Earn a freethought badge and challenge BSA discrimination against nontheists
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has produced a badge to reward freethinking youths and to challenge the Boy Scouts of America's discriminatory policy against the nonreligious. The badge, based on the Dawkins' "A," is being issued in collaboration with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
The Boy Scouts of America formally discriminates against nonreligious boys and their families, officially excluding atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers. Currently, BSA maintains "that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God."
FFRF maintains that no one can grow into the best kind of citizen who discriminates against the nonreligious, and that it's what you do — not what you believe — that makes you a good person.
Social disapproval prompted BSA to largely drop a similar ban on membership against gay Scouts. But BSA persists in stigmatizing those who use reason and critical thought to evaluate religious claims.
FFRF, at the urging of its member Richard Kirschman, has produced a badge similar to BSA's merit badges, which are typically sewn on uniforms or sashes.
Scouts who wish to earn this badge are asked to help disprove BSA's misguided claim that nonbelievers cannot be good citizens. The requirements, paralleling typical merit badge requirements, ask Scouts to learn about secularism and the rich history of dissent from religion.
Because this unauthorized "badge" is intended to protest BSA policy, it's expected that Scouts won't be able to work with a typical merit badge counselor to demonstrate completion of requirements. So FFRF will ask a parent, guardian, sibling over the age of 18, teacher or other adult in their lives to attest that Scouts have fulfilled them. At Dawkins' suggestion, the Scout is also required to send FFRF a short essay that addresses BSA's claim that nonbelievers can't be good citizens. Unlike BSA badge providers, FFRF will not charge Scouts money for the badge.
FFRF intends the badge to reward Boy Scouts who have persevered in an organization that basically has instituted a 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy about atheist and agnostic participants, but has regularly expelled open nonbelievers. While BSA officials dictate the discriminatory policy, Scouting troops vary widely in their enforcement of the ban, so it's believed many Scouts are nonreligious.
But if any young boy — or girl — fulfills the requirements, FFRF will be delighted to reward them with this badge. Many nonreligious students who might otherwise wish to join BSA never join, knowing of its bigoted policy. This is their chance to be rewarded for critical thinking and to earn a keepsake at the same time.
FFRF hopes someday very soon that BSA itself will change its policy and adopt its own official merit badge rewarding critical thinking. It urges those who care about equality for nonbelieving children to contact BSA to protest this invidious discrimination.
To apply for a badge:
- Read and fulfill the requirements
- Have a parent, guardian or other adult fill out and return the form attesting that you have fulfilled the requirements
- Remember to write the short, required essay referenced at the end of the Requirements.
Attn: Freethought Badge
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701
Please help publicize this opportunity to young freethinkers in your life and community.
FFRF thanks Richard Kirschman for subsidizing the cost of the badges.
FFRF Co-President Dan Barker will be discussing his new book with a foreward by Richard Dawkins, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, on a variety of radio stations.
The book was released today by Sterling Publishing. These live broadcsats will take place Wed., Feb. 3, Eastern Time:
- 8:10-8:20AM: Minneapolis - Little Falls & St. Cloud, Morning Show
- 8:30-8:40AM Toledo, YES-FM, The Wake Up Call Morning Show
- 8:40-8:50AM: Orlando & Daytona Beach, WNDB-AM, Morning Drive
- 9:10-9:25AM: Madison & LaCrosse, WLFN-AM, Morning Show
- 9:30-9:40AM: Philadelphia, WNPV-AM Edition
- 10:10-10:20AM: Canton, Ohio, WHBC-AM, Ron Ponder Show
- 10:32-10:42AM: The Bill Martinez Show
- 10:50AM-11:00AM: St Louis-Columbia, KFRU-FM, Morning News
- 3:05-3:25PM: Statewide across Louisiana, Louisiana Radio Network, The Jim Engster Show
Other radio stations around the country are taping interviews to run sometime Wednesday including:
- 9:40-9:50AM: Raleigh Durham & Oxford, WCBQ/WHNC-AM, Morning Show
- 10:00-10:10AM: Charlotte, North Carolina & Rock Hill South Carolina, WYTX-FM, Morning Show
- 10:20-10:30AM: Regional Wisconsin, WBEL-AM
- 11:00-11:15AM: New York City, WLTW-AM, Get Connected
- 11:30-11:40AM: DallasKATH-AM, Interview of the Week
- 11:45-11:55AM: Regional South Dakota, KORN-FM, In Touch & Lets Talk
- 12:00-12:10PM: Louisville, Kentucky, WHAS-AM, Kentucky Focus
- 12:15-12:30PM: I Heart Radio, View from a Writing Instrument
- 12:50-1:00PM: Tampa & Sarasota, WTMY-AM, Doug Miles Interview
- 1:00-1:10PM: Charlotte, WGIV-FM, This Needs To Be Said
- 4:15-4:30PM: Sacramento, KAHI-AM, Pop Off Radio Show
If you order an autographed book from FFRF, Dan will donate his royalties for it to FFRF. Order online now!
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s message to pious politicians is: Get off your knees and get to work!
Many of our nation's highest officials will be spending the first Thursday of February attending a "National Prayer Breakfast" at a fancy hotel in Washington, D.C. The National Prayer Breakfast boasts it will hold its 63rd annual event on Feb. 4, bringing together "over 3,200 people from all 50 U.S. states and 140 countries . . . highlighted by an address from the President of the United States."
Although the National Prayer Breakfast is technically sponsored by the Fellowship Foundation, which is dedicated to "the teachings and precepts of Jesus," the gathering's name and target audience of public officials make it appear as if it is an official governmental event.
And it might as well be. Members of Congress, the president and other prominent policymakers invariably and dutifully show up to pray and be prayed at during the expensive breakfast. It's one of the Religious Right's "gotcha" events: Politicians are afraid to be no-shows, and by their continuing participation bolster the godly gathering.
The Fellowship, also known as "The Family," was the subject of an investigative book by journalist Jeff Sharlet, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. In it, he documented that the annual breakfast is the outward face of a rather sinister evangelical organization.
The Fellowship, of course, may invite whomever it chooses and hold any religious assembly it likes. But our secular president and Congress should not give these occasions their blessings or attend in their official capacities. It's worth noting that the Leadership Development, which works with the Fellowship, says the National Prayer Breakfast "invites people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds under the name of Jesus."
The presence of our topmost office-bearers at such a get-together makes it appear as if the U.S. government endorses one particular fringe of one particular religion. Unfortunately, since the event's inception in the 1950s, an invitation to attend it has become coveted, a chance to rub elbows and bend the knee with dictators and theocrats from around the world.
The last thing this nation or the world needs is more prayer. What we do need are public officials who keep their eyes open, use reason and critical thought in decision-making, and who work to serve the public good, not bow to religious special interests.