National Guard Bans Trail Life USA Troop From Tour Because of Religious Beliefs

Todd Starnes 4 Comments

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once First Liberty Institute and the Independence Law Center got involved, the National Guard quickly backed down and rescinded the ban.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.

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Trail Life USA is grateful to Todd Starnes for allowing us to share his story

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Comments 4

  1. I served in the National Guard in the early 1960 for nine years. Our unit was activated in the early 1960’s because of the Berlin Crisis. We were told if we go to Fort Hood in Texas we would be a training company. If we were send anywhere else in USA we would be going over seas. We went to Fort Polk, Louisiana to train to go overseas. The Cold War cool down so we were send back home after a year.
    I am shame and embarrass what that National Guard unit in Pennsylvania did to TLUSA Troop. Wonder what would happen if President Trump hears about this.

  2. I am hopeful that this incident is a “one-off” situation, and not a recent shift in ideologies within the National Guard. As a retired Air Guardsman, it shocked me to hear of this, even as a ‘temporary’ ban of a tour of a National Guard Facility.
    I was fortunate to use an Armed Forces Recreation site as the location of my EQUIP training three years ago, without any hassles about being a “religious organization”. The caretakers were more than welcoming, and pleased with our conduct – even joining us for our opening/closing flag ceremonies, along with a few other campers.
    I look forward to our troops being able to use and tour our military facilities in the future, as the Trailmen deeply respect the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who protect our freedoms daily.

  3. Will they also ban military chaplains who are commissioned officers? The military pays these men specifically to practice their religion and support/recruit others as well. Given this reality, how can anyone object to religious expressions in the armed services?

  4. These incidents always disturb me. It’s great a law firm can educate them but it bothers me that these “no brainers” require a law firm to write semi-threatening notes in order for them to understand a “no brainer”.

    It’s one thing to correct an oversight but another to cave when facing litigation.

    It doesn’t imply learning but only fear.

    Regardless, Stay vigilant! And thank you!!

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