portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

Boy Scouts of America - Hitler Youth revisited?

"First they came for the trade unionists ..."
First the Boy Scouts of America asserted its "right" to discriminate against gays. Now this self-professed bastion of moral values plans to expel yet another of its most exemplary members - 19-year old Darrell Lambert, a Seattle Eagle Scout with dozens of merit badges, awards and ten years in scouting to his credit. Is he gay? Has he done anything wrong? No to both questions. The thing that has the BSA's knickers in a knot this time is that the scout in question simply refuses to acknowledge a belief in God. The BSA has given Mr. Lambert one week to profess his belief in God or face expulsion. We all knew the organization was bigoted, but few realized it actually claimed authority under the laws of the Inquisition. Who's next on their hit list? Democrats?

Defending the BSA's position, one of the organization's top honchos said the BSA "is a Faith-Based Organization." Now where have I heard that term before? Oh, I remember now - President Bush wants Faith-Based organizations to serve as the conduits for public funds to administer social programs. Guess we can kiss most of THAT money goodbye.

Several years go, a court upheld the BSA's decision to expel a member who met all of its qualifications and then some - apart from his sexual orientation. The court found that because the BSA is privately funded, it may legally bar from membership anyone who - in the organization's sole opinion - doesn't meet the standards set forth in the twelve points of the Scout Oath: "Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent" (one can't help but note that "Tolerant" is conspicuous by its absence - a quality, ironically, that is one of the cornerstones of all mainstream religions today). Many in the liberal/progressive community were dismayed by the court's ruling, but few at the time saw fit to mount a serious challenge to the BSA's claim that a gay scout might somehow corrupt or otherwise pose a threat to his fellow scouts.

The victim of the BSA's present campaign of ideological cleansing is probably well out of an organization that demands such abject fealty to the dictates of its brown-shirt leadership, and although he has said he will fight the BSA's decision, he probably will not prevail. That's all well and good, but it's high time the Boy Scouts of America was widely exposed for what it is: an indoctrination center for right-wing reactionism that is more similar than not to the Hitler Youth. If a fringe cult run by extreme right-wing wackos were busily indoctrinating children to beliefs so antithetical to prevailing social, civic and religious norms, social service agencies would characterize it as a form of child abuse and courts would step in to prevent the cult leaders from further poisoning the minds of their youthful charges. That probably won't happen in this case, even though the BSA's modus operandi fits this description to a tee, because most of the political leadership (not to mention judges) were themselves associated with scouting.

Perhaps if more parents knew what the BSA really has come to stand for, they wouldn't be so complacent in allowing their kids to participate.

There are MANY articles that provide the shameful details of this ongoing saga, including a few truly unbelievable letters from other scouts DEFENDING the BSA's position (illustrates just how brainwashed some of these kids are).

Use the following Google URL as a link page and just start reading!

 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&q=eagle+scout+atheist&btnG=Google+Search

Following article from the New York Times via the San Francisco Chronicle:

(  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/11/03/MN176485.DTL )

*******

Eagle Scout must believe in God or leave organization
19-year-old became an atheist after studying evolution in school

Dean E. Murphy, New York Times Sunday, November 3, 2002

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Seattle -- The Boy Scout Law states that members must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Darrell Lambert has been in scouting for 10 years. Last year, he attained the highest rank, Eagle. Now a college freshman, he volunteers as an assistant in a troop in Port Orchard, just across the Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula, where his mother is the scoutmaster.

But last week Lambert got an ultimatum from scouting officials in Seattle. Eleven out of 12 was not good enough anymore. Lambert, who is 19 and has been an atheist since studying evolution in the ninth grade, was told to abide by the vow of reverence by this week or get out.

"They say that I should think about what I really believe and get back to them," he said. "I have thought about this for years. Can they expect me to change my beliefs in seven days?"

Mark Hunter, the director of marketing and administration for the Chief Seattle Council, said it was enforcing a national policy. The Boy Scouts is a faith-based organization, he said, and the issue of God is not negotiable. Aside from the vow of reverence in the Scout Law, every Boy Scout pledged a duty to God in the Scout Oath.

Lambert said he was aware of the national policy long ago. He admitted to sometimes mouthing the parts about reverence and God when reciting the law and oath. Other times, he actually said the words. None of it really mattered to him, or anyone else it seemed, until last month when he attended training for adult leaders.

At one session a scouting official led a discussion about religion. The official suggested that the only way a nonbeliever could advance in scouting would be to lie about his beliefs, said Lambert and his mother, Trish Lambert, who also attended the retreat. The official went on to suggest that "a person who doesn't believe in God is not a good citizen," Lambert said.

Lambert took issue with the comments. Many adults considered him a role model and leader in his troop, and he had attained the rank of Eagle after disclosing his atheism.

"I was angry," Lambert said of the session. "I left the room and said I would not be a part of it."

On Wednesday night, the leaders of Trish Lambert's troop, No. 1531, stood behind her son. Sixteen parents -- representing all of the Scouts in the troop, she said -- signed a letter urging the Chief Seattle Council to allow Lambert to stay on. The letter said his atheism had never been an issue in the troop, and it did nothing to change the spiritual foundation of scouting. Trish Lambert said her son should not be punished for "questioning himself and his spirituality."

There seems to be little question that the Boy Scouts have the right to exclude Lambert. The organization won a ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago that essentially allowed it to set standards for membership. At the time, the issue was the Boy Scouts' ban on gays.
for christ's sake 04.Nov.2002 01:45

pedro

OK, I'm not going to disagree with the thesis that kicking someone out of an organization for being an atheist or a homosexual is a logic-defying feat of regressive idiocy, but I think the hyperbole here is a bit much.

First of all, we're talking about an organization of voluntary members. Say what you want about what the BSA teaches kids, (I used to work at one of their summer camps, and there is a lot to complain about on this front) but they're not being forced into it by anyone but their parents; German parents refusing to enroll their kids in the Hitler-Jugend probably found the organization rather difficult to argue with.

Let's remember we are dealing with a private organization--that was what the court case was about; they can accept or reject the membership of anyone they want, no matter how moronic their standards. If I were in this guy's shoes, I'd say "OK, fuck you. If you don't want me to volunteer my time, I'm not going to force it on you."

Having worked with this organization, I can relate to you that pretty much anyone actually involved at a local level recognizes these policies for the loopy bullshit they are. Basically, these mandates are imposed by the national leadership in order to avoid offending the religious groups who are major donors. Yes, it's fucked up, but these are fucked up decisions being made by a few individuals for the sake of political correctness, not out of some fanatical plan to create an army of juvenile holy warriors.

For the record, 90% of what kids are taught in the Boy Scouts has nothing to do with religion or politics. It's an organization that promotes community service, outdoorsmanship, (I hope you don't have anything against kids knowing how to start a fire or tie a knot) respect for nature, (yes, that's right; I was surprised myself at the depth of their emphasis on environmentalism; it's not what PETA-types would prefer, but it's distinctly in opposition to the values of wasteful consumer culture) as well as some notions of "good citizenship", only the last of those involving anything I really took issue with. Frankly, anything that pulls kids away from the (M)TV and tries to teach them how to live outside the accoutrements of hyperindustrial society even for brief periods is already beating the odds in my book. The religious bullshit and jingoism can't be good for them, but most of the kids I saw took more to the notion of being active citizens (this also contravenes what they learn from TV and the public schools) and were able to sift out the bullshit. In fact, I've seen a lot of kids come out of the Boy Scouts turned on to political activism. I never went to the church services or pledged allegiance to the flag, and no one really gave me any shit, except for a few jackasses who are distinctly not the majority.

So, you're right; the people in charge are buttmunches, but I'd hardly call this the Hitler Youth.

Hyperbole Yes 04.Nov.2002 08:11

ranger

Agreed, the BSA top leadership has a strong Christian (conservative) backing and their rules are bullshit. Also, troops vary widely depending upon the individual leader, from responsible, high calibre leaders to highly irresponsible assholes. I was in one of the oldest troops in the country led by one of the most praiseworthy individuals I ever met. I learned an appreciation of nature that has remained over a lifetime, not to mention a taste for cooking, many other crafts and outdoor skills. They definetely need to refocus away from Judeo-Christian rhetoric and incorporate a more universal world view.

and get the fuck out of the public schools 04.Nov.2002 17:28

.

>>>They definetely need to refocus away from Judeo-Christian rhetoric and incorporate a more universal world view.
-------------

And they need to quit disseminating their fucking hate rhetoric in the public schools.

STORY 04.Nov.2002 19:34

STORY

story
STORY
STORY

Now everything is "privatized" 04.Nov.2002 23:34

anne frank

Unfortunately, everything in America and increasingly, the world is being "privatized". We can and do say "fuck you" and stomp out, and we are left with no social organizations that promote any thread of cohesiveness to our communities. Our children are lapsing into depression and morbid obesity. The corporate groceries and big-boxes suck the life out of our cities and towns, and fast-food marketing and television decimate our families. So it naturally follows that the Boy Scouts will now complete their transformation as the breeding ground for "faith-based", corporate-owned fascist youth.

Too bad. I've been acquainted with some fine Eagle Scouts in the past. But now there aren't many eagles or other "wildlife" left anyway, pedro, and nobody gives a damn that they're dead. And the rubbing two sticks together to make a fire thing might come in handy someday, if there are any sticks left after the junta gets done with us. I guess you could start a fire by rubbing two stones together, but what would keep it going?

no social organizations ? 04.Nov.2002 23:56

Bill

It's time to create some then, isn't it.

Absolutely 05.Nov.2002 00:39

af

yes, we must create alternatives. This is extremely difficult given the lack of community which is being actively promulgated by the corporate media machine. Most people spend a good deal of time in their cars, driving to and from work and home. They are isolated from those who could be their friends, spend little or no time outdoors, get little or no exercise, are completely separated from their food sources, are beholden to the birth, medicine, child care, funeral machines, and don't know how to do anything for themselves, i.e., sew, knit, repair even simple things, cook meals "from scratch". They sit around and watch TV and drink and eat too much crappy, salty garbage and once a year the men drive out somewhere out of town and get drunk and shoot things for fun. Often they go "shopping" to buy new things and fantasize how fun their lives will be while they are wearing their new clothes, jewelry, car, hairdo, perfume. So we have a lot of work to do. I'm giving it a good try. It's difficult. How about you?

speaking of alternatives 05.Nov.2002 14:21

harpyr

I just wanted to interject here that if anyone is looking for an alternative to the Boy/Girl Scouts, there is a fledgling organization called Spiral Scouts.
It's not secular but it promotes tolerance. It's based on Pagan worldviews. Check it out:
 http://www.aquatabch.org/spiralscouts/Intro.html

Here is a question no one seems to be asking. 05.Nov.2002 15:19

Smeg

Since atheism is a religion as defined by the courts, and religion is a 'protected' class, aren't the BSA discriminating?

Therefore they need to loose ALL government funding and assistance (free access to schools, etc.)

The Last Word... 06.Nov.2002 18:09

Mr. Moustache

It's susposed to be Adam & Eve, not Adam & STEVE! Hee hee! Create your own Scout organization if you don't like "theirs".

Boy Scouts do not discrimanate 28.Sep.2003 13:11

Sherlock

In reading the comments given to this article I can readily see the intellegence of those commenting from their use of the F word so often. It has long been said that profanity is the last refuge of the intelectually beaten man. The Boy Scouts do not discrimanate and never have. No where on our applications does it ask what your sexual preference. That is your private business. However, in the case of the Gay Eagle Scout he applied to be a teacher of other scouts while makeing a profession of his wonderful gay life style. If I as a Baptist try to teach my scouts how wonderful it is to be a Baptist, I would be thrown out just as fast. It is not now nor has it ever been the role of a teacher to teach how wonderful a particular religion or life style is, and in the case of life style teach one that although this scout considers wonderful, others consider abhorrent. He was rightfully thrown out. In the case of the Atheist. He became an atheist when he was in the ninth grade, and knowing the Boy Scout Oath, continued to take it and continued to work to become an Eagle Scout. He lied about his beliefs, and his Mother, a scout leader advised him to lie. In my estimation both of them need to be removed from scouting for being hypocrits. If he was serious about being an atheist and honest, he, knowing that the Scouts were a God believing organization, should have quit then and there. He did not but continued on living a lie, and lying about his beliefs to the schout council. The man is a hypocrit.

to the last response 02.Aug.2004 14:36

thinker

How can you call kids hypocrits, The brain is still developing until the 18 year (lastly being morals). Don't you remember your youth years of termoil? Forming opinions takes experience. I certainly don't expect a ninth grader to understand God out of blind acceptance. Open you eyes, heart and mind; be curious for change. It won't hurt you or me and maybe your brain will stretch; unless you are afraid of that...