The rumor is that the Boy Scouts of America are having second (third? fourth?) thoughts about the blanket exclusion of gay scouts and leaders. The rumor is they’re thinking about allowing each scout unit to make up its own mind.
The Girl Scouts don’t seem to have a problem with allowing Gays to be members, or allowing Atheists to replace “God” in the Girl Scout Promise with whatever word they’re comfortable with, so why can’t the Boy Scouts grow up.
Even if they change the rule on Gays, the blanket exclusion of Atheists would continue.
BSA membership has declined by approximately 20% since 1999 from 3.4 million to 2.7 million. I doubt that decline has much to do with the exclusion of Gays and Atheists. More likely its due to a perceived “lack of coolness” but given the ongoing lousy publicity, I’d expect the decline to continue.
This is a step in the right direction but it still condones discrimination. Given the number of church based scout units, I don’t see this "decision" changing much. According to Wikipedia the largest single group of scout units, 37,800, are sponsored by the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church is third with 8,500. It’s pretty safe to assume that these units aren’t going to change their policy.
So this is pretty much a “have your cake and eat it too” attempt that the scouts hope will restore the funding lost by their current blanket exclusion. Here’s hoping Merck, Intel, UPS, and the other corporate sponsors that have pulled their support, hold out for something with a little more substance.