As hundreds of Boy
Scouts were enjoying summer camp at Camp Balboa in San Diego last week, the
ACLU was handed a U.S. District Court ruling condemning the Scouts for occupying
the camp on leased public land. Soon, the Scouts could be kicked out of their
historic 16-acre camp and council headquarters building.
With "overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence," Judge Napoleon Jones found
that the Boy Scouts are a religious organization and they were given preferential
treatment when the City of San Diego first agreed to let the Boy Scouts utilize
public land in Balboa Park nearly nine decades ago. In 2000, a lesbian couple
and an agnostic couple joined with the ACLU to file the lawsuit against the
City of San Diego. They claimed to feel excluded by the Boy Scouts' religious
policies in particular.
''Belief in God is and always has been central to BSA's principles and purposes,''
Judge Jones wrote. ''Adult leaders are expected to reinforce in Scouts
the values of duty to God and reverence.''
If there is "overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence" for the presence of
God in the life of a Boy Scout, there is evidence of a similar nature for
God's role in the public square on Main Street USA. Religious mottos and
preambles and texts were not an afterthought to the people who wrote them.
In God We Trust. Endowed by their Creator. One Nation Under God. The ACLU
is working to get rid of those things too.
The Boy Scouts were a part of Balboa Park way back before the ACLU had even been hatched from the Communist Party.
After the 1915 San Diego World's Fair in Balboa Park, the Santa Fe Railroad
donated its Pueblo Indian Village to local Boy Scouts with approval by the
city council. For 25 years, the Scouts used the Indian Village as a headquarters
and recreation site free of charge. During World War Two, the military took
possession of Balboa Park and the Boy Scouts launched their volunteer campaigns
to help the war effort from a makeshift headquarters in a local theater.
At the end of the war, the San Diego City Council passed a resolution authorizing
the Boy Scouts to take charge of several acres of land in Balboa Park. Through
fundraising and volunteer work, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and 600-seat
outdoor amphitheater were constructed. In 1949, the Boy Scouts Desert Pacific
Council headquarters building was completed.
In 1957, parts of Balboa Park remained undeveloped, so the city council agreed
to transfer additional property to the Boy Scouts for maintenance and operations.
A fifty-year lease was signed with a rental fee of one dollar per year. With
nearly 16 acres of leased land, the Boy Scouts soon launched Camp Balboa.
Today, Camp Balboa accommodates up to 300 campers at a time, and it offers
a variety of year-round programs. Each year, 12,000 Boy Scouts take part
in day camps, weekend camps, and merit badge classes. According to David
Hodges, field director for the Desert Pacific Boy Scout Council, "The park
is used by everybody. We run this portion of the park. We reserve it for
outside groups and anybody's welcome to use it. We do all the upkeep of the
property here, and we lease it from the city. All the maintenance, all the
expenses, the landscaping, everything we take care of."
Groups other than the Boy Scouts utilize Camp Balboa and Balboa Park. Last
week for example, the two-day San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender
Pride Festival was held at Balboa Park. The Boy Scouts have spent millions
of dollars developing and maintaining Balboa Park over the years, without
burden to the city and its taxpayers.
Even if San Diego had given preferential treatment to the Boy Scouts, what
harm does that do to society? Once upon a time, working with the Boy Scouts
in city hall was a common courtesy. Today, such treatment is viewed by the
ACLU and judges like Napoleon Jones as though the city had given special
privileges to the KKK or the Taliban.
The Boy Scouts have contributed to our communities and improved our way of
life. It is ironic that the ACLU is questioning the Scouts for practicing
character and moral virtue on public lands, while the ACLU is occupying public
courthouses around America, pulling down every vestige of decency in sight.
There is overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence that the ACLU is destroying America, one Boy Scout camp at a time.
Hans Zeiger, 18, is a columnist, speaker, and activist. An Eagle Scout, he is president of the Scout Honor Coalition.