Atheist former Boy Scouts say ‘Shame on BSA’


Left Photo: William Dusenberry. Right Photo: William van Druten.  

Two atheists active with their FFRF chapters who are former Boy Scouts have had it with Boy Scouts of America. They are encouraging other former Boy Scouts to speak out, return medals to BSA or otherwise protest BSA bigotry.

William Dusenberry, a retired professor who helped found FFRF’s Tulsa chapter, is sending his BSA shirt and three merit badges, “none for bigotry,” to Jimmy Carter, a member of the BSA Advisory Council. He sent a letter asking Carter to publicly resign. He encourages all former Boy Scouts who are nontheists or who are disgusted by BSA’s most recent repudiation of gay members, to do likewise.

Dusenberry says he’s “miraculously” kept the BSA paraphernalia with him through moves in seven states. He was “the only non-Roman Catholic in my troop. I had to stand quietly while the opening ‘Holy Mary’s’ were recited,” he recalls.

William van Druten, M.D., who founded Lake Superior Freethinkers, a chapter of FFRF in Duluth, Minn., was part of Troop 88, San Francisco. He sent a photo of himself to BSA pictured with his Eagle Scout medal and the words “ashamed.” Van Druten called BSA’s stance against nonbelieving members and its recent decision to reaffirm its stance against gay membership “a gross disgrace.” For van Druten, it will not be “once an Eagle, always an Eagle” after BSA ‘s reaffirmation to ban openly gay members. The discrimination against nontheists is apparently so entrenched BSA didn’t even bother to reaffirm it.

Van Druten recalled being “proud” when he earned his badge. “Nobody bothered us with what superstition we had or did not have, whether we were straight, gay, black, white, yellow or grey. We learned lashing, tenting, knotting, truth telling. We hiked the Califonria coastal mountains, learned the trees, shrubs and birds. We backpacked the High Sierra. Yet now I discover that my youth’s delight is captured by bigots. So I am now ashamed of my badges and of my eagle award, too.”

Van Druten’s daughter, a high school teacher, wrote BSA that she will no longer be writing “recommendations for young men who are pursuing an Eagle Scout Badge. I will be telling them that there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being an atheist, and there is nothing wrong with being black. Yes, I equate them all. It is a hateful policy, and I refuse to help you perpetuate it.”

Dusenberry said he was inspired by Tulsa World’s Mike Jones’ June 22 column, “It’s not the Scouts I remember.” Wrote Jones:

“All of my fond memories are somehow tainted by the decision of the BSA to exclude a part of our society that has suffered enough discrimination over the decades.

“The Scouts had the chance to live up to their code. To set a good example for the youth of this country. Instead it chose the wrong path. It ought to turn in its hiking merit badge.”

FFRF is creating a “Badge of Shame on BSA” webpage to house photographs of FFRF members with their rejected BSA paraphernalia, etc.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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