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29.10.02

Atheist Scout Fights Decision To Boot Him

The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts has given Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert about a week to decide "in his heart" if he's truly an atheist. If he insists on sticking to his belief that there is no God, the Council will terminate his membership.

"No way" is he going to change his beliefs, says Lambert, who has been in scouting since he was 9 years old. "It'd be like me asking them to change their belief. It's not going to happen."

His beliefs, if unchanged, give the Scouts no choice, says Brad Farmer, council's Scout executive in Seattle.

- via Witchvox


This hurts. It almost makes me want to get more involved with Scouting again, so that I can drag the organization kicking and screaming into the 21st century (or back to the earlier 20th, since the religious intolerance in the BSA has been increasing in the last few decades).

I don't want to sanitize Scouting to remove references to God for fear that it might offend someone. Scouting's program has a religious element, and anyone who joins has to be prepared to deal with that. But Lambert clearly did just that. He was able to accept and respect the religious exercises of his fellow Scouts, because he found the remainder of the experience rewarding. And that ability to respect others' religion, to maintain the ties of brotherhood despite a difference in belief, is a crucial part of what the Scout Law means when it says "A Scout is ... reverent." The Council, apparently, is not able to do the same. For all Farmer's claims of righteousness, on this point Lambert is the better Scout.

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