Stop the separation of Scouts and school!
Posted: March 12, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2005
by Hans Zeiger

Georgia Power CEO Michael Garrett, a former Boy Scout, spoke at a luncheon honoring Scouting supporters in the Augusta Towers Hotel last week. He noted that 60,000 Georgian students - four in 10 - who enter the ninth grade never graduate. By contrast, "95 percent of Scouts finish school. The things you are doing are important to this state."

But an emergency is in the offing. Under threat by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Boy Scouts of America is formulating plans to remove thousands of chartered troops from sponsorship by our nation's public schools. </news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43258> The important partnership that has existed for 95 years between the Boy Scouts and public schools apparently is being severed - by the Scouts themselves. It would be detrimental to America's communities. In a time when strength and honor are most needed, the Boy Scouts run the risk of appearing weak.

According to a recent BSA annual report, public schools are the third-largest type of group that sponsors Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Tiger Cub troops, numbering over 10,000 units of nearly 363,000 Boy Scouts. Though public school relationships with the Boy Scouts have been harmed by political correctness in recent years, especially in major cities, most local school districts have cherished the contributions that the Scouts make to their communities.

But last month, the ACLU - which has spent the past two decades at war on the Boy Scouts because they exclude homosexuals and atheists from membership and leadership and celebrate God, country and character - sent a letter to the Boy Scouts national headquarters threatening lawsuits against public schools that sponsor Scout troops. According to the ACLU, for a school to sponsor a Scout unit is a direct violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state.

And the Boy Scouts are yielding. The ACLU is just too big and nasty and vile, and the Boy Scouts don't have the time, money, public relations infrastructure or strategic ambition to fight its lawsuits.

"We obviously don't want that [expensive lawsuits against schools] to happen," national Boy Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields told the Baptist Press. "Instead, the Boy Scouts have tried to protect the resources of our education partners by moving our charter from public schools to other community-based organizations such as parent-teacher organizations or Salvation Army units or nearby religious organizations."
By withdrawing from public school charters, Boy Scout troops will not be protecting the resources of their education partners - far from it. Rather, the Boy Scouts will concede the validity of the ACLU's claims. Of course, the ACLU is wrong. Of course, there is no truth in their argument that the Scouts' presence in the public schools is a violation of our nation's Constitution. Not only does a school-chartered Scout troop fall well within the Constitution, it helps to preserve the Constitution.

For the Constitution rests on self-government. If ever a statement of self-government was written, it is the Scout Oath: "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." It is the duty of the public schools to teach, to encourage and to frame its academic mission around that understanding of self-government.

In a day when public schools have fallen far short of their moral, spiritual and intellectual responsibilities, sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop is one critical, remaining link to self-government. As Paul W. Terry of the University of Alabama wrote in the School Review 70 years ago, "Being concerned with boys of school age and principally with out-of-school hours, and being devoted to objectives which are wholly educational and strikingly similar to those of the school but pursuing these with activities which differ in many respects from those of the school, the Boy Scout organization is now generally recognized by school men as a highly desirable if not an indispensable supplement to the training afforded boys in the schools." The same holds true, if not truer, today.

Of course, the ACLU is not concerned with truth. But Americans who care about the future of Scouting, of self-government and of constitutional government, must be concerned. We must take a stand for the Boy Scout Oath and Law before they are destroyed by the ACLU.

This newest challenge to the Scout Oath and Law is one of the harshest the Scouts have come against. And the Boy Scouts of America should hear from supporters around the country - with dollars and with feedback. First, the Scouts need money for their legal defense efforts and other programs <>. Second, the national Scouts need to know that it would be a crime against honor to give in to the ACLU - contact your local counsel through the Scouts' legal-issues website <>. Some 363,000 Boy Scouts would be affected if the BSA withdrew from public school charters.

This must be our clear and unabashed message to the ACLU: On my honor, get off my honor.



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