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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Boy Scouts Lose Pentagon
by Andrew Davis
2004-11-24

This article shared 1769 times since Wed Nov 24, 2004
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To settle part of a federal lawsuit in Chicago, the Pentagon has agreed to cease sponsoring Boy Scout troops at military facilities across the nation and overseas, according to the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) of Illinois. The ACLU of Illinois sued the Pentagon and other governmental agencies in 1999, saying their funding of the Boy Scouts was unconstitutional because the organization excluded people who did not swear an oath to God.

Previously, Department of Defense ( DOD ) units held charters to lead hundreds of Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs. Government workers who led those groups had to abide by two rules related to religion promulgated by the Boy Scouts of America. The first rule demanded that government employees exclude any youth from membership who does not believe in God. The second rule obliged troop and pack leaders to compel youths to swear an oath of duty to God.

The settlement does not stop off-duty DOD employees from sponsoring BSA units on their own time. In addition, BSA units not sponsored by the DOD will still have access to military facilities made available to other non-governmental bodies.

The Boy Scouts have been under fire for years. In a controversial 2000 decision, the United States Supreme Court, in a close 5-4 decision, overturned an earlier New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that had found that the Boy Scouts were a public accommodation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the BSA is a private organization and thus may set its own moral code.

In the ACLU's suit, the Chicago Public Schools also had been sued; however, the organization decided to stop its sponsorship of Boy Scout troops.


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