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Boy Scouts of America (BSA)

News items in the media, year 2002

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Year 2002 reactions to the U.S. Supreme court's decision:

bullet2002-FEB-06: USA: BSA adopts a resolution rejecting gays and atheists: The BSA adopted a resolution deeming both gays and Atheists unfit and unacceptable role models for scout youth. The BSA has had an unwritten policy against sexual and religious minorities for decades; this is the first time that it was backed up by an actual resolution. 1
bullet2002-FEB-11: USA: Boy Scouts to continue discrimination against sexual and religious minorities: The National Scout Council considered and rejected three resolutions which would have allowed homosexuals to become Boy Scout leaders. They will continue their 92 year-old policy of refusing to offer leadership positions to gays, Atheists, and Agnostics. 2
bullet2002-OCT-13: Steven Spielberg criticizes BSA: In his acceptance speech for the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign Spielberg said, in part: "Once upon a time I was a Jewish kid growing up, alive and alone, in an all Gentile neighborhood. And mostly in school I experienced "exclusion" from many other kids my age who only knew what a Jew was from what their parents told them, what their friends said or popular negative stereotypes. ...So when I joined the Boy Scouts of America I felt that I had found a safe haven, away from all the teasing and all the taunting....And maybe most importantly, it was through the Boy Scouts of America - as I was trying out for a merit badge in photography - that I actually discovered my passion for filmmaking. That's exactly how I got started....For most of my life, I have been a passionate advocate of Scouting and I served on the National Board for years until the Supreme Court Case of Dave versus the Boy Scouts of America, where I realized something that I had not been very aware of: that you could be black and white, Hispanic and Asian, Native American, Jewish, Catholic, Islamic - but you couldn't get in to the scouts if you were gay. So I quit the Boy Scouts. I resigned my commission, which I know is one of the reasons you're that honoring me tonight..... quitting the Boy Scouts was probably one of the most painful experiences I've ever had to endure. But they are wrong and you are right. We are right and we have never been more right than we are right now, in this country and at this time....But I am not totally nave. The unthinkable shadows our lives everyday. You know, hatred has us in its crosshairs....A few people - and you know, it only takes a few - who are viciously proactive in their hatred. Their fears - irrational fears - and their ignorance compound themselves into sudden violence. That is why the Holocaust occurred, and that is why Matthew Shepard was murdered...." 3
bullet2002-NOV-5: WA: Eagle Scout to be ejected from BSA: Darrell Lambert, an assistant scoutmaster and an Eagle Scout with a decade of exemplary service, will be ejected from the BSA because he refuses to profess a belief in God. The Chief Seattle Council has decided that Lambert's religious beliefs violate the 92-year-old Scout Oath, which reads: "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country..." The Council describes the BSA as "broadly ecumenical," whose membership is open to children who follow all theistic religions, "from Methodists and Catholics to Hindus." But it is not open to boys who follow non-theistic religions, like Atheism, Agnosticism, Humanism, etc. Darrell Lambert has stated that: "I think the only power higher than myself is the power of all of us combined. The interactions we do affect each others' lives. We're all in symbiosis with each other. But other than that, there's no higher power governing what I do."

The council stated that: "We regret that Mr. Lambert feels his beliefs must be compromised. We certainly respect the opinions of others and their right to choose to believe as they believe. We only ask those who disagree with the Boy Scouts to show scouting the same respect." 4

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  1. BSA Adopts First-Ever Resolution Condemning Gays and Atheists
    Scouting for All Responds," Scouting For All, 2002-FEB-12, at: http://www.scoutingforall.org/
  2. Charles R. MiVille, "Boy Scouts Resist Policy Change," Focus on the Family, at:  http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0019616.html 
  3. "Spielberg Likens Matthew Shepard Killing to Nazi Persecution," The Gay Financial Network, at: http://www.gfn.com/news/story.phtml?sid=12377
  4. "Boy Scouts Oust Teen Atheist for Refusing Oath," Reuters, 2002-NOV-5, at: http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/ (This may be a temporary posting).

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Copyright 2002 & 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest updated: 2004-JUL-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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