Foundation Asks United Way to Stop “Enabling” BSA Bigotry

If Boy Scouts Stands for Bigotry, It Should Stand Alone

A new resolution reaffirming Boy Scouts of America’s exclusionary policy against nontheistic members and gay Scoutmasters has prompted the Freedom From Religion Foundation to once again call upon United Way of America and all of its affiliates to halt funding of BSA.

More than a decade ago, the Foundation urged United Way and hundreds of its affiliates to discontinue funding the boys’ club as long as it continues to discriminate. United Way’s own policies require it to fund only nondiscriminatory groups, the Foundation has long noted.

“In the past 10 years, BSA has become increasingly rigid, right-wing and doctrinaire, even taking its campaign to rid its ranks of so-called ‘undesirables’ all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” wrote Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor in a letter to Brian Gallagher, CEO and President of United Way of America.

The BSA resolution, dated Feb. 6, 2002, reaffirms its exclusion of “avowed” homosexuals from serving as Boy Scout leaders, saying “an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role model for the values of the Oath and Law.”

The resolution affirms that “duty to God” is “an obligation which has defined good character for youth . . . throughout Scouting’s 92-year history.” BSA “has made a commitment to provide faith-based values to its constituency in a respectful manner.”

The resolution notes this national policy may not be deviated from by local troops: “BSA’s values cannot be subject to local option choices, but must be the same in every unit.”

“If Boy Scouts of America stands for bigotry, it should stand alone,” said Gaylor.

The Madison, Wis.-based national watchdog group also called upon the local affiliate, United Way of Dane County, to stop funding BSA:

“While many United Way affiliates have long since ruled Boy Scouts ineligible for funding, United Way of Dane County is the proverbial ostrich hiding its head in the sand. It acts as an enabler, pretending if it continues its generous annual funding of local troops that this will be incentive for BSA to change. On the contrary, this hypocritical stance simply gives the United Way stamp of approval to BSA’s exclusionary policies. It should be no more socially acceptable for BSA to exclude nonbelieving boys than to exclude nonwhite or nonChristian boys.”

BSA promulgates a written religious test on its membership form including a statement of religious principles. The Dane County troops have admitted publicly that nonreligious boys are not welcome. “Young children are at risk of cruel rejection because of BSA’s policy against membership by atheists and agnostics, while advertising that ‘any boy may join.’ “

“By colluding with the BSA, the ‘United Way’ becomes ‘The Divided Way,’ a part of the problem, not part of the solution,” the Foundation added.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics and others) working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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