Comments: "Recruiting Scouts in Schools"
(no name) ((no email))
Tue, 20 Oct 1992 14:30:52 CDT
On my way to yet another interview, but I could not resist the urge to make
my own personal statement concerning the federal suit.
An atheist group has claimed that the BSA has violated the principle of
separation of church and state by their recruitment of youth members on
the school grounds during school hours and also during "school nights"
which have been going on for years in the Chicago Area Council and in the
majority of local Councils in the United States and overseas.
She asked for help in composing a statement (for I assume, the volunteers in
the local Council as well as the media). Here's *my* version. Take it or
---------------------start of statement----------------------------
Today, I have received word from our Council Legal Executive, (name of
executive) that (name of organization) has filed a lawsuit in federal court
asking for a decision on whether or not the Boy Scouts of America and in
particular, this local Council, has violated the provision in the
Constitution covering separation of church and state. In particular, they
are seeking to prevent the BSA and this Council from informing youth members
in the public school systems about our programs and activities and from
holding meetings during school times or on school properties in order to
inform and promote our educational programs.
Since the Boy Scouts were heard of, local volunteers would go to our nation's
schools on school time to talk with interested youth about the ideas of
camping, of community activities, and of service to their nation and community
through Scouting. This was not a clandestine activity. This was done in
the presence of school administrators, community members, teachers, and of
course, parents. Youth--boys *and* girls--came to our rallies because they
wanted to hear the Scouting story and NOT because they *had* to. Teachers
and other administrators stayed behind in case youth members did not want to
see or hear the presentation.
Please note that ALL of our activities were coordinated with the local school
systems and placed on their calendars at THEIR convience, and NOT that of
the local Council. We made our volunteers and our professional staff available
whenever the local school stated that we could visit. Please also note that
nationally, there are some local school systems that DO NOT ALLOW "in-school
visits" of ANY KIND during the day but make available time after-school for
us to meet with interested youth members.
The Boy Scouts of America recognizes that there are those within our community
that do not approve of the way or manner in which we handle the membership
as ours, it becomes important that we hold our true values as a organization
in mind. Those values that we hold tight is the Cub Scout Promise, the Scout
Oath and Law, and the Explorer Code. All of these documents have served us
well in our past and we see no reason to modify them or change them to meet
today's political situation.
We see this action as one which would not only restrict us, but many other
youth-serving agencies and organizations in meeting with youth during school
time or in using school facilities. We also see this as potentially damaging
to many schools since when we do use those facilities, it not totally free.
Those charges to our Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops and Explorer Posts as
well as our local District and Council committees are returned to the local
school boards for improvements upon their educational programs at the school.
The Boy Scouts of America has long understood that above all, the educationa;
process in our schools are more important than our informational programs
during or after school. Therefore, we have worked closely with local and
national educational organizations in developing programs which would work
within the framework of education, while at the same time allowing for local
input and development, including those from minority viewpoints. Today, over
30,000 members of school systems including many of our children here, are
being assisted in the educational process by programs developed by the BSA.
We disagree sharply with this latest attempt at restricting our access as
a community resource to our community's children. We would rather see our
program restricted, however, than to allow for continued modification to
please groups inconsistant with our values or with the mission statement of
the Boy Scouts of America. I urge our many hardworking volunteers to take
a few momments to re-read the mission statement and our values and to seek
ways to deal with this situation as responsible citizens and as role models
for the youth of our community.
--------------------------end of statement-----------------------------------
I would like to write here something I have found recently, and that I would
like to use in part when I go to speak later on this fall. This is from a
old book called "The History of the Boy Scouts of America" which was written
by William D. Murray in 1937. This frames my personal opinion on this
"The Chief Scout Executive in emphasizing the religious element in Scouting
" We took the nine English Laws and analyzed each of them.
We had before us recommendations, including some fifty laws
including many suggestions by Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton. We
agreed finally to add one for cleanliness, which the English
did not then have. We added one for bravery. They did not
have this. My judgement of the Twelfth Scout Law is that it
is one of the very finest things in the whole scheme of
Scouting and one of the reasons we have had such outstanding
success. It is one of the reasons why we have such as large
percentage of boys. From my point of view, the real people in
America, the people that have made America from the early days,
are those who have had deep religious convictions based upon
personal religious experiences and those who serve others
because of the joy of service. I felt at that time, as I feel
now, that there is nothing more essential in the education of
the youth in America than to give them religious instruction
and I advocated that this be included in the Twelfth Scout Law,
"A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful
in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others
in the matter of custom and religion." Think that through. Think
of the early history of America; undertake to describe America as
it differs from other countries; think of America's history since
that time. Read the Declaration of Independence. Read the
Constitution of the United States of America. Familiarize yourself
with its leaders who have been vital factors in the life of
America, and you will find that the basis for instructing the
youth of America is first, reverence toward God; second,
faithfulness in their own religious duties in accordance with
their own religious convictions; and third, which is essential to
democracy, is that we respect the convictions of others in matter
of custom and religion."
Powerful words, eh?? I *still* say that Scouting has a place for everyone
that wants to suscribe to the principles of what we are teaching youth
members; and what we are teaching them is love of their faith and faith in
their country and respect for the country's resources.
I am sorry that it has gotten to this extreme.
(to Kathie: I hope that you can use some of my drival. I really feel for
the spot that this places you in!)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City