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The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and its funding sources: Year 2000 to now

Part 3: Corporate funding denied.
Fundamentalist groups react.

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This topic is continued from Part 2

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Funding by companies:

Some of the largest contributors to the BSA have withdrawn their economic support. In 2000, the Wall Street Journal reported that:

"At least three blue-chip  sponsors -- including Chase Manhattan Corp. and Knight Ridder Inc. -- are pulling hundreds of thousands dollars in support...the  companies have come to a sobering conclusion: the Scouts' visible rules don't comply with many of the companies' own diversity  guidelines. So for corporate America, the case has  brought to the surface a difficult dilemma: Can companies fund an apple-pie organization like the Scouts without  alienating gay customers, not to mention gay employees?"

Merrill Lynch & Co. was reviewing its funding policy.

Jim Finn, a spokesman for Chase Manhattan, commented:

"With the Supreme Court's decision, it's hard to justify the funding. Diversity is an important issue for our company and our employees, and the ruling doesn't square with our own feeling about fairness.

Gregg Shields, spokesman for the BSA responded:

"We are pleased that these companies chose to fund the Boy Scouts and are sad to hear that they no longer will...we ask that people respect our private beliefs as much as we respect theirs."

Respecting beliefs of a group like the BSA that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and religion is an increasingly difficult challenge, as religism (discrimination on the basis of religion) and homophobia (discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are being more widely considered forms of bigotry.

American Airlines, AT&T and General Electric decided to continue their contributions.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

"Many of the companies point out that they recognize the issue is complex. But they say any withdrawal of support could end up jeopardizing the very people they intend to help -- kids." 3

Chase Manhattan later restored support when large conservative religious organizations began closing their accounts.

During 2012, the BSA formed a secret committee which unanimously decided to to continue its discrimination against lesbians and gays. This prompted there was a flurry of activity by various companies that withdrew their BSA funding.

  • During 2012-SEP, Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality petitioned Intel to withdraw funding from the BSA. Intel was one of the Boy Scout's largest corporate donors. During 2010, Intel gave almost $700,000 to the BSA even though Intel's funding policies stipulates that the company will not fund:

    "Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, veteran or disability status."

    Zach raised a petition on Change.org which collected over 30,000 supporting signatures. Intel pulled their funding from the BSA during 2012-SEP. 7

  • On 2012-NOV-12, GayWrites, a blog about LGBT news, wrote:

    "The United Parcel Service has announced that it will no longer be donating to the Boy Scouts of America, indirectly referencing the organization’s now famous anti-gay policies as a primary reason for the break. 

    In the past, UPS has given as much as $167,000 to the Boy Scouts in a single year. Activist Zach Wahls and others urged UPS to stop funding the Boy Scouts after the organization recently decided to uphold a policy barring LGBT people from participating.

    The company was reviewing its corporate giving policy for months and announced the following last week:

    ' The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and nondiscrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization 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.'

    BOOM. Boy Scout donors are dropping like flies. Money talks. The United Parcel Service has announced that it will no longer be donating to the Boy Scouts of America, indirectly referencing the organization’s now famous anti-gay policies as a primary reason for the break." 8

  • On 2012-DEC-10, The Huffington Post reported:

    "The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have lost yet another corporate sponsor angered by the organization's stance on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. ..."

    "... the Merck Foundation announced it would suspend all funding to the Boy Scouts until the ban on gay scouts and scout leaders is lifted.

    The Merck Foundation's Brian Grill penned a letter outlining the decision, which reads in part:

    "The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA’s policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines.

    We know that many of you have personally contributed to the BSA and that this decision may be upsetting to some of you. However, we cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs. We remain ready and willing to re-consider our funding position in the event that the BSA were to revise its policy." 9,10

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Response by fundamentalist Christian groups:

2000-SEP-18: According to ReligionToday's news summary, three conservative groups:

"Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and the Center for Reclaiming America said that:

'... they will try to stop local governments and other longtime financial supporters from turning their backs on the [BSA] group over its ban on homosexuals.'

Focus on the Family took an aggressive stance against the situation in Florida. 4 They recommend that listeners complain to the Fort Lauderdale City commissioners, and the Broward County commissioners. They ask that those listeners who live in the rest of the country threaten to boycott the city and county. For a state that relies heavily on tourist dollars, such a boycott could be very effective."

The language used by Fundamentalist organizations often stresses that the BSA organization itself is being targeted. Violent terms like "attack" and "assault" are used. For example, the Focus on the Family article refers to:

  • "Florida Boy Scouts Under Attack!"

  • "...growing wave of assaults against the Boy Scouts nationwide."

Other reports in the media stress that it is the homosexual and religious discrimination policies of the Boy Scouts that are being opposed, not the organization itself. They tend to use less violent terms, indicating that the conflict is over ideas, and is not a physical confrontation.

2012-DEC-11: In response to the UPS decision to cease funding of the BSA, the Family Research Council (FRC) has decided to boycott UPS services. FRC President Tony Perkins issued a statement saying:

"The Boy Scouts of America has for decades been a force for moral integrity and leadership in the United States. Sadly, their principled stances have marked them as a target for ridicule and harassment by organizations that disagree with their convictions. Although as recently as September UPS had said they would not discriminate against the Scouts, they recently reversed themselves following an online petition campaign by homosexual activists.

I spoke with UPS executives about their recent change. But they showed no willingness to back down on bullying non-profits into abandoning their values. Because of this, FRC will cease using UPS for our shipping needs.

The mission of the Boy Scouts is 'to instill values in young people' and 'prepare them to make ethical choices,' and the Scout's oath includes a pledge 'to do my duty to God' and keep himself 'morally straight.' It is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual for those passages to be interpreted as requiring abstinence from homosexual conduct. UPS should not try to impose the competing values of the sexual revolution upon the Boy Scouts.

"The Scouts' policy is also a matter of security. After hundreds of cases of child sex abuse plagued the organization, the Boy Scouts tried to create a membership criterion that reduces the risk to Scouts, and that protects the rights of their parents to be the first to discuss topics like sexual orientation with their children.

The Scouts, unlike UPS, are about instilling character and leadership into America's boys. UPS, in the name of 'tolerance, can't tolerate such efforts.

UPS has the right to fund the organizations it chooses. It's unfortunate that they've chosen to ship America's next generation of leaders to the curb. FRC also has the right to do business with companies that are not hostile to traditional values; therefore, we informed UPS that we will take our business (which is equivalent to the amount they are directing away from the Boy Scouts) elsewhere."

There appears to be a conflict between the values promoted by the BSA and UPS.

The values of the BSA and FRC values include:

  • Religism: discrimination against persons of other religions -- Atheists and other non-theists in this case, and

  • Homophobia: discrimination against persons with a homosexual orientation.

The FRC considers these two forms of discrimination to exhibit "moral integrity and leadership" and to be "principled stances." The BSA may well agree with this.

In contrast, UPS's values include inclusiveness towards persons who follow minority religions and those with minority sexual orientations.

The U.S. culture is increasingly viewing religism and homphobia as forms of bigotry much like racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of animus, typically directed at women and minorities.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Candi Cushman, "Who's Selling Out the Scouts?," Citizen, at: http://www.family.org/
  2. "Florida Boy Scouts under attack," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/
  3. Daniel Costello, "Some backers pull Boy Scouts' funding after high courts ruling on gay scouts," Wall Street Journal, 2000-AUG-24
  4. "Florida Boy Scouts under attack," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/
  5. Jessica McBride, "Scouts use 'Don't ask, don't tell'; Approach allows council to sign United Way anti-bias policy," Journal Sentinel Online (Milwaukee, WI), at: http://www.jsonline.com/
  6. Mark Sherman, "Boy Scouts face setback in Supreme Court," Associated Press, 2006-OCT-16, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  7. Zach Wahls, "Intel: Stop funding discrimination!," Change.org, at: http://www.change.org
  8. Camille Beredjick, "UPS quits funding Boy Scouts over anti-gay policy," GayWrites.org, 2012-NOV-13, at: http://gaywrites.org/
  9. "Merck Foundation Severs Boy Scouts Funding Over Anti-Gay Policy," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-10, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  10. Rich Ferrato, "Merck Foundation suspends funding to Boy Scouts of America until ban on gay scouts and leaders ends," Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, 2012-DEC-10, at: http://www.glaad.org/

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Site navigation: Home page > Religious intolerance > Boy Scouts > Funding sources > here

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Copyright © 1999 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally published on 1999-AUG-9 
Latest updated: 2012-DEC-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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