United Methodist General Board of Church and Society Decries Supreme Court Decision Allowing Discrimination by Boy Scouts of America


June 28, 2000
Contact: Erik Alsgaard (202) 488-5631

The General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church joins its historic partners in the interreligious community to express our disappointment with the Supreme Court's decision allowing the Boy Scouts of America to deny membership to homosexual youth.

The General Board of Church and Society , together with the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, The Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, and the Unitarian Universalist Association, had asked the court to uphold the lower court decision in Boy Scouts vs. James Dale which prohibited the organization from denying membership to anyone based solely on their sexual orientation.

This discrimination conflicts with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. The primary responsibility of the General Board of Church and Society is to seek implementation of the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church that have been adopted by General Conference, the only entity authorized to speak for the Church.

The Social Principles
- in irreconcilable opposition to the "moral beliefs" alleged to govern the Boy Scouts - decree "that all persons regardless of age, gender, national status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured" (Para. 65G) and that "Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for homosexual persons." (Para. 66)

The United Methodist Church, the largest single supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, strongly condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation. While the General Board of Church and Society would like to enthusiastically affirm and encourage this continuing partnership of the church and scouting, we cannot due to the Boy Scouts of America's discrimination against gays.

Since its inception in 1910, more than eighty-seven million youth and adults have joined the Boy Scouts of America. Churches sponsor 62 percent of Boy Scout troops, or 55 percent of all boys in scouting at all age levels. The United Methodist Church sponsors 11,738 units, accounting for 421,579 boys in scouting.

We call upon the Boy Scouts of America to discontinue this exclusion of gay boys and men.

This is a statement of the Rev. Dr. Thom White Wolf Fassett, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. Only the General Conference speaks for the entire denomination. The General Board of Church and Society is the international public policy and social action agency of The United Methodist Church.