WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN) made the following statement late Saturday evening after introducing the “Save Our Scouts” bill to permit federal support for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. Frist attempted to move the legislation today by unanimous consent. The measure did not pass.
“Mr. President, this week, we learned that the Department of Defense has warned American military bases worldwide to cease officially sponsoring the Boy Scouts of America.
“The department issued its directive in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Illinois chapter of the ACLU accuses the U.S. government of improperly supporting a group which administers a religious oath.
“The ACLU’s legal attack has forced the Defense Department to suspend its decades long tradition of supporting scouts, and may even prevent scouts from celebrating their annual jamborees on Defense installations.
“But it doesn’t stop here. There is fresh evidence that the ACLU intends to end all federal support for the Boy Scouts of America. In their view, where there is government there cannot be faith.
“The separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Republic. Americans are grateful that we are free to worship as we choose without government interference or fear of persecution.
“But to this legislator, the ACLU’s continued attacks on the Boy Scouts are starting to become its own form of persecution.
“The Boy Scouts of America is a congressionally chartered organization. It serves a patriotic, charitable, and educational purpose. Furthermore, its support by the federal government and is outlined in U.S. law.
“Scouting is a noble and honorable tradition that inculcates the very best of our values. Since its founding in the early twentieth century, scouting has served America’s communities and families with distinction and honor. The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts promote character and leadership. By instilling in our youth values such as honor, duty, integrity, and charity, these programs prepare our young people for the ethical and moral choices they will face throughout their lives.
“That is why I introduced the Save Our Scouts bill – to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to the tradition of scouting.
“The legislation stipulates that no federal law, including any rule, regulation, directive, instruction, or order, shall be construed to limit any Federal agency from providing any form of support to the Boy Scouts of America or the Girl Scouts of the United States of America or any organization chartered by the Boy Scouts of America or the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
“Activities supported include holding meetings, jamborees, camporees, or other scouting activities on federal property, or hosting or sponsoring any official event of such organization.
“I am disappointed that it did not pass by unanimous consent. I am hopeful, however, that in the next Congress, common sense will prevail and both chambers will give their support to protecting the scouts.
“Scouting has served generations of American boys and girls. It has earned its place in the hearts of millions of Americans who look back fondly on that special time of hikes and badges, fellowship and service. I am confident that we will preserve this honorable tradition for generations to come.”