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Morally Straight . . . and Intolerant?

by Margaret Downey

The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 20, Number 4.

Members and friends of the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN) are appalled by the June 28 5-4 U. S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to discriminate openly against whomever it chooses.

BSA now joins the ranks of disgraceful private clubs that promote bigotry and prejudice. Ethical members of the BSA should be outraged to know that an organization established to teach Scoutcraft is condoning ostracism and bigotry.

Inasmuch as the BSA has been declared "private" and entitled to exclude on prejudicial grounds, there will be unintended consequences. Corporations, agencies of government, and the United Way cannot fund an organization that is merely private and openly discriminatory. As a result, boys across the country will no longer be able to enjoy the extent and quality of activities they enjoyed before.

By getting itself declared "private," the BSA has defeated the rationale for it to have public support, government gratuities, and a congressional charter. No longer will it be legitimate for BSA to receive money from United Way's unallocated fund, or to go into public schools to recruit, or to be given military and other government gratuities. BSA will have to rely on private donations exclusively. This will work against the troops and the boys.

Prejudiced zealots have seized control of BSA and will destroy all that has been good with their fear and loathing toward the gay and nontheist community. The BSA victory is hollow. Concerned citizens will insist that BSA no longer be active in public areas. To declare a constitutional right to discriminate is shameful. The U.S. Supreme Court decision means that intolerance will continue to flourish at the hands of the world's largest youth group. The BSA will lose the respect of people who hold dear the moral tenet of nondiscrimination. It is a terrible loss of an opportunity to teach values such as tolerance, brotherhood, and reverence to the religious as well as the nonreligious.

Recently BSA ruled that Unitarian Scouts will no longer be eligible to receive religious emblems. Unitarian values do not fall in line with BSA's selective membership policy. Unitarians are too tolerant and too sympathetic toward gays, girls, and the godless. Now that the U. S. Supreme Court has sanctioned BSA's discriminatory policy, it is just a matter of time before other religions, families, and individuals are deemed unacceptable. The BSA witch hunt has begun. The U.S. Supreme Court has given BSA the green light to decide who is good enough and why. Parents must choose if they want their children taught morals by a group that promotes prejudice, intolerance, and separatism.

Margaret Downey is president of the Anti-Discrimination Support Network.

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