The Oregon Supreme Court today rejected the discrimination claim of an atheist whose son was required to attend a Boy Scout recruiting session in a Portland public school.
PORTLAND — The Oregon Supreme Court today rejected the discrimination claim of an atheist whose son was required to attend a Boy Scout recruiting session in a Portland public school.
The Scout oath requires members “to do my duty to God and my country” but simply providing information to pupils in public schools isn’t discrimination under Oregon Law, the court said.
Reversing a lower court, the justices denied the claim of Nancy Powell, whose son, Remington, was in elementary school when the dispute began in 1996.
The justices said the recruiting process on school grounds treats all students the same.
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“It is in the later enrollment in the organization that the Boy Scouts differentiate among those who do not profess a belief in the deity and those who do,” the court said. “That enrollment, however, is not done by the school district, nor is it done in any public elementary school activity.”
Dissenting, Justice Rives Kistler said the Scouts’ offer “appeared to be open to all the elementary school children without limitation,” but that wasn’t the case.
“That offer, both in fact and in operation, divided the elementary school children into two groups: those whose religious views agreed with the Scouts’ views and those whose views did not,” he wrote.