American Boy Scouts retain atheist ban

American Boy Scouts retain atheist ban

The Boy Scouts of America will continue to exclude atheists – despite first lifting a ban on gay members and, earlier this year, on gay adult leaders.

According to this report, the organisation – which moved to change its policy after a warning that it could lead to costly legal action – has not shifted to allow non-believers into its ranks.

The BSA will continue to enforce rules that ban open atheists from serving – meaning you can be open about being attracted to men, but not about disbelieving in the existence of God.

All members of the Boy Scouts must sign a “Declaration of Religious Principles”, which states:

The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God.

Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a secular lobbying group, hit out at:

A glaring omission by BSA to stop discriminating against nontheist boys and their families.

It added that while the ban on gay members has received national attention, the media has:

Largely failed to point out BSA’s continuing discrimination against boys from non-believing homes.

The group continued:

BSA should just lift its ban against non=religious boys and leaders in the same way it has lifted the gay ban.

Non-theist members haven’t even asked that BSA change its religious oath – just that BSA protect scouts’ freedom of conscience like the Girl Scouts of America’s policy adopted decades ago accommodating non-religious girls.

Hat tip: Angela K

14 responses to “American Boy Scouts retain atheist ban”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    ‘Every scout should have a religion’. What, any religion? I very much doubt that Baden Powell meant that young boys should look much further than the good old mind-incarcerating dogma of christianity. But I guess the very thought of life without superstition was beyond the daft, egocentric victim of his times. The link below will take you to a lot of Baden-Powell quotes on religion that seem so utterly, laughably outdated today as to be ludicrous. And I take great heart from the fact that they are so. We are changing the future, folks. We really are.

  2. L.Long says:

    The BSA will let an atheist in, all he has to do is LIE!!!
    Worked for me, and look at the great values the BSA teach…How to lie….how to dislike a group of people who harm none…..and my 1st sexual experience was homosexual with another boy scout, which means when I say I am Hetero I KNOW I am as I did try the other side!!! Unlike the bigoted religious dicks who deny their impulses.

  3. Hmmmm says:

    You can’t be the president of the USA either if you are an atheist.

  4. John the Drunkard says:

    Hmmmm. We may have had two or three god-free presidents already.

    The Baden-Powell quote really does beg the question: ‘which god?’ And therein lies the rub. B-P fairly obviously NEVER thought about this notion, just parroted away whatever cliché was at hand.

    Did the early scouts accept catholics? Generic Religion in Britain, circa 1900 was almost certainly CofE.

  5. jay says:

    Gay scouts have received enormous support from atheists over the years.

    Let’s see if the favor is returned.

  6. Erp says:

    Strictly speaking Baden Powell was certainly considering non-Christian religions almost from the beginning since early adopters of Scouting included mostly Buddhist Thailand (1911). The Church of England and other Christian denominations had their own youth groups which predated Scouting (e.g., Boys Brigade, started 1883); what was different about Scouting is that it crossed religious lines.

    The Boy Scouts of America did accept Catholics from the beginning, and, I’ve read (though not seen confirmed) that the “Declaration of Religious Principles” was adopted to pacify the Catholic hierarchy.

    The Girl Scouts of the USA’s founder, Juliette Low, in her first troop in Savannah, Georgia had both Jewish and Christian members. However the US Girl Scouts have always been less beholden to religious organizations.

  7. Robster says:

    How about a secular scout competition organisation to the regular god splattered regular scouts? They’d need to give it a new name perhaps, something like “Rational Boys Brigade”, “Non Believing Boys” “Free of Dogma Disciples”, “Nonsense Free Network” or similar?

  8. barriejohn says:

    Agent Cormac et al:

    A bad man who believes in a creed is no more religious than the good man who does not.

    Baden Powell had that wishy-washy, “We’re all going to the same place but we’re taking different roads” approach to religion that very much prevailed when I was a nipper and evangelicals were a tiny minority. To him and his ilk, religion was “A Good Thing” that “helped people to live A Good Life”. No analysis was needed. Religion taught “reverence for God and reverence for one’s neighbour”. If only! Somehow, in the USA, this has become: “We hate gays; we hate atheists; and we hate those who believe in false gods.” I suspect that it has even become: “We hate those who do not believe in the American way of life” (and might: “We hate Democrats ” be lurking there somewhere? American readers might be able to enlighten us on that one!).

    One of my father’s favourite poems was the saccharine (he was half Irish) Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt:

    “I pray thee, then, write me as one who loved his fellow men.”

    I feel sure that Baden Powell would have concurred entirely with these sentiments, but it’s not what many Christians would sign up to today.

  9. Brian Jordan says:

    “How about a secular scout competition organisation to the regular god splattered regular scouts? ”
    There is one: the Woodland Folk, founded by the Co-op. I’ve no idea how it’s faired during the Co-op’s woes. Nor do I know whether it was too political, as some claimed – that could just have been a smear.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: It’s the Woodcraft Folk ,and I have often mentioned them on this site. They are only operative where the Cooperative Movement is strong, and are almost unknown to most in this country as our right-wing press pointedly ignore them. Keep spreading the word!

  11. Alfafan says:

    At last I can be open about my adoration of his noodlieness.
    I shall bring the truth of the Church of the FSM to my local scout troop immediately.
    My own declaration of religious principle states that there is no higher power than his noodlieness.
    Pasta Be Upon Him.

  12. Angela_K says:

    Baden-Powell’s book “Scouting for Boys” [there has to be joke in that one] also drones on about the perils of masturbation; always obsessed with sex these people..

  13. dennis says:

    I remember my mom taking me to join the cub scouts. I was not impressed. the boys did not look happy and the cub scout master looked at me funny” scouting for boys.” ” mom why would I want to put up with regulations when I already do the fun things scouts do in the woods, camp out, build fires, swim, hunt birds and I don’t have church during the week. just stupid idea, mom.” every time I hear Scott Walker (presidential candidate) talk about his Eagle Scout certificate I just want to throw up.
    its like an atheist joining a church. why, unless you are undercover or you see all the money floating loose for the taking. Damn missed my lottery winnings!