We already knew the Boy Scouts of America was a religious organization. The Scout Oath has a line about how “I will do my best / To do my duty to God,” the Scout Law includes “reverent” as a quality worth having, and open atheists have been systematically kicked out of the organization. The fact that it took until very recently for the BSA to accept both gay scouts and gay leaders has everything to do with religious opposition within its membership.
But now, beginning next year, all scouts will be required to “tell” how they’ve done their duty to God. Forget being a closeted atheist. That means you can’t even be questioning your faith anymore.
Bryan Wendell, who writes about scouting for the BSA, explains the change (emphases his):
The new requirements do ask Scouts to reflect on their own belief. They don’t ask the Scout leader to have a two-way conversation about religion, to proselytize or to evaluate whether the Scout’s duty to God meets the Scout leader’s personal standard.
Look at the verb in the requirement: “Tell how you have done your duty to God.” Not demonstrate, discuss, show or prove.
This is a monologue by the Scout. Not a dialogue between a Scout and his leader.
That doesn’t make it any better. It still suggests that talking about one’s faith is some sort of virtue.
And in case there was any doubt, the FAQ part of that blog even says, “A Scout’s declaration that he does not believe in God is grounds to deny rank advancement and could affect his continued membership in the troop.”
To be clear, the BSA is a private organization and they have every right to do this. The only reason it’s worth mentioning is to provide justification for why we fight back whenever the BSA tries to gain entry into public schools for recruiting or gets special perks from the government.
Promoting the BSA means promoting religion. This new rule makes that explicitly clear.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)