The Freedom From Religion Foundation produces a badge to reward freethinking youths and to challenge the Boy Scouts of America’s discriminatory policy against the nonreligious. The badge, based on the Dawkins’ “A,” is issued in collaboration with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
The Boy Scouts of America formally discriminates against nonreligious boys and their families, officially excluding atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers. Currently, BSA maintains “that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God.”
FFRF maintains that no one can grow into the best kind of citizen who discriminates against the nonreligious, and that it’s what you do — not what you believe — that makes you a good person.
Social disapproval prompted BSA to largely drop a similar ban on membership against gay Scouts. But BSA persists in stigmatizing those who use reason and critical thought to evaluate religious claims.
FFRF, at the urging of its late member Richard Kirschman, has produced a badge similar to BSA’s merit badges, which are typically sewn on uniforms or sashes.
Scouts who wish to earn this badge are asked to help disprove BSA’s misguided claim that nonbelievers cannot be good citizens.
At Dawkins’ suggestion, the Scout is also required to send FFRF a short essay that addresses BSA’s claim that nonbelievers can’t be good citizens. Unlike BSA badge providers, FFRF will not charge Scouts money for the badge.
FFRF intends the badge to reward Boy Scouts who have persevered in an organization that basically has instituted a ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy about atheist and agnostic participants, but has regularly expelled open nonbelievers. While BSA officials dictate the discriminatory policy, Scouting troops vary widely in their enforcement of the ban, so it’s believed many Scouts are nonreligious.
But if any young boy — or girl — fulfills the requirements, FFRF will be delighted to reward them with this badge. Many nonreligious students who might otherwise wish to join BSA never join, knowing of its bigoted policy. This is also their chance to be rewarded for critical thinking and to earn a keepsake at the same time.
FFRF hopes someday very soon that BSA itself will change its policy and adopt its own official merit badge rewarding critical thinking. It urges those who care about equality for nonbelieving children to contact BSA to protest this invidious discrimination.
Miura Pepper Rempis of Tennessee earned one of FFRF’s Freethought badges. Here is a portion of her essay:
“In the same way that believers are often the most wicked, morals are not defined by the belief in a higher power. Morality and conscience exist independent of a belief in the God delusion and any correlation between the two is purely circumstantial. Correlation does not equate to causation.”