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All I want is an explanation.

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mhager, welcome to the forums. I am curious...how did your rejection happen? Did you refuse to sign the form? How did BSA discover this?

Trevorum: Interestingly, I have made the opposite observation, that atheists I know have thought deeply about their beliefs and came to atheism after a long struggle. I think perhaps I could see the 'lazy' characterization for someone who simply hasn't thought about much of anything, but that could also apply to self-proclaimed religious persons who merely listen to the pulpit with no further thought.

Wingnut, if your son was in this unit I also may not meet your expectations because in doing so I might conflict with the values of other troop families. I would leave matters of religion to you and your family. An atheist would likely do the same.


As for the original question, it is discriminatory, it does exclude some outstanding individuals, and I don't agree with it, but the Supreme Court has ruled so that's that.

I think that SemperParatus has a good feeling for the forces involved with this issue although I disagree with a characterization of an 'atheist community'. Atheists are part of our community (and gays for that matter). They may band together forming a political movement but that doesn't qualify as a community.

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At last, a post addressing the actual heart of the matter. You claim that allowing Atheists would cause a decline in membership. Very good, let's examine that.


The extension of your statement in that anything that causes a decline in membership is bad. All right.


Now, it is the policy of the BSA that Scouts not have all the liquor and prostitutes they can use at troop expense. I am aware that there is no specific policy detailing the BSA stance against this, but I think we can all agree on my stance.


I think that membership would soar should troops start providing liquor and prostitutes. So, by your reasoning, since membership is the standard by which the good of organization is measured, this policy should be immediately implemented.


The above is, of course, ridiculous. The BSA should not engage in immoral activities to maintain or increase it's membership.


Religious discrimination is immoral.

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Thank you for your supportive reply. In answer to your question, I thought recently that I would see about becoming a Scout leader in the city I have recently moved to after a long absence from direct involvement. In researching what I needed to do on the web, I doscovered that as an Atheist, I was not allowed to serve. This outraged me and this forum is my outlet for that.

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Perhaps you misunderstand me. While I suspect that most atheists have, after much thought, consciously the rejected "archaic mythology" and "simplistic explanations" that characterize many religions, I also believe that most atheists have not embarked on any significant journey of spiritual exploration. There is much in the cosmos to be in awe of, much that will be eternally beyond human understanding. The labels you choose to apply are up to you; "God" is one that most people will relate to.

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In what way is my analogy ridiculous? You asserted that the good of the religious discrimination policy was maintenance of membership. I merely applied your reasoning more generally. It is not my fault you don't like the conclusions that stem from your own assertions.


You also flatly state that the religious discrimination policy is a good one without supporting your position. Why is it good? Your first reason, maintenance of membership is clearly not a good reason (as I showed) so what do else do you have to support the policy?


Also, blithely charging me with having a victim mentality is a poor attempt to discredit me and is also untrue, Sir. This policy is wrong. It hurts good people, of which I happen to be one. By questioning the rightness of this stance by Scouting, I am somehow making myself out as a victim? Absolutely untrue.


Sometimes the majority does win. However, it is explicitly built into our government and also, I propose, our consensus morality that a minority should not be unjustly treated by the will of the majority. By that reasoning, you would also support Jim Crow laws in the old south. Do you?

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I believe that BSA is encouraging the spiritual development of young people, which is always a good thing. However, by using the western word/concept of "God" they appear to be more exclusionary than they need to be. Some people encourage this exclusionary interpretation. We know that Buddhists, who do not worship a god, are welcome. The same with Hindus, who revere many gods. The same with those whose concept of God is truly baffling to their fundamental Christian friends.

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I really do not have a problem with atheists, just as long as they do not try to discourage others from believing in God. I think the BSA has this in mind when reserving the right to disallow atheists membership. The BSA encourages the spiritual develop of scouts; therefore, it may seem appropriate that they reserve the right to deny membership to any who discourage the spiritual development in scouts. I'm not saying that all atheists will amorally discourage others from believing in God; I'm just trying to figure out the reason for this policy.



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I to am also trying to figure out why anyone believes this to be a good policy. The idea that Atheists are likely proselytize and lead young men into amorality is clearly ludicrous. No Scout leader who is competent would attempt such a thing.





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I do not want to say that all atheists are going to deliberately discourage others from religion; that would be stereotypical. It is also stereotypical of me to think that all prostitutes, terrorists, racists, and child molestors are bad people and shouldn't be allowed in scouts. Who is to say that a convicted and self-proclaimed child molestor would not molest scouts? Who is to say that an atheist would not molest the rights to religious worship of scouts? NO ONE IS TO SAY THAT, but there are some things the BSA just feels safe to assume. But we all know what happens when we assume things...

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I started to look at this last night.

The first thing that became very clear to me was that I am not qualified to offer an explanation.

I did find a resolution made by the National Council

WHEREAS, the national officers agree with the report that "duty to God is not a mere ideal for those choosing to associate with the Boy Scouts of America; it is an obligation," which has defined good character for youth of Scouting age throughout Scouting's 92-year history and that the Boy Scouts of America has made a commitment "to provide faith-based values to its constituency in a respectful manner cil:

This is the explanation. Anything that I would offer would be my opinion.

Many people take up causes, only a few days back in this forum there was postings about fishing and whether it was cruel to fish? For the most part I don't have the time or the inclination to worry about fish.

Many people in this forum are unhappy about Scout uniforms, again I may agree with them, but I'm OK with the uniform and I think if it was changed I would be OK with that.

Sometimes, while it might seem that I'm burying my head in the sand I am guilty of thinking " I'm OK Jack, this doesn't effect me."

So me not being homosexual and not being an atheist. I feel that I can say that I'm alright.

I don't have any Axe to grind with atheists or homosexuals. I think that I fail to understand them. I think a world without God would be pointless and I have never looked at another man as being the subject of my sexual desires.I am happy to admit that I just don't understand.

The BSA has made where they stand very clear. When I read what the stand is, I have every right to disagree with it and not join or accept it.

Back home in the UK, they decided that homosexuals would be allowed to be members of the Scout Association. I didn't follow how they got to this decision. I know that they did and it really is a non-issue. The average guy in the street just doesn't care. None of my friends that were in Scouting before the decision left Scouting because of it.

Also back in the UK, when I was a Scoutmaster (Over 20 years ago) In the rule book of the Scout Association (Policy Organization and rules. Commonly known as POR) There was an Outlander's Scout Promise. I did visit the UK Scouting web site and was unable to find it.

I did find the Outlander Promise that was in a 1912 Scouting for Boys:

On my honor I promise to do my best:

To render service to my country;

To help other people at all times;

To obey the Scout Law.


There was an explanation that read:

According to tradition, Baden-Powell wrote an alternative oath called the Outlander Promise for Scouts who could not, for reasons of conscience, recognize a duty to a King (the norm in the USA), for individuals or members of religions (such as Buddhism, Taoism, and others) that do not worship a deity, and for members of orthodox religions that do not use the name of God in secular settings. Any Member, Patrol, Section, or Group in a Scouting Association like ours may make the Traditional Outlanders Scout Promise as an alternative oath.

In the 11 years I was Scoutmaster, the occasion to use it never came up.

Looking at the explanation, I'm unsure if the intend was to allow atheists? The wording of the promise would.

I can't see how an atheist leader could ask a youth member to make the Scout Oath, as it is now? Being as the Scout Oath and Scout Law are the very heart of Scouting, allowing atheist Leaders to serve would be a contradiction.

I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, but there are a lot of organizations that would not allow an atheist in.

Scouting isn't about camping and being an outdoors man, these are just the tools that we use to teach our youth members. The big picture is us adults teaching our youth members how to make ethical choices over their lifetimes. We teach good citizenship and the Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts Of America does include:

The Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America maintain that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God. Scouting is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. The Boy Scouts of America does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion.




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