Why can the Boy Scouts and other Congressionally-Charted Organizations discriminate against atheists?

The US Congress issues Congressional Charters in accordance with US Code Title 36. These Congressional Charters constitute official government sponsorship, and authorize other government organizations to offer special privileges to these organizations and their members. Because of this, what might be considered a private organization acquires a federal status. The Congress has a responsibility to revoke charters of organizations that violate federal guidelines, including guidelines against religious discrimination, or when the operations of organizations would create an excessive entanglement of government with religion. At the same time, organizations must recognize the responsibility they take on with a Congressional Charter and either act in accordance with government regulations or rescind their Chartered status.

The Boy Scouts of America holds a Congressional Charter while discriminating against atheists. The BSA ejects openly atheist members and leaders, even those that have reached the highest ranks of the organization. All branches of the military issue an promotion (to E2 or E3) for Eagle Scouts, the highest Boy Scout rank. This constitutes discrimination in hiring by the military as well as government approval of the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies. There are also various laws and regulation directing special access to resources for Boy Scout Troops and gatherings. The values, community, and service so fundamental to the BSA would provide an even greater service to the nation if they would promote respect for all beliefs, including atheism. The BSA must either support atheist scouts as they do all other scouts or step down from their Chartered status. Failing this, Congress should revoke their Chartered status.

On 12 Jan 09, MAAF joined the American Humanist Association in asking President-elect Obama to reject the title of honorary president of the Boy Scouts – press release.

As of 15 Nov 04, the ACLU of Illinois secured a settlement with the pentagon. The pentagon agreed to stop
its military bases from chartering Boy Scout units due to their
god-belief requirements:http://www.aclu-il.org/news/press/000220.shtml Veterans group American Legion wants the pentagon and the president to stand up for religious discrimination against atheists and violate the constitution: http://www.legion.org/?section=pub_relations&subsection=pr_listreleases&content=pr_press_release&id=249
MAAF issued
a July 2012 call for an end to federal funding following the Boy Scouts’ reaffirmation of their discriminatory policies

In 2005, the Veterans of Foreign Wars published a new, nonsectarian membership application that included none of the religious requirements of their previous application. Previously, the VFW required new members to attest to a belief in “Almighty God” on their membership applications. We applaud this action and consider their stated membership requirements to be comprehensive and fair: US citizenship, an honorable discharge, and an overseas campaign medal (or 30 days’ service in Korea). We encourage all veterans to join the VFW, both to continue the long service of the VFW to soldiers and in recognition of the VFW’s newfound respect for nonreligious soldiers. Also note that many local posts still use the old religious application. MAAF encourages members to notify the posts of

We consider it the responsibility of MAAF members to generate new, progressive change in the policies of the VFW and all veterans service organizations. We encourage the VFW to continue to represent all soldiers by avoiding religious issues and focusing on military policies. We encourage the VFW to publicly recognize their new membership policy by official resolution. Previous issues such as the firing of the VFW PAC, support of the Summum case, a Soledad, Mojave Desert, and Utah trooper government-sponsored Christian crosses show Christian bias rather than equal rights for all veterans. The VFW should rescind its support of the current “Under God” Pledge, a document that creates religious division in America, and lobby the supreme court for the original Pledge, the true statement of patriotism in America. We encourage the VFW to work with the Boy Scouts of America to adopt a similar, nonsectarian membership application that does not discriminate against nonreligious young men. Members should encourage the VFW to represent their nonreligious as well as religious membership by rescinding or changing sectarian policies.