Some recent events would seem to indicate that the American Civil Liberties Union is lost in the woods without a compass. A moral compass, that is.
For the last five years, the ACLU has been fighting the federal departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development because of their support for the Boy Scouts of America – support that has taken the form of raising money for their national jamborees, allowing military personnel to lead Scout troops in their personal capacities, and providing access to government facilities for free.
Now, a federal judge has sided with the ACLU and ruled that a Virginia military base can no longer host a Scout jamboree after this year’s event. Why? Because the Scout oath pledges duty to God – a supposed violation of the so-called “separation of church and state.”
The Boy Scouts of America is a federally chartered patriotic organization that’s recognized by Congress – one the Pentagon has been proud to be involved with for the last 50 years. The DOD and HUD are strongly defending the Scouts’ right to meet on military bases and receive funding.
But the whole ordeal shows us something ugly about the ACLU – its single-minded obsession with attacking the Boy Scouts of America. Not only do the Scouts ask their leaders to pledge their loyalty to God – always a no-no in the ACLU’s eyes, no matter how appropriate that might be for military troops and their children in harnessing aggression with restraint, particularly in wartime – but they have the audacity to conduct their business by a set of moral standards that runs counter to the ACLU’s. Namely, men who are openly and actively engaging in homosexual behavior are barred from leading Scout troops.
I’m referring, of course, to the landmark 2000 case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, for which the Alliance Defense Fund funded friend-of-the-court briefs and assisted the Scouts’ lawyers, and in which the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Scouts have a constitutional right to free, expressive association. But you’d never know it from reading about them in most of the mainstream media: Ever since that decision was handed down, the Scouts have been vilified as one of the most bigoted, hateful, intolerant groups in America. And the ACLU has been leading the charge against them, when in fact, the principles held by 3.2 million Boy Scouts – building character; training to become active, responsible citizens; and developing personal fitness – are a lot more like the values held by the rest of America than those held by the ACLU.
Whose values, then, are like the ACLU’s? Not Virginia’s. In addition to wanting the Scouts off a military base there, the ACLU is also attacking the state for enacting a law that keeps juvenile boys and girls from running around hotels or campgrounds naked without a parent or guardian in attendance.
The ACLU’s views do seem more in line with the North American Man-Boy Love Association, which fights to lower the legal age of consent so that sex between grown men and adult boys can become more “acceptable” to mainstream society. That may never happen – but the ACLU has signaled such a change is acceptable to them. Its lawyers stepped in to defend NAMBLA in 2000 after the group was named in a lawsuit against two homosexual men who frequented the group’s website – and who then raped and murdered a 10-year-old Massachusetts boy.
But a lack of moral standing is only one problem the ACLU has in its latest fight with the Scouts; the other is that they have very little legal grounds to challenge them. In fighting to have the military end its involvement with the Scouts, the ACLU chose the most humorous of excuses – taxpayer standing. This is the organization that has never met a government expenditure to advance its agenda it didn’t like. ACLU attorneys are not representing a child who was allegedly abused by a scoutmaster, one who was denied entry or any other kind of direct injury claim. They’re simply saying that taxpayer dollars were used for character building they don’t like. So not only is their case without merit – it was brought on grounds the ACLU itself disagrees with on other facts (for example, its support of public funding for abortion).
But, alas, that’s to be expected of a group that stands for nothing but absolute autonomy. Behave in the most hedonistic ways imaginable, the more immoral the better, and the ACLU will defend you to the death. The problem is that kind of self-centeredness doesn’t do much for society.
But the Boy Scouts – and their Christian values – do.