Friday, July 08, 2005

Judge rules Boy Scouts cannot receive federal funds

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According to an article on (article), US District Court Judge Blanche Manning has ruled that the Boy Scouts of America cannot receive federal money in order to help prepare Fort A.P. Hill for the Boy Scout National Jamboree, held every four years. The Defense Department spends more than six to seven million dollars every four years in funding for the Scouts. The decision stems from a 1999 suit brought by the ACLU of Illinois which claimed that the government funding of the Boy Scouts of America was unconstitutional because the group requires members to swear an oath of duty to God. This particular suit did not deal with the issue of the Boy Scouts' anti-gay membership policies, which were the subject of the 2000 Supreme Court case BSA v. Dale, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow the Boy Scouts of America the right to choose its own members as a private organization. A spokesman for the Justice Department has said that the government is still considering its options. The recent order to refuse government funding for the Boy Scouts' National Scout Jamboree will not cover this year's Jamboree which is scheduled to begin on July 25, 2005 and expected to draw approximately 40,000 people to Fort A.P. Hill. Bob Bork, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said, "We are confident that an appeal to the 7th Circuit will return everything to the status quo." It must be made clear that no person or group is attacking the Scouts. I, for one, would never attack the Scouts or make myself out to be anti-Boy Scouts. I was a Boy Scout myself for five years before I was kicked out in December 2000 due to their anti-gay membership policies. The issue at hand here is government endorsement and funding of a religious organization. Although I personally have no problem with the government giving money to the Boy Scouts as a religious organization, I do have a problem with the government giving money to the Boy Scouts as an organization that openly discriminates against and hurts gay and atheist youth. I am one of the youth which the Boy Scouts of America has hurt. Before I was kicked out, Scouting was practically my life. I was well on my way to receiving the Eagle Award, which is the highest award which the Boy Scouts of America offers to its members. The Boy Scouts of America deserves to have ALL taxpayer contributed funding stripped out of its budget. The people of this nation should not have to support an organization which does not serve all of its citizens equally and fairly. More than this, our great nation should not support a group which not only discriminates against youth (as in CHILDREN, our future leaders and out nation's most precious gift), but hurts and abuses their self-image, self-esteem and psyche due to the nature of its policies making gay and atheist youth feel somehow diminished and outcast from their friends and peers. I am not against the Boy Scouts. I would re-join to become a Scoutmaster or Camp Staffer if I could. I am against the hurting of and discriminating against youth. All boys deserve a chance to be a part of the Boy Scouts of America, not just those who happen to be straight and not believe in God.