Last month, the Secular Student Alliance was represented at a meeting of the White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The topic was “Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses” and the SSA’s Executive Director August Brunsman and Harvard’s Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein were there on behalf of the non-theist community.
That pissed off a few people on the Religious Right. How dare the White House be inclusive of non-theists?!
But yesterday, we got someone special upset at us.
He discusses the Boy Scouts of America and how President Obama hasn’t done much with them despite being the “honorary president.”
Wouldn’t you think with all of the cultural hot water the BSA are in, in our courts and in the public square, that the honorary president of the BSA might defend their First Amendment rights to assemble and believe as they have for 100 years?
On the other hand, it’s interesting to note that student atheist leaders from the Secular Student Alliance were recently bragging on their website that for the first time they were invited to the White House to participate in a June 7 meeting on interfaith service projects on college campuses sponsored by the Obama administration’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
And what about the BSA? Were they invited by their honorary president to participate as well?
Hasn’t America reached a particular low in its history when the White House distances itself from the Boy Scouts of America but invites groups like the Secular Student Alliance to participate in its faith and college missions?
The Boy Scouts have a right to assemble and believe as they wish. But if they’re going to discriminate, then they shouldn’t have access to federal money or public schools.
And you can bet we’re “bragging” about the invitation. This is a big deal. The White House is including the non-theistic community in some important conversations. We’re not getting special treatment at all — if anything, August and Greg were only two of 110 participants at that meeting — but we’re starting to get recognition as an important demographic in America.
I’d like to think there are good reasons for Obama not to tout his association with the Boy Scouts. If he is honestly distancing himself from that group, we’re moving the right direction.
The BSA kicks out scout leaders who are gay or atheist. The SSA welcomes people who are not atheists to our meetings. (We’ve had Christians present at our annual conference, too.)
The BSA has a very cozy relationship with the White House, regardless of how the current president may be acting. This is only the second time the SSA has even been invited for a meeting at the White House.
The President is the “honorary president” of the BSA. If we offered him that title for the SSA, Obama wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.
But hey, if Chuck Norris wants to think that we’re getting more attention than the Boy Scouts, I’m not about to stop him.
In the meantime, maybe we can get the new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to support the SSA… she’s atheist and proud of it!
(via Miranda Celeste Hale)