Guest Avail Mark Hancock
CEO, Trail Life USA
National Guard Bans Trail Life USA Troop From Tour Because of Religious Beliefs
Written By Todd Starnes
June 19, 2019
A National Guard facility in Pennsylvania refused to allow a Trail Life USA scouting troop to tour their facility because of the group’s religious affiliation.
The Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard facility regularly hosts tours for Boy Scout troops and other organizations, but Trail Life boys were told they could not participate because they belonged to a Christian scouting organization.
The idea that Christian boys would be banned strictly because of their religious beliefs is not only ludicrous, but it’s also illegal.
“Fort Indiantown Gap’s denial of access to the base facilities, which are open to other civic, fraternal, and youth organizations and for youth activities, constitutes viewpoint discrimination,” First Liberty Institute and Independence Law Center wrote in a letter to the National Guard.
The law firms, which handle religious liberty cases, said the National Guard’s decision to ban the Christian scouting group is “discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
John Stemberger, the chairman of the Trail Life USA board, said it’s disheartening that a “federal institution like the Army is buying into this leftist idea that faith has to be excluded from the public square.”
“It’s sad that an institution of our society is treating faith like it is some kind of bacteria or virus that needs to be exterminated from secular society,” Stemberger told me. “We need faith integrated with society.”
The good news is that once First Liberty Institute and the Independence Law Center got involved, the National Guard quickly backed down and rescinded the ban.
“We are grateful that the Guard has chosen to open its doors to the Trail Life troop,” ILC attorney Jeremy Samek said in a statement. “I know they are excited to get the opportunity to interact with those who defend our freedom.”
Stemberger was mighty thankful for the work of the religious liberty law firms.
“Thank God for good lawyers,” he said.
The lesson is that when your constitutional rights are violated, you have an obligation to speak up.