First the Boy Scouts of America asserted its "right" to discriminate against gays. Now this self-professed bastion of moral values plans to expel yet another of its most exemplary members - 19-year old Darrell Lambert, a Seattle Eagle Scout with dozens of merit badges, awards and ten years in scouting to his credit. Is he gay? Has he done anything wrong? No to both questions. The thing that has the BSA's knickers in a knot this time is that the scout in question simply refuses to acknowledge a belief in God. The BSA has given Mr. Lambert one week to profess his belief in God or face expulsion. We all knew the organization was bigoted, but few realized it actually claimed authority under the laws of the Inquisition. Who's next on their hit list? Democrats?
Defending the BSA's position, one of the organization's top honchos said the BSA "is a Faith-Based Organization." Now where have I heard that term before? Oh, I remember now - President Bush wants Faith-Based organizations to serve as the conduits for public funds to administer social programs. Guess we can kiss most of THAT money goodbye.
Several years go, a court upheld the BSA's decision to expel a member who met all of its qualifications and then some - apart from his sexual orientation. The court found that because the BSA is privately funded, it may legally bar from membership anyone who - in the organization's sole opinion - doesn't meet the standards set forth in the twelve points of the Scout Oath: "Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent" (one can't help but note that "Tolerant" is conspicuous by its absence - a quality, ironically, that is one of the cornerstones of all mainstream religions today). Many in the liberal/progressive community were dismayed by the court's ruling, but few at the time saw fit to mount a serious challenge to the BSA's claim that a gay scout might somehow corrupt or otherwise pose a threat to his fellow scouts.
The victim of the BSA's present campaign of ideological cleansing is probably well out of an organization that demands such abject fealty to the dictates of its brown-shirt leadership, and although he has said he will fight the BSA's decision, he probably will not prevail. That's all well and good, but it's high time the Boy Scouts of America was widely exposed for what it is: an indoctrination center for right-wing reactionism that is more similar than not to the Hitler Youth. If a fringe cult run by extreme right-wing wackos were busily indoctrinating children to beliefs so antithetical to prevailing social, civic and religious norms, social service agencies would characterize it as a form of child abuse and courts would step in to prevent the cult leaders from further poisoning the minds of their youthful charges. That probably won't happen in this case, even though the BSA's modus operandi fits this description to a tee, because most of the political leadership (not to mention judges) were themselves associated with scouting.
Perhaps if more parents knew what the BSA really has come to stand for, they wouldn't be so complacent in allowing their kids to participate.
There are MANY articles that provide the shameful details of this ongoing saga, including a few truly unbelievable letters from other scouts DEFENDING the BSA's position (illustrates just how brainwashed some of these kids are).
Use the following Google URL as a link page and just start reading! http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&q=eagle
Following article from the New York Times via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Eagle Scout must believe in God or leave organization
19-year-old became an atheist after studying evolution in school
Dean E. Murphy, New York Times Sunday, November 3, 2002
Seattle -- The Boy Scout Law states that members must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Darrell Lambert has been in scouting for 10 years. Last year, he attained the highest rank, Eagle. Now a college freshman, he volunteers as an assistant in a troop in Port Orchard, just across the Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula, where his mother is the scoutmaster.
But last week Lambert got an ultimatum from scouting officials in Seattle. Eleven out of 12 was not good enough anymore. Lambert, who is 19 and has been an atheist since studying evolution in the ninth grade, was told to abide by the vow of reverence by this week or get out.
"They say that I should think about what I really believe and get back to them," he said. "I have thought about this for years. Can they expect me to change my beliefs in seven days?"
Mark Hunter, the director of marketing and administration for the Chief Seattle Council, said it was enforcing a national policy. The Boy Scouts is a faith-based organization, he said, and the issue of God is not negotiable. Aside from the vow of reverence in the Scout Law, every Boy Scout pledged a duty to God in the Scout Oath.
Lambert said he was aware of the national policy long ago. He admitted to sometimes mouthing the parts about reverence and God when reciting the law and oath. Other times, he actually said the words. None of it really mattered to him, or anyone else it seemed, until last month when he attended training for adult leaders.
At one session a scouting official led a discussion about religion. The official suggested that the only way a nonbeliever could advance in scouting would be to lie about his beliefs, said Lambert and his mother, Trish Lambert, who also attended the retreat. The official went on to suggest that "a person who doesn't believe in God is not a good citizen," Lambert said.
Lambert took issue with the comments. Many adults considered him a role model and leader in his troop, and he had attained the rank of Eagle after disclosing his atheism.
"I was angry," Lambert said of the session. "I left the room and said I would not be a part of it."
On Wednesday night, the leaders of Trish Lambert's troop, No. 1531, stood behind her son. Sixteen parents -- representing all of the Scouts in the troop, she said -- signed a letter urging the Chief Seattle Council to allow Lambert to stay on. The letter said his atheism had never been an issue in the troop, and it did nothing to change the spiritual foundation of scouting. Trish Lambert said her son should not be punished for "questioning himself and his spirituality."
There seems to be little question that the Boy Scouts have the right to exclude Lambert. The organization won a ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago that essentially allowed it to set standards for membership. At the time, the issue was the Boy Scouts' ban on gays.