Tying The Boy Scouts In Knots

Atheists, girls and gays are suing to join, testing the group's claim to be a private body in which discrimination is allowed

Most Americans believe that the Boy Scouts stand for the best in national values, an image the group achieved in part by shrewdly staying out of the ever heated debate over what those values are. For 81 years, while the organization inducted 83 million youths, the popular image of a scout has been benign and nonpartisan: a polite teenager helping an old lady cross the street. Chartered by Congress and widely sponsored by schools, police and fire departments, scouting has carefully marketed itself as a community-service institution, worthy of donations and removed from controversy.

But a new image is emerging. In...

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