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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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Anti-Discrimination Support Network Questions the BSA's Affiliation with the Public School System

As the new public school year begins, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (a committee of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia) sent the following letter to Chester and Delaware County public schools:

Letter to Principal and School Board
Ladies and Gentlemen:

 On behalf of the freethought community I am writing to voice our concern with the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) recruiting program. The freethought community is requesting your assistance in protecting freethinking families from becoming victims of religious discrimination at the hands of the BSA. The freethought community is comprised of Agnostics, Atheists, and Secular Humanists. We choose to follow the example set by Thomas Paine who said, "My country is the world and my religion is to do good."

 The BSA will soon be using your public school to distribute BSA membership information. The BSA commonly request that teachers distribute its literature inside the classroom. The literature seems innocent enough in that the flyer (see enclosed) advertises that "You can be a Cub Scout." In truth, only the religious can be Cub Scouts. A religious test will be given to interested children that attend the open house listed on the flyer.

 The Boy Scouts of America is unyielding with the required oath to God and compliance to their Declaration of Religious Principles (DRP). The DRP (see enclosed) describes God as "...the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship..." The DRP further states that, "...this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept ..." The implication is that a nonbeliever is not a good citizen. The nonbelieving community is highly insulted by this insinuation.

 The DRP also claims that the BSA is "nonsectarian." If this were true then a religious test would not be necessary. The BSA has determined that there are certain acceptable religious beliefs. Life stances that do not include a belief in a deity are unacceptable. The BSA may be multi-sectarian; they are hardly nonsectarian.

The BSA religious test is teaching believers to dislike, separate from and mistreat nonbelievers. Identification in order to separate children from each other based on a philosophical question is highly unethical and must be stopped.

 A public school teacher would surely agree that children should not be taught prejudice. After all, America is a melting pot of all cultures. When teachers promote, endorse, and solicit on behalf of the BSA they become party to religious intolerance. They become involved in a witch hunt that will injure an innocent child and his family. The BSA's message is that you must embrace a religious belief or suffer the consequence of being a social outcast. Teachers and  If teachers were asked to hand out information and recruitment materials of an organization that does not admit people of color, an ethical teacher would be appalled. Exclusion because of religious difference is equally unfair segregation.

 It is said that the public school system looks upon the BSA membership drive the same way that it views the YMCA membership drive. Calls to local YMCAs disclosed that they do not require a declaration of religious principles to obtain membership. Unlike the BSA, everyone applying to the YMCA is welcome to join without a religious test. The YMCA is deserving of public school sponsorship, the BSA is not. Selective membership based on a religious test oath is undemocratic. Bigotry, in any form, is a sign of bad citizenship.

 By declaring that their organization requires a signed religious affirmation, the BSA has become a religious organization. Because not all boys can join, they also become a private religious organization. If the public school allows the BSA to solicit for members in the classroom and on school grounds, the school is endorsing, condoning and promoting a religious organization. To maintain the Jeffersonian wall of church-state separation, state-funded schools are obligated to separate themselves from any religious affiliation.

 Further proof that the BSA is involved in unlawful religious testing can be found in its own Congressional Charter. In 1916, Congress chartered the BSA as a "patriotic organization" (see enclosed). This charter places an obligation on the BSA to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By not accepting nonbelievers, the BSA defiantly violates anti-discrimination laws. There is nothing patriotic about such invidious discrimination.

 May we hear from you at your earliest convenience to confirm that our concerns will be seriously discussed at the next school board meeting? A representative of the Anti-Discrimination Support Network is available to speak and to meet with you personally about this issue should you need additional information.
 Margaret Downey, Founder and Director




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