Last Thursday in Atlanta, the National President of Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, called on the organization to drop its ban on gay troop leaders. While his call to action was commendable, it does not go far enough to make Boy Scouts of America an inclusive, non-discriminatory organization as long as the ban on atheist scouts and troop leaders still stands.
With one in five Americans — and as many as one in three young people — identifying as nonreligious, clearly millions of nontheistic families and their sons are being treated as undesirable members by BSA. It should not be socially acceptable to exclude either gays or atheists.
BSA has always falsely advertised that "any boy may join" and has relied upon and received major governmental favors. In the 1970s, discrimination against atheists became entrenched as BSA adopted a religious litmus test, forcing parents of boys interested in joining to sign a "Declaration of Religious Principles" returned with membership fees. The declaration states: "The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God."
No one can grow into the best kind of citizen being told it is good form to discriminate against nonreligious children. BSA needs to be reminded it is not what you believe that makes you a good person, but what you do. Wrapping oneself in a mantle of piety is often counterproductive of moral action, as witnessed by the way in which "God belief" was used by BSA to justify excluding gays and atheists. Click here to read examples of the harm this blanket ban on non-theists has caused. To see the letter to Robert Gates from FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, click here.
CONTACT BSA NOW!
Contact BSA's National Office and challenge the kneejerk assumption that professing an orthodox belief in an unprovable deity has anything at all to do with ethical conduct.
Address letters to National President Robert Gates at 1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, TX 75015. You can also email the group at or contact Boy Scouts of America National Foundation director Stacey Huff at .
Tell them to stop placing dogma over people, in this case real children, teenagers and volunteer leaders who are being shunned for holding the intellectually respectable position that we need proof before swallowing dogmatic claims. Religion builds walls between children, and religious litmus tests have no place in a fraternal organization with a congressional charter.