US: Synagogues terminate relationship with Boy Scouts of America over homophobic policies

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Synagogues and other Jewish organisations across the United States are terminating their relationships with the Boy Scouts of America over its policy of discriminating against gay members and leaders.

One example of the strained relationship between Jewish organisations and the Boy Scouts around homosexuality will be seen next week. Turo Synagogue in New Orleans has for a decade hosted an event for Boy Scouts to learn the virtues of the Ten Commandments over a Thanksgiving Day festival organised with local churches and mosques. But this year, for the first time, the synagogue withdrew its support because of Boy Scouts discriminatory policies towards gay people.

Back in July, after a two year review, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would retain its ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

Rabbi Alexis Berk, who used to host the Boy Scouts at her Reform Synagogue told the Religious News Service: “Maybe it would be one thing if this were a long-standing policy and they’d never revisited it — but the fact that they freshly revisited it and rendered a freshly bigoted opinion, well, I freshly feel like I can’t participate,” she said.

“I can’t participate in religious experience that uses religion as a hook on which to hang bigotry.”

Jewish scouting leader Alan Smason told the newswire: “My personal opinion is the Scouting policy in place now is wrong. They’re discriminating, and there’s no way to justify discrimination in this day and age.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the National Jewish Committee , A.J. Kreimer told the Religious News Service: “This position has taxed acouting’s relationship with the Jewish community. Our committee’s motto since 1926 has been ’Scouting Serves the Jewish Community’ — and that relationship has been strained.”

Last week, UPS became the latest corporate sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America to end its association with the organiation.

In a statement, UPS said: ““The UPS Foundation seeks to support organisations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy.

“UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organisation with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.”

Intel announced that it would block all donations to any Boy Scout troop that upheld the organisation’s discriminatory policies.

The issue of the policy has been prominent in the media of late, as Ryan Andresen, now 18, who joined the scouts when he was six, completed all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Badge, but was refused the badge, once the work was completed.