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Merlyn_LeRoy

19 atheist/agnostic ask Obama to turn down BSA as honorary head

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(oops, title should read 19 atheist/agnostic organizations etc etc)

 

www.americanhumanist.org/press/Obama_scouts.php

 

President-Elect Obama Asked to Turn Down Boy Scouts of America

 

For Immediate Release - Contact Roy Speckhardt at (202) 238-9088

rspeckhardt@americanhumanist.org - www.americanhumanist.org

 

(Washington, D.C., January 13, 2009) The American Humanist Association, in conjunction with eighteen other nontheistic (atheist and agnostic) organizations, sent a letter today to President-Elect Barack Obama urging him to decline the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. BSA policy is to deny the participation of nontheistic members and employees and expel those already involved. Thus the letter asks Obama to break with tradition because taking on the title of honorary president would send a message that discrimination against atheists and agnostics is acceptable.

 

"President-elect Obama was himself raised by a mother whom he described as a secular humanist, a remarkable woman who was very much a religious skeptic," said AHA President David Niose. "As such, he surely realizes that, if he were to accept the current Boy Scout standard, he would be endorsing discrimination against the same value system under which he was raised."

 

The full text of the letter appears below:

 

January 13, 2009

 

Dear President-Elect Barack Obama:

 

In light of your campaign promise to bring the nation together in a spirit of change we need, we, the undersigned nontheist organizations, urge you to take this opportunity to signify that discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheists will not be condoned.

 

Thus we write to urge you to decline the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA has acted vigorously in recent years to expel atheist and agnostic members and employees. This policy expresses the Declaration of Religious Principle, Bylaws of Boy Scouts of America, art. IX, 1, cl. 1:

 

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law." The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.

 

The BSA has elected to set itself apart as a private organization that may discriminate in ways contrary to the laws and practices required of local, state, and federal authorities. Accepting the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America would thus send the message that institutional discrimination against people who dont happen to believe in a god is acceptable.

 

Many presidents of the United States have taken on the title of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. However, this tradition was established when discrimination against nontheists was, unfortunately, socially acceptable. Given that nontheists now make up a sizeable minority of the American population-having more numbers than Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews combined-the BSA is clearly out of touch with the spirit of pluralism, tolerance, and inclusiveness that compose todays American values. By contrast, in 1993 the Girl Scouts of the United States of America adopted more inclusive policies.

 

Therefore, please decline the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America until such time as the organization reforms its bylaws and practices to be non-discriminatory.

 

Yours in unity,

 

American Atheists

American Ethical Union

American Humanist Association

Atheist Alliance International

Atheist Nexus

Camp Quest

Center for Atheism

Center for Inquiry

Center for Naturalism

Council for Secular Humanism

Freedom From Religion Foundation

FreeThoughtAction

HUUmanists

Institute for Humanist Studies

International Federation for Secular & Humanistic Judaism

Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers

Secular Coalition for America

Secular Student Alliance

Society for Humanistic Judaism

(This message has been edited by Merlyn_LeRoy)

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Write to the president elect and invite him to be the Honorary President of the BSA. If he hears more from scouts that the other groups, who is he going to listen to? I wouldn't feel right telling a person in authority over me what to do. The first amendment guarantees freedom of religion and free speech, not freedom from religion and free speech. Also without government infringment "free exercise of religion." Well Scouters, the Royal Rangers will be praying for you. RD

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If they want a youth organisation based on secularist ideals, why don't they start their own? Then they can invite whomever they want to be its honourary head.

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I thinnk that these people are just out there to cause a stir. I know that it is a tradition that the president elect takes this honorary position. I wonder if they have sent this letter to Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Reagan.

 

IMO I think that these people are just mad that if they want to belong to a private organization, they have rules to live by, the same as the guy who wants his daughter in Cub Scouts.

 

 

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So you really think that it's not hypocritical to expect Barack Obama to be the head of an organization that would exclude his own mother for not having "acceptable" religious views?

 

And what if he accepts, but publicly criticizes the BSA for their policies and says they should change them?

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So you really think that it's not hypocritical to expect Barack Obama to be the head of an organization that would exclude his own mother for not having "acceptable" religious views?

 

The real question is if that's his current religious view. In his book it mentions his mother encouraged him to study several religions and kept the Bible, Koran and the Bhagavad Gita in their home

 

And what if he accepts, but publicly criticizes the BSA for their policies and says they should change them?

 

Just like he is asking for a college football playoff system.

 

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I think those organizations are going to be sorely disappointed. Obama is shaping up to be quite a centrist.

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Merlyn,

It sounds like Mr. Speckhardt comes across a little bigotted in one of his later paragraphs, "Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews". It might have been a little nicer to state the Mormon, Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish religions".

 

It will be interesting to see what Obama does with this request. Will he upset the applecart of the largest youth organization in the U.S., especially being the good Christian that he is.

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How is that bigoted? He was comparing the number of nontheists to the total number of Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews in the US. How is "the Mormon, Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish religions" nicer?

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Some consider the term Jews a little derogatory and take offense to it. That is all. The other statement is a little less offensive.

 

Enjoy the inauguration tomorrow.

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If offered, I don't think he'll turn it down. Inviting Ric Warren to be part of his inauguration ceremony shows that he will give both sides of the issue an opportunity to be heard. All implied hypocritical scenarios aside, he appears to be trying to represent all Americans, whatever their personal convictions.

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