The Pentagon picked up more than $7 million toward the cost of the National Scout Jamboree attended by some 40,000 Boy Scouts July 25-Aug. 3 at a Virginia military base, which has hosted the every-four-year event since 1981. Total tab, more than $20 million.
|Matt Kong, 16, from Redlands, Calif., reads Strength and Service, one of 3,500 copies of the book handed out at the Methodist service during the National Scout Jamboree. |
U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning found the Pentagon’s support of the jamboree unconstitutional because of the scout oath, which includes the promise “to do my duty to God ....” The suit was brought in 1999 by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Government must be neutral because we are a nation of many religious views,” said Eugene Winkler, a retired United Methodist Church pastor and a plaintiff in the suit.
As scouting “excludes atheists and agnostics from membership,” it should not receive taxpayer support, Manning ruled.
Majority Leader Bill Frist, R.-Tenn., in July led U.S. senators to a 98-0 vote on a “Support Our Scouts” act endorsing the youth group’s use of U.S. military bases, including Fort A.P. Hill where the jamboree is held. Boy Scouts spokesman Robert Bork said the Bush administration is expected to appeal the June ruling.