TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ A state judge, citing the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah as evidence that homosexuality is immoral, upheld the Boy Scouts' ban on gays.

Superior Court Judge Patrick J. McGann found that the Monmouth Council of the Boy Scouts did not violate state discrimination laws when it expelled James Dale as an assistant scoutmaster in 1990 after learning he is gay.

The judge said the Boy Scouts is a private organization and has a constitutional right to decide who can belong. The Scouts' gay ban has been challenged several times but always upheld.

``Men who do those criminal and immoral acts cannot be held out as role models,'' McGann wrote in the Nov. 3 ruling released Wednesday.

Dale's lawyer Evan Wolfson said Thursday it was ``shocking to read such harsh anti-gay language coming from a judge in writing.'' Wolfson said he may appeal.

McGann did not immediately return a call for comment.

In his legal analysis, McGann cited the Bible:

``Sodomy is derived from the name of the biblical city, Sodom, which, with the nearby city of Gomorrah, was destroyed by fire and brimstone rained down by the Lord because of the sexual depravity (active homosexuality) of their male inhabitants,'' he wrote.

McGann went on to write that ``all religions deem the act of sodomy a serious moral wrong,'' and that until 1979, it was considered a criminal act in New Jersey.

``It is unthinkable that in a society where there was universal governmental condemnation of the act of sodomy as a crime, that the BSA could or would tolerate active homosexuality if discovered in any of its members,'' he wrote. ``The criminal law has changed. The moral law _ as to the act of sodomy _ has not.''

Dale, 25, said, ``It was upsetting that a judge would rule this way.''

Dale, who was in the Boy Scouts for more than 12 years, is now a fund-raiser for a New York City drug rehabilitation center.

``To think that someone as qualified as myself, an exemplary Scout, can't be an assistant Scoutmaster when adults are needed is ridiculous,'' he said.

Richard W. Walker, the Boy Scouts of America national spokesman in Irving, Texas, said Dale had no business being a Scout.

``We believe the person knew very well in advance what our values are,'' Walker said. ``This person was trying to change the BSA when these values have been very, very successful over the last 85 years.''

McGann came under criticism in 1992 when he blocked a woman from getting an abortion after the man who impregnated her petitioned the court. An appeals court lifted the order.