To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
—The Boy Scout Oath
On Tuesday, the Support Our Scouts Act of 2005 passed on a vote of 98-0. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) was one of 53 co-sponsors of the bill, which was passed as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill. The passage was a strong show of support by the U.S. Senate, in the wake of this week's accidental deaths at the Boy Scout Jamboree at the Fort A. P. Hill Army base.
According to author Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), "The amendment ensures that the Boy Scouts of America are treated fairly by guaranteeing their right to equal access to public facilities, forums, and programs. The amendment also helps ensure that the Defense Department will continue its support of Scout Jamborees, and makes clear that the Congress views the Scouts as a 'youth organization.'"
And who is the Senate defending the Boy Scouts against? The ACLU. From a November 26, 2004 commentary on OpinionJournal.com:
Legal historians may someday explain how the once-great American Civil Liberties Union came to see the Boy Scouts as public enemy number one. In the meantime, the ACLU keeps on bringing its absurd First Amendment challenges against the Scouts.
The question no one seems to be asking is, who's better off as a result of these lawsuits? Surely not the 3.2 million Boy Scouts, whose venerable organization is part of the web of voluntary associations once considered the bedrock of American life. If anything, the purpose of the ACLU attacks is to paint Scouts as religious bigots. Other losers are communities themselves, which are forced to sever ties to an organization that helps to build character in young men.
It's been 20 years since the ACLU brought its first suit against the Scouts. If there's one thing we've learned by now, it's that the ACLU offensive says more about the degraded status of the civil liberties group than it does about the Boy Scouts.
I and over thirty Scouts and parents will be going on my son's Boy Scout High Adventure through northern Wisconsin. We will be horseback riding, bicycling 200 miles over four days, and canoeing down the Namekagon River. It will be a challenge to the boys as well as to the suburban, non-camping parents in the group whose idea of "roughing it" is Motel 6. Like the Senate's 98-0 vote, we will be supporting our Scouts all the way.