Boy Scouts should finish job of ending discrimination

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Did you know that atheist, humanist and nontheist youth are still strictly forbidden from joining the Boy Scouts?


The Boy Scouts of America has finally agreed to allow gay youth to participate in its organization. Now we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and hold up the BSA as an organization that has taken a stand against discrimination.

Well, not quite. Did you know that atheist, humanist and nontheist youth are still strictly forbidden from joining the Boy Scouts? And that BSA leaders who have spoken against this policy have been dismissed, and even Eagle Scouts have been expelled for their nonbelief?

Many BSA troops are sponsored by religious groups. Scouts and leaders must sign a Declaration of Religious Principles maintaining that “No boy can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God.” The BSA oath states “duty to God” as one of its core principles and Scout law states that a Scout is “reverent.”

The BSA is currently in court defending itself against several discrimination lawsuits because of this stance. In its legal briefs, the BSA suddenly claims to be a “private group” with an essentially religious basis and, therefore, exempt from anti-discrimination laws. But the BSA bylaws declare the organization to be “nonsectarian,” and its bylaws and charter do not permit the exclusion of any boy — gay, atheist or otherwise.

Written By: Barbara Dority
continue to source article at seattletimes.com

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  1. This article applies to American Boy Scouts.

    British Boy Scouts and Girl Guides do not need to have any religious belief and can also be of a religion other than Christian, including Muslim and there are specially designed Girl Guide uniforms for Muslims.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9719221/Scouts-welcome-atheists-a-century-after-Baden-Powell-demonised-them.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9173946/New-uniforms-help-Muslim-girl-Scouts-to-be-better-prepared.html

    Come on USA, how about playing catchup?

    • In reply to #1 by ArloNo:

      This article applies to American Boy Scouts.

      British Boy Scouts and Girl Guides do not need to have any religious belief and can also be of a religion other than Christian, including Muslim and there are specially designed Girl Guide uniforms for Muslims.

      Not quite. First the good news. In Britain, Guides are dropping “god” from the Guide Promise effective this September, after a public consultation exercise got 44,500 replies.

      The bad news is the Scouts are not. Nor are they consulting. Yes, they permit non-Christian faiths, but not atheists. An 11-year old boy was expelled from Taunton Scouts in 2012 for being an atheist; Scouting UK’s official spokesman basically said “we’re a religious organisation, if you’re not religious you have no place in it”.

      Right now I might well let my 6 year old daughter take up Guiding, but I won’t let my 5 year old son take up Scouting. They are a bunch of hate-filled bigots, underneath the oleaginous veneer.

        • Scouts and leaders must sign a Declaration of Religious Principles maintaining that “No boy can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God.”

          Wow. So not only do Scouts have to be religious – they also have to profess a belief that this makes them superior to atheists. Even non-bigoted religious people are unwelcome. Nice!

      • In reply to #6 by Stevehill:

        Scouting UK’s official spokesman basically said “we’re a religious organisation, if you’re not religious you have no place in it”.

        That seems like sound reasoning to me. If one’s not religious, why would one want to join a religious organisation anyway?
        Besides, that’s what he basically said, so not literally his words. It’s not exactly the most objective and truthful place to start any debate.
        I was, quite frankly, very surprised with the aggression and hatred in some user’s replies, toward people they don’t even know in person.
        Ironically, most of them are intolerantly speaking in derogative terms about people or groups of people not being tolerant.

  2. Do they discriminate against blacks, Mormons or Muslims?

    I went through the cub scout program. There was nothing whatsoever religious in it. It is lie to claim it is a religious organisation. Almost every boy joined. If they are going to pull cheap stunts like that, then they do not deserve any sort of public subsidy including the right to rent public space, such as school auditoriums.

    • In reply to #4 by serfdood:

      I suppose my son won’t be joining the Boy Scouts. They’ll ask him if he knows about Jesus and he’ll reply “who is jeebus”? they did not push religion on me when i was in cub scouts. the only thing religious is in the cub scout saying they say” i promise to do my duty to god and my country, to help other people and obey the law of the pack”. other than that saying. nothing ever religious was brought up. but every scout group is run differently

  3. My son has been in Scouts for over 4 years and really enjoys it. He’s also non-religious – says it just makes no sense. They’ve never asked him what religion/denomination he belongs to and he’s never volunteered the information that he doesn’t belong or worship (I’m guessing some troops would actually do that…). If any of the events or camp-outs he attends involve prayer or a religious service, he goes and is respectful, but does not actively participate. He just tunes it out (he’s good at that….he’s 16). When we talked once about what it meant for a Scout to be reverent, knowing full well their interpretation is reverence to “G”od, we focused on the fact that “reverent” simply means to have a deep respect for, and is equally applicable to life and nature. Thus, he is, indeed, reverent. And that was that. There are a lot of reasons Scouts is a worthy organization for young men to get involved with, and for me, the issue of not allowing gay young men to participate was far more troubling. But, admittedly, we could just have gotten lucky in that our son belongs to a Troop that’s never made a big issue out of its members’ religion.

  4. i was in scouts when i was little and i never was asked anything like this. I assume most of the people making comments on scouting and religion were never in scouts. scouts teach young men many valuable things! i was never pushed onto religion or asked ANYTHING about religion.

  5. Scouts are run by local people. So the amount of religion imposed on any particular scout is entirely dependent on the local boy scouts. And aside from fairly typical American patriotic god-speak there is nothing that insists people must actually believe. In fact from the very little experience I’ve had with the boy scouts there was less religion being discussed or imposed than in public schools or in public buildings.

    But yeah, the boy scouts should drop god-speak and religion from their agenda if they want to keep their perks. But also, much of the low level religious droning is done by the government. This is what really needs to end. Things like “under God” and “God Bless America” and “in God we trust”. This stuff is driven into the ears of all public school children everyday for 12 years straight.

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