High school essay honorable mentions: I’m an atheist and an Eagle Scout By Brody McNutt

The idea that a person must be religious to have good morals is baseless and one of a number of antiquated remnants from a time when religion dominated both social and political life in America. If organizations like the Boy Scouts of America can realize that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, they shouldn’t have any problem admitting that a person can live a life of service and benevolence without believing in any higher power.

I have been a Boy Scout for over seven years, even going so far as to become an Eagle Scout, and I can say that my atheism has never once interfered with my ability to be the “best kind of citizen” that I can be. Other scouts restored church gardens and built nativity scenes for their Eagle projects; I chose to remove invasive species along a popular trail and lay down a seedbed of native grasses instead.

Based on my scouting experience, replacing the phrase “duty to God” from the scout oath with a phrase like “duty to my community” is the only formal change that would need to be made to accompany the lifting of the ban on atheists.

Brody McNutt, 17, graduated from Boulder High School and will be attending Dartmouth College, where he plans to earn a degree in economics, political science or international affairs.

Freedom From Religion Foundation