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'Religious' Boy Scouts lose battle for favored treatment.

A federal judge in California has invalidated a lease of public land to the Boy Scouts of America on church-state grounds.

In 2000, the American Civil Liberties Union of California sued the city on behalf of several residents, arguing that the lease of the 18-acre Camp Balboa to the Scouts impermissibly granted control of public land to a religious organization. The Scouts require members to profess a belief in God and also excludes gays because, according to the organization's strictures, they are not morally fit.

U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. agreed with the ACLU's arguments and ruled July 31 that the city had given special treatment to the Scouts, a religious organization. "The city handpicked as the preferred lessee an organization that describes religious belief and practice as fundamental to the services it provides," Jones wrote in the Barnes-Wallace v. Boy Scout case..

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts have a First Amendment right to exclude atheists and gays. Jones, noting the high court's ruling, concluded that the Scouts' free expression rights "are at odds with values requiring tolerance and inclusion in the public realm."
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Title Annotation:AU Bulletin
Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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