WASHINGTON, DC — The Secular Coalition for America today expressed disappointment that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided to postpone addressing its discriminatory policies barring openly gay and atheist individuals from participation.
“It’s unfortunate that the Boy Scouts caved to pressure from some religious groups rather than make commonsense changes to their discriminatory policy,” said Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “We are hopeful they’ll use the added time to address the full range of discrimination that the BSA practices by freely admitting atheists and gay individuals.”
Largely lost in the discussion about the Boy Scouts’ possible policy change, is the fact that the Boy Scouts also bars atheists from membership.
While the Boy Scouts is a private organization, it holds a Congressional Charter and accepts federal funds via the use of supplies, space and equipment. Equal Opportunity regulations in the military explicitly prohibit support of organizations that discriminate, however, there is close collaboration between the military and the Scouts. The President of the United States traditionally serves as the honorary president of the BSA, and Eagle Scouts are given automatic promotions upon enlistment in all branches of U.S. military service. In addition, there are explicit regulatory concessions given to BSA to use on-post military buildings and to support Boy Scout Jamborees. Finally, the Department of Defense promotes scouting among military families.
“No organization that discriminates on the basis of religion or religious beliefs should receive federal support,” Rogers said. “We look forward to a time when the Boy Scouts will be a completely inclusive organization that accepts all boys.”
The Secular Coalition for America is a 501(c)(4) organization that serves as the national lobby for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans. Composed of 11 diverse member organizations, SCA works to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. For more information, please visit www.secular.org.
[From a News Release]