Steve Souza (76703.633@COMPUSERVE.COM)
Thu, 9 Dec 1993 07:13:07 EST
Jo and others...
Just so you will have a little better view of the "facts" in this situation,
let me clear up a few points that were in the Tribune story that are not
correct, and give you the actual story.
First of all, I have never met Mark Welsh, although Elliott and I have met
for dinner here in San Jose when he was here, and have maintained an
electronic relationship for several years, starting from before the first
case between him and BSA went to court.
> From the Chicago Tribune of this morning:
> In 1989, Mark Welsh applied to join the Tiger Cubs, but on his application
his father noted that the boy could not comply with the requirement that he
promise to "do my duty to God," as the Scout oath says, since neither father
nor son believe in an Almighty. As a result, Mark was refused admission.
This is not true... the issue initially was NOT Mark or his beliefs, the
issue was that the BSA Tiger Cub application form "required" a parent or
other person to sign up at the same time as the youth to be his partner in
the program (we won't go into WHY the BSA wanted this now...).
When Elliott took Mark to his first Pack meeting to visit and possibly sign
Mark up as a Scout (based on fliers Mark had received in school inviting
him) they were presented with the Tiger Cub application form, which includes
a place for the parent/partner.
In the parent area of the form, it specifies the parent agree to the
Declaration of Religious Principle (DRP). Elliott could not in good faith
sign the form with the DRP intact, so as any good parent versed in legal
issues, he lined out the DRP part of the form and then turned it in.
Well, one thing led to another and the leader (CM?) at the meeting mad a big
deal out of it and wouldn't let Elliott sign up... thus preventing Mark from
joining (without a parent/partner). The issue of Marks belief never came up
at that time, and the "problem" wasn't related to Mark in ANY way.
> His father, Elliot Welsh, filed suit, charging the organization with
violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He argued the law bars
discrimination on the basis of religion by "places of public accommodation."
True enough... and the BSA was later found to NOT be a place of public
accomodation as far as the Chicago court was concerned.
Here's where the waters got muddy... during the process of the initial trial
and various arguments by both sides, it was determined that Mark did not
himself believe in God (as do many youth of that age, or they at least are
quite uncertain of their belief structure and what if anything it is founded
At some point (and Elliott can clear this up as I understand he is still
receiving the Scouts-l list messages) the BSA determined it was better for
their case if they ALSO excluded any youth from the program who could/would
not say the oath and express a belief in "God/god", not just leaders who
could/would not sign the adult app with the DRP intact.
Since then many sources have taken the whole thing out of context and made
it an issue of the BSA not letting kids join who were not part of one of the
"official" (organized) religions. (of which Buddhism IS one Jo...) as
opposed to the original problem of them not allowing a Tiger Cub to join
with a non-believing parent.
[note: Elliott has a strong set of values, both as a parent and as a former
Scout himself and chose to not accept an acceptable (to BSA) alternative at
the time, and that was to have another adult who _could_ accept the DRP,
sign up as Mark's partner for Scouting (on the paperwork). This would have
allowed Mark to be a part of the program, and prevented all the grief for
both sides. This however was not an acceptable situation for Elliott (to
have someone else besides a parent be Mark's partner/coach/etc. in Scouting]
Had the issue not been settled the first year when Mark was Tiger age, _and_
the issue not gotten clouded in court, Mark could havee come back the second
year (when he was Wolf age) and joined Scouting _without_ a parent/partner
and BSA would not have had any problem.
The situation with BSA is forever changed however... as a result of
Elliott's case (Welsh vs. BSA) and BSA's decision to ALSO include the
exclusion of youth who cannot/willnot say the oath/promise based on
their beliefs, there are many youth now who cannot become a part of BSA. As
in the "old days", any adult or youth who compromises their values and stays
quiet (in the closet) about their lack of belief in a God, is still allowed
to join and participate in BSA programs...
Thanks for reading, and if we're all nice, perhaps we can coax Elliott to
drop into view and give is his opinions..??
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