28, 2005


When I was in the Boy Scouts, it seemed about as religious as the Pledge of Allegiance (and in virtually the same way). The closest we got to religion was selling wreaths at Christmas and cleaning up gravestones at the local Catholic church's cemetery. It's unfortunate that some of the high-level leaders seem to be ruining that.
posted by smackfu at 11:56 AM on July 28, 2005


You might not like its emphasis on religion, but proselytizing is not the primary purpose of the Boy Scouts or (despositively for legal purposes) the primary purpose of government funds to Boy Scouts.

As a former member of the Boy Scouts, I can categorically say this is a falsehood for at least two troops I was a member of.
posted by Rothko at 11:56 AM on July 28, 2005


The opinion is clear in Bowen v. Kendrick... the controlling law in this area.... that as long as something doesn't have the primary effect of advancing religion, then giving money to religious groups is fine. Clearly the Boy Scouts has a secular purpose.

As noted in the decision in the trial court: any secular purpose that the Boy Scouts offer is moot given that to take advantage of any of secular purposes, the individual cannot be an agnostic or atheist as they are specifically forbidden from joining which that has the impact of advancing religion.
posted by jperkins at 12:00 PM on July 28, 2005


jperkins: here, let me make it clearer for you.

If I create an organization called "Moonies Food Kitchen" where I only let Moonies in the group and pass out food to homeless people under a sign that says "Rev. Moon pwns", I can get federal funds under Bowen and the Supreme Court jurisprudence. The reason? Because the primary purpose of the group is to pass out food to the homeless. That I can mandate group membership to moonies is irrelevant in a Constitutional inquiry. If the government gives us money, it won't be to "advance Moonies." The primary purpsoe of the funding will be to help the food kitchen. My food kitchen doesn't exist primarily as a preaching organization; it is a food kitchen. The inquiry is not whether the people who get the money are religous or that they might have some religious goals.

There is a primary secular purpose: the distribution of food. Under the law, as clearly laid out in Bowen, federal funds are allowed. To say, as this guy says, that "it is clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith" is wrong.
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2005


given that to take advantage of any of secular purposes, the individual cannot be an agnostic or atheist as they are specifically forbidden from joining

This is completely wrong, as well. In this very thread you see people who can tell you that your are wrong.
posted by dios at 12:02 PM on July 28, 2005


Faint of butt: HA! Are you suggesting that the term was misused?

Hardly. Your use of the term was completely accurate. I do, however, submit that you often attempt to appear smart and reinforce your claimed legal credentials by using Latin terminology not understood by the average layperson, so I have taken it upon myself to level the playing field by translating for you. Call me Faint of Butt, Champion of the Proletariat.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:04 PM on July 28, 2005


If I create an organization called "Moonies Food Kitchen" where I only let Moonies in the group and pass out food to homeless people under a sign that says "Rev. Moon pwns", I can get federal funds under Bowen and the Supreme Court jurisprudence. The reason? Because the primary purpose of the group is to pass out food to the homeless. That I can mandate group membership to moonies is irrelevant in a Constitutional inquiry. If the government gives us money, it won't be to "advance Moonies." The primary purpsoe of the funding will be to help the food kitchen. My food kitchen doesn't exist primarily as a preaching organization; it is a food kitchen. The inquiry is not whether the people who get the money are religous or that they might have some religious goals.

Wh - why are you saying this like it's a good thing?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2005


When I was involved in scouting (late 70s, early 80s, New England) there was absolutely zero religious content as far as I can recall. And most of the troops were sponsored by public schools.

Five years after I left, the Scoutmaster was arrested for pedophilia.
posted by Slothrup at 12:33 PM on July 28, 2005


Optimus -

Food kitchen w/some preaching, or no food kitchen. Which is preferable?

JB
posted by JB71 at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2005


The Jamboree is only for Boy Scouts, so your analogy, to be accurate, would have to be modified so that the kitchen only feeds homeless Moonies.

I doubt this would still fly.

What is the primary purpose of the BSA, except to be a Scout? Membership is officially closed to atheists and homosexuals (regardless of who sneaks in unofficially)
posted by bashos_frog at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2005


jperkins: given that to take advantage of any of secular purposes, the individual cannot be an agnostic or atheist as they are specifically forbidden from joining

dios: This is completely wrong, as well. In this very thread you see people who can tell you that your are wrong.

That's not only from the courts findings, but confirmed by rothkos, gurples and in links provided by ericb. Here's another for ya:
The BSA reaffirmed its view that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that these values cannot be subject to local option choices.

In affirming its existing standards of leadership, the board also agreed that duty to God is not a mere ideal for those choosing to associate with the Boy Scouts of America; it is an obligation, which has defined good character throughout the BSA's 92-year history.
Do you really wonder why so many people around here consider you a troll? Arguing that what's been said and linked to several times in this thread never happened? Give me a break.
posted by jperkins at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2005


We had a fairly atheist (and anarchic) Scout Group in Scotland. One week we had a visiting Leader, who after saluting the flag asked the senior scout to recite the Lord's Prayer.

The Scout stood there looking horrified. We all looked aghast. After a while inspiration struck and he came out with "God". That was it. Loud sniggering followed shortly afterwards.

Very, very entertaining. Don't think the visitor was very impressed.
posted by alasdair at 12:49 PM on July 28, 2005


Ya' gotta love it ... Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the world Scouting movement apparently had quite an interest in boys.
posted by ericb at 12:57 PM on July 28, 2005


Food kitchen w/some preaching, or no food kitchen. Which is preferable?

I'd prefer the federal government not hand out money to organizations that lie about the group's primary goal, thanks. In dios's example, it's clear that the Moonie food kitchen would recieve federal funds that would not go toward feeding people, but rather towards enriching the higher-ups in the group, regardless of what the group says the "primary purpose" would be.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2005


Scouting For Boys - The Alternative Lifestyle of Lord Baden-Powell, The First Boy Scout:
"[Baden-Powell] was obsessed with boys and 'boyology.' The index of Tim Jeal's excellent biography 'Baden-Powell' speaks of his 'aesthetic and sexual interest in men,' 'pre-marital celibacy,' 'dreams of young men,' and 'anxieties over sexuality.'

....'B-P,' as he was known throughout the Scout movement, studiously recorded his dreams, which were often about young men." [Slate | August 27, 1999]
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on July 28, 2005


jperkins, please show me something from the Boy Scouts website that says one has to be a Christian to join. The Homosexual bullshit is not part of this discussion.

Find me the part of the scouting code which says only Christians are allowed. You seem incapable of understanding the difference between a requirement for admission and the ideals that are espoused. "All good scouts should believe in a God" as an ideal is NOT a requirement that all scouts must be Christian. You may think I am being nuanced here, but when you are talking about legality, its makes all the difference in the world. Read the opinion and see for yourself.
posted by dios at 1:09 PM on July 28, 2005


Yes, dios, but if the Moonies' Food Kitchen required that people at least claim to be Moonies in order to get the food, they fail the test. Likewise, BSA makes atheists and agnostics at least claim implicitly not to be, so fails the test, too. Making lawyerly arguments for a position doesn't automatically make them true.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:14 PM on July 28, 2005


To restate the point: there is a secular purpose to the BSA. The primary purpose is not a religous one. Similarly, the primary purpose of the granting of money is not to advance a religion; it's to fund an organization that teaches skills to young men. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that grants to institutions that are religious are acceptable when they have a primary purpose other than the adavancement of the religion. The case law on it couldn't be clearer. And it is the very reason why this trial court opinion is just like all the other annual cracked out crazy judge rulings that you see from time to time out of the district courts. This one is in direct conflict with the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court and will be overturned.
posted by dios at 1:17 PM on July 28, 2005


"The direct funding provided to the Jamboree -- at levels offered to no other youth group -- is particularly alarming not only because of the BSA’s exclusions of non-believers but also because of the explicitly religious aspects of the Jamboree....Troop leaders are issued a guidebook by the Boy Scouts of America indicating that a prayer book is 'required personal camping equipment' for all youth attendees. The BSA also issues a 'Duty to God' booklet for each participant that recommends prayers for each day of the Jamboree.

Most important, however, is the exclusion of non-believers from this government-funded event. Because of this, Judge Manning found, the statute that provides special treatment and special funding for the Boy Scouts Jamboree is not neutral with regards to religion
. The Judge’s decision reasoned that the government aid was 'not offered to a broad range of groups; rather, it is specifically targeted toward the Boy Scouts, which…is a religious organization from which agnostics and atheists are excluded.'" [source]
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on July 28, 2005


Look, dios, requiring a belief in God (capital "G" there, you notice) in order to obtain the service is plausibly advancing religion as a primary purpose. You act like it's all settled case law, when it is only recently that jurists of your stripe have been pushing the envelope so vociferously and energetically. As for what happens on appeal, we'll see. But for the time being, stop acting like you've got a handle on some absolute truth. You remind me of those jurists who believe there is some way of determining constitutionality without interpreting it, because it's just obvious what the words mean ("strict constructionists" I believe they're called, and they mostly believe the words mean "Yes, we support the conservative interpretation, whatever that may be in this particular case.").
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:25 PM on July 28, 2005


Eric, that is a biased viewpoint. The ALCU's interpretation that "non-believers are excluded" is an argument.

Show me something from the Boy Scouts which requires that Boy Scouts be Christians.
posted by dios at 1:26 PM on July 28, 2005


dios, it doesn't have to be "Christian," it can just be "religious." Stop creating a straw argument to parry.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:29 PM on July 28, 2005


Show me something from the Boy Scouts which requires that Boy Scouts be Christians.

Who has claimed in this thread that the Boy Scouts require one to be Christian? From what I am reading/learning the BSA requires one to believe in God. That surely smacks of a religious requirement.
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on July 28, 2005


To restate the point: there is a secular purpose to the BSA. The primary purpose is not a religous one.

And once again, dios, anecdotal experience and historical fact show this is a falsehood.
posted by Rothko at 1:31 PM on July 28, 2005


Find me the part of the scouting code which says only Christians are allowed.

No one said that only Christians could join - what's been repeatedly stated is that atheists and agnostics cannot because the Scout Code includes the, "I will do my duty to God and my country and to obey Scout Law," which is an impossible oath to take if you don't believe in God and one "which all Boy Scouts must know and subscribe to." Also is the BSA expelling atheists:
"We've asked him to search his heart, to confer with family members, to give this great thought," Brad Farmer, the Scout executive of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts, told The Sun of Bremerton.

"If he says he's an avowed atheist, he does not meet the standards of membership."

On membership applications, Boy Scouts and adult leaders must say they recognize some higher power, not necessarily religious. "Mother Nature would be acceptable," Farmer said.

As a private organization, the Boy Scouts are permitted to exclude certain people from membership. The organization bans gays and atheists.


Lambert, who has been a Scout since he was 9, said he won't profess a belief he doesn't feel, saying it amounts to a lie. "I wouldn't be a good Scout then, would I?"
posted by jperkins at 1:35 PM on July 28, 2005


Dios, you're not getting something here. The Boy Scouts were once what you are arguing they are now, a secular organization.

When they declared that atheism and agnosticism were no longer acceptable within their ranks, they became a religious organization. The fact that they accept multiple religions doesn't make them any less religious. One cannot be atheist and be a Scout. Therefore, the government can't give money or support to that organization, because doing validates that viewpoint as being correct. The government isn't allowed to have an opinion about religion.

The district court judge made exactly the correct decision.
posted by Malor at 1:37 PM on July 28, 2005


dios:
Declaration of Religious Principle, Bylaws of Boy Scouts of America, art. IX, 1, cl. 1:

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law. The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of the members should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life."
Hows that for you? Religeous by their definition requires devotion to a singular godhead. While this != Chrstian strictly, I'm sure we could all tick off a number of denominations for which regular practice would not include a One True God.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:37 PM on July 28, 2005


Eric, that is a biased viewpoint. The ALCU...

Well, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is the party that prevailed in their case against the Pentagon's funding of the Boy Scout Jamboree. The court has indeed sided with this "biased viewpoint."
posted by ericb at 1:39 PM on July 28, 2005


Sorry so late to the party -- I had no idea that Rafe had linked to my post, much less that it had made it all the way here to MeFi.

Rather than try to catch up, I'll just address the persistent niggling of dios by saying that dios, you're just outright wrong, and as an entirely separate issue, you couldn't have less of a clue about how much background analysis I've done or knowledge I have.

First, let's deal with Bowen v. Kendrick, which you say is the controlling Supreme Court law in this area. Reading Bowen, there's nothing in the decision which minimizes the precedent importance of the three-prong Lemon test -- and given that Court used the test in Bowen to determine whether or not the counseling that was at issue was permissible, it would seem to strengthen the Lemon test. And since, in the Boy Scout Jamboree decision of earlier this month, the Northern Illinois District Court used the three-prong Lemon test in determining that government support of the was unconstitutional, it would seem to be a valid application of the current standard of legal interpretation.

Second, you even appear to misinterpret the findings in Bowen. The entire issue in Bowen was whether federal money could go to religious organizations which provided adolescent counseling under federal grant programs. The Court held that it was permissible explicitly because the grant programs were not specifically for religious organizations, but rather, were generically for any organizations which were qualified to provide the counseling. To quote from Rehnquist's decision:

"The AFLA defines an "eligible grant recipient" as a "public or nonprofit private organization or agency" which demonstrates the capability of providing the requisite services. 300z-1(a)(3). As this provision would indicate, a fairly wide spectrum of organizations is eligible to apply for and receive funding under the Act, and nothing on the face of the Act suggests it is anything but neutral with respect to the grantee's status as a sectarian or purely secular institution."

That's not even close to the case here -- a federal law that explicitly gives money to one organization and one organization only, the Boy Scouts. In fact, it's different enough that it's unclear whether Bowen would apply as precendent, or whether you'd have to go as far back as Bradfield v. Roberts in 1899 (which did allow explicit federal contribution of payment to a new hospital wing on a religious hospital campus, but did so because the hospital didn't discriminate against non-religious patients). The District Court went through painstaking analysis in the current case that the Boy Scouts do, in fact, discriminate based on religion, and thus are not tenable recipients of directed federal support.

Third, as to your assertion that agnostics, athiests, and gay people can happily be Boy Scouts -- I'll leave that one alone, since you can't possibly have done as much analysis into this as the District Court did, and the Judge concluded that this just isn't the case, at least not explicitly. And if you read her decision, she makes clear that the Boy Scouts never even contested this contention, which is proof enough for me.

And lastly, I can't believe I'm bringing myself to address your non-example, because it's so different from the Boy Scout Jamboree case it's ridiculous. You're absolutely right, if your faux Moonie soup kitchen served everyone who walked in the door without regard to their religion, then receiving federal funding would probably pass Constitutional muster, at least under the Lemon tests. But if you only served Moonies and told everyone else to hit the road, then there's no shot you'd get federal funding. And the latter is the analogy to the Boy Scouts, who (again, in the findings of the Northern Illinois U.S. District Court) tell everyone who doesn't believe in God to hit the road.
posted by delfuego at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2005


It's funny, searching scouting.org for agnostic or atheist returns nothing, but a search for god returns many many results, including this interesting one on the meaning of the scouting symbol...

The three points of the fleur-de-lis remind the Scout of the three points of the Scout's Promise: 1. Duty to God 2. Duty to Others 3. Duty to Self

And here I always thought it was just a symbol. Of course my family went to church on the nights boy scouts met, so up until the whole anti-gay thing started blowing up in their faces, I always saw them as anti-religion, good-ole-boys-network of drinking and shootin kinda people.
posted by nomisxid at 1:43 PM on July 28, 2005


dios is, in this instance, correct in his defense of the BSA. At first--as an agnostic on even my most religious of days--I was inclined to disagree. However, a little research on the Boy Scouts of America website does indicate that BSA just has it out for nonbelievers. (And gays.)

From a description of the 2005 Jamboree:

"Religious Services Provided:

Participants and staff members of all faiths will have the opportunity to attend religious services during the jamboree. These will be conducted by ordained and lay leaders of many faiths, including Protestant, Catholic, Episcopal, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, Christian Science, Reformed Latter-Day Saints, Lutheran, Buddhist, Islamic, and Unitarian-Universalist. Arrangements for other faiths will be made as needed."


Doesn't seem much better to me, but it does seem to make it harder to accuse the organization of seeking to "further Christianity" first and foremost...which is, as dios has been arguing, the point that any argument against them receiving federal funding needs to make.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:45 PM on July 28, 2005


Oh, wouldn't it be interesting to see a scout troop form in which the leaders and scouts were practicing wiccans or some other paganists , or -- heaven hell forbid -- satanists?

Oh ... a bit of Googling and I found this:

Wiccans Offer Alternative to Boy Scouts
"Frustrated by an unsuccessful campaign to achieve religious recognition from the Boy Scouts of America, a Seattle-based Wicca church has launched its own youth program, which is based on tolerance for different beliefs, including differences in sexual orientation."
Hmmm...they don't seem to recognize all beliefs, do they?
posted by ericb at 1:48 PM on July 28, 2005


Thanks, delfuego...I had a feeling I was missing something. Not knowing enough about the Bowie case, I went with the interpretation dios gave. (Obviously, that was a mistake.)
posted by voltairemodern at 1:49 PM on July 28, 2005


Ok. Lets try it this way. The Boy Scouts is not some abstract cloaked entity. It's existence and purpose is defined by statute. Here is the United States Code provision establishing the Boy Scouts:

The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916.

The Boy Scouts is not a religious orgnaization. See, e.g., Good News Club v. Milford Cent. Sch., 533 U.S. 98 (2001). There the Supreme Court stated that when determining whether an entity is a religion, "what matters it the substance of the activities."). Or as the Court said in the infamous Dale v. Boy Scouts of America case, "That the Boy Scouts' Oath expresses a belief in God does not make it a religious institution."
posted by dios at 1:50 PM on July 28, 2005


This page lists all the officially supported religious medals for the scouts. Quite a few non-Christian choices, including Zoroastrian.
posted by smackfu at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2005


delfuego, that's a rather selective focusing in the Bowen case.

The focus of the Lemon test, and the Bowen case is whether the organization recieves money for the primary purpose of the advancement of religion. True, Rehnquist made the point you cited, but that wasn't the gravamen of his argument (or of the Lemon test). Your suggestion that the outcome would have been different if the funding went only to religious groups is not supported by the opinion. Rehnquist went on to point out: " Only in the context of aid to "pervasively sectarian" institutions have we invalidated an aid program on the grounds that there was a "substantial" risk that aid to these religious institutions would, knowingly or unknowingly, result in religious indoctrination." Now, do you want to argue that the Boy Scouts is "pervasively sectarian?"

"[Facially neutral activities] are not themselves "specifically religious activities," and they are not converted into such activities by the fact that they are carried out by organizations with religious affiliations."
posted by dios at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2005


Its not a religeous organization but you've got to be religeous to be in the organization which is where the problem arises, at least insofar as the ACLU brief goes.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2005


delfuego, it seems to me that the appropriate Moonie Food Kitchen analogy would be something like this:

It would be permissible for a Moonie Food Kitchen, run by Moonies and requiring food-recipients to sign a Statement Of Moonie Faith In Moon And All Things Moonie, to get federal funding... as one recipient in a general program of aid to food kitchens. Similarly, students at schools requiring statements of faith of faculty, students, or both can still be eligible for the same federal programs as anyone else.

What kills the BSA program is that there is no federal program that's a general program of aid to outdoorsy or paramilitary kids' organizations.

You could find a program that could legitimately fund a Moonie Food Kitchen. But you couldn't create a federal program to *only* fund the Moonie Food Kitchen.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2005


Dios: Ok. Lets try it this way.

Let's not. You've had your fifteen minutes of derailment and the issue isn't even the decision by the court. The issue is that the BSA was found as not being eligible to receive federal aid and the Republicans in Congress then deemed it so essential that they adding an amendment to a bill making the Boy Scout Jamboree "vital to National Security." Pathetic. Especially from a group that likes to bitch and moan about "judicial activism."
posted by jperkins at 2:04 PM on July 28, 2005


Well, since Senator Frist Pulled Defense Spending Bill In Face of Republican Anti-Torture Amendments today, then (for now) the BSA still can't use Fort AP Hill.
posted by plemeljr at 2:11 PM on July 28, 2005


There is also the Mitchell v. Helms case. Mitchell also clearly shows that the district court was wrong.

And the pronouncement of the Court:

In short, nothing in the Establishment Clause requires the exclusion of pervasively sectarian schools from otherwise permissible aid programs, and other doctrines of this Court bar it. This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.

I would love to see an argument how the Boy Scouts is distinguishable from a Catholic school. The Supreme Court said giving such aid is fine.
posted by dios at 2:21 PM on July 28, 2005


Silly, self-defeating leftists. The trial court decision gets overturned and your secularizing agenda takes a well-deserved smack in the face. The trial court gets affirmed, and conservatives get the evidence they need to assure half dozen Republicans candidates who'd otherwise be defeated earn their 2006 tickets (back) to Washington.
posted by MattD at 2:25 PM on July 28, 2005


I would love to see an argument how the Boy Scouts is distinguishable from a Catholic school.

Keep reading and you'll see that the Catholic school didn't prohibit enrollment to those that are atheists, agnostics or gays. They also didn't eliminate those people from consideration for positions working for the school.
posted by jperkins at 2:27 PM on July 28, 2005


Silly, self-defeating righties. The trial court decision gets affirmed and your wanna be theocracy takes a well-deserved smack in the face while alienating even more independent voters. The trial court decision get overturned, and the liberals get the evidence that they need to assure that half dozen Democrats will defeat incumbent Republicans.

Hey, that's pretty easy to post without thinking. Thanks for pointing that out MattD.
posted by jperkins at 2:34 PM on July 28, 2005


JPerkins, may I suggest how Bush won a majority of votes among white voters with average incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 a year? It was because lefties couldn't hold back from the feverish thinking you demonstrate elegantly in your equation "Boy Scouts = theocracy" or who imagine that the "independent" voters who matter are the kind of who want the government banned from supporting Boy Scouts (when, in fact, they're the kind of people who aren't sure whether the government should ban immigration or impose 50% tariffs on imports from China.)
posted by MattD at 3:07 PM on July 28, 2005


The issue is that the BSA was found as not being eligible to receive federal aid and the Republicans in Congress then deemed it so essential that they adding an amendment to a bill making the Boy Scout Jamboree "vital to National Security." Pathetic. Especially from a group that likes to bitch and moan about "judicial activism."

When the Congress passes a law that's legislative activism, not judicial activism. That's exactly how the system is supposed to work. If the legislature doesn't like how a court interprets a law they are free to pass a new law. And if the people don't like what the House has down they can vote them out within 2 years. There's a huge difference between "judicial activism" (widely defined as unelected judges making policy from the bench) and legislation.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:16 PM on July 28, 2005


The trial court decision gets affirmed and your wanna be theocracy takes a well-deserved smack in the face while alienating even more independent voters.

You're saying that independent voters will be happy that the Boy Scouts got a "smack in the face?" These are the same Boy Scouts that are most known for helping old ladies cross the street, starring in Normal Rockwell paintings, and generally being patriotic in the positive sense of the word (ie, proper care of the flag, respect for veterans, etc). The pedophilia and gay rights issues have cut into that reputation somewhat, but it's hardly a coup to be known as the party that is against mom, apple pie, and Boy Scouts. I'd almost go as far as to say that one could get elected to Congress purely on a "the other side hates Boy Scouts" platform.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:19 PM on July 28, 2005


Normal Rockwell

That, obviously, should be Norman Rockwell. Although they're pretty normal too.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:41 PM on July 28, 2005


Metafilter: Rev. Moon pwns
posted by blasdelf at 3:48 PM on July 28, 2005


BTW - regarding Norman Rockwell - "while still in his teens, he was hired as art director of Boys' Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America." Most of his career was devoted to painting scenes of small-town American life. In his later years he became more political and "painted pictures illustrating some of his deepest concerns and interests, including civil rights...[and] America's war on poverty."

I wonder what his take would be on the BSA today.
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on July 28, 2005


ooooh. dios got pwnd.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:01 PM on July 28, 2005


I'd almost go as far as to say that one could get elected to Congress purely on a "the other side hates Boy Scouts loves fags" platform.

And your point is? That the majority is often wrong?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:03 PM on July 28, 2005


Jesus, dios, you keep acting like the Jamboree funding is part of some generic grant program that applies to any and all comers who request money. It's not -- it's a specific Congressional bill that says "The Boy Scouts Jamboree gets money from us." That's the difference -- this isn't an aid program (which is the context in which Bowen was decided), it's a specific, one-organization grant. Even the new Senate amendment is a one-organization grant, just done under the purview of the DoD rather than Congress' generic tax/spend allowances.

The difference is important, and is the reason why one is permissible (money to all comers, religious or otherwise) and the other isn't (money to a specific organization that discriminates based on religion).
posted by delfuego at 4:06 PM on July 28, 2005


I'd almost go as far as to say that one could get elected to Congress purely on a "the other side hates Boy Scouts" platform.
...
And your point is? That the majority is often wrong?

jperkins was kind enough to claim that the Democratic party could make political hay out of the fact that a Republican-run Congress supported the Boy Scouts. While the Boy Scouts may be "right" or "wrong" (if we want to divide things into neat even piles), it's pretty clear that one won't get very far politically by claiming that the other side is bad becuase they support Boy Scouts.

You may personally love or hate the program, but to claim that you can get elected by hating on the Boy Scouts shows a very narrow view of the country and evidence of living in the echo chamber far too long.

I wonder what his take would be on the BSA today.

Overall probably the same. Assuming that you brought him up-to-date to modern thought in general he'd probably be disappointed about the gay issue, but still find it to be a great program to help young men discover themselves, gain life skills, and learn to help others unselfishly.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:08 PM on July 28, 2005


jperkins was kind enough to claim that the Democratic party could make political hay out of the fact that a Republican-run Congress supported the Boy Scouts.

I was kind enough to make fun of MattD's post which consisted of his normal thoughtful and intelligent observations. Sorry that you missed the joke. And, yeah, I believe that independents and moderate conservatives are both becoming concerned with regards to the out-of-control evangelists that have taken over the Republican party.

When the Congress passes a law that's legislative activism, not judicial activism.

And when the legislature keeps inserting itself into disputes by passing 12th hour bills (Schiavo) and amendments (this one) it's seen as invasive and controlling that they're unwilling to allow a case to work its way through the judiciary. Dios keeping beating the "this will never stand on appeal to the SC drum." When this bill passes, we'll never find out if it would've or not.
posted by jperkins at 4:19 PM on July 28, 2005


Seems to me the ambiguity lies in what the purpose of the BSA is. Dios is implying in his analogy that their goal is to help others. Unfortunately, that doesn't jibe with the purpose which Dios actually states:
The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916.

Ok, so their purpose is to further the development of their members. They do not allow atheists to join (non-Christian != atheist, so we can safely ignore that bit of misdirection). Apparently they used to, but I haven't seen anyone demonstrate that they still do. Therefore, only theists are given the benefit of their main purpose, which is the promotion and education of its membership.

This isn't a soup kitchen. It's a self-serve.
posted by solotoro at 4:32 PM on July 28, 2005


I was kind enough to make fun of MattD's post which consisted of his normal thoughtful and intelligent observations. Sorry that you missed the joke.

I must have subconciously skimmed right over his post. Thanks for the heads-up, I retract the parts of my statement that no longer make sense.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:37 PM on July 28, 2005


I have a long history with the Boy Scouts, going from Cubs to Eagle, and it both angers me and depresses me how I have to qualify nearly any defense I make about the organization. I don't agree with their policies when it comes to gays or atheists at all. Nor do I agree with their all-too cozy relationship with the military. However, I do think that a teenager can get a lot out of Boy Scouts (survival skills, first aid, community service, and in the case of Eagle a door-opener), although whether or not that is still as true as it was six years ago when I stopped my adult membership, I can't say. If only the more moderate Scout leaders and people who would be more active in the organization stood up to the establishment of the Boy Scouts and stopped sucking the teat of religious organizations that fund them, then maybe things would change.

Until then, though, my Eagle and Vigil Honor awards will be something I keep to myself unless asked.
posted by shawnj at 5:12 PM on July 28, 2005


However, I do think that a teenager can get a lot out of Boy Scouts (survival skills, first aid, community service, and in the case of Eagle a door-opener), although whether or not that is still as true as it was six years ago when I stopped my adult membership, I can't say. If only the more moderate Scout leaders and people who would be more active in the organization stood up to the establishment of the Boy Scouts and stopped sucking the teat of religious organizations that fund them, then maybe things would change.

I have good memories of the cub scouts and weblos. What I don't get is the reliance on and panding to, the religious community in stating that a belief in God is a requirement to membership. If they dropped the issue of belief in God and homosexuality, I'd say fund the hell out of 'em. But then if they did that, would they even be funded by Congress?
posted by jperkins at 5:39 PM on July 28, 2005


Man oh man, I don't know what to think about Scouts anymore. It seems the Scouting movement in the US is a very different creature to it is elsewhere. Any other folks who were in Scouts outside the US care to speak up in defense of the movement as a whole, because in the US it seems to be headed down a dark road.

I was in scouts, in Australia, from age 6 to age 18. Here are some key memories from my time:
1 - No enforced requirement to not be an athiest. There was a general feeling that, like the Freemasons, you should repect a "higher power", but as other have pointed out, that higher power could be "Mother Nature". There was no religious content in general meetings. On camps, we sometimes had "Scouts Own" - a "quiet", spiritual time where we were just as likely to be read Aboriginal creation stories or Hindu tales, as from the Christian Bible. Prayers before meals were, most often, a leader jokingly saying "Ta, Pa."
2 - Millitary involvement? Hardly. If you wanted that, you joined the Cadets or the Boys Brigade.
3 - We had girls in the scouts! And a good thing too, because Girl Guides seemed to involve not much more than learning to knit and cook scones. Girls in scouts was excellent.
4 - The later years - what we called Venturers, age 15 to 18 - was pretty much a time of sex (remember, we had girls!), drugs (it's amazing what the leaders tolerated) and rock'n'roll (my first band was formed from former scouts). I'm serious. But, somehow, all with the background that we were all in it together as a team, with scouting principals behind us. It sounds strange, sure, but everyone I know now who came out of that environment is an active, successful, creative, driven person. A good person.

If Scouts in the US is really how you folks describe it, then I'm sad for the organisation.
posted by Jimbob at 8:08 PM on July 28, 2005


Claiming that the Boy Scouts are necessary to 'national security' and 'preparing for combat' gives a refreshing new perspective on the old concept of Cannon Fodder.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
posted by wadefranklin at 8:20 PM on July 28, 2005


If they dropped the issue of belief in God and homosexuality, I'd say fund the hell out of 'em. But then if they did that, would they even be funded by Congress?

If they didn't do their duty to inculcate hatred into their minions, they wouldn't be molding boys into Upstanding Young American Citizens. And there isn't any money in that.
posted by Rothko at 8:22 PM on July 28, 2005


I went to one cub scout meeting when I was about 9. Some poor schlub had forgotten the week's "chow bucket" and was being berated for this by the "den mother." I lept to his defense by saying "if children are starving in Africa, we can go without a chow bucket." (I was an idealistic little brat.) The den mother and all the other scouts looked at me like I was from Mars -- literally dead silence. And then she yelled at me for daring to speak up. I never went back. My impression ever since has been that a bunch of hooey about inculcating leadership is an excuse to inculcate submission and conformity. The very antithesis of childhood.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:53 PM on July 28, 2005


Boy Scout troops have varying degrees of religion, I flunked out of mine because I didn't know and wouldn't put any effort into learning the 10 commandments. Before you could earn any badges you had to get your "Religion in Life" badge, it was part of our church however, so in retrospect it wasn't too shocking. If my parents had cared they'd have probably been able to find me a troop without that requirement. The Boy Scouts themselves are however a non-secular organization. If I'd have stayed in scouts I'd eventually made an attempt at Eagle Scout. It appears that I'd at least have been barred from attaining that rank, unless I lied, and if I maintained my integrity I'd be expelled.

It's no loss for me, I've done everything a scout does with my friends. It is a loss for local scouts though, there are a number of scoutmasters for two active troops in my building. None of them have my actual experience or abilities so their troops are limited in what they get to do. I've been asked to join their troops, they're willing to lend a blind eye to my atheism because there's something they need. They wouldn't hesitate to kick out a kid for a lack of faith however nor do at least a couple of them hesitate to make jokie comments about other faiths.
posted by substrate at 5:29 AM on July 29, 2005


I remember being in cub scouts breifly, until the religion and enforced conformity bits got to be too much. Not for me, but it freaked my parents out. I was a bit of a blank slate with regard to religion...
It's too bad, too. I always kinda wanted to be a scout. One of my pals and former housemates made it through Eagle and always seemed to enjoy himself. But he was a hardcore Lutheran, so the religion was no problem for him.
posted by klangklangston at 7:44 AM on July 29, 2005


I got as far as being a Webelo. Then I wobbled. Then I fell down. Then the Scoutmasters came for me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:10 AM on July 29, 2005


They sure aren't having a bad week.
posted by Balisong at 9:36 PM on July 29, 2005


heh, er good...
posted by Balisong at 9:45 PM on July 29, 2005


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