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First the Boy Scouts, then your church
Posted By David M. Bresnahan On 03/02/2000 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
The state of New Jersey tried to force the Boy Scouts of America to run their private organization the way the state demands.
Soon the U.S. Supreme Court will have an opportunity to defend the First Amendment by telling the New Jersey Supreme Court to go back to law school and start over.
The New Jersey Court tried to redefine public and private organizations in a way that would enable it to tell any private organization what to teach and what to believe — including your church. Too many activist judges have done the same thing all across this country. If they don’t like a portion of the Constitution they just make a new set of definitions so they can get around what they don’t like.
Judges should enforce the laws, not make new laws. Activist judges don’t seem to understand that.
In this case the court is trying to force the Boy Scouts of America to use homosexual scoutmasters in their private program. The court has decided that the Boy Scout organization is so large that it has evolved from being a private group into a public entity.
The Boy Scouts of America just celebrated their 90th anniversary as a private, non-profit organization in America. They are entitled to full protection under the First Amendment and the Constitution. They have the right to define the way their private organization functions, who can be a member, and who can be a leader.
Based on the logic of the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that claimed the Boy Scouts must permit a homosexual to be a scoutmaster, we could then expect courts to start forcing churches to have homosexual clergy, or force them to marry homosexual couples.
The beauty of the United States is that this is a land of freedom and liberty. You may not believe the same things as your neighbor who attends a particular church, which is why there are so many churches. If one church is not for you, don’t condemn it. Be tolerant of the one you disagree with and join the one that is more to your liking. Once you find your place, pray for those you think are going down the wrong path.
If you don’t like what the Boy Scouts are doing, you have the freedom to join a different organization, or even form your own.
We are a nation of differences, and that is what makes us strong. Those who are trying to force people to be the same as everyone else are themselves deceived. Those who shout at the Boy Scouts of America and call them intolerant are themselves intolerant.
Just because the Boy Scouts are a large organization that may sometimes rent or use public facilities for their activities does not make them a public organization. Just because the Boy Scouts honor their best with the Eagle Scout Award does not mean that they must bend their rules to give those who don’t qualify a chance to boost their ego with an award they should not have.
The Eagle Scout Award is earned for fulfilling many requirements over a number of years. Boys learn much more than how to pitch tents, tie knots, and put out campfires. Scouts on the trail to Eagle do much more than earn merit badges and skills. More than anything else, an Eagle Scout learns about values — and they make those values their own for the rest of their lives.
The Boy Scouts of America teaches boys how to be men of character and integrity. Not all learn their lessons and apply them as well as others, but they are all better because of their experience as a Scout.
When a boy becomes an Eagle, he becomes a better man, not because of the title, but because of the values he has made a part of his life.
The Boy Scouts of America want to teach their members to live the Scout Oath and Law. Those who think they are out of touch, out of date, or just plain wrong are entitled to disagree. They are entitled to try to convince the Boy Scouts to change their rules. They are entitled to speak out publicly, organize a protest rally, and do all they can to change the situation. The Constitution works both ways.
No individual, no city, no state, and certainly not the federal government can force any private organization to believe something they do not wish to believe. That is just plain wrong. It is not what America is about.
Some critics of the Boy Scouts of America point to a difference in other countries and suggest that scouts in America should be like scouts in places where the rules are different. They seem to forget why America is different. In America we have the freedoms granted by the U.S. Constitution, and those other countries do not. The scouting organizations are not the same in countries where government exerts strong controls and requirements on such groups.
The question before the Supreme Court is not one of sexual preference or discrimination. It is not about civil rights. This is an issue that deals with the fundamental right for a private group to believe as they wish without government interference.
The whole purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is at stake. They have the right under the U.S. Constitution to determine their own purpose, goals, and methods. The way they help boys develop and mature into men is their choice. Those who disagree have no right to force them to do things differently.
They have their view of morality, and others have the right to a different view. Just as one church may wish to offer marriage to homosexual couples while another may condemn such action, the Boy Scouts have the right to teach what they believe is right and wrong.
The Texas Justice Foundation has filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale. They are not the first to do so. They have joined the Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, the Cato Institute, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, the Independent Women’s Forum, and the Center for Individual Rights.
The question of whether the Boy Scouts should permit homosexual leaders or homosexual members is not the question to be decided. The question is whether or not the government has the right to compel any organization to believe what the government wants them to believe.
Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court will not use this issue to be activist judges who use every twist and definition they can find to write their own laws. Hopefully, our highest court still has the ability to see past the emotion and deal with the facts.
I shall pray that they will. The consequences of the wrong decision in this case will reach far beyond the Boy Scouts. It will open the door very wide to enable government to control every private organization in America — including your church.
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