When I was a boy, I was a member of the Boy Scouts. I probably grew up to be such a tree-hugger because of all the camping, backpacking, and canoeing I did with the scouts.
When I was about 13 years old, I got all atheistic and decided I didn’t want any parts of a club that made me vow to be “reverent,” whatever the hell that meant. So, I quit.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about why it seems like most kids don’t really give two craps about the outdoors. I was wondering if scouting might actually be a good thing. So, I got to thinking; If (hypothetically) I were to have a child, would I want him to participate in scouting?
Would the BSA be welcoming of a non-theistic/Buddhist child in the first place? If one can judge from a cursory reading of the by-laws, it certainly doesn’t look like it.
The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.
— Bylaws of Boy Scouts of America, art. IX, § 1, cl. 1
Well, there we have it. You can’t be a good citizen unless you believe in God. Apparently, non-theistic children are not welcome in the Boy Scouts. Bummer. Maybe there are secular-humanist-scouts, or Buddha-scouts I could enrole my hypothetical child in.
Just for grins, I typed in “buddhist” to the scouting.org search engine, and I was surprised to see that the BSA does indeed cater to Buddhist children.
Scouting serves an important role in youth development in the Buddhist community. Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, and Venturing crews chartered to Buddhist organizations can be found throughout the United States. Scouts can participate within units chartered to Buddhist organizations or as members of units chartered to other organizations.
–BSA Fact Sheet on Buddhism
They’ve even got special medals for Dharma, Metta, and Sangha!
BSA Dharma, Metta, and Sangha awards
There appears to be a contradiction in the BSA’s reasoning here. If you have to believe in God to be a scout, and if Buddhists don’t believe in God, then Buddhists shouldn’t be able to be scouts.
So atheists are OK, so long as they’re also Buddhists? Is that really the BSA’s position?! Are there any Buddhist scouters out there who can enlighten (har-de-har) me to what the deal is here?
It’s too bad about all this religious horse shit. The scouts would be a worthwhile organization without it.