October 29, 2002
NO BADGE FOR ANALOGIZING:
Atheist Scout fights decision to boot him
(Marsha King, October 29, 2002, Seattle Times)
The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts has given Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert about a week to decide "in his heart" if he's truly an atheist. If he insists on sticking to his belief that there is no God, the Council will terminate his membership.
"No way" is he going to change his beliefs, says Lambert, who has been in scouting since he was 9 years old. "It'd be like me asking them to change their belief."
Actually, it's nothing like that, son. It's like them telling you that you have to share their beliefs if you want to be a member of their group.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2002 10:34 AM
Evidently his lack of belief in (a) God hasn't been a problem for the past 10 years.
Perhaps I'm missing something, having not ever been a Scout, but it seems to me that (some) God is a triflingly small part of Scouting; most of it seems to be civics, character, and outdoors skills.
While I can't say it's legally or morally wrong for the Scouts to require belief in God for their members, I do
feel it's pretty much pointless, and terminating a long-term Eagle scout (who, to my knowledge, was otherwise an exemplary scout - one assumes any "problems" would be mentioned) does the Scouts more harm than good.
Pointless, really, is the best description. Since they don't specify the Supreme Being in question, or its attributes, this implies they'd prefer Satanists to morally upright atheists or agnostics (as this young man appears to be).
As the article says, "Said parent Joanne Warren, "Darryl walks the walk of Christ; whether he professes it or not, he walks it." " - what Should
matter is character and actions, not professed belief in a vaguely defined entity (in a way, I'd have much more respect for the BSA position if they were more specific than "a higher power", which is uselessly vague, as above).
You are, of course, correct that his analogy is technically flawed.
I think you're wrong, however, in that Lambert seems to share all the meaningful
beliefs of BSA (certainly his fellows seem to agree; it's the Board that does not). Belief in a nebulously defined "higher power" certainly does not appear to be very important to Scounting per-se; I find it hard to believe that something so nebulous can be an important belief at all - I would find it much easier to accept such a claim for a more focused requirement such as "the God of the Bible" or even "Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheism".
(In summary: Requiring belief in any
higher power doesn't ensure shared belief, unless you want to claim that "the existence of a higher power of unspecified nature" is really a core Scouting tenet in a real sense, which I strongly doubt - especially given that a Satanist could easily fit that criterion, and one imagines that's Not What Scouting Wants. In plain talk, it's a silly criterion, though again it's their right to have such criteria. But it only damages Scouting to have them - some criteria (like good character and civic service) are valid and vital, because they reach to the core of Scouting's intent. Some criteria aren't.)
(With any luck, this rambling made some sort of sense. It's not easy to do an overview in a tiny comment window.)
(Damnable comment character limit.)
A consistent and universal morality though is only possible via God. So to try to create upright men would be an impossibility if you could not maintain such a standard.
Get the message out: Old ladies must be informed that if they are offered help crossing the street by a youngster in a Scout uniform, they should first enquire whether the potential assistant believes in the almighty, and, of couse, refuse all assistance if the answer is not a firm yes....
An apt example, how long do you suppose she'd wait on the corner in one of the demoralized nations of Europe or one of the pre-moralized nations of Africa/Asia? Even your atheist Scout here is a "freeloading atheist", an incidental product of Judeo-Christian culture.
Sigivald and Barry: Part of the requirements for advancement in US Boy Scouts is to make some affiliation with some form of divine worship. I've not heard of any Satanist precedent, but as some Christians would regard Hindus as Satanists anyway, I'm not sure that the Scouts are going to be picky on sectarian discriminations. But a prospective Scout is required to affirm that he is "Reverent" to something on an objective basis.
If the Scout, on the other hand, decides not to pursue fulfillment of these requirements, so be it. But he should expect to be able to pick and choose what portions of the program his is not going to fulfill. It is an "all or nothing" program, especially on the Eagle Scout level.
"But he should expect to be..."
"But he should not expect to be ..."
Not knowing much about Scouting (except for subscribing to "Boy's Life" for many years as a youngster), I didn't realize that there was a religious requirement. I thought the emphasis was on good deeds, developing skills, character, and leadership.
While I suppose each club can make its own rules (is Souting a club?) I would have thought that such a requirement would be extremely "un-American" given our purported belief in freedom of religion (implying that one is free not to believe as well)....
I'm of the opinion that one's religion is one's own business. It is how one behaves that is far more important.
Barry: you are right concerning personal religious or atheist beliefs, but not fulfilling the requirements doesn't earn you Eagle Scout.
Suppose you were in the "jumped 5 feet" club, with the obvious requirement that all full members were high jumpers of at least 5 feet. Then somebody sues your club over the fact that their medical condition prevented from jumping, but they wanted to be a full member also. What would you do?
Well I'd close the club if it was attracting dead wood like that, which is sometimes the way I feel about the Boy Scouts incidently.
Except that in this case, we're talking about matters of conscience, not physical disability....
Why would a conscientious, ethical, civic minded and ambitious young man have to make a choice between either lying about his belief in god or telling the truth and forsaking something (e.g., scouting) that is dear to him? Doesn't ring right.... at least not in America.
its the boyz club and no girlz or gayz alowed.
make your own club atheist loser.
wow, what balls, at 19 not less. you go boy.
of course he could attest to his belief in the great nothingness
or the scientific method, skepticism or doubt. which might fit the bill. see quote below from the seattle article.
Every Boy Scout and adult leader must attest to that belief on an application in order to join. It can be part of subscribing to a structured religion — such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism — or a more amorphous faith in some presence greater than ourselves,
Should your temple be forced to allow neo-Nazis to join?
Science isn't greater than Man