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Austin Cline

Boy Scouts: Wiccans Not Welcome, Liars Just Fine

By May 15, 2006

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The Boy Scouts of America is well known for their bigotry against atheists and gays - bigotry which many defend as fully compatible with American principles of liberty. One Boy Scout troop tried to extend that bigotry to include Wiccans. Curiously, this bigotry was rejected by the United Methodist Church, but supported by Scouting leaders as well as local parents.

Town Talk (via Wrightwing) reports on an incident in Anacoco, Louisiana, when a Scouting leader started a meeting on the “God and Country” merit badge by asking about the religious diversity in the room:

By a showing of hands, he asks who belongs to the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, continuing on until two boys are left who have not raised their hands. One of the brothers ... called out to tell the group what church he attends. He replies, “I’m Wiccan.”

Apparently, “religious diversity” is only a good thing when limited to various denominations of Christianity, because 12-year-old Cody Brown subsequently suffered for his honest admission:

Within 48 hours of Cody’s confession, the troop committee of Holly Grove United Methodist Church in Anacoco was meeting to discuss the implications. ... “The number one scout law is to do your duty to God and your country,” Troop 71 Scout Master Gene Doherty said. “They met to discuss whether or not the boys could live up to that because of their religion.”

The conclusion was that they could not.

Defenders of the bigotry endemic to the Boy Scouts of America insist that only atheists are excluded by the religion clause in the scout laws — they insist that the duty to “God” can be interpreted broadly. This case demonstrates that this disingenuous defense isn’t really true.

Or did the group instead (or also) decide that Wiccan beliefs are incompatible with doing one’s duty to America?

[Troop 71 Scout Master Gene] Doherty called Army Cpt. Todd Buchheim, the boys’ father and a former Eagle Scout stationed at Fort Polk, to inform him that the boys no longer were welcome in the troop. The Buchheims said Doherty told them that if Cody had lied about his faith, the boys could have remained with no problem.

“I was trying to give them a head’s up so that they wouldn’t come to the next meeting and not be prepared for what was going on,” Doherty said. “They’ve been so supportive of our troop, and they’re good people.”

Doherty admits that the Buchheim’s are good people and have been supportive of the scout troop — but because they don’t believe in the same god as Doherty and the Methodists, they can’t be part of the Boy Scouts. If the Buchheim brothers had lied, however, they would have been welcome.

Thus, honest Wiccans who are good people are not welcome, but liars who only pretend to believe the same things as Christians are welcome. It’s not religious diversity which Doherty and the other scouts want, but submission to Christian dominance in the Boy Scouts of America — and perhaps in America generally.

Fortunately, the district United Methodist Church committee overturned this bigoted decision. Methodist leaders, it seems, are willing to accept genuine religious diversity over dishonesty. Unfortunately, there was no requirement that the Methodists reject bigotry:

“Boy Scouts own the program but does not control the unit,” said Legare Clement, executive director of the Boy Scouts for southwestern Louisiana. “We partner with community organizations and churches as sponsors to present the program, which is actually a youth outreach for them. They approve leaders by our standards, but they have a right to choose members,” Clement said.

So, it wouldn’t be contrary to the rules of the Boy Scouts of America for a troop to exclude Wiccans for being honest about following a religion other than Christianity while accepting dishonest children who lie about being Christian in order to fit in. That’s precisely what some parents in Troop 71 want: they would prefer that Wiccans be excluded because they are afraid that their children will be “preached to” by the two brothers.

Excuse me, but when was the last time you saw Wiccans proselytizing? When was the last time you saw Wiccans going door-to-door to invite people to a meeting of the local coven? When was the last time you saw or heard Wiccans preaching on television and radio? It’s not Wiccans who are preaching to people and trying to convert everyone to their religion, but Christians — Christians are the ones who cause problems in work and clubs by trying to convert others, not Wiccans.

Talk about “projection.”

Sadly, the controversy has caused the Buchheim brothers to drop out of the Boy Scouts troop. The religious bigotry fostered by the Boy Scouts of America and some Christian churches doesn’t just lead to the exclusion of gays and atheists, but also others who follow minority religions in America. It doesn’t matter that Capt. Buchheim serves in the military and is willing to fight to defend liberty in America — all that matters is that he and his family don’t submit to the Christian god and Christian attempts to dominate America.

 

Quick Poll: Is it OK for the Boy Scouts to discriminate against Wiccans?

  1. Yes, because such pagan beliefs are Satanic and unAmerican.
  2. It's legal, but it's wrong and another reason for others, especially government, to disassociate themselves from Scouting.
  3. I don't know.
  4. I don't care.
Click an option to vote, or View Current Poll Results

 

Christian Right & Christian Nationalism:

 

Christian Nationalism & Dominion Theology:

 

Christian Right Issues & Agenda:

Comments
May 19, 2006 at 3:08 pm
(1) Todd says:

Dear BSA,

Die in a Fire.

Thank you.

September 17, 2007 at 3:43 pm
(2) Jeff says:

Scouts encourage a belief in a higher spiritual being or beings, what is that higher being with Wiccans? Regarding the poll questions, talk about bias, why not an option for other? This article shows once again that for radical groups like the one you support, tolerance means you should accept what I believe but I don’t have to accept your rejection of it. Athiests cannot honestly live up to the scout oath and promise so eliminate themselves the same with wiccans. Having openly gay individuals working with the troops is a timebomb waiting to happen. Some would say that a gay scout leader is better than a pedophile, but neither belongs near young impressionable boys and with the latter no punishment is severe enough for the damage they don to young scouts before they’re caught. Long live the principles of scouting.

January 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm
(3) Jack doe says:

How do Wiccan/ Pagans eliminate themselves in the same fashion that Atheists do? Wiccans and Pagans do believe in Higher powers.

September 17, 2007 at 4:23 pm
(4) Austin Cline says:

Scouts encourage a belief in a higher spiritual being or beings, what is that higher being with Wiccans?

Wiccans usually believe in gods.

Regarding the poll questions, talk about bias, why not an option for other?

What “other” would that be? Either you agree with the discrimination against Wiccans or you don’t.

This article shows once again that for radical groups like the one you support, tolerance means you should accept what I believe but I don’t have to accept your rejection of it.

Oh? What “radical groups” do I support?

Athiests cannot honestly live up to the scout oath and promise so eliminate themselves the same with wiccans.

And so long as the Scouts don’t benefit from any special government privileges, that’s legal.

Having openly gay individuals working with the troops is a timebomb waiting to happen.

Why? Is having Jewish or Muslim people working with the troops also a “timebomb waiting to happen”? Why or why not?

Long live the principles of scouting.

Would those be the principles of discrimination and bigotry, or did you have some other principles in mind?

September 24, 2007 at 1:54 pm
(5) Lyle G says:

When I was a Cub/Boy Scout I noticed a statement in the literature that the Scouts didn’t pratice religious deicriminatin, and I was proud of that. Not any more tho.
BTW Scouting has long tolerated Pedo/ephebophile amoung its’ laedership much as the Roamn Catholic Church does.I didn’t encounter anything of the sort as a boy, But I’ve met the leaders in question as an adult.

September 24, 2007 at 5:35 pm
(6) John Hanks says:

I was in the Boy Scouts for a number of years. I was stuck with a troop led by drunken veterans and then I transferred to a troop run by a good person. Sexual orientation has about as much to do with it as the color of a person’s shoes. I’m not sure I could trust a rich republican not to be a molester though.

September 24, 2007 at 8:32 pm
(7) Brooke says:

“I could trust a rich republican not to be a molester though.”

how would this follow? would the republican necessarily have to be rich to not be trusted? what about rich democrats? in any case, is your basis for this belief?

“Sexual orientation has about as much to do with it as the color of a person’s shoes”

Some studies have shown sexual orientation has much to do with color of their shoes. Was this an intentional correlation?

September 24, 2007 at 8:35 pm
(8) Brooke says:

sorry, that was, WHAT is your basis for this belief?

December 23, 2008 at 9:55 am
(9) Michael says:

It’s legal for the BSA to be exclusionary as a private organization. However, as a former boy scout, I strongly disagree with the “anti-diversity” policy of the current BSA.

One of the central themes of the Scouting experience was respect. Apparently, that’s no longer true.

February 25, 2009 at 10:13 am
(10) Poupon says:

I’m in the uncomfortable position of being an atheist (2nd generation) parent of a son and daughter who are deeply involved with the BSA. My husband is an assistant scout leader. My son, a member of both a troop and Order of the Arrow ( the BSA’s honor society, which is based on Native American beliefs – go figure) is about to complete his Eagle project. My daughter decided she wanted to be a Boy Scout and nothing else would do, so she has waited for five years to become one (the BSA turns co-ed at age 14). She turns 14 in one week, and is already planning her Quartermaster project (the reason girls can’t join until 14 is to ensure no girl ever earns an Eagle, so the Sea Scout Quartermaster is the highest award open to her.

As you might imagine, as a woman and an atheist, I have major reservations with the BSA. I would even if I weren’t atheist or female – it’s flat wrong.

Why on earth would I allow my kids to join the BSA? Life is never simple. My Baptist raised (atheist since the age of 14) husband is an Eagle Scout who believes that the problems with the BSA are at the management level and are purely political in nature(the BSA is, for all intent and purpose, owned by the religious mafia – the LDS and right wing Christian churches). He swears that this does not interfere with the troops themselves, and they are free to whatever they like, so long as they obey the scouting laws. What is true is that if a Scout hides his beliefs he generally can hide, much like a blue eyed blonde Jew could hide in nazi Germany. I suppose that for some there is sport in this – I did know a Jew who had great fun with this as a stunning blonde teen in Austria during the war. But who’d volunteer their kid for such a thing?

The other reason that I support my children’s decision to be involved in scouting is going to surprise you. Our closest friend, a gay atheist, was an Eagle Scout who died of Aids when my son was three. He had two dying wishes that concerned the BSA. One was that half his ashes be sprinkled around a tree outside his former BSA hut, in part as a protest against the recent practice of stripping gays and atheists of Eagles – which they decided they can do at any stage of a man’s life (the Eagle motto, BTW, is “once an Eagle, always an Eagle”). The other wish was that my son become a Boy Scout *despite* the current politics.

I’ve chosen to honor that request for two reasons. Partly out of respect for my friend and husband’s wishes, and partly because I believe we can sometimes affect more change from within than from the outside. What I never promised to do is sit on my hands, and believe me, I don’t. To the best of my knowledge, we are the first atheist family to stand up to the BSA and win. We did this five years ago when, on the basis if an untrue rumor, my son was called in for a hearing about his lack of reverence. I easily turned tables on the 7 member judge and jury from our troop and host church. The church’s attorney cut the meeting off after 30 seconds, but I insisted it continue, but with me, not them, calling the shots. I told them that I and my husband are atheists, but we are not bigoted like they are, and we have always encouraged our children to seek answers to any questions they have, including spiritual ones. Our son happens to have been born highly spiritual, and although he has not settled on a particular faith ( as no child his age should!) he, unlike his parents, is not an atheist. Three leaders from our troop applauded me. A fourth, the one who had called for the witch hunt, left both the troop and the church in shame.

No one has ever had an issue with my husband or me, who are both openly atheist, becoming scout leaders – how odd is that?

As soon as I finished speaking, my son’s scoutmaster (also a youth minister at the church) vowed that day that he had believed in my son from the day he joined the troop and he would see him through to his Eagle. Ironically, this will not happen because just last week the church had another witch hunt and ousted the scoutmaster. I don’t believe they can legally do this, but I also don’t think he will fight it.

The BSA is a mixed bag. Some of what they are about disgusts me, but ironically, they do teach and reinforce great values too. The experience has been terrific for my son. He has learned how to take the good out of a thing and leave the bad behind. Through scouting he has figured out what he wants to do with his life ( teach). Through it he has learned who he is. Because of their flaws, he has learned to be himself within a group and not become just a cog. He has taken ( and taught) their highest level leadership courses, which puts him, at the age of 17, ahead of most college graduates.

We all, myself included, have learned from this experience, not to throw babies out with bathwater.

My daughter is a born cynic and realist who did not inherit her brother’s spirituality(or gullibility!). Like me, there has never been a moment where she could become religious if her life depended on it. We shall see how many rough waters her Sea Scout experience carries her through. No matter what else she gets from scouting, I already know that learning how to weather storms will be one of the benefits.

September 30, 2009 at 4:21 pm
(11) Guías y Scouts de Salta says:

We accept Wiccans (as we accept members of any other religious background) in our Scout Groups

December 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm
(12) Get Up Stand Up...Stand Up for Your Rights says:

Find a Spiral Scouts troop in your area. Not only are they unbiased against Wiccans (or any religion), they also allow boys AND girls in their troops. No segregation of any kind. It’s about time someone showed some intelligence.

January 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm
(13) Ed says:

Apparently this incident within one troop has lead Mr. Cline to the false conclusion that the BSA as a whole discriminates against the Wicca faith. The BSA does require a belief in God, but does not require adherence to any particular religious beliefs and does promote a policy of tolerance towards all beliefs.

From the Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America, included in the original version of 1910:

“The activities of the members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be carried on under conditions which show respect to the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion, as required by the twelfth point of the Scout Law, reading ‘Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others”

The incident outlined here was unfortunate and it violated the BSA’s policy of respect towards other faiths.

January 7, 2010 at 9:26 pm
(14) Austin Cline says:

The BSA does require a belief in God, but does not require adherence to any particular religious beliefs and does promote a policy of tolerance towards all beliefs.

1. No Wiccans believe in the Christian god.

2. Since the BSA position is that those who do not believe in “God” cannot be “morally straight” or the best kinds of citizens, they necessarily have a policy of intolerance towards all those religions which and philosophies which reject belief in “God”.

The incident outlined here was unfortunate and it violated the BSA’s policy of respect towards other faiths.

The incident outlined here is 100% consistent with BSA policies of bigotry and discrimination towards all those who do not believe in “God.”

March 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm
(15) Frank says:

Mr. Cline apparently reads only those parts that agree with his views.

It is specifically stated that:

“The BSA does not require adherence to any particular religious beliefs or ethos. Buddhists, followers of Native American religions, Muslims, Jews, and Christians of all denominations, Wiccans, and many others can be and are members of the BSA.

The BSA officially recognizes religious emblems for over 38 faith groups including Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and many varieties of Christianity.”

And some of those groups are as follows [and no, they are not all Christian!]

African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Western Prelacy)
Armenian Church of America (Eastern Diocese)
Baha’I [Not Christian]
Baptist – Association of Baptists for Scouting
Buddhist – National Buddhist Committee on Scouting [Not Christian]
Catholic, Eastern – National Catholic Committee on Scouting
Catholic, Roman – National Catholic Committee on Scouting
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Church of Christ, Scientist
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Boy Scouts of America LDS Relationships
Churches of Christ – Members of Churches of Christ for Scouting
Community of Christ – World Community Program
Eastern Orthodox – Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting
Episcopal – National Episcopal Scouters Association
General Church of the New Jerusalem (The New Church) – Boy Scout Relations Committee
Hindu – North American Hindu Association [Not Christian]
Islamic – National Islamic Committee on Scouting [Not Christian]
Jewish – National Jewish Committee on Scouting [Not Christian]
Lutheran – National Lutheran Association on Scouting
Meher Baba – Committee for Meher Baba and Scouting [Not Christian]
Moravian Church
Polish National Catholic Church
Presbyterian Church in America
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – National Association of Presbyterian Scouters
Protestant and Independent Christian Churches * [*This includes: Assemblies of God, Church of the Brethren, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of God, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Mennonite, Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal, Reformed, Seventh-day Adventist, United Church of Christ and Wesleyan churches.]
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Friends Committee on Scouting
The Salvation Army
Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization (See Unitarian Universalist Association)
United Church of Christ
United Methodist – National Association of United Methodist Scouters
United Pentecostal Church International
Unity Churches
Zoroastrian [Not Christian]

March 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(16) Austin Cline says:

Mr. Cline apparently reads only those parts that agree with his views.

Feel free to point to anything in the article that I didn’t read.

It is specifically stated that: “The BSA does not require adherence to any particular religious beliefs or ethos. “

This is effectively a lie, actually, since the BSA requires that all members be theists.

The BSA officially recognizes religious emblems for over 38 faith groups including Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and many varieties of Christianity.”

Frank apparently reads only those parts of that agree with him and his views. That’s why he missed this: “Boy Scouts own the program but does not control the unit,” said Legare Clement, executive director of the Boy Scouts for southwestern Louisiana. “We partner with community organizations and churches as sponsors to present the program, which is actually a youth outreach for them. They approve leaders by our standards, but they have a right to choose members,” Clement said.

In case that sounds a bit complicated, the meaning is this: Boy Scout troops can choose members by their own standards, even if those standards are to exclude members of disfavored religious groups. Like Wiccans.

April 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm
(17) Valerie says:

My son is 4 (turning 5 soon) so I started looking into Boy Scouts. I was a Girl scout for a short time when I was younger. My husband and I won’t raise him as a specific faith (SDA on my side, Wiccan by choice; Catholic on his side, atheist by choice), but I’m not sure how I feel about my son being a boy scout now. I don’t want to penalize him because of my beliefs either…

May 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm
(18) Protected says:

I do not agree with this sort of intolerance within any organization, especially in organizations that are to promote being charitable and to give back to the local community. Those who are Gay, or of a different religion, can function to the level of anyone else — those who are Christian and who are Straight are no better than them and if they think as such, then they are unethical and lack a proper sense of morals or need to be taught just what moral and ethics are.

The American Military allows Gays and people of a non-christian religion to serve. Yes, there is a law saying that Gays cannot, but there is also a loophole — Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This means that no one can ask what their sexual orientation is and if they are asked, they don’t have to respond — no matter who asks and what authority they hold. If the BSA believes that being Gay and not Christian isn’t American, then they need to look at the armed forces and take a look that those who are as patriotic as to risk their lives for America are more American than they.

The BSA dislikes minorities, apparently and as did many dictators through history who had done nothing more than murder and slaughter thousands, millions. This is why I left the Scouts, I felt no pride in volunteering with an organization that thinks this way. Everyone should be allowed to be a part of the organization, and only actual reasons should be what bar them from helping out. (IE: Criminal history).

There are plenty of other organizations who allow Gays, Atheists, Wiccans, Jews, etc to participate. Even individuals who are disabled and who want to give back to their community. For one, you have the Civil Air Patrol (Auxiliary to the USAF) and I, personally, know many gays, and a mixture of other religions as a part of them. This is an organization bent on helping the community — Search and Rescue, Aviation, Aerospace studies, learning of Military customs, the ability to progress to a leadership position no matter what you are (As long as you, if an Adult, pass an FBI Background check). I feel a ton more pride with being a CAP volunteer than I ever did as a Scout, why? Because they’re at least tolerant.

Bigotry, discrimination and religious segregation has never led to anything good in history. Hitler, the KKK, Neo-Nazis… the list goes on. All are intolerant and are some of the most un-American groups you will ever find.

Hell, look at the Taliban. Terror organizations. They kill, slaughter and destroy thousands of lives because of their intolerance.

When has intolerance been good in history? There isn’t a single instance that I can recall. Is being intolerant the “American” thing to do? Hell no, and I’d be disgusted with any who think it is.

Gays, Wiccans (in this case) and all minority classes and walks of life are people too. They are just as equal as the next man next to you. In fact, all the Gays I do know tend to have a helluva lot more morals and ethics in place than most others I know. (Aspire to be a leader, to be someone — to try and make a better world. People who participate in volunteer organizations when they can, people who go on humanitarian missions such as disaster relief.)

According to the BSA, in this instance, an Atheist or Gay individual who does all they can for their community, Red Cross employed, members of local disaster relief programs, volunteers at Vets, volunteers who just try to make their piece of world better to live in are “Not American” and don’t deserve to try and instill their positive attitude in Youth Outreach programs.

I also just hate how the BSA kicks out those who speak against their policies. I’m no radical on the issue, but intolerance for others is not something a Youth Outreach program should be teaching to this country.

If they don’t change those policies, nor listen to the messages they get about it, then I’d not lose a night of sleep over their entire organization just collapsing. They’re not teaching positive, ethical and moral things by discriminating, not a loss if they are lost.

May 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm
(19) Scouter says:

The views of the leaders of Troop 71 do not reflect the beliefs and the values of the entire BSA. I believe some form of disciplinary action should be taken against them.

I am an Eagle Scout. In my troop, and even in my council (the third largest council in the nation) we were never called out on what church we attended, or asked to describe exactly what religious denomination we belonged to. Instead, we held non-denominational religious services, and as long as you participated and spent time revering whatever higher power you believed in, you were accepted and welcomed. However, spending time making others know about your specific beliefs (whether they are Wiccan, Jewish, Catholic, etc) is inherently against what the BSA is about, and anyone who spends most of their time in scouts trying to convert others to their religion is not a true Scouter.

At my Eagle Board of Review, the ONE question I was asked pertaining to my beliefs was “Do you believe in a higher power? We don’t need any more information other than a yes or no.” I answered yes and was awarded my rank.

I grew up and was a Boy Scout in the heart of Texas, where I’m sure you close-mindedly believe that racists, gay-haters, and bigots abound. Don’t let a few Scout troops’ bigotry and intolerance of something clearly allowed within BSA rules allow you to make a sweeping generalization of scouting as a whole, lest you seek to be viewed as closed minded yourself.

Contrary to what many people on this site have stated, it IS NOT possible to have your Eagle Scout rank revoked. Once it has been awarded, it is yours forever. Revoking the Eagle Scout rank is against BSA policy and I would like to see even one source where it is specifically stated that an Eagle Scout rank was revoked. It is however, possible for one to be denied membership from scouting, denied the Eagle Scout rank before it is awarded, or removed from Boy Scouting. Being denied your Eagle Scout rank during your board of review is NOT the same as having your rank revoked. The board of review is exactly what you would assume it to be: a review of whether the boy is worthy of receiving the rank of Eagle Scout.

I also believe that gays should not be excluded from scouting, but that doesn’t make their exclusion unfair just because I believe so. Here’s why:

The fact of the matter is, the BSA is a private association. The United States has upheld the BSA’s right to exclude membership time and time again. If you inherently disagree with the values they uphold, join an organization which allows ANYONE to join. I recommend the YMCA or YWCA. Or go create your own. The people in the organization, no matter how bigoted or discriminatory they may seem, have the freedom to do whatever they so choose; they aren’t raining on your parade at all. No one is forcing you or your children to join the BSA.

Referring back to the final statement of the last paragraph: I DO agree with the fact that if the BSA is a private organization with the right to exclude membership they deserve NO government privileges or tax dollars. The civil suits being filed currently over this are most certainly not without merit. Maybe if you spent more time championing that cause I would have a bit more respect for you, Mr. Cline.

The most ironic part about this site and most media sources today is that the authors of articles such as this spend so much time lambasting rare cases of intolerance from an ivory tower that they further the idea that such widespread bigotry still exists today. We live in a nation led by a bi-racial president. Get with the program Mr. Cline, not everyone is as bigoted as you think. You aren’t helping anyone see the truth.

The thing I find most laughable about atheists like you is that you preach tolerance from your stand all day, but whenever anyone wants to live their life a different way than you see fit, you write hate-filled articles about it. These people are just exercising their rights awarded to them by the constitution. Who are you or anyone else to tell them how to raise their kids?

May 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm
(20) Scouter says:

Also, Mr. Cline, your original post is wrong. There is no “God and Country” merit badge in Boy Scouts. You should actually check up on your sources before you post them. What you are referring to is a religious emblem specific to each faith that Frank listed that is supposed to be PERSONALLY pursued and earned by the scout, not taught to everyone in the meeting. This is yet another reason why Troop 71 was poorly led, and why a little bit of misinformation goes a long way in reinforcing your argument.

May 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm
(21) Austin Cline says:

Don’t let a few Scout troops’ bigotry and intolerance of something clearly allowed within BSA rules allow you to make a sweeping generalization of scouting as a whole, lest you seek to be viewed as closed minded yourself.

Exceept that bigotry and discrimination are written directly in the BSA’s most fundamental rules. The BSA went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to be bigoted and discriminatory.

Contrary to what many people on this site have stated, it IS NOT possible to have your Eagle Scout rank revoked. Once it has been awarded, it is yours forever.

I don’t believe anyone has claimed that it can be revoked. It is not, however, necessarily “yours forever” — many Eagle Scouts have sent back their rank in protest over the BSA’s bigotry and discrimination.

I also believe that gays should not be excluded from scouting, but that doesn’t make their exclusion unfair just because I believe so. Here’s why

You don’t offer a reason for why it’s unfair, you offer a reason for a why it’s legal. So long as the BSA does not receive public funding or support, the reason you offer is correct — but again, only for the purpose of the law. It’s not a justification for why the discrimination is “fair.”

Maybe if you spent more time championing that cause I would have a bit more respect for you, Mr. Cline.

I do champion the BSA not receiving any public support or funding.

Even once all that is achieved, however, that would not immunize the BSA from criticism regarding its bigotry and discrimination. Just because what you’re doing is legal doesn’t mean that it’s just, fair, or right.

The thing I find most laughable about atheists like you is that you preach tolerance from your stand all day, but whenever anyone wants to live their life a different way than you see fit, you write hate-filled articles about it.

For example?

These people are just exercising their rights awarded to them by the constitution. Who are you or anyone else to tell them how to raise their kids?

I think that I have every justification for objecting to an organization which teaches bigotry and intolerance. Just because parents have right to promote bigotry and intolerance to their kids doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for others to object and criticize.

From what I can tell, you want the BSA to have the right to teach children any sort of hate they are legally allowed to teach, but without anyone else having a right to criticize those teachings. This is wrong.

May 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm
(22) Lojik says:

This is probably be an Isolated incident.

I received my eagle scout award from a troop in the North Texas District as an open Wiccan in 2007.

A scout is reverent, that includes having reverence or respect for other faiths. The leadership of troop 71 needs to rethink their concepts of honor and respect.

May 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm
(23) Paul says:

I am an Eagle Scout and a member of the BSA since age 5 (currently 26). I am an Assistant Scoutmaster, and the Venture Crew Advisor for my Troop/Crew. I have been trained on various topics from the Council (Boy Scout/Venture Leader Training, Outdoor Skills, Ethics in Scouting, and other nonsense). All that, and I’m a Pagan.

First thing, this whole deal is on the Pagan side, so.. myself not being gay, I won’t go to that side of the argument (my belief on that side is: youth Ok, leadership No)

I have grown up in Scouting and respect and encourage the lessons and leadership I received. I haven’t and never will put up with any kind of intolerance in my troop and never will. The only time I was remotely asked for my religious belief was at my Eagle Board of Review, where I told the guy to mind his own business, I believe in a higher being, and that he should go to the next question.

Pagans almost never preach. It’s not our thing. Personally, I want to have my beliefs and you have yours. I really don’t understand organised religion because everyone believes different things and bits and pieces of those religions. I am getting off topic.

If a boy/girl came up to me and asked me specific questions about my religion/beliefs I wouldn’t hesitate to answer him. I have no shame, as no one should about what they believe. My Boy Scout troop ( and Venture Crew) are not attached to an LDS or other religious charter organization, I think that is the big no no for people.

Find out what the Charter organization is that your Boy Scout Troop is chartered with, if you have any religious issues, it more than likely is a throw-back to the charter.

As for BSA’s views on religion, they say that you have to believe in God, but that terminology can be very broad. Other than that there is no discrimination after that. No one in Scouting, gives a crap about what National, Region, or Council has to say. Paid Boy Scouts are paid to cover there asses, so pushing the blame on the individual scout troop is common.

Yes there is a lot of discrimination out there. Most (if not all) of that is at the Troop level. I have never had a problem in my Troop, and I know many with that same view.

Above, there was a comment on what belief systems that the BSA recognizes and a list. This is not all together true. Those are the Religious Emblems that can be awarded. These are actually give out by the Faith listed, not the BSA. The only reason there are not more faith’s listed is because Pagan ways (Gardnerian, Seax-Wica, Fairy) do not have a governing body to promote such an award.

Boy Scouts as a whole isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes the people that run the troops are though. Before selecting a troop, research it. As a whole I support BSA and the values and skills within. I do not tolerate intolerance.

August 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm
(24) doc bob says:

Of course god only loves boy scouts and christians. All others he wants to see burning in hell forever. It does not matter if you are a good person, helping the poor and needy, giving of youself to make life better for some poor family. All you need to do is declare jesus saved you and you go to paradise forever with your mistresses and boy toys. And all other suffer endless pain and torment while you party on..

August 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm
(25) Dave Y. says:

from what your saying doc bob, I get the feeling your God has some perv problems, only loves boy scouts and christians, interesting!

and Frank, you may not know this, but every orginazation yo9u had in the list believes in some form of God!

August 20, 2010 at 11:42 am
(26) Seriadh says:

Protected (17), it’s funny that you should mention this:
“Everyone should be allowed to be a part of the organization, and only actual reasons should be what bar them from helping out. (IE: Criminal history). ”

I worked at one prison facility for 7 years of a 10 year career that held scout troop meetings in one of the dormitories in a Unit that was considered a graduate program for the psychiatric treatment program. (Unit C, Dorm 8 at the Kentucky State Reformatory)

September 5, 2010 at 1:38 am
(27) Hippie Scout Chick says:

Dave Y, many Buddhists do not believe in a God (depends on the sect/school). The BSA is aware this and some Buddhists groups charter scout units.

One issue is that the chartering organization (CO) of troop 71 was a church. The CO owns the scout unit, not BSA. The CO can limit membership in any legal way. For example, some church COs only allow church members to join. I wouldn’t enter a Methodist church and expect them to allow me to host a none Buddhist sesshin there, so why should they have to accept me as a member.

As for the badly veiled sexist allegations of one commenter above, comments such as that are why feminists have earned a bad time. Males aren’t fighting to get into Girl Scouts, so why should females be in BSA? Females can join a venturing crew, as can males. Neither male nor female venturers can earn an Eagle. The “join at 14 so they can’t earn Eagle” argument has another flaw. Boys join Scouts at 14 or older and go on to earn an Eagle by their 18th birthday.

“Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle”–you can send back your badge in protest, but you are still on the Eagle roster and can walk into a Scout shop and buy a new one. It’s meaningless.

Now this ol’, female, Buddhist, hippie, Scout leader would like to share some common sense wisdom. Attacking BSA will get you nowhere. You can’t force someone to share your view, only put them on the defensive so they don’t listen to you at all. The LDS church (Mormons) are the reason many of these archaic religion & anti-homosexual rules are in the BSA books. LDS donates a hefty sum to BSA, and BSA depends on it. If you want to change things, then start up your own units with secular charters. Give and achieve more than LDS. Work your way into a professional Scouter job so you can affect change. Bring them into the 21st century from the inside. Personally, That’s what I am doing.

And you’d be surprised. Many a CO and Unit has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on both religion and sexual orientation.

September 5, 2010 at 9:33 am
(28) Austin Cline says:

Now this ol’, female, Buddhist, hippie, Scout leader would like to share some common sense wisdom. Attacking BSA will get you nowhere.

One could say the same about critiques of any bigoted institution. So why ever protest or object to anything?

You can’t force someone to share your view

Non sequitur, since no one has suggest forcing the BSA to do anything.

The LDS church (Mormons) are the reason many of these archaic religion & anti-homosexual rules are in the BSA books.

And the Catholic Church

If you want to change things, then start up your own units with secular charters.

New units cannot have charters that contradict the national charter.

And you’d be surprised. Many a CO and Unit has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on both religion and sexual orientation.

And that’s worked so well for the military!

Anyone who thinks that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is an adequate substitute for equality just doesn’t get it.

November 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm
(29) scouter1 says:

I agree with the comment that if you don’t like it don’t join it. I hold multiple positions in Scouting all the way to council level and I have never been asked or have asked anyone about their religion or sexual preference. I am there to be a SCOUT. Yes there are rules, but rules are everywhere. I also spent 14 years in the military 2 years of that in a combat zone. I believe everyone has a right to their opinion and they may state that, but to attack any group (scouts, religious, masons, lions, ruritans etc,) is wrong. I personally don’t like some groups so i don’t join them. But I still believe they have the same rights i do. So I think i will work on my own shortcomings and leave you to yours.

November 13, 2010 at 11:02 pm
(30) Austin Cline says:

I agree with the comment that if you don’t like it don’t join it.

1. That’s fine so long as the BSA receives no government funding.

2. This doesn’t immunize the BSA against criticism.

I hold multiple positions in Scouting all the way to council level and I have never been asked or have asked anyone about their religion or sexual preference.

But you also must know that atheists and gays are banned from scouting.

I believe everyone has a right to their opinion and they may state that, but to attack any group (scouts, religious, masons, lions, ruritans etc,) is wrong.

So everyone has a right to an opinion, but it’s wrong for them to state opinions you don’t like?

I personally don’t like some groups so i don’t join them. But I still believe they have the same rights i do.

And everyone has a right to criticize a group — especially when that group is discriminatory and/or uses an bigoted ideology.

So I think i will work on my own shortcomings and leave you to yours.

One of your shortcomings is your refusal to accept that just because a group has a right to some opinion or behavior doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from critique. Try working on that.

November 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm
(31) Bob says:

Looked at from outside the US the heavy preponderance of religious influence seems stifling. In New Zealand, a British country, part of the motto of the boy scouts is for “Queen, God and Country”. It’s little more than a meaningless quaint old phrase. The emphasis for scouts is to be good citizens, reliable and self reliant. In practice religion doesn’t come into it.

I had a son who joined the sea scouts. The fact that he came from an atheist family was of no consequence. He enjoyed boating and learning basic seamanship.

I hope the US in time will become a secular society where religion is a matter of personal belief with tolerance for those who hold no beliefs.

November 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm
(32) Herb Hersh says:

I became an Eagle Scout 50 yeqrs ago only by not answering any questions relaated to my religios beliefs.

November 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm
(33) Mike Y says:

I am an atheist and I am gay. I also have two sons in the scouts. I feel conflicted about letting them participate because of the official policy of discrimination but they enjoy the experience and there is not another similar group available. I do think it is a shame that the scouts can’t be more inclusive and I definately think they should not get any special treatment from local government but I know it is commonplace that they do.

November 27, 2010 at 12:18 am
(34) freeSpirit says:

Well, what an interesting thing to come across. My son is in Troop 71. When he came home with the booklet/questionnaire about being a Christian we thought it was odd. We said don’t do that homework, that is for church. They should not be teaching you bible lessons there or asking you all these questions. At the next meeting my husband gave Gene the booklet and said “My son is not doing this”. It has never been brought up again.

January 30, 2011 at 2:40 am
(35) ELNIKO7 says:

Hoo-rah for the Boy Scouts sticking to their guns, not caving into the PC pack, and continuing to do what’s best for the Scouts.
I was not a Scout as a kid, was never exposed to it, but my son is and I am profoundly impressed with the organization. Most of the boys in the troop are indeed Christian but two are Jewish. The only discrimination that I’ve seen take place is when a prospective Scout’s parents said they would not allow their son to join Scouts once they found out there were Jews in the group (the family is Muslim). Several of the Scout adult leaders spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the parents to let their son join, but they did not budge.
I was not a Boy Scout and am not religious but whole hartedly support the Boy Scouts. This is a great organization that works to bring out the greatness in the boys involved in it. They have my support.

January 30, 2011 at 9:49 am
(36) Austin Cline says:

Hoo-rah for the Boy Scouts sticking to their guns, not caving into the PC pack, and continuing to do what’s best for the Scouts.

…because bigotry and discrimination are “best” for Scouts.

I was not a Scout as a kid, was never exposed to it, but my son is and I am profoundly impressed with the organization. Most of the boys in the troop are indeed Christian but two are Jewish. The only discrimination that I’ve seen take place

…ergo, there isn’t any other discrimination going on?

I was not a Boy Scout and am not religious but whole hartedly support the Boy Scouts.

…in all of their bigoted endeavors.

This is a great organization that works to bring out the greatness in the boys involved in it. They have my support.

…as long as they continue to treat gays and atheists as second-class, immoral citizens.

You make such a great role model.

May 29, 2011 at 1:37 am
(37) greekboi says:

I actually have personal experience with this-my aunt is a BSA troop leader, and she had to fill out forms that ask whether all members of the group are christians. She always lies on the form, though, and says that they all are (there’s a lot of muslims/etc in her troop). I always wanted to join when I was younger to do the cool stuff; however I’m basically the BSA’s worst nightmare (vocal about my opinions, pagan/atheist, gay ftm transgender male) and was never allowed to join by my parents, which I’m honestly glad for. I was too young to know about being gay/ftm, but I was always a pagan/atheist and very vocal and figured out the rest pretty young.

January 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm
(38) Jack doe says:

A scout group that promotes Christianity + nationalism whilst discriminating against gay people and anyone who is not Christian? Are we talking about Hitler’s Youth here? I thought America had Freedom from religion ie not letting Christians bully out people of other faiths

January 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm
(39) melissa says:

first of all where do the christians think their religion originated from?? thats right from the wiccans. the wiccan religion is the oldest religion out there and just because we do not conform to what all the other religions deem as right does not mean we do not believe in god. you should all feel ashamed those two brothers are no different than any other little boys in the world besides the fact that their parents raised them to believe in something truly worth believing in.

March 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm
(40) Nickolas says:

First off I do not get the whole argument of the article. Some members of a local church decided they did not want Wiccans in the troop. After further consideration they changed their mind to be more accepting, and this is a bad thing? Of course it is unfortunate that it happened to begin with but this is a story of a wrong being made right in my view. Secondly the BSA does not receive government funds so…

It is true that certain Boy Scout troops may discriminate more than others. My suggestion is if you don’t like one, find a better one. Why does the BSA not change its policies and just kick out groups that discriminate? Simple survival instincts.

If you look up the membership of the BSA, its largest single partner is the LDS church, followed by protestant groups, then the Catholic church. The BSA is never going to revoke the charter of a church who does not allow an atheist to be a leader. Think this through; there would be no BSA to join if they did.

What the BSA can do is reverse its national policy against gay leaders. Let individual groups decide if they believe it is morally wrong to have gay leaders or to descriminate against them.

So if you want your kid to get the experience and do not like the policy what do you do? I think “Poupon” hit it right. The BSA is a “mixed bag” and you have to take the good with the bad. The make up of the BSA is a microcosim of the country, I see the country becoming more accepting so ultimately the organization will move in that direction albeit slower than many would like.

Final thoughts: I look at the BSA like the United States. It is not perfect, but the ideals it is founded on are. It is just taking more time that it should to get there. One day this argument will be mute, let’s just hope for the sake of the country that the BSA has not been deystroyed by people more hatefull than the people that discriminate against them.

March 13, 2012 at 11:29 am
(41) Grandpa In The East says:

Wow! Nickolas!

That was a lot of words. What is it exactly that you are trying to say?

For instance what does this mean, “One day this argument will be mute, let’s just hope for the sake of the country that the BSA has not been deystroyed by people more hatefull than the people that discriminate against them.”

Who be “them?” Why do you wish to “mute” discussion of BSA’s teaching, by policy and example, that bigotry is OK?

Curious, that’s all.

Grandpa

March 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm
(42) Al says:

The problem is once the Christian boys see how cool it is to worship trees they will all convert to Wican. Wican worship is just so much cooler.

Once the gays see that they can’t become Boy Scouts they will all stop being gay. Just like before don’t ask don’t tell. It totally solved the gay problem. No gays just like ‘poof!’

We need to teach young boys to be intolerant of ‘others’ so they can someday vote Republican and not feel horrible.

March 16, 2012 at 5:28 am
(43) Grandpa In The East says:

Al (Your Post # 42)

I trust you are joking. There are people out there in cyber land who actually think along those lines. It is scary.

I don’t believe that way but I fear there are people who might believe that way.

Grandpa

July 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm
(44) Justin says:

My pentacle chain snapped and it fell on the floor and all I could think was “oh shit oh shit” because the scout master was in front of me, he picked it up, fixed the chain, and gave me a pat on the back, didn’t even care, NOW THAT IS HOW MOTHER FUCKING BOY SCOUTS SHOULD BE!

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