The Boy Scout Decision…A Threat to Religious Liberty?

February 6, 2013


Breaking News: As this story was going to publication, it was learned that the Boy Scouts of America will wait until May to make a decision on the proposed change to its policy regarding homosexuality. 

Last Friday, First Liberty Institute and two other religious freedom organizations sent a joint letter to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), alerting the organization to a very serious religious freedom issue with the proposed change to the organization’s policy regarding homosexuality.

First Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford, Alliance Defending Freedom Chief Solicitor and Executive Vice President Gary McCaleb and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver drafted the letter, which informed the BSA of “the unintended consequences that could ensue” should the organization change its current policy on openly-gay scouts and leaders.

The policy change would have far-reaching implications on religious liberty and constitutional rights, including the effect it would have on local troops and packs that meet in churches or are sponsored by faith-based groups.

“The tragedy is that the Supreme Court decision protecting all Boy Scout troops from litigation was premised upon the Scout’s national policy prohibiting homosexual scout leaders,” said First Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford. “Changing that policy will remove that protection from all local troops, opening them up to litigation nationwide. Local troops would be left to fend for themselves, and the national litigation costs would be enormous.”

The three prominent religious-liberty law firms offered their support to BSA, should it defer the decision to a future meeting.

“If you defer this decision to a future meeting, any one of our organizations is happy to provide you with a detailed analysis regarding these issues. We are also happy to provide legal representation to protect your First Amendment rights if you choose to continue respecting and adhering to your longstanding view of what the Scout Oath means when a scout promises to be “morally straight.”

Read the entire letter here.

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About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit

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