Monday, July 23, 2012

In Reply: When Eagle (Scouts) Attack (or, of loyalty oaths and litmus tests)

In reply to I Am Not the Best Kind of Citizen - Popehat

I left Troop 106, Huntington, NY, when the scoutmaster told my friend--an atheist--that he had to leave the summer camp out and quit the troop if he refused to attend one of the Sunday services. He packed up and left, and I left with him. (I'm guessing this was 1979 or '80.)

There is very little chance I ever would've become an Eagle scout, and there's even a good chance I would've quit scouting altogether anyway... but I was very proud of my friend for standing up for his right of conscience that day--I probably would've picked a service and gone, were I in his shoes--and I'm glad to this day that I left with him.

I can understand institutions and groups who want to instill values in their members, including particular religious or sociopolitical values. What I cannot understand--and refuse to be a part of--are institutions and groups who refuse to allow people admittance unless they subscribe to those particular values at the outset. I've never been a fan of Loyalty Oaths and litmus tests...

Posted Jul 23, 2012 @5:56 pm

The whole discussion is pretty fascinating, whatever your views on the Boy Scouts or religious faith. If you're interested, I suggest reading this whole post, including the comment section (That link again was: I Am Not the Best Kind of Citizen - Popehat) as well as this post: Atheist Scout Booted from Scouting - (my friend obviously wasn't the only one) and the follow-up post at Popehat: Guest Post: An Eagle Scout's Thoughts On The BSA's Policies | Popehat (including the comment section)

The original Popehat post was inspired by Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America: *UPDATED* - Boing Boing, which talks about the BSA's stand on homosexuality, and what a number of Eagle Scouts are doing in protest. Some of the letters bring tears to my eyes.

For the record, while I'd like for BSA to open up and change their policies regarding religious faith and homosexuality, they are a private organization, and can set their membership rules according to the values they wish to instill in their members. I also support the laws that prohibit some government entities from working with them as long as they continue to forbid membership to protected classes of people. I view them the same way I do religious faiths and denominations other than my own; they have every right to believe as they do, but I have just as much right to reject their teachings in favor of my own. The BSA are not bigots, but their beliefs do conflict with American values regarding equality, as well as with the beliefs of my faith regarding the inherent worth and dignity of all persons.

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