Boy Scouts and atheism.
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29-02-2016, 06:00 PM (This post was last modified: 29-02-2016 06:22 PM by CabezonJoe.)
Boy Scouts and atheism.
Posting here because I'm a long time lurker/listener to the forums and show.

My son's (11yo) best friend's father is a Boy Scout troop leader. He recently asked me to be a badge sponsor for troops in the area for kids who want to persue badges that relate to my career (wildlife biology). I am a lifelong atheist and my son doesn't express any beliefs in a deity that I know of. My son's friend is a theist and he and his family attends a christian church weekly.

While I absolutely would like to encourage kids to explore learning more about science and nature, I can't get past the Boy Scouts of America's discrimination against non-belivers.

To even take on this role I have to fill out an application that requires an oath of faith in some form of deity and there is some BS language about only by belief in a "god" can you be a good & upstanding member of society.

The irony that they are asking me for help in the natural sciences field while requiring my believe in the supernatural is not lost on me.

So my dilemma is, do I just sign the stupid application even though I'm an atheist or do I tell my son's friends dad I can't do it? I know which choice feels right to me, but more importantly should I be honest with the dad and potentially damage my son's friendship over my inability to sign that oath of faith?

Open to suggestions and relevant similar experiences and even a little flaming for being new and needy right out of the gate.

Thanks in advance...
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29-02-2016, 06:20 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
(29-02-2016 06:00 PM)CabezonJoe Wrote:  Posting here because I'm a long time lurker/listener to the forums and show.

My son's (11yo) best friend's father is a Boy Scout troop leader. He recently asked me to be a badge sponsor for troops in the area for kids who want to persue badges that relate to my career (wildlife biology). I am a lifelong atheist and my son doesn't express any beliefs in a deity that I know of. My son's friend is a theist and he and his family attends a christian church weekly.

While I absolutely would like to encourage kids to explore learning more about science and nature, I can't get past the Boy Scouts of America's discrimination against non-belivers.

To even take on this role I have to fill out an application that requires an oath of faith in some form of deity and there is some BS language about only by belief in a "god" can you be a good & upstanding member of society.

The irony that they are asking me for help in the natural sciences field while requiring my believe in the supernatural is not lost on me.

So my dilemma is, do I just sign the stupid application even though im an atheist or do I tell my son's friends dad I can't do it? I know which choice feels right to me, but more importantly should I be honest with the dad and potentially damage my son's friendship over my inability to sign that oath of faith?

Open to suggestions and relevant similar experiences and even a little flaming for being new and needy right out of the gate.

Thanks in advance...

Volunteer your services without agreeing to any official designation. They can take it or leave it.

#sigh
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29-02-2016, 06:30 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
Ick. I wouldnt do anything to support that hidiously ugly group, but really its up to you. Is the lie worth it?
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29-02-2016, 06:30 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
As GirlyMan stated, say that you can help them but just as a guest and that you're not willing to fill any oath.

I also find repulsive the fact that they don't accept non-believers. If it was a secular group rejecting a christian then it would be persecution and discrimination against religion. But since christianity is immune then they can get away with that BS.

"Skepticism is the first step towards truth" -Denis Diderot
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29-02-2016, 06:44 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
Depends what's most important to you.
- If it's your principles or the BSA's discriminatory practices then be open and honest.
- If it's your son's friend's dad then ask his opinion of the situation.
- If it's helping your son or his friend then lie to the half-wits at BSA and make a small child's world a better place.

Depending on where you live, a close check may reveal that some of the Scout leaders never darken the door of a church. My father-in-law was one such. Lied through his teeth on the forms and gave the kids of the community a couple of decades of great camping trips.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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29-02-2016, 06:51 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
I couldn't sign that pledge. One day if I have a son I'd probably enter him in the Navigators USA or something similar but until the Boy Scouts can get around the religion and belief "statement" they will be missing out on great leaders like yourself. I think it's awesome you have devoted your life to science, it's a great subject that all young children need to learn as much about as possible. But I think children also need to learn the value of integrity and the character it takes to not back down from your beliefs even if it impacts you negatively, it will be a lesson your son will remember forever.

If you really want to do it maybe suggest a new statement you can sign that omits the belief part of it. If not than it's their loss.
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29-02-2016, 07:40 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
Don't sign the pledge, do or don't tell them why as suits you position on being open about your non-belief and offer to advise in an unofficial capacity. I would hate to see them lose out on your scientific influence because of religion. They need all the non-belief exposure they can get.

Good luck, let us know how it goes. Smile

[Image: dnw9krH.jpg?4]
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29-02-2016, 08:49 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
Thank you all for the advice and support.

To clarify a few thing, I really dont want to sign that oath. I've already talked to my son and he understands. It's a good part of the reason he doesn't do scouting with his friend.

As it was explained to me my part would be to check the work done by the kids trying to get badges in things like Ecology, bird identification etc. and sign off on their work that it was adequately done.

The kicker though is this oath is part of the formal Boy Scouts of America application/ background check form, right along with questions about drug use, criminal convictions & child abuse convictions is a requirement for this Declaration of Religious Principle.

I doubt (hope) they dont let you get near the kids without a background check so I guess I'm now just looking for the best way to bow out without painting a "Scarlet A" on my son. If he wants to be out that's on him.

If only his Noodly Greatness was a recognized deity.
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29-02-2016, 08:56 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
The fact that you have to sign an oath goes too far. I'd tell him outright that you're more than willing to educate his troop about the wonders of wildlife and the environment, but you won't sign the oath, as it's not fair to you or the others who it prohibits.

"The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy." - Sam Harris
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29-02-2016, 10:38 PM
RE: Boy Scouts and atheism.
Cross the religious bunk out and sign the rest. The leader of the scout troop may not give a damn but now the ball is in their court.

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