(Photo: REUTERS/David Manning)
A nationwide secularist organization has sent President Barack Obama a letter asking for him to use his position as "honorary president" of the Boy Scouts of America to change their policy on atheists.
Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, co-presidents of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent President Obama the letter on Monday urging him "to lead the way toward an America 'with liberty and justice for all.'"
"As we applaud the willingness of the national board of Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its hurtful blanket exclusion of gays from membership, we must not forget that BSA has embraced exclusion of two minorities in our nation: gays and nonbelievers," wrote Gaylor and Barker.
"BSA has deserved a badge of dishonor for its discriminatory practices. It is encouraging that BSA is taking its first steps toward more egalitarian practices, but it is equally important to point out that BSA's proposals do not go far enough."
The FFRF co-presidents send their letter at a time when the BSA national leadership has been considering a change to their policy banning openly gay scout leaders.
Last week, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would reassess their controversial ban on openly gay scout leaders and members.
"Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation," wrote Deron Smith, spokesman for BSA, in a statement.
"This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."
In response to the reconsideration, many Christian organizations and conservative groups expressed opposition, demanding that the Boy Scouts not cave in to pressure from LGBT activists.
"Thousands of Americans like you have phoned the Boy Scouts of America's national office and Board of Directors to tell them not to abandon their longstanding policy against having openly homosexual leaders and Scouts," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in an emailed action alert.
"As the BSA's board meets this week, join us in continuing to keep the pressure on by sending an email urging the organization not to cave-in to homosexual activists and corporations which have been threatening the organization's funding."
The Boy Scout Oath begins with the phrase "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law."
While many believe the BSA will change its policy regarding gays, spokesman Deron Smith has stated that a change regarding atheist membership would go counter to the "core principles" of the Boy Scouts.