The Pentagon will warn its bases not to sponsor Boy Scout troops after agreeing to settle an issue in a five-year-old lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which charged the government with improperly supporting a group requiring members to believe in God.
The settlement yesterday partially resolved the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois’ complaint.
“If our Constitution’s promise of religious liberty is to be a reality, the government should not be administering religious oaths or discriminating based upon religious beliefs,” Adam Schwartz of the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement. “This agreement removes the Pentagon from direct sponsorship of Scout troops that engage in religious discrimination.”
The ACLU complained the Boy Scouts of America “requires troop and pack leaders, in this case government employees, to compel youth to swear an oath of duty to God.”
The Pentagon denied Boy Scout sponsorship violated its rule against support of non-federal organizations but agreed to post a warning worldwide, the Associated Press said.
The agreement was presented to U.S. District Court Judge Blanche Manning in Chicago.
Military personnel can still lead Scout troops in their free time, however, and Scout meetings will continue to be held on military bases in areas designated for civilian events.
Unresolved is the ACLU’s complaint that government funds have benefited the Boy Scouts, including an average of $2 million each year to support the national Boy Scout Jamboree.
Responding to the settlement, Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the warning to bases is “a clarification of an existing rule that DOD [Department of Defense] personnel cannot be involved in an official capacity.”
Along with the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of Chicago also was named in the suit. The city agreed to not officially sponsor Scout activities and events.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a retired U.S. Navy commander is leading the charge to turn the remnants of a former Saddam Hussein police camp into a first-class camp and training facility for Boy Scouts in Iraq, aiming to have scouting flourish once again in the region.
In one of many cases related to its policy against avowed homosexuals in leadership, the U.S. Supreme Court in March allowed Connecticut to exclude the Boy Scouts of America from a state charitable program.
Critics said the high court’s refusal to revisit the ruling by an appeals court threatened not only the First Amendment right to expressive association but also the right to free exercise of religion.