After a push for equality, the Boy Scouts of America have changed. They are now known as Scouts BSA and accept both girls and members of the LGBTQ community into their troops. However, one group still remains excluded from Scouts BSA and does not have the opportunity to learn the important life skills and discipline of the scouts. Now atheists are fighting for acceptance into the group, which has been historically Christian for years.
On a blog post, which has since gone viral, writer Hermant Mehta described how the Scouts BSA exclude open atheists because of their religious views. Mehta shared his controversial views on a Patheos blog called The Friendly Atheist. He wrote:
“There’s still one group of people that the BSA continues to shut out. They refuse to allow open atheists in their group in any capacity.”
Although Mehta’s work has risen to awareness, his call out is not the first time the Scouts BSA have been challenge on their refusal to accept nonbelievers into their organization. The Freedom From Religion Foundation challenge the BSA on this very issue back in 2017, demanding that the organization “stop excluding atheists.” The FFRF argues that if the BSA does not change their policy, they will turn “secular boys into pariahs and second-class citizens.” They also argued that the anti-atheist rule “defames nonbelief.”
Although the Scouts BSA has changed everything else about how the organization accepts members into the group, they claim they will not budge on this issue about faith. In May, the group reconfirmed its “duty to God” and how it believes in the “recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe.” The group also stated that it and its scouts have a “grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings.” The Scouts BSA argues that the Christian faith is “necessary to the best type of citizenship.”
The resolution of the BSA has an “unwavering” commitment to God and believes that such faith is “fundamental of good citizenship.”
Right now, the Scout Oath includes the phrase:
“I will do my best to do my duty to God.”
Scout Law also demands that scouts be “reverent” before God.
Mehta and other atheists believe that the group should open its doors to people of all religious backgrounds and not just those with faith in God. The diversity of experience could make the group stronger.
“It’s for this reason that parents should think twice before enrolling their non-religious children in the BSA. They don’t want your kid. If you’re atheists, they don’t really want your involvement either.”
After the Scouts announced it would accept girls, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would revoke its relationship with the Boy Scouts after 2019.
Instead of mingling boys with girls, the Mormon Church will place its 425,000 boys into a spin-off faith-based youth organization that only allows boys.
Mehta believes that the only way the Scouts BSA will survive in the future is if they abandon their Christian commitment and allow everyone into the group.