I was a member of the Boy Scouts back in the 1960s and early 1970s, earning the rank of Eagle Scout in 1973. The Scouts taught me how to camp and cook and clean. They taught me hiking, canoeing, first aid, home repairs, lifesaving and personal safety. They taught me to preserve the environment and to respect nature. They taught me the meaning of citizenship. Thank you, Scouts!
So what have the Scouts done lately?
The Scouts are anti-gay. In fact, this October, after 18-year-old honor student Ryan Andresen had spent a decade completing the requirements for Eagle Scout, after being hazed and bullied in school and in Scouts for being gay, after being encouraged to create a “tolerance wall” as part of an Eagle requirement of demonstrating “Citizenship in the Community” – after completing all the requirements, Ryan was denied the Eagle award not because he was buggering other boys in the woods, or because of anything in the Scout Law or Scout Oath*, but because he is openly gay. For flying the banner of bigotry alongside the American flag, I am ashamed of the Scouts.
The Scouts are anti-atheist. Yes, “honest” is not one of the 12 points of the Scout Law – but Atheist Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert found out, after a decade in the organization and 37 merit badges, the Scouts are not kidding. After openly admitting his atheism, Darrell still got his Eagle award – but he was kicked out in 2002, not because he burned a cross or told a lie, but because he is atheist. For flying the banner of bigotry alongside the American flag, I am ashamed of the Scouts.
Why do the Boy Scouts fly the flag of bigotry? Is it because their three biggest sponsors are Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Southern Baptists? Or has history passed them by? I think the BSA, which was Congressionally chartered in 1916, has outlived its usefulness and no longer deserves American respect. The BSA is teaching bigotry along with basket weaving. This is not the meaning of citizenship. Fuck you, Scouts!
*Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and 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.
Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Spirituality has been an integral part of the international Scouting movement since its inception. As early as 1908, Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell (1857 London -1941 Kenya) wrote in the first Scout handbook that, "No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws." (Wikipedia)
Mann believed in an impersonal God but rejected immortality. The Dictionary of American Biography described him as "a Puritan without a theology."