Let's just suppose that an organization existed that didn't permit gays or atheists to join. Regardless of whatever good qualities this organization might have, would it be worthy of a formal legislative commendation?
A couple of Inland Empire politicians see nothing wrong with legitimizing this insidious form of discrimination. Assemblyman Curt Hagman and would-be assemblyman Mike Morrell have written the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin to condemn Democrats for refusing the pass a resolution honoring the Boy Scouts of America on its 100th birthday.
I don't quarrel with the Boy Scouts' right to determine its own membership qualifications, although I think what they've done is short-sighted in the least and actually downright bigoted. (Other organizations serving young people -- the Girl Scouts, Campfire, Boys and Girls Clubs, and probably a host of others -- have seen the light.) What I don't understand is the desire to celebrate and applaud discrimination, unless of course you approve of those views yourself.
Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts have lots of company when it comes to discrimination against atheists. During the past six months, I have had occasion to attend four meetings of public bodies. Three of them began with a sectarian, Christian prayer. Since I was there representing my employer, it would have been inappropriate for me to state openly what I felt -- namely, I felt unwelcome. More recently, the City Council in Ontario has voted to add "Under God" to the display of the City Seal in the Council chambers. [Note: Council meetings are presided over by a Mayor who has openly admitted to adultery.] I wonder whether they also plan to hang signs on all the roadways leading into town, announcing that "Atheists Are Not Welcome."
Some people claim that gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against because sexual orientation is not a choice. Personally, I've never been real happy with people who do (or believe) the right thing for the wrong reason. Gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against regardless of whether it's a choice or not. But this misguided line of reasoning, albeit somewhat helpful in a crooked way with regard to the sexual orientation issue, is clearly not helpful to atheists, who are making a deliberate choice.
I feel confident in predicting that, at least in the United States ("the land of the free...with justice for all"), atheists will continue to experience discrimination for many generations -- long after gays and lesbians have been received into conventional society by everyone except members of the Flat Earth Society.
Will the Boy Scouts be accepting either type of person when it celebrates its 200th birthday? Only time will tell.
Ronald Wolff publishes the blog Musings from Claremont, where this article first appeared. Republished with permission.