My Letter to the Utah Museum of Natural History re: Boy Scouts Day

I’m browsing Facebook today and noticed the Utah Museum of Natural History was advertising $1 off discounts for Scouts (boys, girls, cubs) tomorrow, August 15th. As the regular readers here might know, I’m an atheist, but I’m always careful to pick my battles where I find my time can make a significant contribution to equality.

At a glance, it’s essentially just a marketing scheme to bring more people to the Museum and their intentions, it can be argued, are to support the education of our youth, albeit a selective group.

However, a public facility geared towards science, history, and education should not give preferential treatment to a religious organization, imo.

Below is the letter I wrote them today:

August 14th, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to my attention that the Museum is offering a discount offer in the price of admission for members of the Boy Scouts of America on August 15th, 2012.
I learned about this offer through your Facebook page and your web site, links provided here:
The Boys Scouts of America exists under a Congressional charter. Because the BSA has taken a stance against gays and nontheists, it is currently calling itself a religious organization.
It saddens me to see an institution such as our State Museum giving preferential support to an organization that has consistently and adamantly upheld discrimination policies at its core, with no sign of changes, despite great pressure from litigation and non-litigation efforts.
The Boys Scouts of America have clearly stated “that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.”
Your association with the BSA (by means of preferential treatment) sends a message to those who do not share the BSA’s “values” that the Museum supports these ideals or at the very least holds the BSA in high esteem.
I would like to point to this section of your Statement of Ethics stating that your museum “enjoys a high degree of public trust.  To maintain that confidence, we must act with integrity, prudence, intellectual honesty, foresight and appropriate transparency, in the best interests of the collections and other resources we hold in trust and of the diverse publics we serve…”
A diverse public includes many individuals with characteristics that are not inline with the Boy Scouts of America’s requirements for membership.
I would advise you to reconsider this marketing strategy and cancel this and future Scout Day at the Museum. While I am a fan of promoting science, rational thinking, and curiosity to children and young adults, the message being sent in this case is one of support of a controversial organization that has in its past been heavily criticized both from non-member as well as from former and current members for its discriminating policies.
I would appreciate a response to this email with your feedback and/or suggestions to continuing improving our Museum’s public image and appeal.

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