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  • Kyle

    Agreed. I was an Eagle Scout myself and it’s sad to see the organization go down hill. They will certainly eventually drop the supreme being belief requirement at the cries of a couple dozen people who want to brainwash our boys. If I ever have a son he will never follow in his dad’s footsteps in that area sad to say.

  • samuel johnston

    A friend, who is not a believer, asked me what to do about his child who wanted to join the Boy Scouts. I suggested that he research the history of deism. He did, and his son, claiming to be a deist, had no troubles.
    It is unconscionable to make children suffer exclusion from popular cultural activities, because adults have some speculative disagreements.

  • Larry

    As an Eagle Scout myself, I am deeply embarrassed to have shared any kind of connection with people who have replaced prejudice with the values of citizenship Scouting holds dear.

    By all means you don’t need to continue involvement with Scouting.

  • Larry

    bqrq just loves sodomy. It is all he ever thinks about. My guess is he was typing that post one handed while fapping away.

  • John

    Absolutely. No organization, private or public, should be able to define rules or designate beliefs that are expected of its members. All should be welcome regardless of what the by-laws state or what is reasonable. So, let women lead the Boy Scouts, let Democrats run the Republican party, let atheists run the church. After all, people don’t join organizations because they believe in the organization and its tenets, they join so they can have fun and do what they want and you can’t let beliefs get in the way of that!

  • Larry

    Except you assume the religious belief requirement is an integral component to the organization. That is far from true. Boy Scouts were founded as a non-sectarian organization. An alternative to the myriad of religious based youth organizations with an emphasis on citizenship/nationalism.

    Although discrimination has become an element of it over the years, it is not the defining nature of the organization. If anything it has diminished Scouting to something far more petty and less socially redeeming. If you want a youth group which specifically embodies discriminatory ethos, there is always Trail Life.

  • Bernardo

    And the solution? Sue the BSA for discrimination.

  • samuel johnston

    “After all, people don’t join organizations because they believe in the organization and its tenets..”
    John, I have met very, very, few who have bothered to inform themselves prior to, or even after joining an organization, including, and even especially, the Church. When I joined the Masons, I knew more about their history than did most members of our lodge. I told them that I was a deist (true at the time). They objected at first, but after checking the rules, they discovered that deist were qualified. After all, they could hardly disown the “Founding Father” Masons of the American Revolution.
    Many Christians (and other believers) have a habit of assuming that their understanding is knowledgeable and correct. It rarely is either.

  • Stan

    I believe that the simple laws of nature (atoms and gravity and dark energy and such) can explain all happenings in our universe. Yet I’m quite happy with God language to remind me that I should be a caring person. So atheists can be fully welcome to be a scout and a scout leader if the applicant just loosen up a little on definitions.

  • Tom Downs

    Aside from saying the phrase, “To do my duty to God and my country,” I have no recollection of religious practice or teaching being any part of our activities when I was a Scout, Assistant Scout Master, and District Chairman. And that little phrase had no connection in my mind as to why I was there.
    It would seem those in charge followed the advice attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England who is reputed to have said, “I will make no windows into any man’s heart.” It was her version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Religion and politics are the two subjects you don’t want to bring up unless you enjoy arguing. The point was to keep the peace and strive to include everyone. Scouting is too useful to let it be torn apart over questions of belief. Besides, belief is a personal thing; you can’t prove you have it and no one can prove you don’t. There is nothing to be gained by pressing the issue except division and conflict.

  • Jon

    As an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow, I can remember a lot of fun and characterbuilding experiences in the BSA. Today, I have four boys whom I’d like to give a similar experience to.

    But I’m not allowed to. That’s because I’ve realized over the past 30 years that I personally don’t see evidence of God. Because a controlling share of the BSA leaders see their own ability to religiously discriminate as more important than the futures of the millions of boys they are excluding (and worse, those included, who are taught that religious discrimination is OK), I can’t honestly be involved with Scouting.

    It would go against my Scout values to willingly and repeatedly lie to my sons and everyone else – from the signing of the belief form to the discussions and oaths to “God”. It goes against my Scout values of being helpful, friendly, courteous and kind, to support and enforce the religious discrimination that the Boy Scouts require.

    It breaks my…

  • As an atheist, one of my favorite anecdotes from my childhood was when I was filling out an application for a BSA summer camp. When I got to the box for “Religious Affiliation,” I asked my mom, “What religion are we?” Her response: “I don’t know…. put Presbyterian.” That was the extent of religion in my house–a vestige of family history.

    The interesting thing is that I didn’t have any additional religious influence in Scouts. Sure, we met in a church. Sure we recited our “duty to God and country.” (I don’t know that I ever even considered the meaning of those words.) But for an organization that claims to be founded on religion, there was no religion to be found in anything we ever did.

    I am an Eagle Scout. I am an atheist.

  • samuel johnston

    When in a registration line at University of MS, we were we were handed a form requesting personal information, including church preference. The two women behind me disagreed. One wrote “red brick” and the other “white frame”.

  • Larry

    “But for an organization that claims to be founded on religion, there was no religion to be found in anything we ever did.”

    Because it was never a true claim. Simply an excuse for religious groups (in the US) to appropriate the Scouts for their own agendas. Scouting was founded as an alternative to religious based youth organizations, to build up a sense of citizenship among all. It is reflected in the fact that Citizenship awards are mandatory for Eagle Scout but religious ones are purely optional/personal in nature.

  • Larry

    So because of the Pledge of Allegiance, atheists are not truly citizens of the United States? Of course not. It is a phrase which is there out of tradition, but not in practice or in the spirit of the organization. Much like “Under God” is with the pledge.

    The reference to God is there, but hardly seen in any other part of the organization. Religious awards are not mandatory, religious education is wholly outside of the organization. There is the notion of inclusiveness and respect for faiths, but nothing which can be reasonably construed as considering the organization religious. Belief in God is not a requirement for moral strength or mental/physical acuity. A non-sectarian organization betrays its core values when it acts in a deliberately sectarian fashion. Attacking people on the basis of their beliefs is nothing but sectarianism.

    You want a youth organization to appeal to your sectarian religious beliefs, then join your church’s youth club.

  • Dominic

    Gays are preferred over atheists? What a world.

  • Doc Anthony

    Don’t worry Mr. Johnston, the national Boy Scouts of America have already caved in. There is NO way they will oppose atheist Boy Scouts — not even ADULT atheist Boy Scout leaders — now that they have caved in to the gay activists.

    All the BSA leaders are doing now, is waiting on the courts to do the remainder of their dirty work.

    If just ONE Boy Scout leader declares himself to be an atheist and is able to file a lawsuit in court (arguing similar to gay activists that the 14th amendment somehow says “no discrimination against atheists”), the entire BSA will instantly cave in on the spot.

    Just shop around for ONE Libble Fanatic Federal Judge, file just ONE lawsuit, and it’s all over. Don’t even have to convert to deism.

    One atheist lawsuit and you and your friend will automatically win. The BSA leaders are just THAT scared and weak and marshmallow.

    Churches, the BSA ship is sinking fast. Icy water out there. Don’t let your boys drown.

  • Doc Palmer

    Somewhere deep inside you I hope Doc Anthony there is a realization within that you are the one in the wrong, with your bigotry disguised as indignation and metaphor. Shame on you, for your destructive and invalid comments about what in many ways is a great organization.

  • Doc Palmer

    Psst. Kyle: there’s no supreme being and your religious beliefs are a complete sham. And you’ve already lost the case.

  • Doc Anthony

    … WAS “a great organization”.

    … WAS really good, even historically good, for church-based boys.

    Past tense. “Was.”

  • asdf

    Sounds like those outdated mind viruses are still being worthless parasites attached to youth

  • Billysees

    Tom,
    ” Religion and politics are the two subjects you don’t want to bring up unless you enjoy arguing.

    The point was to keep the peace and strive to include everyone.

    Scouting is too useful to let it be torn apart over questions of belief.

    Besides, belief is a personal thing; you can’t prove you have it and no one can prove you don’t. There is nothing to be gained by pressing the issue except division and conflict. ”

    Excellent comment.

  • “Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be Boy Scouts.”

  • Mark Darrah Sr.

    It sucks that the world is changing and people who don’t believe in your imaginary friend now must be treated like people, doesn’t it?

  • Mark Darrah Sr.

    This sounds a lot like religious privilege. Just be quiet about your non belief and let the “good” christians run the show, right? Those days are fading fast, as people are growing tired of being expected to conform to the demands of the church.

  • Mark Darrah Sr.

    Wrong. There is no tradition about having God referenced in the pledge. Under God was only added in the 1950s and never should have been added as it excludes nearly a quarter of the population.

  • Mark Darrah Sr.

    Indoctrinate your own kids on your own time. That allows you religious freedom. other people may not want their children subjected to the same superstitions.

  • Mark Darrah Sr.

    Why should you have a problem with either group? Simply put, you shouldn’t.

  • In Britain the Scouts have dropped the religious requirement: see http://www.politics.co.uk/opinion-formers/bha-british-humanist-association/article/bha-humanist-welcome-for-scouting-inclusion-of-non-religious – similarly the Girl Guides – see http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/06/19/girl-guides-love-to-god-religion-_n_3463479.html. The British Humanist Association worked with both organisations to find acceptable alternative pledges.

  • Larry

    I agree with you. The reference to God in both is not only divisive but out if step with the ideals of both. The Boy Scouts was never intended to be an organization subject to sectarian religious direction. Declaring the Scout Oath a statement of faith undermines its purpose.

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  • blankman

    Samuel, you have to wonder if the individual that looked at the application even knows what deism is. It’s likely that they saw that it ended in “ism” and the thought process ended there.

  • Charley

    No, the correct tense would be “IS”

    It still IS a great organization. It’s a greater organization now than it was. I’m hoping that this is leading toward BSA recognizing the Unitarian Universalist church religious awards again.

    If the program is opened up to boys and leaders who aren’t religious, it will remain a great organization

  • Jim Jones

    > So because of the Pledge of Allegiance, atheists are not truly citizens of the United States?

    When George H W Bush was campaigning for the presidency, as incumbent vice-president, one of his stops was in Chicago, Illinois, on August 27, 1987. At O’Hare Airport he held a formal outdoor news conference. There Robert I. Sherman, a reporter for the American Atheist news journal, fully accredited by the state of Illinois and by invitation a participating member of the press corps covering the national candidates, had the following exchange with then-Vice-President Bush.

    Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

    More: http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/ghwbush.htm

  • Diana

    I totally agree with you. While no single religion is held above another in Scouting it still plays an important part. I have been in Scouting for 11 years as a Leader and I encourage the Cubs and older Scouts to earn their religious emblem awards for their particular faith, plus the All Faith Award, so that they may become more aware and tolerant of different religions. Likewise, I encourage our Council’s 10-Commandment Hike (held the day after Thanksgiving, annually), where we visit ten different Houses of Worship and learn the similarities and differences of each religion. It is stated with the Oath (Duty to God) and a point in the Scout Law (Reverent) and would change the entire infrastructure of Scouting if atheists are to be allowed. It wouldn’t be Scouting any more.

  • Jimbino

    Then there shouldn’t be Scouting anymore.

  • Sean

    I am a life scout that is currently two merit badges away from eagle, a brotherhood member of the order of the arrow, and have held numerous positions including patrol leader, aspl, and spl but, as a result of the Boy Scouts stubbornness on this matter I must keep my lack of religion quiet while at scouting events. I love scouting but I find it hard to believe that I am a worse citizen as a result of my religious, or rather lack of, beliefs.