Barack Obama Should Not Become Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America

Traditionally, the Boy Scouts of America ask the President of the United States to accept a role as the Honorary President of the organization.

Every president since William Taft has accepted this title.

The presidents have accepted this role despite the fact that the Boy Scouts actively discriminate against gays and atheists. If you call yourself either or both of those things, you can’t join the group.

(In fact, if Obama had tried to join the Boy Scouts as a child — back before he “accepted Jesus” into his life — he could very well have been kicked out.)

A group of 19 non-theistic organizations is now asking Obama to reject the title.

Here is the letter sent to President-elect Obama today:

January 13, 2009

Dear President-elect Obama,

In light of your campaign promise to bring the nation together in a spirit of change we need, we, the undersigned nontheist organizations, urge you to take this opportunity to signify that discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheists will not be condoned.

Thus we write to urge you to decline the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA has acted vigorously in recent years to expel atheist and agnostic members and employees. This policy expresses the Declaration of Religious Principle, Bylaws of Boy Scouts of America, art. IX, § 1, cl. 1:

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.

The BSA has elected to set itself apart as a private organization that may discriminate in ways contrary to the laws and practices required of local, state, and federal authorities. Accepting the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America would thus send the message that institutional discrimination against people who don’t happen to believe in a god is acceptable.

Many presidents of the United States have taken on the title of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. However, this tradition was established when discrimination against nontheists was, unfortunately, socially acceptable. Given that nontheists now make up a sizeable minority of the American population — having more numbers than Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews combined — the BSA is clearly out of touch with the spirit of pluralism, tolerance, and inclusiveness that compose today’s American values. By contrast, in 1993 the Girl Scouts of the United States of America adopted more inclusive policies.

Therefore, please decline the title and role of honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America until such time as the organization reforms its bylaws and practices to be non-discriminatory.

Yours in unity,

American Atheists
American Ethical Union
American Humanist Association
Atheist Alliance International
Atheist Nexus
Camp Quest
Center for Atheism
Center for Inquiry
Center for Naturalism
Council for Secular Humanism
Freedom From Religion Foundation
FreeThoughtAction
HUUmanists
Institute for Humanist Studies
International Federation for Secular & Humanistic Judaism
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
Secular Coalition for America
Secular Student Alliance
Society for Humanistic Judaism

Good for all of them. It’s nice to see a group effort to raise consciousness on an issue most Americans don’t know about.

In case you’re wondering why the discrimination against gays isn’t included in the letter, the writers wanted to remain focused on the atheist issue instead of including the broader discrimination. It was a conscious decision.

Here’s hoping Obama says no to the BSA.

  • Jonathan Dolias

    I remember being 13 or 14 and just not speaking the “under god” bit. The boy scout motto (sans said deity reference) isn’t a terrible motto to go through life with.

    “On my honor, I will do my best
    To do my duty to my country
    And to obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

  • Polly

    You’re kidding right? You’re looking to what might be the most cautious and conventional politician in history to break with a purely symbolic, but nevertheless culturally monumental, tradition?

    I thought we atheists weren’t supposed to believe in miracles.

  • PrimeNumbers

    Obama should say, “sure, if stop discriminating”. Otherwise, let’s make as much capital out of their discrimination as possible.

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    Obama would have been fine when he was a kid…it’s only been in the last 15-20 years that things have gotten really bad. I was a fairly out atheist in scouts (all the way to Eagle Scout). There were several scouts in my troop that were gay (they weren’t out at the time). I wouldn’t join or support them today, and I would expect that the government wouldn’t support them.

    The part in the Scout Oath about being reverent was not in Baden-Powell’s version. I always interpreted the ‘A scout is…reverent’ to mean “Know your own faith”…which I did..”And respect the faith of others”….which I did.

  • Aj

    He won’t even acknowledge that there is opposition, although we could write a very long list of groups that could be banned that would make him refuse.

  • James

    Regarding the Boy Scouts, I wouldn’t want my Atheist or gay son or daughter to join their organization whether they accepted them or were forced to, because I don’t think teaching children outdoor recreation is their purpose, rather that is merely an enticement. No, their real agenda is to indoctrinate children to obedience to authority.

    As for Obama, I don’t think we have a closeted Atheist as president, rather one of those slightly confused Coexist bumper-sticker types. Obama doesn’t see the violence that religion encourages against the individual human being, he only sees the potential for religion to be a force of good, provided the mob of mindless followers is pointed in the “right” direction. That’s pretty scary when you think about it, and I voted for him.

  • http://www.moonstonewolf.com Crystal

    In case you’re wondering why the discrimination against gays isn’t included in the letter, the writers wanted to remain focused on the atheist issue instead of including the broader discrimination. It was a conscious decision.

    Hrm. K, I’m a long time reader and first time commenter, and I enjoy your blog quite a lot. Now for the bad stuff… I honestly think that this is kindof a cop-out. The BSA discriminates against Atheists, Agnostics, and the GLBT community. I realize that this letter was written by a group of organizations that represent Atheists and NOT the GLBT community. However, if we’re going to complain about discrimination, let’s ACTUALLY complain about discrimination. This only furthers the idea that gay rights issues aren’t civil rights issues (and thusly that non-religious-rights issues aren’t civil rights issues, either.) As long as discrimination against one group exists, we’re all in danger of it. Therefor by sticking our heads up our collective bums and saying “Well, we’re not responsible for those guys, just ourselves”, we’re really missing out on a major opportunity to join together for the cause of overcoming discrimination. And if you’re suffering it, I would think you’d be concerned about OTHER people suffering it as well.

    If you’re only concerned about your own group being discriminated against then you aren’t much better than the people discriminating against you in the first place.

    That’s just my $.02. I completely agree with the rest of your article. ;)

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  • Erp

    Strictly speaking the BSA claims not to discriminate against gay kids but does against atheist kids. It discriminates against both gay and atheist adults. In general its discrimination against gays has been more prominent so having atheism highlighted would be a change.

    It might be politically more astute for Obama to accept but be clear in all his communications (including speeches to the youth) that he sees nothing wrong with gays or atheists. Let the BSA yank the honorary presidency from him if they dare.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Honestly?

    I think it’s great that the atheist groups sent this letter. It helps get our message out. But I also don’t think Obama should decline this offer (assuming it comes.)

    I mean, do we really want him to “spend his political capital” (as W so charmingly put it) on an enormous — and entirely symbolic — “pissing off the Boy Scouts” media kerfuffle? Or do we want him spending it on, you know, policy?

    I wish it weren’t so. But alas, I think it is. If he says “Screw you” to the Boy Scouts on behalf of queers and atheists, he’s hosed. I don’t want him to be hosed. I want him to get stuff done.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Oh, and P.S.: Yes, I think they should have at least mentioned the LGBT discrimination. It would have been good technique in building alliance with the LGBT community. And it would have made it clear that we’re not just complaining on our own behalf… we’re complaining about all discrimination. It would have made us look less like whiners and more like passionate defenders of social justice.

  • Epistaxis

    It sounds like a long shot, but you can imagine that he might just defer until the Boy Scouts change their policy. Even if that doesn’t happen, at least now the atheist lobby is on his radar.

  • Miko

    I mean, do we really want him to “spend his political capital” (as W so charmingly put it) on an enormous — and entirely symbolic — “pissing off the Boy Scouts” media kerfuffle?

    No, I’d rather he spent it putting us trillions of dollars deeper in debt. ;-)

  • cathy

    What about the discrimination against women? They also ban participation as a scout if you are female.

  • Rat Bastard

    OK,

    James, I disagree. The original “charter”, if you will, was to train boys to be able to join the army as contributing members, meaning they could do all the stuff soldiers do… scouts in particular, which is a pretty dangerous job. Call me cynical, but a lot of what is taught is survival skills, and I don’t mean killing a bear with one’s bare hands. I used the BSA to help them learn things they may have never learned under my tutelage. And there were many things my boys learned that I never thought to teach. By the same token there are as many buttheads in that organization as in any other. Interestingly enough, a couple of things that my boys learned from me was to accept people as they are, and to THINK. They are atheists (HARR), and all dropped out of Scouts. I volunteered for over 15 years, and underwent (and contributed to) a pile of training. I’m not giving up my stuff, even if I am an atheist. The BSA will grow up, eventually.

    Cathy, there’s always Girl Scouts…or is there something wrong with that? I’m not sure how discrimination against women translates from girls not being allowed into the BSA. Does the GSA allow boys into their organization?

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  • http://cannonballjones.wordpress.com/ Cannonball Jones

    Yeah, in a sense he really should turn the offer down and vocally decry the BSA’s policies. However all it’s really going to achieve is to make a few people feel good and turn a healthy number of the population against him, including many swing voters who helped get him elected in the first place.

    A good moral move but politically idiotic.

  • http://liberteegalitetrivialite.blogspot.com/ Patrick

    Let’s be honest with ourselves. It would be absolute political suicide for Obama to reject this completely symbolic position. He’d be out in four years from this alone, and we’d have some extreme right-wing nut to bring our laws in line with God’s laws or somesuch…

    What Obama could do is also accept an honorary position as President of Scouting for All, were this offer extended to him. This would not only send a message of inclusiveness and evenhandedness (good for Obama), but would probably do a lot to boost the presence of this secular organization (good for them, and for us!)

  • SarahH

    I’m with Greta Christina and Patrick – I recognize that Obama’s going to (wisely IMO) spend his “political capital” sparingly early on, especially given the multiple crises he’ll be dealing with during his first weeks as President. It’s not a good time piss anyone off in a way that would make a big splash.

    Sure, he’s been pissing off atheists and gays already with this and Warren, but that doesn’t make a big splash. Pissing off evangelicals would. It’s sad, but it’s true. I’m just hoping that the next four (eight?) years will see a decline in the amount of power and sway evangelicals command in this country, both in the media and in politics. But if that’s going to happen, I think it’s going to happen with a whimper and not with a bang – and refusing this would create a pretty big bang.

  • Clare

    Go go girl scouts! More inclusive and leaving the boys in the dust I see. :P Do they have any policy reagrding lgbt members?

  • Erp

    Scouting for All is not an organization for youth but rather an issue oriented one trying to change the Boy Scouts of America.

    Camp Fire USA is an youth organization that is more open but much smaller. The Girl Scouts of the USA are also more accepting; however, traditionally, their honorary president is the First Lady. There is also 4-H.

    It might have been interesting if Hilary Clinton had won to see whether the BSA invited her to be honorary president or opted for Bill.

  • James

    Barack Obama should accept the position! The Boy Scouts are an amazing organization that have helped develop boys into becoming healthy, well adjusted men capable of functioning in society at a leadership level.

    It is ironic that for another group who supposedly believes in equality and not discriminating that many in here want to discriminate simply because they disagree with a viewpoint. How hypocritically intolerant you all are!

  • http://imdb.com eaglescout

    The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.

    ok lets take a look at this whole statement and break it down. I obtained eagle scout in 2004 and in my troop i never felt any type of discrimination. I am not gay but i also do not attend church, and am not religious in the slightest bit. I would not call myself an atheist but to the scouts i would be. The organization is a huge one, and i believe that each troop’s interpretation of the scout motto is different. If obama reject the honorary position he loses my respect. To me (who has actual experience with the organization) the scouts was a place of acceptance and a place where anyone was welcome.

    Everyday in schools kids recite the pledge of allegiance which mentions “God” that means Obama should probably stop funding education right?… and our money says “God” on it so that means we should probably just use gold right? To claim the scouts require you to be religious is ridiculous. Please don’t make any accusations in the future unless you have actual experience with what you are slandering/libeling.

  • Foster

    I’m currently a scout, and so is my brother. My brother is an atheist, but he isn’t being discriminated or forced out of the troop, and I’m in a Catholic troop. So I don’t want to hear that the BSA is forcing out atheist/gay scouts, because they aren’t. The BSA is a non-discriminatory organization, and will not remove someone because of religion or sexuality.

  • smelly girl

    Foster, I think you have your head in a hole to some extent. BSA has made it clear that they DO OFFICIALLY discriminate against gays and atheists.

    On the other hand, I agree with you and Eaglescout that local troops are sometimes autonomous for practical purposes and may not discriminate.

  • http://imdb.com eaglescout

    its much like a country and its citizens… not all member of the scouts are anti-lgbt or pro-religious… kind of like a country being at war and not all of its citizens backing it 100%. For Obama to reject all of scouting, would be a huge insult to alot of good people, not just a few select bad ones.

  • GullWatcher

    @Foster, Eaglescout – you guys are missing the point.

    Foster, your brother the atheist – does he talk about being an atheist or does he just keep quiet? Does he refuse to say the part about of the oath about god? If he doesn’t do either of those things, then the BSA can overlook it. If he did do either of those on a regular basis, he would probably be forced out. Does he speak up or not?

    Eaglescout – same thing. You say you are not religious, but not an atheist either. Unless you had someone in your troop who was an atheist (or gay), who talked about it openly, and refused to say the part of the oath about god, then you don’t know if your local troop discriminates or not.

    The BSA has not (yet) gone to the lengths of trying to ferret out any hidden atheists or gays, but the point is that members have to hide those things and keep silent, or they are gone. That’s discrimination.

  • Yeek

    Erp –

    I’m pretty sure the scouts have ejected several openly gay kids, not just adults. In their arguments in the Supreme Court case, the scouts TWICE argued that the rule wasn’t created to keep out sexual predators, but because homosexuals were not capable of becoming “the best type of citizen.” Similar logic applied to atheists and agnostics. Homosexuals have even been fired from administrative jobs in BSA where they have no contact with kids at all.

    There are individual troops that have defied the main organization with some success, and other scoutmasters and troops just choose to protect the occasional atheist or gay kid by not reporting him. But without these compassionate deliberate oversights, these kids would have no defense.

    Obama will never help these kids. He has played favorites with Donnie McClurken (“Jesus healed me from being gay”) and Rick Warren. He is far more pro-religion and anti-gay than you think. Atheists, agnostics, and homosexuals simply have no other political option than the democrats, and he knows it. What could possibly be in it for him to stand up to the BSA? Please, don’t talk about the reward of doing the right thing, etc. This is politics, and in politics people get sacrificed for the dreams of others.

  • mott

    He should take the position and do his job, make some changes. No more discrimination against gays & atheists.
    Mott

  • Steph

    @ Polly..

    “I thought we atheists weren’t supposed to believe in miracles.”

    I hope you considered the weight of public influence. Miracles are made up by mind. Action by beliefs, which is why it is up to each individual to have an opinion.

    Please do not break this subject into tiny bits and pieces, and notice it just, as a turning-point in which all nontheist organizations start to shape their naturalistic view.

  • Rags

    I am a scout and i am also an atheist.
    There are several ways they discriminate
    1 In order to advance in “rank” (get to the next level all the way up to eagle) you must have a “board of review” in which adult leaders ask among other things what you have done for your family, community, state, and Church ~In order to advance I must lie about that last part~
    2 They (most of the time) force you to take part in religious services on sunday when at camp
    It is for these reasons i plan to drop out of scouts… soon

  • Chris Davis

    It would be interesting to formally ask the BSA to estimate how many of its actual scouts were atheist or gay.

    I assume the figures will roughly match the normal population demographic and thus be a sizeable number.

    Young as they are, many will already be aware of their sexuality and/or non-religious worldview. As a follow-up, what might be the attitude of the BSA to such scouts if they identify themselves?

  • Scoutmaster Joe

    I am a Scoutmaster and a person with a naturalistic world view. It is a fact that gods exist. From the most primative pagans to the ancient Greeks and Romans and Eastern mystics, to the modern religions of today, man created gods as a personification of intangible ideals.

    The Scout Oath requires me to do no more than to do my best to do my “duty to God” as I perceive that duty to be. Like any athiest, I can always promise to be true to my duty to God as I perceive that duty to exist.

    I realize most of the adults in scouting would disagree with my “technical” interpretation of the oath, but I have read enough about the founder of the Scouting movement, Lord Baden-Powell, to know that even if he didn’t offically agree, he would give me a sly wink of approval.

  • Craig Smith

    Twenty years ago,when I was a scoutmaster and my sons were in scouts, a parent discovered (she asked)my absence of religious beliefs and tried to get my sons and me booted. Although she failed, against support from several levels of scout leadership, my support for the organization turned to ambivalance in the face other atheists (and gays) being exorcized nationally.

    Now I am president of our local school board and can continue contributing to the growth of our communities children. When asked today about religion, I do claim “brighthood” and explain. Most people are ok with that.

    I have a tough time with the scout dilemna, as BSA is such a rewarding and well funded part of kids lives. For the BSA it is a particularaly irreligious thing to deny these resources to any kids. Their decisions destroy their arguments.

  • http://oregonbrights.com Eagle

    I earned my eagle scout badge when I was a youth, and still unsure about my religious ideas. After I entered college and began to really look inward I decided that my religious ideals were flimsy on evidence. As I continued to grow I decided I was a naturalist (see the-brights.net). At this and the court decisions BSA vs. Dale, et cetera I was disillusioned by the actions of this organization that was so instrumental in my early life. I loved being in the scouts and had such fond memories of my time there but was disgusted with the current leaderships decision to alienate large segments of our population (LGBT, Atheists, and Agnostics). At this point I seriously considered mailing my Eagle badge back to the scouts headquarters, but I think this would be a pointless idea because it would affect no positive change.

    I guess that is the measure by which we should look at Obama accepting this title. Does it affect any positive change? Will it change the way the BSA treats us? Will it help him accomplish his campaign promises?

    I was so incredibly happy to have been given that small glimpse of hope during the inaugaration speech when obama included non-believers although that isnt an entirely inclusive word, it felt like a lightbeam slicing through the clouds. Hopefully Obama continues to be inclusive of all of us. We should get the groups of the LGBT community to sign this letter as well so that Obama can see how large a group we are. But regardless accepting this title says more about the positive values and teachings of boyscouts then the negative ones (i.e. leave no trace, outdoor survival skills, leadership, and the twelve points of the scout law). Obama should continue to be inclusive rather then begin to be exclusive.

  • http://www.discountmedspa.com Laurie Dalleva

    I am a woman in a boyscout leadership role. It seems it is now normal for the mothers of these yound men to participate fully in the activities. I can only hope that one day Brights will be treated as fairly. This has also been an opportunity to spark interesting conversations between me and my 7 year old son about ‘God’ “Dog” and what it means to have a naturalistic owrld view. He has learned that is is ok to not offend the group by de-nouncing their prayers that often come up in meetings, but that he can participate in the activities just like the other boys and just leave the Dog stuff at the door. It has been a social experiment for us both. I will say that generally the Boy Scouts do good acts and help many groups in need, actions that both Supers and Brights can be proud to participate in. It is also focuses on being a good neighbor, a good person, a contributor, and telling the truth- usually without reference to the reason being God but rather just to be a good person. Obvisouly, individual packs of scouts will have varying degrees of religion in their culture, but ours is tolerable. It has even helped us grow in our own beliefs and in how to peacefully co-exist with the Supers.

  • Robert

    Boy Scouts do not discriminate they make choices like every one in the United States has the right to do.

    The Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America can bar homosexuals from being troop leaders.

    Chief Justice William Rehnquist agreed. He said for the court majority that applying a state public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit a gay troop leader violates the group’s constitutional right of expressive association.

    Where is the discrimination?

    This web site is a perfect example of why our country is lost and confused. Scouting has done so much good for our country and has hurt no one. What contribution has your group done to make the world better? It looks to me that division is all you have on your mind in an effort to justify your beliefs with no respect for the Constitution or the Supreme Court. If I believe in God why would I want to join your group? If you don’t believe in God don’t join our group it’s just that simple. It’s like saying I want to join the Army but the Army kill and murder people, and I don’t believe in killing and murder so the Army must stop at once so I can join. Atheists and Gays have made a choice on how to live their life. People who believe in God have made a choice just like you, so get over it, or accept God into your life and join Scouting.

    Look at it from my point of view. If you have no belief of anything, where do you get your moral guidance? In the case of gay leaders, if a leader is arrested for molesting a child I consider him to be gay because the leader is attracted to the same sex. Let’s look at the same sex attraction. It is driven entirely by personal pleasure and nothing else. Some doctors say it is genetics and a break down in the gene development. You will never be able to convince me that science, nature, or God would have designed life with no way to reproduce and keep the world going on. If this is your idea of evolution then we as human beings are secluded for extinction.

    This great country was founded on the principles like “In God we trust”and morality. Ever since the attack on religion came from groups like yours I have seen our country go down a destructive path of immorality. After spending over 25 years in scouting I have seen all of the good that scouting has brought to the world. All groups like yours want is to destroy a private group who does not agree with you. Has your group started a youth organization to promote your values?
    If not, I think that is where you should be looking and thinking positive not destructive.

    Did you know that Bill Clinton was removed from the role of Honorary President because he made a choice, and that choice was to lie under oath and to lie to the people of the United States? (It depends what the definition of is, is) and (I did not have sexual relations with that woman).

    President Obama, who has professed to be a Christian, should keep up the tradition of being Honorary President of Boy Scouts of America.

  • Hillary

    I feel that I must strongly disagree with the above statement by Robert.

    The Boy Scouts are a private organization, like a church group, and this is the only reason why the Supreme Court upheld their right to restrict membership. However, this IS discriminatory. Two distinct segments of the population are not permitted entrance into the organization. I also refer you to the Supreme Court’s 1896 decision in Plessey v. Ferguson, in which the court upheld separate but equal facilities (segregation), which almost everyone today will agree is highly discriminatory. The Supreme Court reversed its decision in that instance, and I hope that it will do the same in this. The Constitution, in any case, supports the precedent of protecting the rights of minorities with the Fourteenth and Nineteenth Amendments – with any luck the Court will continue to expand Fourteenth Amendment protection to the GLBTQ community, as it did in the 1996 decision Romer v. Evans, and as it did for women in the late 1960s.

    What contribution has your group [Atheists] done to make the world better?

    Atheists are not an organized group. They do not meet in large gatherings on certain days of the week to say, “Let us sit and believe that there is no God together,” as religious people gather to pray. There is no sense in asking what a large mass of uncollected people do as a group if there is no group.

    It’s like saying I want to join the Army but the Army kill and murder people, and I don’t believe in killing and murder so the Army must stop at once so I can join.

    An integral part of the Army is killing. That (along with dressing snappily and shooting things) is what the Army does. The purpose of the Boy Scouts is not to discriminate against gays and atheists; it is to provide community values. Therefore it makes very little sense to suggest that they should be exempt from the language prohibiting discrimination which is in the Constitution. Note: These are my own views. I mean no offense to anyone.

    I agree that child molestors and pedophiles should be arrested, tried, and sentenced to the maximum permitted by law. However, I have seen no evidence or statistics to show that gays are more likely to be sexual predators than anyone else.

    You will never be able to convince me that science, nature, or God would have designed life with no way to reproduce and keep the world going on.

    Then I won’t bother on this one. I have better things to do with my time.

    This great country was founded on the principles like “In God we trust”and morality.

    There is no place in the Constitution where the word, “God” is mentioned. I have read the Constitution, and I have looked. Look for yourself if you like. “In God We Trust” was only added to currency during the Red Scare, along with the “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Founders left the source of their people’s morals up to the individuals.

    As for President Obama accepting or rejecting the offer of Honorary President of the Boy Scouts, it is only symbolic either way, and (I think) will in and of itself mean nothing. If only to secure his reelection, he probably ought to accept the offer, as it will be quite irrelevant to whatever policies he signs or vetos.

    • themanfromtallahassee

      BZZT…its not discriminatory to socialize in a private group with people who have common connections. We can meet, talk with anyone we want to and choose not to do the same with anyone. I don’t associate with alcoholics, drug users, sex offenders (hetero or other), people that swear, lie or smell bad. I probably would not be a friend of an atheist. But i would not violate any constitutional right any of these people had…get over the fact Americans can choose who they have as friends and acquaintances or club members

  • http://www.terkoz.com terkoz

    President Obama, who has professed to be a Christian, should keep up the tradition of being Honorary President of Boy Scouts of America.

  • Henry

    As soon as I read that “if Obama had tried to join the Boy Scouts as a child — back before he “accepted Jesus” into his life — he could very well have been kicked out” I knew that this article has little value. A Scout is reverent means he believes in a God and respects the beliefs of others. It does not mean he must be Christian. In fact, I know many scouts who are not Christian. I have been involved with scouting for over ten years and in all my time in scouting I was never questioned about my belief if Jesus. If you want to continue hating on scouts, take a look at all of the famous people who have been scouts. No matter if you agree with all of their policies, scouting is proven to be a great organization for today’s youth that helps them succeed.

  • christie

    My son is a life scout and was just old by his leaders that he would not be able to pass his Eagle board of review since he is an atheist. But it seems many other atheists have earned their Eagle. Did the subject of religion just not come up in the Eagle Board of review? Or did you just happen to get Leaders who overlooked that?

    • themanfromtallahassee

      Religion is one of the tenants of BSA. Is this a surprise to you? Why did you join? Having said that, congrats he did everything else to be a Life Scout.

  • Atheist Scout

    I am a Star Scout in the BSA and I am atheist. If you can not keep a secret, and you “have” to tell the Scout Master that your a homo or atheist, then you dont belong here. Also, me and my fellow scouts, wheather atheist or not, aren’t comfortable with allowing homosexuals in, considering there were 2,000 abuse cases in the BSA, not counting the ones that were not reported to avoid shame and hazing, and if we allowed homosexuals in, without the fear of being kicked out, the cases would spike.

    • Sycrus

      Geez! And you see absolutely no problem with an organization that prides on the  value of trustworthiness and demands members to keep facts of their life in secret, as if they were shameful, and actually suffers from thousands of abuse cases? Sheesh! You need glasses for your moral myopia, ya know?

  • themanfromtallahassee

    I don’t understand all the whining? People can associate with anyone they want to and do what they want. BSA does what it does. If you don’t like it, don’t join it. Go start your own group. Hey, you have, look at all the atheist and gay groups. I’m not joining, but you are FREE yourself to do whatever you want. And i’m sure I buy cookies, and stop at red lights and purchase things from atheist and gay groups/people all the time. Really, get over it. What ever happened to tolerance? Or is that just something you wheel out from time to time.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      I bet you wouldn’t be saying that if it were blacks and Jews instead of gays and atheists. Discriminating against people on the basis of religion and sexual orientation is wrong. It’s immoral. It’s an ugly, nasty, bigoted thing to do. How would you like for your small child to be told he can’t join a club because he comes from the “wrong” kind of family or the “wrong” background?

      • Themanfromtallahassee

        Anna, blacks and Jews are not gays and atheists, or even same category. Everyone has freedom of choice in whom we associate. In our country, we’ve decided were not going to discriminate based on creed or race. Being gay or an atheist is neither. Please read the Bill of Rights. You can chose to be and live lots of fun, creative, ways and you don’t need anyone’s approval. Likewise, it’s wrong and stupid to expect everyone to salute your flag and they are “discriminating” by doing their own thing, whether it’s BSA, or a GLBT club. What’s ugly and nasty is how screwed up most gay people are. I still can’t figure out if they are messed up because they are gay or because they are gay they are messed up? The world may never know!

        Amazing how fast you guys label. Why would an atheist or gay want to be in BSA or any other group that focuses on healthier lifestyles and religion anyway?

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Your bigotry is noted. I feel very sorry for people like you because you weren’t born prejudiced. You were taught to be prejudiced from adults around you.

          Please explain to me the difference between being black or Jewish and being gay or atheist? We’re all minorities. The only difference is that it’s socially acceptable to discriminate against gays and atheists, and it is no longer acceptable to exclude blacks and Jews. 50 years ago, it was another story.

          I feel sad that you seem to have such terrible opinions of gay people. They are no more “screwed up” than anyone else. How about you try evaluating people based on their character and how they treat others, rather than on irrelevant things like their sexual orientation?

          It’s just sad that the BSA wants to exclude people based on their religion and sexual orientation. If a child comes from the “wrong” background, he’s told he can’t join. And for what? What purpose is there in excluding people and making them feel bad?

          Why would an atheist or gay want to be in BSA or any other group that focuses on healthier lifestyles and religion anyway?

          Believing in the supernatural has nothing to do with camping, and neither does one’s sexual orientation. “Healthier lifestyles,” what does that mean? Gay people are just as healthy as anyone else. Why shouldn’t they learn skills and go camping? Why shouldn’t atheists? The BSA has never been about making children follow a particular religion. They let in Buddhists and other children from non-Western, non-monotheistic backgrounds. They don’t teach children to worship a particular god. What is the difference between a Buddhist and an atheist?