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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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Scouts didn't discriminate against atheist, Supreme Court rules, Oregon

September 10, 2006

Portland Public Schools didn't discriminate against atheist students by allowing the Boy Scouts to recuit them during school hours, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled Friday in a rollercoaster court case that dates back 10 years.

Even though the Scouts required an allegiance to God to be a member, the court ruled that no discrimination took place at school or during school hours. Scout recruiters said their organization was open to all boys during their school visits, and the materials they circulated at school did not mention religion, the court said.
"It is in the later enrollment in the organization that the Boy Scouts differentiate among those who do not profess a belief in a deity and those who do. That enrollment, however, is not done by the school district, nor is it done in any public elementary school activity," wrote Justice Michael Gillette for the court.

The ruling reverses the Oregon Court of Appeals, which ruled last year that the school district shouldn't have allowed a group to recruit students during school hours because the Scouts discriminate on the basis of religion.

The battle over the Boy Scouts started in 1996, when Remington Powell was recruited by the Scouts when he was in first grade at Harvey Scott Elementary. His mother, Nancy Powell, is an atheist and filed a complaint because the Scouts require members to "affirm a duty to God" and deny membership to atheists.

Powell won the first round in Multnomah County Circuit Court in 2001, and also won on the first round of appeal. Remington Powell is now a high school student.

Friday's ruling was not unanimous, with Justice Rives Kistler dissenting:

"The fact that the discriminatory nature of the offer only became apparent later neither diminishes its discriminatory nature nor takes it out of the definition of discrimination," Kistler wrote.

To see the ruling, go to Supreme Court Scouts decision.


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