Atheists and Other Non-theists in Scouting
The Boy Scouts of America requires its members to believe in God and to recite an oath to God
at every troop meeting. They do not permit membership to anyone whose convictions do not allow them to recite this
oath and they terminate membership of anyone who is discovered to be an atheist or agnostic, even if it is discovered
inadvertently. Consequently, over 20 million Americans are excluded from the Boy Scouts due to their religious
beliefs. This includes not only people who identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, but also includes other
non-theists such as secular Jews, non-theistic Buddhists, some Unitarians and animists (animists believe in spirits
but do not believe in God). The exclusion applies to both children and adults.
The Girl Scouts of America also have an oath to God that they recite at every troop meeting, however, they do not
prohibit membership to those who do not profess belief in God. They allow non-theistic members to substitute the
word "God" for a word of their choosing. In this way, the Girl Scouts have maintained their oath and
duty to God while accommodating non-theists at the same time. To allow all American citizens the opportunity to
be in the Boy Scouts, BSA leadership should make the same kind of accommodation for non-theists.
Why are non-theists excluded from the Boy Scouts?
Non-theists are excluded from the Boy Scouts on moral grounds. On every application form and
in the Boy Scout handbook you will find the words "you can't be the best kind of citizen without the obligation
to God." This is another way of saying that you can't be moral without belief in God. While this is a commonly
held belief, it is in fact a myth. Those who do not profess belief in God do not have any higher a propensity towards
acts of immorality than anyone else. While about 10% of the U.S. population does not profess belief in God, less
than 1% of the prison population does not profess belief in God. You would think that a group of such immoral people
would have an unusually high percentage of its members behind bars!
Although the BSA now tries to mislead the public by identifying itself as a religious organization, it is, for
all practical purposes, a secular organization. The BSA 1916 Charter says that the BSA is a nonsectarian organization.
It is not to be driven by any particular religion or religious group. Currently the BSA is being run by the dictates
of religious fundamentalists, who are dictating current policy. There are no prayers or religious teachings in
the Boy Scouts and church attendance is not required, even on outings. There are no duties that a non-theist could
not perform. Consequently, there are no good reasons to exclude members on the basis of
religious beliefs. An organization that is secular should determine membership according to criteria that is secular.
The BSA is ignoring the fact that there are many non-theists who are law abiding, contributing members of society
who have much to contribute to the Boy Scouts. They want to be in the Boy Scouts just like everyone else. The BSA
is a great American institution and it should be available to every American citizen regardless of their religious
Most Scouting Associations throughout the world don't exclude atheists or other non-theists from scouting. It isn't
even an issue in most countries. Lord Baden Powell , who founded scouting in 1907 in England never siad in his
writings on regligion that non-theists should be excluded from the world scouting movement. In fact in England
where Scouting began atheists,girls,and persons who are gay are all members and participate in scouting.
Click Here to Download Scouting for All's Literature: Athiests,
Other Non-Theists and the Boy Scouts of America - A two sided pamphlet providing
information regarding Athiests and other Non-Theists and the BSA Policies. (Requires Adobe
- The Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies - Is a network created for mutual support among local and regional societies of secular humanists.
American Humanist Association
NOSHA is dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of freethought, secularism, skepticism, non-theism and humanism.
We support the efforts of Scouting for All to work for social justice within the Boy Scouts of America and society
at large. We must stand against all forms of discrimination. The BSA discriminates against gay and non-theist youth
and adults. The New Orleans Secular Humanist Association http://www.nosha.secularhumanism.net
- American Atheists - American
Atheists welcome you to the online version of our quarterly magazine of Atheist News and Thought
- American Humanist Association
- Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility
to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
The American Humanist Association is also a member of the Secular Coalition for America whose mission is to increase
the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints within the larger culture and to protect and strengthen
secular government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.
- Atheist Magazine
- "Positive Atheists discussing the history, ethics and philosophy of atheism promotes
- ATHEIST STATION is Central
Pennsylvania's only official meeting site for atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.
- Atheists for Human Rights
- www.AtheistWorld.Com - Athesit
/ Nontheist educational and discussion web site
- Camp Quest - is the first
secular summer camp in US history for the children of humanists, freethinkers, agnostics and atheists. Since 1996,
Camp Quest has provided a unique week-long event free of supernatural appeals, an exploration of the natural world,
and as much outdoor fun as we can pack into those few days. Camp Quest's acceptance of campers and staff regardless
of belief or orientation is well known. This successful program is being copied to several new locations this summer,
in Ontario, Minnesota, and Michigan, fully endorsed by Edwin Kagin and Camp Quest (Classic).
Len Zanger (director)
Camp Quest of Michigan, Inc.
P. O. Box 656
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303
- Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists (CASH) of the University of
Minnesota - statement: We support Scouting for All in its efforts
to end discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America against gay and atheist youth and adults. The Campus Atheists
and Secular Humanists (CASH) is a non-profit educational and social group run by students of the University of
Minnesota. In our 13th year, we continue to strive to create a community for atheist, humanist, and freethinking
individuals. We represent rational thought on campus, advocate freedom of speech and freedom of religion, separation
of church and state, and consider ourselves and other secular student groups to be the voice of reason and skepticism
in a sea of supernaturalist dogma on college campuses around the United States.
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Since 1978, the nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation has been
working to keep state and church separate and to educate the public about the views of nontheists. Members include
from all 50 states, Canada, and other countries. The Foundation monitors abuses of the separation of state and
church, taking lawsuits and officially complaining about such abuses.
- American Atheists - American
Atheists is a nationwide movement which defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church
and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists, Inc. - P.O. Box 5733 - Parsippany,
- For The Bible Tells Me So
- In the spring of 2003, executive producers Robin Voss and Keith Lewis
attended a seminar entitled "Beyond the Bible and Homosexuality, A Journey into the Heart of God" at
St. Mark, a progressive Presbyterian church in Orange County, California. The presenter was a straight minister
named Steven Kindle, the Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Clergy United.
During the presentation, Rev. Kindle provided a very different interpretation of the scriptural passages regarding
homosexuality--passages that traditionally have been used by Judeo/Christian religious institutions to condemn
homosexuality. Voss and Lewis were so moved by that initial seminar, that they agreed a film should be made addressing
- Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia - Our principle activity is to promote the constitutional principle of separation of church and state
and to educate the public on matters related to a nontheist life stance.
- East Bay Atheists is comprised of two groups. One in Berkeley and one in
San Leandro. They are informal groups of Bay Area residents who each meet once a month to discuss atheism and religiously
topical events in the area and around the world. Our collective mission includes local activism where the rights
of freethinkers to be free from religion are threatened, or when the separation of church and state is blurred.
- New Jersey Humanist Network
P.O. Box 8212
Somerville, NJ 08876
- Secular Humanism Web Links
- www.Atheistalliance.org -
Atheist Alliance International
- BSA Talking Points
- Atheists and Other Freethinkers in
- Non-beleiver Antidiscrimination
- Should Churches That Condemn BSA Discrimination against Gays also
oppose BSA Discrimination Against Atheists?
- Atheists and the Boy Scouts: Why Does the Country's Number One Kid's
Organization Keep Out Atheists?
- Commonly Asked Questions About Non-theists
- League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions Holds Open Forum on Boy
- Click here to download: Athiests, Other Freethinkers and the Boy
Scouts of America - A two sided pamphlet providing information regarding Athiests
and other Freethinkers and the BSA Policies. (requires Adobe Acrobat)
- HOW SHOULD UCC CHURCHES RESPOND TO THE BOY SCOUTS PROHIBITING HOMOSEXUAL
BOYS AND LEADERS?
- Chesco woman lobbies United Nation for nontheists' rights
- Successful suit against Boy Scouts discrimination in the state
- Minnesota Atheists: Positive Atheists In Action
- As A Current Atheist Scout I Have To Hide Who I Am
- BSA Resolution Denouncing Gay and Atheist Youth and Adults In
Scouting - February 6, 2002
- Humanists of North Puget Sound Washington State Support Scouting
- The Freedom From Religion Foundation Asks United Way to Stop "Enabling"
- My Creed As A Humanist
- Humanists of Florida Association - Resolution on the Boy Scouts
- DAVID BRUDNOY: Speech To The BSA Minuteman Council of Boston At
- The Latest On Powell vs. Oregon Department Of Education Case
- Boy Scouts of America Kick Out 19 Year Old Eagle Scout For Being
- Australia Responds - "The Boy Scouts Of America Should Not
Be Kicking Out Atheists"
- Text of the letter I sent to BSA Seattle Office.... "I am
disgusted by the behavior of Boys Scouts of America..."
- I am outraged at the ousting of Darrell Lambert from the Boy Scouts
- Atheist Eagle Scout Gets Ultimatum - Seattle scout leader given
a week to declare belief in God, or resign from his troop.
- ATHEIST SCOUT SAYS HE'LL FIGHT DECISION TO EXPEL HIM FROM Boy
Scouts of America
- Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert must decide this week whether to say
he believes in a higher power. If he refuses, he could be expelled by the Boy Scouts of America.
- Scout's fight draws national attention
- Boy Scouts to Atheist: Accept A God or Get Out
- Eagle Scout Faces Official Challenge Over His Lack of Faith
- A Letter From Someone Congratulating the BSA For Kicking Out Atheists
- Sharing comments from Finnland and Norway, via the International
Unitarian Universalist list:
- Eagle Scout Speaks Out On Behalf Of Ousted Atheist Eagle Scout
- Brad Farmer, Scout Executive Chief Seattle Council Tells Darrell
Lambert, Atheist Eagle Scout To Stay Away From Scouting
- Atheist Speaks Up On Radio Show BSA Spokesperson Double
- Letter of Protest From An Eagle Scout To The Boy Scouts of America
- Scouts should respect my freedom of religion
- Scout not prepared for group's ultimatum: Get right with God
- Darrell Lambert's Troop Came To Bat For Him
- Even Belief In A God Does Not Make One A Good Person Or A Good
- Scout Leaders Quit Over Gay Policy
- Remarks made to Atheist and Agnostic Viewpoints University of
- Eagle Scout Speaks Out
- Boy Scouts Policy Promotes Bigotry, Protest in Person
- Action Alert: Atheists, Freethinkers, Nonthtiests and All Those
Who Believe in Social Justice
- Letter to the Editor Boy Scouts of America Discriminate Against
the Gay and Atheists Communities
- Atheists Are Getting Kicked Out of The Boy Scouts of America
- United Way pulls funds from scouts Pa. groups lose thousands over
- Randall Twins, Atheists Were Kicked Out and Denied Their Eagle
By The BSA
- City says scouts' use of land is in jeopardy
- Scouting needs an "anti-discrimation" badge
- Peter Hance, Atheist Attempts To Reach Out To An Ignorant
- From The Morning Call Scouts reject boys based on religious views
- In a letter to the editor to an online magizine called Scouter Magazine,
which is private we can see the bias some people have towards atheists, non-theists, and other freethinkers
- American Atheists Announcement Boy Scouts of America Protest Chicago,
- Parent sidelines Little League player over reference to God
- Benjamin Patrick Hyink, Eagle Scout, LaGrange, Illinois, Secular
Humanist Society of Chicago, Speaks Out
- Discrimination Against Atheists
- Scouting for All Honors Margaret Downey With Its Fran Crawford Rainbow
- Let's Keep Rocking the Cradle of Liberty!
- English Scout Leader Speaks Out For Justice In American Scouting
- BSA Adult Leader Quoted As Making An Inclusive Statement
- As An Atheist I Would Like to Share My Story
- A call for the continued separation of church and state (requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader)
- Scouting for All Northwestern Regional Director Corrects Bill O'Reilly
of the O'Reilly Factor
- TAYLOR: Death is result of debate about God
- School district considers ban on recruiting
- Dear Scouting for All: Atheists Should Be Allowed in
- Thanks from An Atheist in Australia to Steven and Scouting
- American Atheists Continue to Take On The Discrimination
of The Boy Scouts of America
- Michigan appeals court rejects religious discrimination
suit against Boy Scouts
- Letter to the Editor Johnstown Tribune-Democract, Johnstown,
- Judges uphold ruling barring Scout recruiting The appeals
court concurs that Portland schools discriminated against atheist students
- Robert Raketty's Speech American Atheists Conference
- Atheist Activists Look to Future During Easter Convention
- Scout leadership the problem
- On my honor, Boy Scouts discriminates against me: Atheist
- Scout controversy centers on schools
- ACTION ALERT: Los Angeles Area Residents and Other Supporters
Opposing the Discrimination of the Boy Scouts of America
- American Humanist Association Resolution on the Boy Scouts
- Atheists Gather in San Francisco
- Follow-up Statement From Scouting for All Regarding The
Protest Of The Boy Scouts of America At Its National Conference,TX And Scouting for All's Response To Statements
Made By BSA National, Irving Texas
- Margaret Downey, Atheist Articles
- Carl Sagan, My Son and The Boy Scouts America
- Shared Beliefs
- Separation Line Non-Existent
- Boy Scouts: A Legacy of Hypocrisy
- Exclusion Beyond Atheist
- Not Morally Straight? Think Again
- Group Asks Bush to Quit Boy Scouts Role
- Scouts Don't Discriminate Bush Admin Lawyer Tells Court
- ACLU Oregon 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner Honors An Atheist
Who Stood Against The Bigotry of The Boy Scouts of America
- It Is Not A Sin To Be Queer (.pdf)
- The Murder of Larry Hooper
- Atheist Eagle Scout Say Discrimination By The Boy Scouts
of America Is Simply Wrong
- The Bible Tells You So Says A BSA Member of 35 Years
and Christian: Homosexuals Are Immoral
- S4A Receives A Caution For Supporting The Atheist / Nontheist
- Georgia Congressmen Propose Legislation to "Encourage"
- A Friend Of The Savior: "Homosexuals find the weak
and insecure and lure them "into the fold."
- Scouts didn't discriminate against atheist, Supreme Court
- Oregon high court rules for Scouts, against atheist mother
- Atheists vs the Boy Scouts of America, Oregon
- We have Not Forgotten Eagle Scout Darrel Lambert
Darrell Lambert's Appeal Letter:
Darrell Lambert, Atheist, Eagle Scout, of the Chief Seattle Council.
Kicked out of scouting by the Boy Scouts of America for being an Atheist, November 2002