Scouts can't have their cake and eat it too

Filed under: Places To Go

Six years ago, the Boy Scouts of America convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that they, as a private organization, have the right to discriminate against gays and athiests. They are, after all, organized around religious principles and certainly no one wants to force them to give up their beliefs. You can't, however, have it both ways. There have been a couple of cases recently where the scouts have lost long-held perks because of their discrimination.

Now, the California State Supreme Court is looking at the matter. The question before the court is whether or not the Scouts are a religious organization and thus ineligible for certain types of government aid, including dollar-a-year leases of public land. In 2003, U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones found that the Scouts, who require members and leaders to believe in God, are indeed a "religious organization with a religious purpose and a faith-based mission." Because of this, an agreement leasing prime downtown San Diego parkland to the group for $1 was unconstitutional. Now it's before the state Supreme Court.

The Boy Scouts, of course, claim they are not a religion. "There's no creed. There's no theology," said George Davidson, one of the group's lawyers. "It's an organization of people who come together on various principles, one of which is belief in God. But it's a very big tent. ... You can belong to any religion or no religion at all." The problem is, either you can be a religion and discriminate, or you can get special perks. You can't do both. Personally, I don't care whether the group gives up their religion or their dollar-a-year lease of Balboa Park; either way, I'd like to know that our government isn't subsidizing a close-minded, bigoted group.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.