Dum de dum ... another week, perhaps time to check in on Weasel Boy and see what he's lying about this week. Ooooh ... what's this? According to Weasel Boy, the Boy Scouts of America are not a religious group. Apparently, the article that made this pernicious claim was "extremely misleading and factually-deficient", while a rebuttal letter was, of course, "intelligent, well-informed and just plain awesome."
Lesson number one: do not lie this blatantly when everyone else has access to Google. Really. Just don't. It only shows people how stupid and/or dishonest you are.
Now, if someone were to ask you if the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) were a religious group or not, how would you figure out the answer? Well, out of the numerous possibilities, I'm thinking that perhaps the most useful strategy would be to just fucking ask them. Whaddya think? Wouldn't it make sense that, of all the people you might interview, it's almost a sure bet that the most reliable source you could find on the religious beliefs of the BSA would be the people from the BSA, no? How difficult could this be to understand?
So, investing literally seconds of research time, we find the BSA's own "Declaration of Religious Principles", which reads as follows (select number two at that page, "Manual for Chaplain Aides and Chaplains"):
The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which a member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.
Now, I realize that the above declaration can be tricky to interpret and contains devious subtleties, so I've highlighted the salient passages to help you out because, well, that's just the kind of guy I am.
And just in case you think this is simply abstract, theoretical jargon that no one really takes seriously, rest assured that the BSA takes this declaration very seriously indeed, as demonstrated here:
In 1970, BSA issued a new policy: "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship . . ." In 1973, a 10 year old was expelled for crossing out "God" from the Cub Scout promise. In 1977, BSA added a definition of God as "Supreme Being" in its literature. In 1985, Paul Trout, 15, of West Virginia, was denied promotion to "Life Scout" because he was not religious. Only after a national uproar did an embarrassed BSA give him his promotion.
Here are only a few that where kicked out or denied membership because they are non-theists:
Clifford Grambo, 13 year-old scout kicked out after six years when his Scoutmaster found out about his atheism.
Paul Trout, 15 year-old scout kicked out (later reversed) over his religious beliefs.
Brad Seabourn, Scout leader and father of 15 year-old scout kicked out for his atheism.
Benjamin and John Scalise, 9-year-old boy and his father barred from Cub Scouting for refusing to avow a belief in God.
Michael and William Randall, Attorney James Grafton won a court case after his nonreligious twin sons were evicted from an Orange County, California troop.
Mark Welsh, the Boy Scouts excluded 7 year old Mark from Tiger Cubs because his family is not religious.
And yet, hard to believe as it may be, we have Weasel Boy, briefly checking in from somewhere in the heart of The Real Jesusland, writing:
Earlier this month, Kent Willis, head of the Virginia ACLU, wrote an extremely misleading and factually-deficient opinion piece claiming that the Boy Scouts were a "religious group." Thankfully, someone in the know set him straight.
Yeah. Thankfully. I mean, why let actual facts get in the way of a good fairy tale?