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Here's the story from Seattle on Tuesday morning.


Like they used to say in Chicago -- vote early and vote often




Scouts kick out avowed atheist; Kitsap County case drew nationwide attention


By Marsha King

Seattle Times staff reporter




Darrell Lambert



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The Boy Scouts at the center of an uproar over God kept their promise and revoked Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert's membership for being an atheist.


"They just booted me out," said Lambert yesterday, sounding slightly surprised.


The Port Orchard 19-year-old learned the news from the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts, the regional governing body, just minutes before appearing on national TV to explain yet again his reasoning about God.


In a cellphone call, council Scout Executive Brad Farmer asked Lambert if he'd had enough time to confer with family and friends and if he'd had a change of heart.


Yes, the assistant scoutmaster had given it enough thought. No, he hadn't changed his mind. He still doesn't believe in a supreme being.


With that, Farmer told the young man, who's been a Scout since age 9 and earned nearly 40 merit badges, that his membership termination would be in the mail. He can appeal.


The council has not answered Lambert's request to be allowed to keep attending troop meetings as an unregistered adult. He fears the troop's charter could be threatened if he attends against council wishes.


Last night, at the troop's regular weekly meeting in Retsil, Lambert briefed some of the parents on the week's events. The troop has sent a letter, signed by most of the parents, to the Chief Seattle Council requesting Lambert's membership not be revoked and listing his accomplishments. But the troop does not plan to leave the Boy Scouts.


The Chief Seattle Council faxed reporters a statement. In part, it read:


"We regret that Mr. Lambert feels his beliefs must be compromised; that is never requested or desired by the BSA. The Boy Scouts of America is a shared values organization and we do not ask anyone to compromise their beliefs just to become a member. ... We only ask those who disagree with the Boy Scouts to show Scouting the same respect."


For 92 years, the Scout oath has stated, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country," said the statement. Scouting is broadly ecumenical and also "exists as a voluntary association of like-minded persons," said the Council statement.


But to allow some members to ignore one or more principles would be a disservice to the more than 43,000 members of Scouting in the Chief Seattle Council and the 5 million members nationwide who follow the Oath and Scout law, concluded the Council.


In making his decision, Farmer "has been in touch all the way up through the regional and national office. This has not been done in a closet," said Karl Duff, chairman of the Seattle Council's Sinclair District, which includes Lambert's Port Orchard troop.


"This is not creating anything out of whole cloth. This type of issue has already been to the U.S. Supreme Court."


Farmer was not available for comment.


Those who oppose the Scouts believe this decision will simply give ammunition to those opposed to Scouting's membership policies.


"It's going to be a downward spiral for the Boy Scouts of America unless they change their ways," said Scott Cozza, president of Scouting for All, one such group.


"They're going to end up as a very narrow, fundamentalist outdoor program for youth. If that's what they want, they should just be up front about it."


Lambert plans to appeal the decision first to the regional office of the Boy Scouts in Tempe, Ariz., and "if regional doesn't listen, I'll go to national," in Irving, Texas. Beyond that, he hasn't decided what to do, though he's made calls to the American Civil Liberties Union.


"It's disturbing ... so sad ... that people let them get away with that kind of stuff," said Lambert. He wonders why the Scouts don't make a big deal about enforcing other guidelines, about physical fitness, for example.


In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts' right as a private group to exclude certain leaders and members including gays and atheists. Since then the issue has continued to provoke strong emotional debate. Some Cub packs and Boy Scout troops have dropped membership. Many United Way branches around the country have come up with various ways to avoid contributing to traditional Scouting.


Lambert's story first appeared in The Seattle Times last Tuesday and provoked response across the nation scores of e-mails to the newspaper as well as calls for interviews with Lambert and the Scouts from radio and TV stations.


Lambert garnered praise for his courage in honestly stating his beliefs and criticism for not coming forth earlier. Lambert said he didn't come forth in his early days of scouting because, "Back then I didn't come out because I didn't have the guts to do it. And I didn't understand what I do now. I wish I would have." He said he has never pushed his beliefs on troop members.


Lambert's atheism came to light in October at a leader-training session. Lambert said a district official told him then that he asks scouts whether they believe in God and, if they don't, he kicks them out. Lambert objected and proclaimed he was an atheist. The interchange was relayed up the line.


The Chief Seattle Council maintains it is not its policy to confront members about their religious beliefs. But they must attest to a belief in a supreme being on the application to join.



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When an eagle scout canidate appears before his board of review, he is asked to say the scout oath and law. This is where the questioning starts. Will it be necessary to have a scout sigh a seperate statment that he understands the oath he has taken for many years? Should we change the logo to say "character counts sometimes"?

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k9, various people have faulted this guy for things he did and did not do before and after his Eagle board of review, but I do not see how you can criticize him for what he did AT the board of review. HE TOLD THEM HE WAS AN ATHEIST! What more do you want? Maybe they didn't ask him to say the Oath and Law. Maybe they did, and that is when he told them he was an atheist. Maybe he declined to say the Oath and Law, or just the particular words that offend him, as he says he did at troop meetings when he was a Scout. We don't know. All we do know is that at some point in the Board of Review, he told them he was an atheist, and that they approved the advancement. Whose fault is that? I don't see how it's his fault.


As for this guy now being "surprised," well, I am surprised he is surprised. The SE told him what he was going to do unless he professed a belief in a higher power, the guy didn't do it, and the SE did what he said he was going to do. Regardless of what you think of what the SE did (and as I have said elsewhere, I don't have a problem with it), the guy knew what was going to happen, and it did.


I also don't see why this is getting so much attention when it is at least the fourth case I have heard of, of someone being denied an advancement or position in Scouting because they announced they were an atheist. The others were Scouts and this guy is (was) a leader, but I don't see what difference that makes.


As I have also said elsewhere, the one thing I do find interesting about this case is the "trustworthiness" issue. It seems that the BSA (or at least this SE) was ready to let this guy stay in his leadership position if only he was willing to fabricate a belief in a higher power. Basically what they said was, you have a week to tell us you believe in "something." Mother Nature is ok. Presumably, Zeus or Vishnu or the Great Spirit of the Plains would have been equally groovy. (Or "The Force", as in Star Wars; some people in the UK have actually registered that as an organized religion over there, and there's no reason to believe the BSA wouldn't accept it here.) Now, does the SE really think that if he said he believed in God, or some acceptable substitute, that he had suddenly acquired this belief in a week, because they asked him to? Or does it seem more likely that the SE didn't care if he lied, as long as he said he believes in "something"? If the latter is true, I find the implications very interesting, and I have very mixed feelings about it.

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You know, if I was a Hindu Scouter, I think I would be a little unsettled right now. There are at least a few million people who take Vishnu seriously. And Native Americans may resent the Great Spirit of the Plains thing.


Other than that, I agree with you NJ(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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This is a good thing. Now, considering somehow this person advanced through the Scouting ranks being an atheist his Eagle should be revoked. Sure the board should have questioned him about his statement & maybe shouldn't have given it to him. But they didn't. They were wrong. However, Mr. Lambert stated he has been an atheist since he was I think 9 years old! He was living a lie in Scouting! He is not Eagle material!


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I partially agree with NJ. I agree BSA should NOT accept some goofy excuse for a religion as "belief in God". Personally, I would prefer BSA to exclude Pagan religions and the like ("The Force" or some other kind of nonsense). I'm probably in the minority. So those of you who disagree and can feel good - knowing that BSA will probably continue to accept those kinds of religions.

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'Duty to God/A Scout is Reverent' issues were never the only consideration here; he is also apparently pretty carefree about 'A Scout is Trustworthy.' He lied and lied and lied some more to get his reward-- Eagle Scout. Yes, he told the truth to the Board of Review (and the BOR is remiss in letting him pass). However, judging by the comments and reactions of the parents in that troop, he was probably pretty secure admitting his atheism to the BOR.

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"Personally, I would prefer BSA to exclude Pagan religions and the like ("The Force" or some other kind of nonsense). I'm probably in the minority. So those of you who disagree and can feel good - knowing that BSA will probably continue to accept those kinds of religions."


A scout is reverent means we respect the beliefs of others. I am willing to accept that others may have beliefs I might consider unconventional. If their belief is sincere, I think it is a violation of that point of the law to refer to that belief as nonsense.

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I have no objection to those religions that christians might consider pagan. At least these boys who may be hindus or buddhists (sp?) are involved in something, and that is all that BSA asks.


While some may wish that BSA would go after this guy's eagle award, that strikes me as quite vindictive. I don't think any of us know enough about everything involved in this guy's eagle to conclude that it was fraudulently obtained. Personally I would hope that after Mr. Lambert has a few more years to mature and reflect, he might sincerely change his mind again, and honestly sign a new adult application that would be accepted. He seems to have a great deal to offer.

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This story will fade from the headlines in a few days although Mr. Lambert will try to keep it alive by via the ACLU. There was a column today in the Oregonian (Portland) and in closing the columnist called on BSA to "give a little" in its religious requirements. Please. Why is it that the an organization with set standards is always the one called upon to "give a little" and those trying to skirt around the standards are always given slack, especially if they make an appeal to the press.


Our Mr. Lambert has also been on National Public Radio.


I am not glad he was terminated but I do believe he deserved it. Also, I think his Committee and whomever served on his Boards of Review have so explaining to do.

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I've said this a couple of times in other threads and no one has picked up on it. His Mom was his Scout Master. I asked in a thread about who makes up a BOR. The answer I got was that it is basically the Troop Committee and a person from District. If this is true, he got his Eagle because it came thru the people he had been with for years, including his own Mom. They overlooked the duty to God part because they already knew it. Assuming they had a friend at District who set in, he was a shoe-in for his Eagle. I could be wrong, but that is my opinion.

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Here's an article on the subject from Break Point wiht Chuck Colson


To God and My Country

The Boy Scout Oath


Darrell Lambert doesnt smoke, drink, or take drugs. And yes, hes heterosexual. Though an Eagle Scout, Lambert may no longer participate in Scouting. Its because Lambert is an atheist. And his announcement has led to another media firestorm over the legal and moral rights of the Boy Scouts.


For ten years, Lambert has been active in Scouting in Port Orchard, Washington. He recently attained Scoutings highest honor: Eagle Scout. Now a college freshman, Lambert has been active as a volunteer, helping younger kids learn how to build campfires and read a compass.


But during a recent Scout leader training session, Lambert got into an argument with another Scout over religion. Lambert announced he was an atheistand walked out.


His announcement was no small matter. The Boy Scouts is a faith-based organization. Every Scout takes a vow of reverence; every Scout pledges his duty to God. As Mark Hunter of the Chief Seattle Council put it: "Advocating a belief in a Supreme Being has been a core value of the Boy Scouts" for ninety-two years. "The twelfth point of the Scout Law is reverent, and that includes being faithful in your religious duties and respecting the beliefs of others."


Lambert says he knew all this when he joined the Scouts as a child. It was not until he studied evolution in high school in the ninth grade that Lambert concluded that God did not exist. But instead of resigning from the Scouts, Lambert says he began "mouthing" the words to the Scout oath. Sometimes he went ahead and just pledged his duty to God, knowing he was telling a lie. But, he says, it really didnt seem to matter. That alone would be grounds for dismissala point the media has ignored.


The Chief Seattle Council told Lambert he had ten days to reconsider his religious beliefs or leave Scouting.


During the ensuing media frenzy, the usual suspects began attacking the Scouts on the same tiresome grounds: intolerant bigots. But who really are the bigots here?


The Supreme Court has ruled that the Scouts is a private organization and has the right to set its own standards for membership, like any private organization. And, of course, those who disagree with the Scouts policies are free to start their own scouting groups.


The Scouts came under similar attack over its exclusion of homosexual leaders. It turned out to be absolutely right. The recent scandals in the Roman Catholic Church reveal what happens when homosexual leaders are allowed to work directly with kids: Pedophilia results. While homosexuals comprise no more than three percent of the population, a recent Family Research Council study shows that they are responsible for up to a third of sex crimes against children. Someone owes the Scouts an apology for calling them bigots because it wanted to protect kids.


But for us theres another very sobering lesson here. Lambert credits his atheism to his study of evolution in school. Clearly, kids are deeply influenced by the worldviews they absorb in the classroom. This is why, in every school, we must do everything we can to see that evolution is taught as a theorythe good parts of evolution and the parts that discredit itand that alternative theories, like intelligent design, be taught as well.


Meanwhile, lets applaud the Scout leaders for another courageous stand. It has meant abuse from the media but should earn them praise from those who believe that a Scouts oath and his duty to Godand his characterare non-negotiable.



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"This is why, in every school, we must do everything we can to see that evolution is taught as a theorythe good parts of evolution and the parts that discredit itand that alternative theories, like intelligent design, be taught as well."


Colson misrepresents the situation to benefit not an alternative scientific theory but a leagal and political strategy to teach religion as science. Intelligent design is in no way scientific and should never be taught as science.

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