When Texas Gov. Rick Perry accepted an award from a Boy Scouts council in Texas last week, he defended Scouting from recent attacks aimed at it by the ACLU and its allies. Perry told supporters of Scouting: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with acknowledging the existence of God in the Boy Scout oath or for that matter, wishing someone Merry Christmas.”
Gov. Perry is an Eagle Scout, or perhaps we might say that Eagle Scout Perry is a governor. The title of Eagle Scout is no small thing; it represents a code of honor and a way of life that is quintessentially American that stands for leadership, character and commitment.
That Gov. Perry’s distinction as an Eagle Scout could be held in the disesteem that it is in the liberal corners of the country suggests the nature of the cultural battle we fight going into 2006.
That battle requires confidence. “Those of us who love Scouting,” said Perry, “who grew up with it and who support it today, must not be intimidated by the legal scare tactics of fringe groups that treat our children as pawns in a game of political chess.”
The battle also requires of us a realization of the enemy’s intent. The war on Scouting, Perry said, is waged by people who “want to sanitize our public discourse of religious references and force acceptance of an extreme agenda.”
Through lawsuits and other pressure tactics, the ACLU has spent much of 2005 severing Boy Scout relationships with local, state and federal government entities. In February, the ACLU sent a letter to the Boy Scouts threatening lawsuits against school districts that continue to sponsor Boy Scout troops. And in July, a federal judge ruled that the Boy Scouts can no longer use federal military installations to hold the Boy Scout Jamboree.
That is why Sen. Bill Frist has sponsored the Save Our Scouts Act this year as part of the Department of Defense Authorization Bill and Defense Appropriations Bill, “to ensure that the Boy Scouts of America receives equal access to public facilities, programs and forums and that the Defense Department will continue its support of Scouts and their Jamborees.” Thus, Rep. Barney Frank remains offended by the bill’s passage in the House earlier this week.
Of course, congressional protection of Scouting can only go so far. Ultimately, it is up to the American people as individuals and communities to determine whether the Boy Scouts survive the ACLU’s vicious assaults.
The question I am asked more than any other is: “What can I do to help the Boy Scouts?” I’ll give four answers.
First, get involved with a local Scouting program. Get your kids in the Boy Scouts. No matter your age, if you are a devotee of the Scout Oath and Law, you can make a difference in boys’ lives by becoming involved in a Cub Scout pack, a Boy Scout troop or an Explorers post. Or contribute financially to your local Boy Scout council. As local United Way funding has diminished or even disappeared in a growing number of Scout councils, the importance of individual contributions to the Boy Scouts has grown. As the tax year concludes, consider a direct gift to your local Scouting council.
Second, contribute money to a legal foundation that is working against the ACLU. One group specifically working to defend the Scouts is the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, chaired by former Attorney General Ed Meese.
Third, attend school board and city council meetings on a regular basis. It is on these boards that ACLU pressure is often strongest, and board members are often uncertain as to how to proceed in the face of a legal threat. Become a voice for truth in your community. Give regular citizen comments at board meetings. Get to know local lawmakers on a first-name basis. Then, run for local office. Never underestimate the importance of local government in getting America back in the right direction.
Finally, a great new effort is in the works to support Scouting values. It’s called Scout Media. The goal is to provide Internet tools and audio/visual media to Scout leaders and supporters. I have enthusiastically agreed to be a project adviser, and I encourage Americans who share my concern for the future of Scouting to visit the site. In particular, the Scout Media site features a brief survey about Scouting values in which your participation would be helpful. Scout Media is a positive way that Americans can join in support of the Boy Scouts.
As we head into 2006, let’s stand up together for the Boy Scouts of America.