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Eagle Scout Speaks Out On Behalf Of Ousted Atheist Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert

November 11, 2002

Dear Scout Executive,

I am writing to encourage you to overrule the recent action taken by Chief Seattle Council in removing the Eagle Award from Darrell Lambert due to his refusing to change his religious beliefs. It's astonishing to me that the Boy Scouts has sunk so far as to actually take such a demotivating action against a scout with an outstanding record.

I earned by Eagle Scout rank in 1987, and was one of the youngest eagles in North Florida Council at the time (I was 14). My brother was an Eagle Scout, my father and my grandfather were both Council Executives. I went on to work with Order of the Arrow, and was tapped for Vigil in 1990 and served on the staff for NOAC. I've led contingents to Philmont, Maine High Adventure Base as well as Florida Seabase and was Senior Patrol Leader for one of the top troops in our council.

I am also now agnostic in my religious beliefs. When I was an active scout, and when I went through my eagle scout review, I considered myself a Christian (I was confirmed Lutheran) with a Deist leaning toward Unitarian belief that there was a God, that he/she had set the world in motion, and hadn't been involved much since. I learned this belief from readings from Jefferson, Franklin and Albert Einstein. Being in the South (Jacksonville, FL) this wasn't a very popular belief, but I felt that it matched my view of the world. I was encouraged to learn about religion mainly BECAUSE of sc outs, and its requirement to be reverent
to all faiths. I saw the fact that Scouts offered religious awards to any faith to mean that it was the responsibility of a scout to
understand and respect people's beliefs, no matter what they were.

I studied religion thoughtfully as I grew older, had friends who were Mormon, Jewish, Muslim and Southern Baptist. I've read the Book of Mormon, the Koran and several books of the Old Testament that aren't accepted by today's church. When I entered college at Cornell I realized that I no longer believed in God as such. I took several classes in philosophy and began to find more direction in a version of philosophy that builds a moral structure around the simple tenant of "reduction of misery". While more mentally challenging to apply that the strict directives of many religion, it has allowed me the flexibility to look at some of the complex and wrenching moral decisions facing our generation.

It has been very troubling to me to watch friends of mine that are some of the best scouts I've known become vilified and marginalized because of their "religiously unaccepted" sexual preference. But, the recent move from Scouts toward the same path with religious preference is one that now strikes me personally offensive. I've lost any interest to become re-involved with scouting and my wife and I have decided to volunteer for other organizations. It's saddening that the scouting professionals have turned this around and made it a yes/no issue, rather than embracing the fact that part of a scouts education is to understand how to be reverent to all religious (including the lack thereof), even if they don't hold the same beliefs. If Darren can do that, don't see why he isn't the sort of citizen that America expects from its Boy Scouts of America. I also empathize with him, if I had been delayed in my Eagle climb I might have had to make the same statement in my Eagle review. Or doesn't that matter? If I DID believe in God when I was a scout, and now don't, do you think I too should be retroactively stripped of my rank? If you believe that is the case, I've attached my address so you can send me an envelope asking for it. For, if you would be willing to ask for it, I' d be certain it no longer stands for anything.

Regards, Michael Holland, Eagle Scout â87 CT

PS: And if District Chair Glen Schmitt would like me to send him a logical explanation for how common logic could explain why it's incorrect that "an atheist were to find a wallet on the ground he would pick it up, steal the money and throw the wallet back on the ground" I'd be glad to help educate him. He should also note that the terrorists who killed several thousands of Americans on 9/11 believed in God, how moral were they?



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