Ban on Scouts Undermines Shared Principles

For over a decade the Union for Reform Judaism has advised its synagogues to break ties with Boy Scouts of America, to not sponsor troops or allow them to use their facilities. This week it looked like all of that might change, but synagogues wishing to return to the BSA will have to wait at least a few more months.

The leadership of the Boy Scouts of America, who only last summer reaffirmed the organization’s nationwide ban on gay scouts and scout leaders, met this week to discuss changing that policy. Some in the organization argued for a new policy that would allow individual troops to decide whether to allow gay members; others said this did not go far enough and called for a national non-discrimination policy. However after the three-day meeting the BSA announced that it would postpone their decision until May.

In response to BSA’s decision to continue it’s discriminatory ban at least until May, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center, sent an open letter to BSA President Wayne Perry. “There was widespread excitement in our movement across North America when we learned that you were reconsidering your policy,” Rabbi Saperstein wrote, “yet disappointment at the announcement to postpone the decision.”

Rabbi Saperstein decried the persistent prejudice against the LGBT community that this ban represents, demanding that, “The cause of equality and justice is an urgent one. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Joining Rabbi Saperstein in his disappointment were the organization Scouts for Equality who has headed the charge against the BSA’s discriminatory policy, and the Jewish Committee on Scouting who presented a statement in favor of repealing the ban at this week’s meeting.

A full text of Rabbi Saperstein’s letter can be seen here.