After Lifting Ban On Gay Adult Leaders, Atheist Group Pushes For Boy Scouts To Also End Ban On Nontheists

| by Nathaly Pesantez

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) made headlines late July when it announced changes to its adult leadership policy that removed "the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees."

While the news was met with both anger and applause, the announcement clouded over another issue that has one atheist group up in arms--the BSA's continued discrimination "against nontheist boys and their families."

"Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality," reads part of the BSA's announcement.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), a non-profit watchdog group "working to keep church and state separate", issued a statement on the same day as the BSA announcement calling for the group to lift its ban against atheist would-be members.

In the statement, the FFRF comments on a possible reason for the BSA's continued restriction on nontheists.

"It turns out that about 70 percent of BSA units are sponsored by churches--mainly conservative Christian: Roman Catholic, Mormon and United Methodists," reads part of the statement.

But the restriction on nontheists does not fully rest on the BSA, the FFRF said, as it pointed to the media's failure in reporting on the issue and other high-profile figures within the organization for avoiding discussion on the matter.

"Nontheists, in other words, are still at the bottom of the totem poll in terms of social acceptance; so low, indeed, that discrimination against our ranks apparently doesn't even rate mention anymore," the FFRF statement reads.

The FFRF, according to the Christian Examiner, appears to suggest that the BSA's actions are illegal due to the "major governmental favors" the group has been dependent on.

"…in the 1970s, discrimination against atheists became entrenched with adoption of a religious litmus test, forcing parents of boys interested in joining to sign a "Declaration of Religious Principles" returned with membership fees," the FFRF said.

For this, the secular group is calling on the media, the government, public schools and corporations to "end this last bastion of bigotry".

Sources: BSAFFRFChristian Examiner

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons