Re: Atheist sues BSA
Frank Boimare (SC0HASS@VM.TCS.TULANE.EDU)
Wed, 21 Oct 1992 12:03:53 CDT
I personally would say that unless someone makes an issue of what they
believe, no one would know what they believe, so no one could exclude
them based on their beliefs.
The problem is that the atheists make it an issue for their own purposes.
They are not trying to do anything positive for the BSA or the youth it
serves. They are trying to prove a point.
The BSA does not discriminate against them because they do not believe in
a god. It discriminates against them because the beliefs and attitudes
they express indicate that they do not support the stated goals of the BSA
program AND they are actively seeking to destroy the program by trying to
tear down these goals.
If they are adults without a kid in the unit using the facility and the
facility does not discriminate against them if they want to have an atheist
meeting at the facility, what business is it of their's if BSA meets in the
facility, too, and how is it violating their rights?
If they have a child in the unit, I would not exclude him UNLESS he came to
the meetings trying to convert everyone to atheism. I would, however, treat
any child or adult who actively tried to promote ANY specific religion at
meetings the same way.
I also doubt whether the unit charter agreement gives a unit the latitude to
exclude boys of a particular faith or boys with a generic view of god on the
basis of that believe alone. I think a CO can ask for a specific level of
participation at the youth's church of choice, but I doubt that they can
legally require it. I think they have a right to ask why a family who says
they believe in a god (or more broadly, subscribes to BSA's statement of
religious principles) does not attend church, but I do not think they should
exclude anyone whose answer indicates a valid reason.
I personally do not belong to a church and troubled over this for a while
when I returned to the program as an adult leader. I am Cubmaster of a pack
at a Lutheran church and an Assistant Scoutmaster for a troop sponsored by
a Methodist church. I support the religious awards programs actively, and
try to persuade my church-going boys and adults to attend religious services
at camp (with little success, despite the fact that I always try to attend
the services to set a good example). I believe in god or God, although I
could not define who or what he or she is. I see the work of God all around
me -- in the boys in my units, in the trees at camp, in every bird and
animal, etc. -- so I know there is a God. I just can't select one version
of God as any better than another version. After having examined my beliefs
and the BSA's statement of religious principles, I concluded that my "belief"
was as valid as anyone else's.
If the BSA can accommodate my beliefs, surely they have room for the vast
majority of our population. They only exclude atheists -- people who say
they do not believe in any form or type of god. I say they are right! A
person without some belief in a higher being has no basis on which to form
a moral code. Self-interest is his/her only rational motivation. My sons
will meet enough of these types in the "real" world when they get older --
I do not feel obligated to force them on the boys now.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City