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November 11, 2002

Sharing comments from Finnland and Norway, via the International Unitarian Universalist list:

One of the most noble and worthwhile efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Association has been its long-term, concerted endeavours to bring about changes in the rules of the Boy Scouts of America association to ensure more fairness and inclusiveness with respect to the latter's membership criteria. Pivotally, this would allow young people who, out of intellectual honesty, find it is impossible to maintain the fiction that they believe in a supreme deity. It would also allow for Scouts and
leaders who align themselves with sexual minorities to seek and/or maintain their association with the Boy Scout organization.

This week, the media actively reported how still one more young man, an Eagle Scout with an excellent record, was ousted from the organization simply because he admitted to a lack of faith in God.

Both my sons have been active Scouts, have attended Jamborees and walked in many marches. And both my wife and I have actively supported them over the years in this area.

But they have been members of the Finnish national organization in Europe.

An organization which does not admit any affinity with the narrow membership criteria of the Boy Scouts of America -- and certainly wouldn't oust a member simply because he has the courage to adhere to the reality of his theological beliefs. And if he is a homosexual as opposed to a heterosexual, so what? What interest should it be to the Scouts what personal orientation applies in such a personal area of life for a young person only starting to deal with so many other aspects of maturity and adulthood as well? Why add trauma to the pain many young people feel when they are first trying to deal with the fact that they do not feel the same attractions as most of their peers, not to mention the marginalization such an orientation may bring in tow?

Should we -- if we are stressing to them how important it is to be honest -- encourage young citizens to examine the truth or lack of it of their religious belief and take responsibility for whatever sincere perspectives they reach? Or do we suggest they act with subterfuge and deceit, because only by doing so will they retain membership in an organization which condemns what may otherwise be the result of being honest? What kind of people do we want as their parents and guides to go out into the world? What sorts of memories and lessons which last a lifetime do we really want them to derive from the scouting experience?

The fact is that the American Boy Scouts organization continues, despite everything the UUA has patiently tried to do over the years, to grievously betray the ideals and principles of equality and brotherhood which motivate the international scouting movement and which so clearly come to the fore in their World Jamborees.

Perhaps it is high time for a boycott to be organized by the world scouting organizations -- a boycott the ICUU board would give sympathy and support to -- in order to put real pressure on this renegade U.S. group and insist that they smarten up -- or surrender the use of the name for dragging the whole ideal Scouting represents through the mud.

Paul W Harrison, TESL
interEnglish (Finland)

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