Why Boy Scouts of America Needs to Disentangle Itself From Religion
Boy Scouts of America has a longstanding history of discrimination, but have made steps in the right direction by allowing gay, transgender, and female individuals. Now is the time for it to cut ties with religion.
Today, scouting is a place for youth to have fun while learning outdoor skills, such as camping, hiking, fishing, and knot-tying. I have gained a lot from my experiences in scouting. Canoeing on campouts, cooking hot dogs over a campfire, and shooting rifles at summer camp were all things that I was able to do in scouting. Being a scout has taught me valuable experiences and I hope it will be made available to all.
Requiring a belief in god and having ties with religious organizations prevents many atheist and agnostic scouts from joining.
There are still undertones of religion ingrained in Scouts BSA. In the Scout Oath, one must “do my best to do my duty to God.” Similarly, the Scout Law requires a scout to be “reverent.” Both the Scout Oath and Law are repeated at every meeting, and are required to be repeated in order to earn Scout Rank. To earn the highest rank, Eagle, a scout must, “Tell how you have done your duty to God.” Atheist scouts are unable to achieve this rank without completing this requirement, and some have been denied this achievement despite working hard to complete all other requirements.
Boy Scouts of America has a history of close ties with religion. It had ties with the Mormon church until 2018, and today, many troops are still chartered by religious organizations. They also recognize awards for 35 different faith groups.
Religion should not have any part in scouting. I do not believe being religious makes one a better scout, or being more moral. To me, belief in God is like believing in aliens. While I personally believe that aliens exist, I recognize that there is no evidence so far, and respect the right of others to not believe. I would be against any youth organization requiring such belief for a program that should have nothing to do with it.
Requiring a belief in God is absurd, because belief in a God is not any strong moral indicator.
As an atheist scout, I feel a moral dilemma every time I repeat the scout oath and law. I do not believe in “my duty to God.” Saying that “I will do my best to do my duty to God” goes against the scout law of being “trustworthy.” I do not want to lie. Boy Scouts of America should stop forcing scouts to believe in a God. Instead, it should focus on building people up to be kind and to help others.
It is the 21st century. Boy Scouts of America has become a lot more progressive in the last decade, and needs to continue by removing any requirements related to God or religion. Only by doing so, can participants without a belief in God freely participate.