We know the Boy Scouts of America (now “Scouts BSA”) doesn’t allow openly atheist members or leaders — their own policies say “no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God” — but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a merit badge that proudly displays your godlessness.
Last year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in collaboration with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, began offering a Scarlet A badge to anyone who could explain why the Scouts were wrong about atheists.
Sure, the Boy Scouts weren’t going to honor the badge, but why let a detail like that get in the way?
To be sure, the Boy Scouts were never going to honor this badge in part because they have set criteria for groups that want to take part in their “Religious Emblems” program, and FFRF was just throwing this out there.
The American Humanist Association, on the other hand, has looked at that criteria, met all the requirements (including a set of “Ten Commitments” that scouts would have to follow), and are now going to offer their own badge to anyone who fulfills their obligations.
The Boy Scouts won’t recognize it since the AHA is non-theistic, but if and when the day comes when its leaders finally get their heads out of their asses and allow atheists to join, this program is ready to be adopted.
The AHA’s director of education Kristin Wintermute explains why they did this:
Scouts will be able to earn their humanist badge through activities highlighting the humanist values and principles of the Ten Commitments. Scouts will be guided in acting altruistically and empathically towards others; showing care and concern for our earth; and displaying humility and ethically responsible behavior in working towards peace and social justice. Some of the activities developed coincide with existing Scout expectations, such as being a good family member or citizen, being of help to others, taking care of oneself, and keeping outdoor conservation in mind.
It’s our hope the Scouts BSA will recognize with this humanist badge how much we are striving for the same results in raising conscientious, respectful, ethical, and responsible young adults. And they uphold their new inclusive vision for all youth to see themselves in scouting whether they are gay, transgender, female, religious, or non-religious.
These are worthwhile values and kids who go through the program will be better off as a result. You have to wonder what the Boy Scouts are so afraid of.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)