Scouts should respect my freedom of religion
Published: Friday, November 8, 2002
By Darrell Lambert
Special to The Times
On Dec. 15 1791, 10 out of 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were adopted and became known as the Bill
of Rights. The First Amendment of this document is religious freedom.
Today, in the 21st century, people are still fighting for one of the founding principles of this country.
As of three days ago, I am no longer allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts of America. This decision was not
based on my ability to teach, my ability to be a responsible adult, or anything that I have done wrong in my life.
It was based solely on my not believing that there is a god.
Before my district commissioner knew that I did not believe in God, I was asked to be a unit commissioner. To most
people in the district and my troop, I was a model Scout and still am in a lot of people's eyes. I work my hardest
to teach and support the kids I work with, along with upholding the Scout oath.
The Scout oath states that I must do my best to do my duty to God and my country. My not believing there is a God
is the best that I can do.
I do not come at this decision narrow-mindedly. I do read about God in books and papers that people give me or
recommend that I read. I continually talk about it with religious leaders and other adults if I get the chance.
Not believing in God is my belief; people should respect that belief. Mark Hunter (Scout council representative)
said that BSA respects my beliefs, yet it kicks me out of not only the organization I have been a part of for 10
years, but Search and Rescue as well.
If Scout leaders truly respected everyone's beliefs, they would ask me to work together with them to teach kids
what is supposed to be taught in scouting, things like pioneering, camping, hiking, biking, orienteering, climbing,
snowshoeing, swimming, canoeing, wilderness survival, backpacking, good citizenship, respect for other people and
Religion should be taught at home with the Scouts' family and the religious institution of their choice, just like
it says in the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle.
Do we want our kids growing up believing that we should shun diversity? That people with different views of the
world are not good enough to enjoy the same things they enjoy in Scouts?
The Supreme Court decided BSA leadership has the right to limit the organization to certain groups of people.
The question is, do they have the moral right to do such a thing and defy their own rules, which state that BSA
can adopt bylaws, rules and regulations not inconsistent with the laws of the United States of America and states
Boy Scouts is a private organization that can pick and choose which rules it wants to abide by. But why then are
millions of government tax dollars going to a private, discriminatory organization?
I personally don't like the money that I pay in taxes going to an organization that kicks people out for what I
deem an illegitimate reason.
I am not asking for people to conform to my belief, nor will I ever ask that. The different perspectives and views
people have are what make this country the best in the world.
I am standing up asking people to fight for our right to have a belief and have people respect it.
Please write the regional Boy Scout office at 4765 S. Lakeshore Dr., Tempe, AZ 85282.
Darrell Lambert, a Port Orchard resident, is the Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster who was ousted from the
Boy Scouts of America this week after professing his atheism.
The Yakima Herald-Republic
Published: Saturday, November 09, 2002
Scouts' ban on atheists doesn't seem to add up
Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert of Port Orchard has every right to be an atheist. ....By the same token, the Boy Scouts
of America has every right to kick him out of scouting because he is.
Rights cut both ways.
Lambert has earned 37 merit badges, worked more than 1,000 hours of community service and helps lead a Boy Scout
troop in his hometown. Still, the 19-year-old has been told by the Boy Scouts' regional executive to declare belief
in a supreme being and comply with Boy Scout policy, or quit the Scouts.
"We've asked him to search his heart, to confer with family members, to give this great thought," Brad
Farmer, the Scout executive of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts, told The Sun. "If he says he's
an avowed atheist, he does not meet the standards of membership."
On membership applications, Boy Scouts and adult leaders must say they recognize some higher power, not necessarily
religious. "Mother Nature would be acceptable," Farmer said.
As a private organization, the Boy Scouts are permitted to exclude certain people from membership and does ban
gays and atheists.
As a private organization that is not supported by public funding, the scouting organization has a right to set
its own membership requirements. But it does not have the right to force Lambert to declare something in which
he does not believe just to be a
member, which he says would be a lie: "I wouldn't be a good Scout then, would I?"
So technically, the Scouting organization is right and so is Lambert.
But one has to wonder why Boy Scouts need the ban on gays and atheists in the first place. Obviously, atheists
can also be good Scouts or Lambert wouldn't be an Eagle Scout. And as an Eagle, he has had to measure up to some
pretty stiff standards of good conduct and achievement.
Seems that would be more important in the molding of a young man than whether he swears a belief in some higher
being or Mother Nature.