FFRF Statement on Boy Scouts of America
For Immediate Release
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Boy Scouts of America is a private group which can exclude anybody it likes from membership, it is time to start treating Boy Scouts as the bigoted and discriminatory organization that it is.
Boy Scouts of America has wanted to have its cake and eat it, too. At the same time it has aggressively defended in court its practice of expelling gay and unbelieving members, it has demanded public subsidy and favors. Public schools serve as primary recruiters, traditionally sending home misleading flyers advertising "any boy may join" Scouts and offering rent-free meeting space.
The President of the United States is Boy Scout's nominal "commander in chief." The group even boasts a 1916 Congressional charter as a patriotic organization.
Government parks and property have been made accessible to Scouting troops for free, or at reduced rates.
A major source of BSA funding is United Way of America, which announces that "every group receiving funds . . . maintains a policy of nondiscrimination." Boy Scouts of America, which has proudly boasted of its exclusionary practices, would have to admit it cannot meet this funding criterion.
The Combined Federal Campaign collects money for Boy Scouts.
All of this must stop. While Boy Scouts of America is insensitively trumpeting its Supreme Court "victory," it has failed to take into account the backlash that will attend its court triumph at the expense of the civil rights of minorities.
"Let's hold their feet to the campfire. This group supposedly teaches boys to take responsibility for their actions. Well, Boy Scouts needs to suffer the consequences for its intolerant position," said Foundation spokesperson Dan Barker.
Already some members of the House of Representatives have signed onto a bill to revoke Boy Scouts' Congressional charter, citing its "intolerance . . . regarding sexual orientation." Pressure is mounting on United Way to stop its funding of the group.
As the Freedom From Religion Foundation pointed out to United Way eight years ago: "In a time of unprecedented homelessness and poverty, it should not be hard to choose worthwhile, nondiscriminatory groups to whom United Way and its affiliates could funnel the support that has gone so generously to Boy Scout units. A group defining itself as a private religious club does not need or deserve your help, nor is it eligible."
Following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision BSA v. James Dale (June 28, 2000), affirming Boy Scout's anti-gay membership policy, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has once again contacted United Way of America, urging it to discontinue support of Boy Scouts until such time as BSA drops its nationally-enforced policies of discrimination. The Foundation has also contacted the National Congress of Parents & Teachers, and the National School Board Association, pointing out BSA would not be the large, successful group it is today without widespread parent/teacher and school board sponsorship.
"If Boy Scouts of America insists on standing for bigotry, then it should stand alone--without the support of our public institutions," the Foundation has pointed out.
The Foundation, repeating a request first made in 1993, has once again asked President Clinton to disassociate himself from a group which openly discriminates against its gay membership and nonreligious families.
The Foundation, a national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) working for state/church separation, has asked educational leaders and United Way to "join the public outcry against BSA's discriminatory practices."