Father, Son Sue School Over Scout Bigotry

Foundation member John Scalise, a former city commissioner in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and his young son Benjamin, filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America and Mt. Pleasant Public Schools for discrimination on religious grounds on Oct. 20.

In November 1997, when Benjamin was nine, he brought home a recruiting notice for Cub Scouts distributed in his third-grade class at Fancer Elementary School. John, a former Scout himself, and his son were excited about the invitation, and attended the recruiting meeting in December. When no one else volunteered to be a leader, Scalise stepped forward, only to discover the application required him to sign a "Declaration of Religious Principles."

Scalise, in his lawsuit, charges that Scouts are a "national and international private religiously oriented youth organization" that "expressly and openly discriminates against atheists, secular humanists, agnostics and other minorities."

Scalise alleges Boy Scouts and Mt. Pleasant schools are violating Michigan's constitution and the state's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act by unlawfully discriminating on religious grounds.

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