Congress Takes Time to Support Discriminatory Organization

While Congress was debating what to do with the Wall Street bailouts this week, they took the time to vote on one other piece of legislation dealing with money.

Amidst the largest financial crisis in our nation’s history, our senators unanimously passed a bill yesterday supporting an organization that discriminates against atheists and gays.

Yesterday, the Senate approved the “Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act” (S. 3070):

The bill mandates that the U.S. Mint create and sell as many as 350,000 one dollar coins commemorating the Scouts’ centennial in the year 2010. A ten dollar surcharge on each coin goes directly to the Boy Scouts of America, who will net as much as $3.5 million in the deal.

The Secular Coalition for America isn’t happy about this:

“It is outrageous that Congress took time out to fill the coffers of a private and discriminatory group with our tax dollars when they clearly have more pressing issues to deal with,” said Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition for America. The legislation, a version of which passed the House in May, was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, so no individual Senator is on record as supporting or opposing it.

In fact, the House bill (H.R. 5872) passed 403 – 8.

Who had the courage to vote against the bill?

Lynn Woolsey [D - CA]
Barbara Lee [D - CA]
Pete Stark [D - CA]
Luis Gutierrez [D - IL]
Barney Frank [D - MA]
Dennis Kucinich [D - OH]
James McDermott [D - WA]
Tammy Baldwin [D - WI]

Shame on the other members of Congress for supporting a discriminatory organization that so many of us would not be allowed to join.

  • http://madmansparadise.blogspot.com Asylum Seeker

    Oh, come now…the Boy Scouts isn’t nearly as discriminatory as the United States military. So…that’s a plus. Right?

    Anyway, California seems to have a lot of people with good heads on their shoulders. Kudos to them. And kudos to Kucinich as well. I knew I liked him for a reason.

  • benjdm

    Oh, come now…the Boy Scouts isn’t nearly as discriminatory as the United States military.

    Huh? The BSA won’t let homosexuals join while the military will kind of let homosexuals join. The BSA won’t let atheists or agnostics join but the military will. The military is more open unless I’m missing something.

  • Cathy

    Not to mention that to join the boy scouts you have to have a penis. Of course the boy scouts discriminate based on sexual orientation and religion, but why are you so willing to ignore the fact that having a vagina is also grounds for being kept out?

  • Zach

    Okay so the boyscouts of america do not discriminate against gays in scouts, just against gays in leaders. This is because (unfortunately) there have been those who have taken advantage of scouts. If such homosexuals had not done so, it would be more leinient. Also, agnostics are allowed into the Boy Scouts, which is why at almost all events have non denominational services. (99%, and the other 1% only occurs when a pastor/leader of worship can not be found.) Atheists are not allowed to be EAGLE scouts. This is because in the oath and scout law there is a pledge to “god and country” and that “a scout is reverent”. To allow them to recieve eagle would be the same as allowing people to lie under oath. Their honor has been damaged. And finally, to Cathy’s comment. Women are allowed into boy scouts, but only as leaders. The boy scouts do advocate a program called venturing, in which boys and girls camp together at the same facilities. If the fact that the girl scouts are not getting a cut annoys you, then bring it up to your congressman/woman for the same deal on the girl scouts centennial. I believe this is a great inititave. The boy scouting program is a boon to our society and raises kids to be the best of their abilities. We are hard pressed for cash, and many of our facilities are in need of repair. This could be the deal we need to make sure many more generations of young men recieve this movement.

  • Ross

    I’m not totally sure about scouting’s policy on homosexuals, but even if they’re disallowing homosexuals in leadership positions only that’s discriminatory. It’s ridiculous to claim that because one homosexual leader abused kids they all will. Most murderers are heterosexual. Perhaps we should disallow heterosexuals from leading our scouts to protect them from murder. So maybe the boy scouts should change their oath, if that’s the actual problem. To not allow a group of people to receive scouting’s highest honor simply because they can’t pay lip service to something they obviously have no need of believing in is nothing but discriminatory. Non-denominational Christian services aren’t exactly meant for atheists, but non-denominational Christians. So women can be leaders, girls still can’t be scouts.

    And really, I don’t have a problem with any of this. It’s a private organization, they can do what they want. But when my government gives money to an organization that is so obviously discriminatory, I do have a problem with that.

  • Pingback: The Blog for WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com » If you are a rational person living in the United States today, you face discrimination

  • SarahH

    @Zach:

    Ross already shredded your argument supporting the discrimination against homosexuals as leaders, but I’d like to add that this reasoning is extremely faulty. Pedophiles are pedophiles – homosexual or heterosexual – and in an institution that only allows male leaders and members, only homosexual pedophiles are going to find targets. In an organization that only allowed male leaders and female members, you’d find that any pedophiles who were involved were heterosexual.

    Male priests have been found guilt of molesting and raping young boys in dozens of Catholic churches in the past ten years – maybe we should only allow women to be priests, eh? Or perhaps only allow altar girls instead of altar boys. That would surely fix the problem.

    See the fault in your logic, Zach? It might not be conscious, but the desire to exclude homosexuals from leadership positions isn’t about the fear that they’re all pedophiles, it’s about homophobia, plain and simple.

    And yes, I think that oath needs changing as well, if the organization is going to receive funding and support from the government. It sets a standard that cannot be met by atheists and agnostics, simply by nature of their lack of religious belief.

    I assume our Presidential candidates were absent for the vote?

  • SarahH

    Edit: I didn’t realize this had only passed the House, not the Senate. Hopefully it won’t make it through. The House pretty routinely passes new attempts at legislation making flag-burning illegal and gets shot down over and over again in the Senate.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Edit: I didn’t realize this had only passed the House, not the Senate. Hopefully it won’t make it through. The House pretty routinely passes new attempts at legislation making flag-burning illegal and gets shot down over and over again in the Senate.

    Sarah — It did pass in the Senate.

    Unanimously.

  • Nikki

    SarahH,

    While I believe myself to be open and accepting of all, and I’m an atheist, although that’s not relevant to the point I’m about to make…

    Do not take this following to mean that I have any kind of issue with homosexual men:

    Your point actually reinforces a good reason to ban male homosexuals from being scout leaders – as you say, because the members of the scouts are male, it’s only going to attract homosexual paedophiles.

    Now, there are other, non-homosexual, paedophiles, and Ross opined that maybe we should ban them. But, as you say, the posts only attract those paedophiles that are gay – or possibly female paedophilic leaders, but afaik that situation has not arisen yet – as such, banning gay males from being scout leaders pretty much guarentees that you’re severely reducing the risk of paedophiles being in a position of trust over young boys in risky situations.

    It’s sad that gay males that would like to devote some of their time to helping young boys (in a non paedophilic way), cannot. But, there are many ways that people can help the scouts and the boyscouts organisation, not just by being a leader.

  • Monkey Deathcar

    @Zach:

    I’m curious what that makes me. Am I still an Eagle scout? I received my eagle when I was 17 and am now atheist. There’s this policy “once and Eagle Scout always an Eagle Scout.”

    I enjoyed my time as a scout and even spent a summer as a counselor at Sea Base in Florida. I can no longer support an organization that discriminates as the boy scouts do and the government shouldn’t support them either. Your arguments have been refuted and I find it disgusting that you think a homosexual is the same thing as a pedophile.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I find this whole thing very disappointing, because being a boy scout can be a great experience and it should be an experience that everyone is allowed the opportunity to have.

    Another question. How can an agnostic take an oath to something they think may or may not exist?

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Zach, even though you’re trying to defend the BSA, you make the scouts look pretty bad. Thanks for letting us know that the BSA only discriminates a little. Oh, atheists can still become Life Scouts, just not Eagles. Oh, gays can still be scouts, just not leaders (and only because they’re a bunch of pedophiles). Good to know, huh?

    Atheists would have to lie under oath to become Eagles? I’m sorry but that reasoning is so much BS. Imagine if atheists were not allowed to testify in court because that would require lying under oath. That would be a bunch of BS as well, would it not?

  • SarahH

    But, as you say, the posts only attract those paedophiles that are gay – or possibly female paedophilic leaders, but afaik that situation has not arisen yet – as such, banning gay males from being scout leaders pretty much guarentees that you’re severely reducing the risk of paedophiles being in a position of trust over young boys in risky situations.

    This is complete nonsense. By your logic, we should only allow heterosexual men to teach young boys in public school and only heterosexual women teach young girls. All we can do to protect children from predators is to screen people carefully and make sure to limit the situations possible in which children could be taken advantage of – such as being alone with an adult behind closed doors.

    Sarah — It did pass in the Senate.

    Unanimously.

    Ugh. They really have time for this? My question remains: did McCain or Obama vote on this or does the unanimous simply mean that all the Senators present voted for it?

  • benjdm

    Okay so the boyscouts of america do not discriminate against gays in scouts, just against gays in leaders.

    This policy includes youth leaders – basically if you are old enough to know you’re homosexual, you’re old enough to be considered a youth leader.

    http://www.bsalegal.org/morally-straight-cases-225.asp

    “Youth Leadership

    Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.”

    Also, agnostics are allowed into the Boy Scouts

    No, they are not.

    http://www.bsalegal.org/duty-to-god-cases-224.asp

    “Policies

    Because of its views concerning the duty to God, Boy Scouts of America believes that an atheist or agnostic is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys. Because of Scouting’s methods and beliefs, Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as members or adult volunteer leaders.”

    The BSA made this as clear as they possibly could in Welsh vs. BSA:

    “An agnostic parent and son who would not affirm their duty to God sued after they would not be admitted. The District Court held that Boy Scouts is not a place of public accommodation within the meaning of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and denied plaintiffs’ relief. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that: (1) Scouting is not a place of public accommodation for purposes of Title II, and (2) even if it were, Scouting would fall within private club exception to Title II.”

    The boy was seven years old, I believe.

  • Richard Wade

    This is a letter I wrote to my two Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California. I’m also sending one to my Congressman, who also voted for it:

    Dear Senator Boxer,
    I am disappointed to learn that you voted in favor of S.3070, for the minting of commemorative coins for the Boy Scouts of America, profits from which will be given to them. It is not right to use public funds to fill the coffers of a private organization, especially one that discriminates against people in their hiring and membership policies based on both religion and sexual orientation. The Boy Scouts continue to practice bigotry by excluding people whom they categorize as “atheists, agnostics, or avowed homosexuals.”

    Please tell me why I have to give my tax dollars to an organization that would exclude me because of my personal beliefs, and would exclude my friends and family members because of their inborn sexual orientation. Would you want your tax dollars given to a private organization that would exclude you simply because you are a woman? Any rationalization that the Boy Scouts of America does more good than this specific social evil is not acceptable. You have made me pay for bigotry against myself and my friends and family, and you have sanctioned and promoted its continuation.

    California has long been known for being socially progressive and a leader in the fight for personal civil liberties. By supporting this bill you have not represented the inclusive and tolerant spirit of your state.

    I have always supported you and the Democratic Party, but this disappointment means that you cannot take my vote for granted next election.

    Sincerely,
    Richard Wade

  • http://ichthyologistbright.blogspot.com Laurie Soule

    Great letter, Richard!

    I grew up in the Girl Scouts. My mother was in Girl Guides for 20 years – her troop was colour guard for my parent’s wedding – and my father was awarded the Queen’s Scout Badge (equivalent of Eagle Scout). Girl Scouts in this country don’t seem to have the religious connections that the Boy Scouts do.

    My son was never allowed to join the Boy Scouts because his dad (gay) and I (atheist) no longer approve of their practices. He joined 4-H instead and he and his horse had a great time.

  • Erp

    A few facts.

    1. The BSA consists of three main programs: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturing. The last of which has both male and female youth members and includes Sea Scouts. It also has an associated program called Learning for Life which includes an in school program and also much of what use to be Explorers; it is co-ed and does not officially discriminate against gays, lesbians, or atheists.

    2. AFAIK the official BSA policy is they ban homosexual leaders because homosexuality is immoral. Not because of fear of child molestation by gays (note they ban lesbian leaders also).

    3. The BSA has had male leaders found guilty of abusing female youth in venturing.

    Just in case anyone is wondering, the Girl Scouts of the USA is a separate, non-affiliated organization that does not discriminate officially against gays/lesbians or atheists (they allow alternative wording in their promise). The same is also true of some other Scouting organizations around the world (many of which are also co-ed) particularly in Europe.

    Emma

  • Joe L.

    Most Skeptics and Atheists have their “sacred cow”, and I guess the Boy Scouts is mine. I was in the BSA, growing up in Western North Carolina, and went on to get my Eagle Scout at 16 (my brother got his at the same ceremony, when he was 15).

    I cannot condone or defend the policies of the national organization, so all I can say is that my time in Boy Scouts as a kid were invaluable to me growing up and for my development (especially as the child of a single mom). It’s funny being grown up now and hearing all these debates about the Boy Scouts, then thinking back to when I was a kid and how none of this shit mattered to us…. we were just a bunch of kids who met weekly, went camping, went to camp in the summer, made great friends, and overall had a wonderful time.

    So maybe that was just the naivety of youth, but I still hate to think that this organization has gotten such a bad name, when at the local level, it’s almost always a force for good.

    As far as the policies in question…. I did not have any first hand experience, so to say, with the homosexuality issue, mostly I imagine because most of the adult men in the organization were fathers of the boys, and therefore not very likely to be gay. (Although, one of my friends parents divorced when we were in Scouts and his mother Also, most boys get started in Cub/Boy Scouts at a very early age, before they are even aware of their sexuality, but in my troop at least, I would have a very hard time believing a gay boy wouldn’t be allowed in or would be kicked out.

    Furthermore, my very first interaction with a vocal atheist was in the Boy Scouts, and his father, also an atheist, was an assistant Scout Master. As a middle school, Baptist boy, i had never met another kid who was openly non-Christian, until we got a new kid in town who joined the Boy Scouts. He and his father were openly atheistic, and yet they were both allowed into our troop, and surprise, the world didn’t end, nor were we kicked out of the BSA.

    So, maybe I had an atypical experience, and maybe my local troop was treading the line on what was legal under Scout law. But again, I just hate to think that getting lost in all the talk and hate against the Boy Scouts is that there are actual kids who are having good, positive, life-changing experiences as boy scouts.

  • SarahH

    Thanks for the info, Emma, and thanks for sharing your story, Joe L. I don’t doubt that thousands of kids (and adults) have benefited from being involved in Boy Scouts, but I think that governmental support should only be given if the organization gives up its silly stance against gays and non-theists. If all troops and officials involved were more like your fellow scouts and leaders, I doubt this would be an issue.

  • http://mnatheists.org Bjorn Watland

    For those interested in a campaign to make the Boy Scout’s policy non discriminatory, check out Scouting For All.

    From what I understand, the decision to let gay or atheist boy scouts in the group rests hevily on the local leadership. Some have a problem with it, and others do not. However, since it’s official policy, if a parent had a problem with a gay or atheist scout in the group, a case could be made to remove that scout, and I doubt there could be much resistance. The BSA needs to change their policy. Already, the BSA received too much assistance from the government, from free or nearly free use of federal and state facilities, tax free status, to this latest example of fund raising by the US Mint. I would like to see a non discriminatory alternative become stronger at the expense of the BSA. Only then will the BSA change.

  • gringo

    Joe. L – Good response.

    I don’t you had an atypical experience – I know I didn’t.

    I’m an agnostic theist and grew up in the Cub Scouts and then on to Boy Scouts eventually obtaining my Eagle rank. Shortly thereafter I joined the US Army and am still serving.

    I find it odd to hear the negative comments and would venture to say that most have had little to zero contact with the BSA. I bet the poster has had very little experience with the BSA.

    It’s a good organization and I’ve made life long friends through it and wouldn’t change my experiences whatsoever.

    If you don’t like it, don’t join – tough cookies – too bad. Write your representative and then deal with it. To boot, if one doesn’t know much about it – I’m not too interested in your inane replies.

    That being said, I feel I’m fairly open minded and tolerant of varying lifestyles and yet I’m still a supporter.

    Despite the BSAs few shortcomings, they do far more positive things than bad.

  • Monkey Deathcar

    SarahH:

    Most troops in my experience seem to be similar to Joe L.’s troop. Mine was as well. I suspect quite a few troop masters don’t even know about these policies. My father never acknowledged these policies when he was troop master, so I suspect he didn’t know about them.

    I think the ideal situation is for the organization to give up these “official” policies and allow all to have the great experiences Joe L. and I had. How to do that? I don’t know, probably change it from the inside. Start at the bottom and have it work it’s way up. I have to leave that up to those within the organization and support those trying change it.

  • Chris Nowak

    I was in scouts – made it to life (I wasn’t atheist at the time). At least around me the religion part of it was not a big deal. We did have scouts in a church and there were services at the camp I attended, but I knew quite a few people who didn’t take the religion side very seriously. No indoctrination or anything like that, I mean, scouts tend to come from all different denominations anyways.

    Honestly…scouts was a pretty great experience for me. It does make me sad that if I have kids they wouldn’t be able to participate (unless they converted to christianity) and I certainly wouldnt be able to be a leader. Hopefully by then these archaic rules will no longer exist. You learn a lot of great stuff in scouts, it really teaches kids how to be men.

  • HeirToPendragon

    People, it’s a commemorative coin. This isn’t the government supporting the group, it’s our government extorting the group’s nostalgia for a profit and giving over some surcharge to make it look like support rather than profit. Kudos to them.

    Any money the group makes comes from the people that buy the thing, not from the government themselves. Good to see that you people actually read through the whole thing before jumping up and down screaming segregation.

    We anti-religious people do have many things in America that could be considered prejudice. This bill is not one of them.

  • Freak

    Bjorn: IIRC, National Council has revoked the charters of a troop which had a homosexual Scoutmaster, even though the members of that troop had no problem with it. So if it “rests on the local leadership”, it’s because National can only enforce those rules when they know about it.

  • chancelikely

    Dammit, what the hell is Ron “Dr. No” Paul doing voting for this tripe?

    Usually, the bill that passes 403-8 has Paul among the “Nays”.

  • lynn

    I assume Ron Paul missed the vote?

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Well to come clean, I was a boy scout too, and I had a bad experience with it. I didn’t like anyone in that troop. I disliked the kids, who were a bunch of troublemakers, and made fun of me all the time. I was too young to pass judgments on the adults, but I retrospectively dislike them too, for enabling and encouraging the kids. I liked the campouts, but that’s pretty much it. After about two years trying to get Second Class, I lost interest and quit. I’m kind of bitter about it.

    But this is completely different. I had never heard of discrimination being an issue for boy scouts. I didn’t even think about such things. There was something wrong with that troop, but it had nothing to do with discrimination. In fact, I don’t see this as a problem with individual troops at all. The problem is that the people at the top of the BSA organization have backwards rules, while most every individual troop knows better.

  • Richard Wade

    I’ve always been supportive of scouting and of the Boy Scouts, and I am glad for those here who have benefited and have had good formative experiences from scouting. I also admire and congratulate those who have attained Eagle Scout status; that is no small feat.

    Because you know directly and personally the good things that scouting does, I think it should be for you all the more important to want to reform the BSA and to root out this blight that after 92 years of allowing local troops to choose their leaders according to their own values, was codified in 2002 by the scandal-riddled National Office to officially sanction this shameful discrimination.

    If scouting was so valuable to you, do you still value it, or do you not care any more? Maybe those wonderful high moral principles you learned have worn thin. Scouting is in trouble. Remember what it meant to you to say your oath. I urge you to visit the link above to “Scouting for All” that Bjorn Watland has supplied. You can help make a positive difference especially because you were Scouts.

  • Axegrrl

    Margaret Downey (president of the Atheist Alliance International) gave a great interview on the topic in an episode of the Humanist Network News (her son was kicked out because they were atheists) She’s one of the most articulate and cogent atheist speakers out there:)

    Here’s the URL for a direct download of the mp3 (her interview starts around 35:00 into it):

    http://media.libsyn.com/media/ihs/011-HNN_9_27_2006.mp3

    Or read the transcript here (about 2/3 down the page):

    http://humaniststudies.org/enews/?id=268&article=1

  • Milena

    HeirToPendragon – the government issues the coins (with what one might presume is State funds). Whether the State keeps the greater part of the proceeds doesn’t matter, because they are still essencially funding/condoning/advertising an organization that has discriminatory rules.

    For those of you who enjoyed your time in BSA, an important part of being a supporter of a group, party, or organization is constructively critisizing it when it does something you find objectionable. If this is an organization you value, wouldn’t you want it to be the best it can and wouldn’t you rather be part of its betterment, rather than turning a blind eye on its discrimination because you didn’t experience it first hand? Let the BSA know you disagree with its practices (I’m assuming you do and I apologize if I’m mistaken). If it is such a great experience for kids, wouldn’t you want it to be open and welcoming to all children? Whether these rules are put into practice or not by each local chapter, they are still sending the message that some kids are worthier than others.

  • benjdm

    Dammit, what the hell is Ron “Dr. No” Paul doing voting for this tripe?

    I assume Ron Paul missed the vote?

    Nope. Since he’s a fundamentalist nutjob, he was consistent and voted for it (Hemant linked to the voting results in his blog post):

    “Aye TX-14 Paul, Ronald [R]”

    Paul has endorsed the Constitution party candidate for President. The Constitution party platform:

    The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.

    This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

    The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.

    The Constitution of these United States provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The Constitution Party supports the original intent of this language. Therefore, the Constitution Party calls on all those who love liberty and value their inherent rights to join with us in the pursuit of these goals and in the restoration of these founding principles.

    The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law…

  • Jen

    My cousin was a Boy Scout. In fact, he made it to Eagle Scout as a freshman in high school, which is rarely done at that age. Still, I will not support the BSA, though I know my cousin loved it, because once I became aware of the discriminatory policies, I could not. Has anyone seen the Penn and Teller’s Bullshit episode about this? They interview several people who were kicked out of scouting for stupid reasons. It was utterly sad that those people couldn’t have the awesome experience of my cousin.

    Also, on the subject of pedophiles. Most pedos are heterosexual, even if they molest boys. Having a wife is not a magic shield that prevents a man from touching male children. Remember, pedophiles are attracted to children under the age of puberty, when they are pre-sexual.

    I was a Girl Scout growing up (which has been noted as having nothing to do with the BSA) and I have nothing but respect for the organization, which took pains to include all types of girls. I wish that boys had the same type of opportunity, but fear they do not.

  • Jeff Flowers

    I refuse to support organizations like the Scouts for this very reason.

  • Gullwatcher

    If you want to know why the Boy Scouts are so firmly discriminatory, follow the money. The Girl Scouts are self-funded (cookies, anyone?) but the Boy Scouts rely heavily on the Mormon church and, to a lesser extent, the Catholic church for all their money. That’s why they won’t reform – the Mormons would pull their money. They don’t give to the Boy Scouts from niceness, but as a way to keep control of them, and screen out those undesired gay and atheist members.

    Here’s an article that lays it all out in detail, or you can just plug Boy Scouts and Mormon into Google and find plenty more.

    An alternative form of funding might help, but I doubt it would really be enough. I think change should come first.

  • Jason

    I’m an Eagle. I worked at a boy scout camp a couple summers ago. This didn’t happen when I worked there, but my fellow staff members told me about this. The year before I joined, there was this guy who worked at the camp. The kids loved him, the staff loved him, the bosses loved him, he was just an all-round great guy.

    Then someone in his personal life who really had it out for him got him fired. He sent a link to his myspace to our bosses, where his “sexual orientation” status was listed as gay. They confronted him about it. If he would have just said no, it’s wrong, he could have kept his job. But he went and decided to be a martyr and confirm it was true, and he lost his job, and his status as an Eagle.

    Now, it’s not like every member of the scouts agrees with this policy. The two bosses of the camp were cool with it. It was pretty well known what his sexual orientation was, it was just kept on the down-low because of what a great job he did. They simply HAD to fire him because that’s just what policy was.

    Some of my best childhood memories are in the scouts, and it makes me sick that the organization I love treats people like this. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it was a private organization where that the government stayed out to stay secular, but I guess scouting is just too ingrained in the American image.

  • Richard Wade

    Now, it’s not like every member of the scouts agrees with this policy. The two bosses of the camp were cool with it. It was pretty well known what his sexual orientation was, it was just kept on the down-low because of what a great job he did. They simply HAD to fire him because that’s just what policy was.

    But of course not cool enough with it to put their own jobs on the line by refusing to fire him. He had the courage to tell the truth but they did not have the courage to honor his courage and stand up to an unjust system in defense of a good man. So the one with principles whom everyone loved was thrown out, while the expedient worms remained to run the camp and continue to administer the policy, every morning reciting their Oath along with the boys starting with the words “On my honor…”

    And so Jason, you heard the story of this man and you learned that underneath all that lofty stuff about honor, the cynical lesson is that telling the truth is what losers do. Great teaching for scouts. I’m glad it doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on you.

    I hope some day his Eagle status is restored with an official apology. This tower of tyranny is full of rot. Just a few more brave Eagles willing to actually live their honor could topple it.

  • Jason

    I don’t really know where all your hostility is coming from, this is called the FRIENDLY Atheist, isn’t it?

    I guess you would just have to know who these “expedient worms” were for yourself. They never claimed to be any sort of social pioneers who would love nothing more than to go down for a greater cause. They’re human beings who love working with and teaching kids, and that was their priority. I’m not trying to defend what they did, but outright insulting them for meaning well isn’t helping either.

  • Jason

    Also forgot to add, it’s not like they didn’t try to fight it, they tried, and they lost. There was another staff member who threatened to quit because of it, but the man being fired convinced her to stay, because he felt it wouldn’t solve anything, and she could still be put to good use helping out the scouts.

    There’s one thing I should also clarify: it’s not like most scouting leaders go on witch hunts for atheists and homosexuals. At least that wasn’t how it was like in my troop. Homosexuality and atheism were never even brought up. For the most part, it was a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of thing, like with the military. Again: I’m not trying to defend it, simply trying to explain.

    And sorry about that first comment of mine in response, I may have misread your comment into something a bit more personal.

  • Richard Wade

    Jason, I apologize to you if my remarks sounded like an attack on you. I did not think you were defending the situation; it’s clear that it is grievous to you. My tone is not hostility but exasperation about the injustice done to the young man as well as the implications for boys in the Scouts absorbing cynicism and prejudice like this, even though those issues are never overtly discussed. You heard the story when you got there, and it is likely every scout there eventually heard it too, especially those who were there at the time of the incident, not openly from a leader but on the camp grapevine. Years later the story may have stopped being repeated, but the attitude of superiority and intolerance is still there in the background. Kids soak up the unspoken lessons just as readily as the formal ones. The fact that you have not adopted that particular bigotry is a credit to your character. You were, I am only saying, given the lesson and that should not have been done to you by the BSA.

    If in your opinion I was too harsh on the people whom I acknowledge you knew and I didn’t, I accept that. I was going by the story you provided. The impression I got was that they shrugged their shoulders and said “Sorry kid, you shoulda lied to us.” The mitigating details you have added help me to be more forgiving toward the human beings involved. So far in similar situations I have chosen my principles over my immediate self interest, but being human I cannot say with perfect certainty that I will never succumb to expediency. As far as the BSA is concerned, the issues of hypocrissy, bigotry and cynicism remain unresolved and the policy that has perpetuated them should never be forgiven but should be actively opposed by those who love the Scouts. The rescinding of the young man’s Eagle status is to me far more outrageous than firing him. Every Eagle Scout has been insulted by that act.

    As I said before, I hope that some day, through the efforts of people trying to reform the BSA, the young man will be given back his Eagle status, restoring luster to the distinguished accomplishment that you share with him.

  • Pingback: » BSA Financial Bailout

  • http://www.rabe.org Rachel

    Given that BSA requires all Scouts to say the Scout Oath, which includes “To do my duty to God and my country,” I’d say this coin violates the separation of state and religion (and so does all U.S. money with it’s in god we trust but that’s another story). THAT is my main problem with this coin issue.

    Despite the BSAs few shortcomings, they do far more positive things than bad.

    Except that you cannot take advantage of that if you’re gay or an atheist… Yes, they do a lot of great stuff but they restrict who they make this available to.

    And thanks to the link-back from the BSA site, we know how much BSA might gain from this:

    H.R. 5872 mandates a $10 surcharge for each silver coin sale. Those surcharges could amount to $3.5 million for the Boy Scouts of America Foundation to serve Scouts in hard-to-serve areas.

    Sounds to me like another unjustified bailout…

    My initial reaction was “let’s buy all those coins and donate them to Scouting for All.” Given this surcharge, I don’t think that’s a good idea anymore…

  • http://www.scoutingforall.org Howard Menzer

    I think it is about time to clear the air about BSA discrimination. If a 7 year old wants to join Tiger cubs but has 2 moms or 2 dads, he will be turned away. If a youngster has been in scouting since age 8 and at 13 when puberty sets in he goes to his scoutmaster and confides his feelings with him, he will be kicked out. In El Cajon the BSA not only kicked a gay police officer who was a police post adviser but disbanded the entire post when the children and thier parents complained. and yes they knew he was gay. They want to be private with public funding. That is wrong.

    As far as pediphiles, a BSA study said that the average pediphile is 34, married, with 2 children. They use the “morality card” to get rid of ALL gays and athiests and other non-theists that they search for. After being in BSA for 54 years and having been a scoutmaster for 23 years, I was suddenly deemed immoral. WHY Because I am gay. This is new to scouting. (about 15 years old) In fact, if you do some reading, you will find that Baden Powell the founder of boy scouts was ‘bi’.

    All Scouting For All is asking is that the Boy Scouts Of America join world scouting in their openness so that all children can have the benefit of of their great program instead of teaching hate to children and hurting so many kids, Gay, Straight, Religious, and non-religious

    Howard Menzer
    Scouting For All – President
    http://www.scoutingforall.org

  • http://ocregisterbsa.blogspot.com Alan

    Planned Parenthood gets over half of its support from the government and discriminates against the rights of all humans.

    The sale of the coin allows the government to recoup its expenses and will represent less then 1% of the overall revenue the organization receives in a year.

    Other organizations receive millions of dollars from our government and still hold their rights. Military is one of them.

    If we are looking for a big fish this coin action is pretty small pocket change.


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