On Tuesday, a jury in Portland, Oregon awarded $1.4 million to a Boy Scout member who was molested by a former Scoutmaster in the early 1980s. The trial affirmed that the Boy Scouts of America assembled "secret files" on molestation incidents which were covered by the national organization. While concealing the evidence of systemic sex abuse within its ranks, though, the BSA staunchly maintained -- and kept in place -- a policy which denies membership to gays and Atheists youth because they are presumably not "morally straight" and cannot be trusted since they will not swear an oath to a deity.
"When it comes to being untrustworthy and morally challenged, it seems that the Boy Scouts of America apparently has a serious problem," said Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists. "Covering this sort of behavior is certainly not moral, and as the jury found, it is clearly illegal."
Buckner added that the offending Scoutmaster was a local official in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and that the church was also involved in trying to conceal evidence of the crimes. As Buckner noted, "It does not seem to be coincidental that religious organizations like the Catholic Church or LDS or para-religious ones like the BSA have so much trouble understanding and protecting basic human rights."
Dave Silverman, Vice President and Communications Director for American Atheists said that the BSA needs to be more forthcoming and transparent.
"The BSA is sending a mixed message to parents and youth everywhere – that's it OK to be a bigot when it comes to discriminating against Atheists or gay youngsters, but that sexual molestation involving Boy Scouts of America personnel should be concealed from public scrutiny."
"We call upon the Boy Scouts to take positive action right now by 'coming clean' on evidence of illegal activities like this, and openly welcome all youngsters and adults into the Scouting ranks regardless of personal religious convictions or sexual orientation."