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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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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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Gregory William McGonigle, Eagle Scout, Seminarian, Unitarian Universalist, Harvard Divinity School, Speaks Out Against The Bigotry Of The Boy Scouts of America

15 Belmont Square #1
Somerville, MA 02143-2505

December 13,2001

Mr. Milton H. Ward
National President
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75015-2079
  Mr. Roy L. Williams
Chief Scout Executive
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75015-2079

Dear Messrs. Ward and Williams,

         I write to express in conscience my deep disappointment and disapproval in the Boy Scouts of America's current policies of discrimination against the membership and leadership in the BSA of openly atheist and homosexual persons. As an Eagle Scout, a Unitarian Universalist seminarian at Harvard Divinity School and an openly gay man, I feel it is my duty to express to you my conscienced convictions on these issues.

        First, regarding the current BSA Declaration of Religious Principles that no Scout "can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God, " I propose that not only is this notion untrue, but it is becoming increasingly inconsistent with the BSA's own professed mission to work for the self-actualization, of all American boys. Though I am a theist myself, I know many atheists and know them to be some of the most thoughtful and good-doing of persons. Indeed I believe that persons cannot be their best selves without acknowledging some ultimacy of value, some absolute(s) or holy thing(s); but none of this is inconsistent with the
beliefs of atheists, who usually hold themselves to the highest and most informed of moral standard. Not only that, but as a scholar of religions I would inform you that America, precisely because of our strong value of religious freedom and openness to immigration, is increasingly becoming one of the most complex religious civilizations in the world. It is already the most complex Buddhist culture in the world, and all orthodox Buddhists are atheists. There is also an increasing number of American Hindus, most of whom recognize a multiplicity of divine beings, both male and female. The "God" language of the BSA policy is therefore becoming increasingly inappropriate to an organization which seeks to serve all or even the majority of American boys, and for that reason it must be amended to be more inclusive.

        Second, as an openly gay man who seeks to live a moral life and even aspires to moral leadership, I am personally offended by the BSA "concept" that "sexual intimacy is the sole providence of a man and a woman within the bonds of marriage." While I acknowledge the BSA's attempt at liberality by advocating a "don't ask, don't tell" policy consistent, for instance, with the US military, I caution that such a policy is nevertheless founded on a platform, really a threat, of discrimination and persecution, fear and hatred--a fundamental violation of human rights. Homosexual identity is a natural, normal, inherent trait, comparable to any other, such as eye color or physical ability, and discrimination against homosexual persons is therefore inherently unjust. As for the morality of sexual intimacy, the truth is that neither heterosexual nor homosexual sex is inherently moral or immoral--the morality of sexual intimacy depends on whether or not it arises in the context of a responsible and moral relationship, as a use of the capacity to love and express love in ways that allow oneself and one's partner to strengthen and develop their moral capacities and human potential. Many scouts and scout leaders, most of whom statistically are probably heterosexual, fall short of this ideal and should be held responsible to it. But to suggest as a blanket rule that all homosexuals are unfit moral leaders and that all homosexual sex is inherently immoral is unjustly discriminatory and founded simply upon ignorance, fear and hatred. I was gay the whole time I was in Boy Scouts and am gay now, and I am considered a pillar of my community. I admit that I have fallen short of this on occasion as everyone does, but I still strive to live a moral life while embracing the way I have been created to love and express love, and I believe myself and many other gay persons to be exemplars and most capable of moral leadership in this regard.

        For these reasons I must dissent from the BSA on these policies. The policies themselves are immoral (inhumane, inhuman) and evil. I am enough of a realist to know that my one letter is unlikely to change such deeply misguided opinions. I also know of the BSA's strong affiliations with other discriminatory groups that support it in these official views. Please know that when you speak on behalf of Scouting and its "alumni" in favor of these evil official policies, you do not speak for me or for countless others. The character development that I learned from the wholesome Scouting I knew requires me to speak this truth to you with love and a firm optimism that in time the BSA will be reformed. Meanwhile, I must in conscience protest the BSA and all organizations that support it. and lend my support to organizations committed to a Scouting marked by more truth, more wisdom, more justice, more compassion, more equity and more love than the BSA we currently know.

Yours in the best of Scouting,


Gregory William McGonigle


Scouting for All
PO Box 600841
San Diego, CA 92120-0841
National Office Phone
Tel: 619-229-1612



Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

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