Atheists are people, too

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Bombs do not discriminate. We know that the people wounded or killed from the Boston Marathon explosions were of all ages, all colors, and all beliefs. Yet, people without faith were explicitly excluded from the interfaith service attended by the president over a week ago. In a city where nearly half the population seldom or never attends religious services, organizers of the event didn’t invite a single representative from the vibrant non-religious community to say a few words in mourning. Such a speech would not have been anti-God; it would simply have been without God, because it is, in fact, possible to grieve over lost loved ones without invoking the supernatural.


You may argue that the word “interfaith,” by definition, excludes those without faith, but the event was billed as an all-inclusive memorial service and that is the spirit in which the atheists saw it. Because of the snub, local humanists were forced to create a makeshift memorial service at a later date and create an online petition urging government officials to meet with them in coming weeks to hear their stories and ensure that “healing and unity will include everyone” in the future. Atheists online also donated more than $28,000 to various local charities in a matter of days, all without much publicity or fanfare, to help those (of all backgrounds) who suffered because of the attacks.

But the organizers of the memorial event weren’t the only people leaving atheists in the dust. When the Boy Scouts of America announced last week that they may finally allow gay scouts in their ranks, the loudest reactions came from progressives who were (rightfully) upset that gay leaders would still be banned. (Apparently, you can be a gay scout until you become an adult… at which point they kick you right back out.) However, the ensuing controversy all-but-ignored the fact that, even if the change allowed gay people of all ages, atheists would still be forbidden from becoming scouts because they are neither “reverent” to God (as required by scout law) nor able to do their “duty to God” (as required by thescout oath). In other words, an organization that prides itself on building character and developing responsible citizens does not believe atheists are capable of holding those values. One of the reasons for this continuing form of discrimination was brought up by the New Yorker‘s Richard Socarides: “Catholic and Mormon church hierarchies… sponsor and fund much of the Boy Scouts’ activities.” While the BSA may cave in to outside (and even inside) pressure to allow some gay people into their ranks, their religious landlords still prevent them from accept scouts who may not believe in a higher power.

Written By: Hemant Mehta
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

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  1. I am a Scout leader in Canada and am an atheist. I cleared it with them before joining and they said as long as one acknowledges a power greater than mankind that was all they needed. I was tempted to say womankind, but opted to say the universe is greater than I am and I am one small part of it.

    Also Scouts Canada does not discriminate against gays, either as Scouts or leaders, and is co-ed. Each country is different so check your local country’s rules.

    • In reply to #2 by RationalistOne:

      I am a Scout leader in Canada and am an atheist. I cleared it with them before joining and they said as long as one acknowledges a power greater than mankind that was all they needed. I was tempted to say womankind, but opted to say the universe is greater than I am and I am one small part of it…

      You only had to acknowledge one power greater than humans? Shit, there are billions of powers greater than humans. My car, for instance, has nearly 270hp, far more than any human. Then there are animals like elephants with much greater power than humans. If we look to the sky, we see stars. Each one far greater than any human. Am I being a smart ass?

  2. they said as long as one acknowledges a power greater than mankind that was all they needed.

    Why do atheists stretch the intention of this comment in order to be accepted into some sort of organization like the scouts or Masons? We all know what they really mean. This comment is intended for deists and those who believe that there is some sort of invisible (conscious) force in the Universe that has more control over our mind and our lives than we do ourselves. They certainly were not talking about any “magnetic field” cosmos, or other impersonal physical force in the universe.

    Am I being a smart ass?

    Yes

  3. I really wish they would drop this inclusion in interfaith activities kick. Atheism is not a faith. The religious need this nonsense to convince themselves that “God has a plan”. This is not about comfort. It is about keeping the rubes faithful.

    Boy Scouts, at least in the USA, is nothing but a right wing indoctrination with its flag fetish and higher power nonsense. I took my scouts because his mother grew up in a family where it was a big deal and he liked the camping. Fortunately, he older now and tired of it.

    • In reply to #7 by Street Logician:

      Boy Scouts, at least in the USA, is nothing but a right wing indoctrination with its flag fetish and higher power nonsense.

      Maybe it’s different in the UK but I was a member of the scouting organisation from about the age of 10 until around 18, and got an awful lot out of it personally. I developed great friends, learned a lot and it all had absolutely nothing to do with any god. I’ve been an atheist/agnostic since I first thought about it around that time.

      In fact, it was through scouts I attended church (for St Georges day and Rememberence Day services), and it was probably this obligation which started me thinking about religion and faith, and led to me rejecting it completely. So thanks, scouts!

      I did have to promise to do my duty to god and to the queen, which in hindsight I wish I’d refused to do (what duties might I have to do for the Queen!?), but you don’t think of these things when you’re young.

  4. I’m not without faith. I have implicit faith in much, it’s just that it’s not blind faith, but grounded in knowledge and experience.

    Gravity seems to me to be farly reliable, and when my forward eye line’s limited by the brow of a hill when driving I have faith that the road continues beyond it, and other stuff like that.

    I find that that’s all I need; it’s served me well so far anyway.

  5. Boo hoo hoo, some masses of tissue met the same end we will all inevitably meet sooner than usual. Also, this website is the most autistic thing I’ve seen today. A bunch of ass-ravaged atheists getting together and circle-jerking about how fursecuted they are? God, I’ll pass.

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