For Immediate Release and Distribution
June 10, 2004
City violates separation of church and state in dealings with the Boy Scouts
Contact: Scott Cozza, President
Scouting for All
707-778-0564 or (toll-free)
1-877-283-2813 ext. 11
City of Tyler, Texas
The city council of Tyler, Texas, approved a lease agreement on Wednesday, June 9, between the city and the East
Texas Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Under the terms of the agreement, the East Texas Area Council
would lease 85 acres of city-owned land for two-years at $1 per year with the option to purchase the property below
"To lease land to an organization that claims discrimination among its 'traditional standards of membership'
would be contrary to the city council's responsibility, said Scott Cozza, President of Scouting for All, in a letter
he sent to the city council before Wednesday's vote. "It is the duty of local governments to ensure it acts
in the best
interest of all its citizens "including those who may be gay or non-theist."
In a similar sweetheart deal, U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled in July of 2003 that a lease between
the Desert Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the City of San Diego violates provisions of the U.S.
and state constitutions, which govern the separation of church and state.
The City of San Diego signed multi-year leases with the Desert Pacific Council, giving them space on city-owned
land for $1 a year. They also received rent-free use of several city-owned recreational facilities. In January
of 2004, the city settled with the American Civil Liberties Union, agreeing to payout $790,000 in legal fees and
$160,000 in court costs.
"Common sense would tell you that you can't have your cake and eat it too," said Cozza. "The Boy
America, under oath, have stated it is private religious organization. The courts have agreed."
The Boy Scouts of America require members "both youth and adults "to believe in a God. The Scout Law
Boy Scouts of America requires its Scouts to be "reverent," and adult volunteers must sign a "Declaration
of Religious Principles." According to the Boy Scouts of America, ethical and humanistic beliefs are not sufficient
to meet the "duty to God" requirement.
According to Cozza, Scouting for All is reviewing its legal options. " We are not ruling anything out at this
point," said Cozza. "Right now, we are looking for Tyler citizens willing to assist us in this matter."
Scouting for All is a non-profit advocacy and educational organization working to end discrimination in the Boy
Scouts of America and promote positive alternatives for kids.
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Scouting for All, www.scoutingforall.org
City of Tyler, www.cityoftyler.org