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Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in Atheism, LGBT Rights | 19 comments

Boycott the Boy Scouts of America

My post on this topic — a part of a joint effort of US advocates for secularism (which is by no means an official group, since I just made it up) — will be short and sour.  This year, attorneys released more than 20,000 Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys. The organization has a long history of discrimination against gays and against atheists. Although the courts have held that the Boy Scouts are a private organization, both Mitt Romney and President Obama have spoken out against their mistreatment of gay youth. This sort of discrimination is simply unacceptable in the modern world, and we should voice our protest in every way we can, most importantly with our dollars. This year, please buy your Xmas pine or dead wood to be adorned with gaudy decorations elsewhere. Thank you.



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  • Hopefully, the Scouts will someday soon change their policies.

  • Bob Geier

    And now, for some mathematics.

    The Boy Scouts released files tracking 1,000 volunteers. During the period covered by the files, the Boy Scouts averaged 2M volunteers with an average time in the organization of 2 years, and the files covered decades (depending on which set of files you’re referring to).

    A thousand cases, many of which were just unsubstantiated accusations that law enforcement chose not to pursue, out of tens of millions of volunteers. If we aren’t challenged by innumeracy, then we’d recognized that is actually a low rate for this particular crime in a population.

    Christmas trees are sold by local scouts, and none of the money from the sales goes to the national organization. Those local scouts also don’t get a vote in the policies of the national organization. Boycotting them makes as much sense as refusing to give money to a local homeless shelter in order to protest the House Republicans’ approach to poverty programs.

    • bluharmony

      I have no desire to support an organization discriminating against gays, and the BSA does so at both the national and the local levels. As for your point regarding the sexual abuse, well that’s certainly one view; here’s an article that presents at least one more: .

      This is an inter-blog boycott and protest that goes way beyond Skeptic Ink, BTW.

      • Bob Geier

        Ah, yes, the plaintiff’s attorneys who stand to benefit personally. You aren’t really suggesting that they represent an objective point of view unencumbered by conflict of interest, are you? Yet despite that bias, nothing in their release actually conflicts with what I stated.

        We should do our best to try to be rational and objective in our approach, and to understand things at some depth rather than with a superficial gloss. Local scout groups and councils actually span a wide range on the issue of gay members, since scouting is generally a relatively representative sample of America. Many of those local groups are working within the BSA to push change, and a good many more are simply using the latitude afforded them to choose differently than the national organization.

        Buying a Christmas tree is more accurately thought of as helping to promote environmentalism and sustainability in the next generation of young people than anything to do with anti-gay bigotry. That is what the actual experience of that boy is going to be.

        • bluharmony

          Seeing the tremendous amount of local BSA-related discrimination cases that come through the courts from my personal experience as an attorney, I beg to differ. As for selling Xmas trees, it is a traditional Christian practice, and the Scouts also discriminate against atheists, although that is not my primary concern. There are plenty of charities to support that don’t discriminate at all, and I will continue to do so. If you would like a list, I’ll be happy to provide one.

      • Don’t just read the files that CNN and the LA Times have “cherry-picked.” Read them ALL

  • BSA membership is a privilege, not a right: Upheld by the Supreme
    Court. (Dale vs. BSA) Why is no one attempting to overturn the decision
    or start their own all-inclusive group? The answer I expect is to be
    called a “homophobe,” “bigot,” “racist,” etc. by those who can’t come up
    with a cogent and intelligent argument. (Common tactic of the Liberal
    Left). So there, I’ve done your work for you! Why not start your own
    group instead of badgering the BSA? Pure numbers. The pro-gay/atheist
    plan is to 1. Infiltrate, then, 2 Indoctrinate. The BSA knows this, and
    maintains their stance. Yup..they’re on to you!

    • bluharmony

      I try not to call people names (sadly, I don’t always succeed), but you can call yourself whatever you want. But think about this, why don’t we allow employers to discriminate? Or other private organizations? Why can’t businesses discriminate against their customers? And whom does an organization that teaches non-acceptance and bigotry benefit? All this is aside from the fact that the Boy Scouts do actually receive money fro the government. Not to mention the child sexual abuse (mostly against young boys) that repressive organizations, such as the BSA and the Catholic Church, encourage.

      If they’re going to discriminate then fine, but they won’t be getting my dollars to do it. You tell me why those who feel the way I do should be forced to support their bigotry. Can’t think of a reason? Good.

      • 1. The BSA is not a business or an employer. 2. The BSA DOES NOT receive ANY Federal funding. 3. The BSA has one of the most stringent child protection policies–other organizations emulate them. Where the hell are you getting your “facts” from?

        • bluharmony

          When you don’t know much about a subject, Wiki is a good place to start: You still didn’t tell me why I have to support this organization or tell others to do so. I don’t and I won’t. BTW, the litigation they’re constantly in because of their highly discriminatory policies is a waste of government funds as well. People should be aware of these facts before they make their decision on whether to support an organization or not.

          • No one is asking anyone to support an organization they don’t agree with! The BSA has had these same policies for 100 years; and only NOW the policies have become a problem? Why is that? Also, the BSA has it’s own legal teams, no government resources are used. If everyone wants to boycott the BSA, then fine! Let the marketplace rule! The BPSA (Baden-Powell Service Association), a spinoff of the BSA has a whopping 18 troops nationwide! By the way, boycotting local Troops selling Christmas trees only serves to harm the local troop; who has NO SAY in what the head office in Texas does. NONE of that money goes to the national organization.

          • bluharmony

            Court resources are used; and no, court costs don’t cover them. And are you really arguing that just because discrimination was OK 100 years ago and no one dared complain, it’s OK today?

            Also, I doubt the national organization would exist without local troops.
            For such a strong supporter of free markets, free speech sure seems to be a problem.

          • Well, where was the gay/atheist community 100 years ago when the BSA started??? Why has this become an issue in only the last 10 or so years? It’s not the BSA bringing these issues to court, it’s the LGBT community. So, who in fact is “wasting government resources”? The courts are provided by taxpayer dollars to hear cases IT deems worthy. The BSA is merely defending it’s position. (Are you REALLY an attorney??) What is the TRUE agenda here? Why doesn’t a group start their own youth movement to compete with the “evil discriminatory” BSA? Could it be because they would never get the numbers to make it viable? I maintain that is the reason.

          • bluharmony

            Why couldn’t the Boy Scouts simply stop their discrimination? Obviously an organization that’s historically endorsed by our government is going to have some appeal over other organizations, but I would never send my child there and recommend that others don’t either.

            Again, what exactly are you taking issue with? The fact that I disapprove of their discriminatory policies? I do. Deal with it.

          • Why can’t they “stop their discrimination?” They don’t call it discrimination; they call it “family values”. The organization was founded on certain principles which it believes. Along comes a group representing approximately 10% of the population that doesn’t “fit in” with the BSA’s perstpectives. So, now: Everything’s gotta change?? The BSA will most certainly suffer more harm from reversing their decision to accommodate the 10%, because the the other 90% simply don’t agree with them!!! I ask again..what is the TRUE agenda here?

          • bluharmony

            Capital letters and exclamation points don’t make the fact that I’m against discrimination go away. I don’t consider discrimination to be a “family value,” I consider it fundamentally wrong. Would you support discrimination against African American boys or Jewish boys by the BSA? Would that be considered “family values” too?

          • There are in fact churches which are BSA Chartered Organizations (sponsors) that will only allow members of their faith to join their troop or pack. Not so much today as years ago, but it still exists, especially in the deep South. So, if you’re a Jewish kid wanting to join the Catholic troop in town, you were S.O.L.