Scouting for all…

Ten years ago, an atheist woman sued the Boy Scouts of America because her first-grade son was *required* to attend a recruiting session for the scouts during lunch at a Portland public school. The woman claimed discrimination– the Boy Scouts require boys to profess belief in God, and that wasn’t how she was rasing her son. (And you can’t be gay, either, because apparently that makes you unqualified to tie knots.)

Now, the Oregon Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s decision and sided with the Boy Scouts.

I don’t understand what the Scouts want to do… recruit all these boys and then kick them out a few years later when they’ve made a personal decision about their beliefs?

What rationale did the majority of the court have for allowing the Boy Scouts to do this? They said, “It is in the later enrollment in the organization that the Boy Scouts differentiate among those who do not profess a belief in the deity and those who do.”

And so that makes it ok.

Of course, if the Boy Scouts discriminated against Jews, maybe the court’s decision would be bigger news.

But we’re atheists so this is allowed.

[tags]Boy Scouts of America, Oregon Supreme Court, atheist, Portland[/tags]

  • JustHis

    It appears that this “recruiting session” was just like any other assembly most schools have. You sit and listen, or don’t when you are a kid, to what the person or organization has to say. I’m sure had the boy attended the recruiting session and been interested, his Mother would have told him he wasn’t joining and that would’ve been the end of it. I don’t think the Boy Scouts are trying to force Atheists to become Christians. I think they are an organization, like many others, that have Christian based values and operate as such without making the general public conform to their views. Sure, they teach on those values, but don’t make anyone sign up.

    I guess I don’t see the discrimination. I see that the school was making it’s students attend an assembly, it just happened to be one by an organization with Christian values that an Atheist Mother disagreed with. That’s fine, it’s her obligation, I just think we are sue happy in this country. They weren’t saying, “your son is raised Atheist, so we are going to force him to go to this recruiting session in hopes the Boy Scouts will make him a Christian.” They were simply making all students attend incase they or their parents wanted them involved in such an organization. Boy Scouts have been known to be a stepping stone for boys as they become men and become Eagle Scouts and some of them decide to make military careers.

    Is having religious values a bad thing? If so, why?

    I’m sure if there were Jewish children in those classes at that school, they too were required to attend the recruiting session. Wouldn’t they call it discrimination if only Christian children were required to attend the recruiting session? Then children with other beliefs would have their parents suing because they weren’t allowed to attend. In schools, what is required of one child is required of all out of equality. My perspective anyhow. :D

  • Helen aka Ir

    I don’t think recruiting meetings at schools should be mandatory, whatever they are for.

  • Siamang

    The boy scouts do “discriminate” in that they require their members to pledge to what they call a “higher power”.

    However, I do stand behind their right to do so, legally. The right to freely associate includes the right to say whos in the club and who’s not in the club. It’s a constitutional issue.

    I can have a club with just people I like. I can say, all guys named Hemant, get out! The government cannot force me to let you into my club.

    I find the actions of the Boy Scouts distasteful, even downright wrong. But I support their right to choose who gets in their club, and what the membership rules are.

    And if I were the mother, I would keep little joey out of school that day if I felt strongly about it. And the school shouldn’t be a recruitment tool for the Boy Scouts. Back in my cub scout days, my troop were pretty much an adjunct for the local mormon temple.

    We tied some knots and painted pinewood derby cars while the kids all tried to get me to go to church with them on sunday.

  • Brian Westley

    Some bits of information on the Powell case:

    1) Portland public schools no longer allow non-school groups like the Boy Scouts to recruit during school hours, largely due to this case.

    2) The court ruled only that Remington Powell wasn’t discriminated against because the Boy Scout representative lied and said that any boy could join. If he had told the truth and said only boys who believe in god could join, that would have violated the Oregon law. BSA reps continued to lie at in-school recruiting drives and say any boy could join even after this lawsuit was filed.

    3) In a similar vein, school officials testified that they “didn’t know” that the BSA excluded atheists, even after this lawsuit and associated media coverage.

    4) The school wanted to settle this case, but withdrew that offer and continued when the Boy Scouts offered to pay their legal bills. It seems the Portland public school system could hardly treat its atheist students fairly when they accept money from a party named in a lawsuit against that school.

    5) Portland District Superintendent Jack Bierwirth, while he was making decisions about this, was also on the executive board of the same Boy Scout council. No conflict of interest there, right?

    Lots more here andhere

  • Trex

    The Scouts have an oath and law that have been in existence for more than a hundred years which reflect their values. These include faith in God. Everyone knows what these values are. With due courtesy and respect, anyone who does not share these values is not required to join. Muslims have organizations which would not permit anyone of any other belief system to be a part of. Do atheists welcome and respect Christians, Jews or anyone who acknowledges the certain existence of God? I do not intend to be argumentative or discourteous. But anyone is free in this nation to form organizations with their own value system in place. If anyone does not share the values of any organization, why would they want to be a member of it? To compromise their values and deeply held beliefs, the Boy Scouts would cease to be Boy Scouts in the same manner that an atheist who professed faith in God would cease to be an atheist. Respectfully submitted.