A Pennsylvania-based National Guard facility has backed down from an earlier decision to ban a Trail Life Christian scouting troop from a tour. The Guard had cited the religious affiliation for the ban.
The Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard regularly hosts tours for Boy Scout troops, civic and other youth organizations. However, something strange happened after Trail Life USA Troopmaster Joseph Evege sent an email asking if he could schedule a tour for Troop PA-2717. After submitting the required paperwork this spring, Evege was told the group could not participate because they belonged to a Christian scouting organization.
In an op-ed posted on the Fox News website,Todd Starnes, host of ‘The Todd Starnes Radio Show” and “Starnes Country” on Fox Nation, reminded the Guard unit “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 Guard unit responded by allowing the Trail Life troop to tour the facility.
“We are grateful that Guard has chosen to open its doors to the Trail Life troop,” said Independence Law Center Senior Counsel Jeremy Samek. “The boys from Trail Life USA’s troop deserve to be treated fairly and equally. I know that they are excited to get the opportunity to interact with those who defend our freedom.”
“The Trail Life troop is very pleased with the outcome and appreciates the manner in which the Guard worked so quickly to resolve this dispute, Lea Patterson, Counsel for First Liberty Institute noted.
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 Fox News. “We need faith integrated with society.”
Stemberger said he was thankful for the work of the religious liberty law firms.
“Thank God for good lawyers,” he said.
The National Guard’s public affairs office did not return multiple inquiries seeking comment, according to Fox News.