I'm a proud Eagle Scout. As many other guys have said, it is one of my most prized achievements. However, BSA policy regarding atheists and homosexual is obviously a dicey subject. What are your thoughts on it?
I personally do not approve of the policy, but I don't find it to be the 'bigotry' that others on this site have called it. There is a place for everybody, and the Scouts are a religious organization. I find it completely unsurprising that atheists and gays aren't the target audience for the group, though it is disappointing that they are actively turned away. Its a very hard stance to defend, but its simply a sign of the organization's roots. It is difficult to turn a century of belief around without the discriminated amongst the ranks, but hopefully it is something that will change in time, with the action of members like myself who believe this is incorrect policy. I do find it to be down right offensive to call the BSA a bigoted society, as I was never once taught to behave except with the utmost respect, no matter who I am dealing with.
I was a Boy Scout. I am an atheist. Never had any problems as a kid though. This bigotry that liberals keep yapping about just isn't there from my experience. Hell, I was the only Jewish kid in my troop. Nobody had any problem with that fact, to my knowledge. The Scouts are old fashioned, that's why I liked them, and that is where their value to society lays. The principles they were founded on may not be all-embracing, but there are a great many people in this country who do not disagree with what the BSA stands for.
I, too, am an Eagle scout. Near as I can tell, nobody really cared who in the troop was gay or straight, or Christian or Atheist, or anything like that. I was talking to a friend of mine in the Navy, and he said that it was kind of like their "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Everybody on his boat knows who the gay sailors are, and again, nobody really cares. It's a talking point for those who want to make it one, nothing else.
I don't think they would investigate unless it was an especially hardcore troop leader, but it is very much a religious organization. Being from a troop in north Alabama, we were almost all Christian, and it showed, since prayer was a very important part of our ceremonies. However, there was one Jewish boy who would occasionally join us, and we would go out of our way to include his faith. Amusingly, I recall being fairly jealous that he got grilled cheese, while I was stuck with our non-kosher bulk hot dogs. Maybe that was slightly poor planning in terms of food, but my point is that we did go out of our way to not make it a Christian organization, just a religious one.
Other troops in other parts of the country may not focus as much on religion, others may focus on it more. At any rate, reverence to a higher power is right in the Oath and Law, so that faith basis is universal.
As I said at the start, I can't imagine a troop leader actively trying to exclude you, but as others have said, leaders vary from troop to troop. I was fortunate to be in a very laid back group.
Part of the problem, I think, stems from the way society approaches private opinion. With political correctness being what it is, there is no longer any sense of "when in Rome". When I was a scout, I didn't ask for any special treatment, food or otherwise. If prayers were being said, I either bowed my head silently or joined in depending upon their content. Same occurred when I attended a Catholic school in my elementary school days. If you join an organization, you accept it for what it is, good and bad, agree or disagree. Now, people want everything tailored to their likes and dislikes. Frankly, it's a pain in the ass that has nothing to do with equality, and everything to do with selfishness.
Jack, I completely agree with you when you say "when in Rome" if you join a club you gotta flow with their culture. But do you think it becomes a little different when the Boy Scouts say, "We don't want gays?"
I respect that Boy Scouts tries to teach boys respect for something bigger than themselves. In that context religion is a good thing. But when the organization specifically chooses to state a position of excluding people, that ruins the experience for the boys, in my opinion. I mean, unless you teach them otherwise, they don't care if you're Jewish or gay or Republican. They just want to learn to camp and tie knots and become men. It's the adults that make it about politics.
That's a good question. My answer is no, it's not different. The Boy Scouts have long stood as the paragons of a certain philosophy. The limits and boundaries of that philosophy are well known. Anyone who participates within the scouts should consider whether their personal philosophies conflict too much with the group's. If they do, they have no business in the BSA.
Frankly, I don't get the problem. If so many minority groups feel ostracized by the BSA, why don't they solve the situation the old fashioned, American way and start their own rival group? That's how we used to handle differences of opinion in this country. Now, we expect others to live by our standards, and use the law to grind our metaphorical axes. What happened to "everybody deserves the right to an opinion -- and the right to express it"?
The league kind of messed up when they let the woman join the league, from the stand point of the partly Muslim team assuming they would be facing only men. However I think she should be allowed to play. They are playing soccer in America and a society based on equality will over rule some objections.
At what point does a society become so engrossed by egalitarianism that tyranny of the majority becomes less of a concern than tyranny of the MINORITY? True equality before the law must allow for all viewpoints to be voiced. Even the ones that are disagreeable. My God, I sound like a liberal. (That last is meant in jest. I refuse to use emoticons.)
"When people ask, as they sometimes do, if there was anything I would change with my life, I never say but the experience of physical ageing is something I would not mind arresting without resort to surgery or a punishing diet and exercise regime…"