Freethought badge recipients: Dawn Sherfield, Zachary Van Stanley

Zachary Van Stanley

The Freedom From Religion Foundation offers a badge to reward freethinking youths and to challenge the Boy Scouts of America’s discriminatory policy against the nonreligious. 

The Boy Scouts of America formally discriminates against nonreligious boys and their families, officially excluding atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers. BSA maintains “that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God.”

Scouts who wish to earn this badge are asked to help disprove BSA’s misguided claim that nonbelievers cannot be good citizens by sending FFRF a short essay that addresses BSA’s claim.

If any person fulfills the requirements, FFRF will be delighted to reward them with this badge. 

To apply online, go to ffrf.org, click on the Outreach and Events menu, and then click on “Freethought Badge.” To apply via mail, send a short essay on how nonbelievers can be good citizens to FFRF, Attn: Freethought Badge, P.O. Box 750, Madison, WI 53701.

Dawn Sherfield

Here is Dawn Sherfield’s essay that earned her the freethought badge:

“Thank you so much for my envelope and badge! It’s been a rough year in rural Indiana dealing with my daughter’s public school actively promoting Christianity, still reciting the post-1954 version of the Pledge of Allegiance and observing ‘Good Friday.’ That was just a fraction. My daughter had to deal with alienation and bullying for refusing to stand or recite the pledge and had to endure staff frequently speaking about Christianity in class. This was not deemed a violation of the Constitution by the U.S. Board of Education because Christian privilege is a powerful thing, unfortunately. Keep up the good work! You are appreciated!! I’m gonna keep speaking out on social media.”

Zachary Van Stanley

This is the essay Zachary Van Stanley wrote to earn his freethought badge:

“I worked hard to become an Eagle Scout. I volunteer in my community and regularly advocate for acting locally. I have donated most of my possessions to those who need them more than me. I have become a vegan and stopped consuming plastic, specifically to help others. I am kind and will help anyone who needs it. I have spent countless hours controlling invasive species in my area. I contribute to citizen science projects often. I even helped an elderly person to cross the street. And I am a proud atheist. I have many strong beliefs, but none of them comes from religion. I care deeply for others, and this has nothing to do with religion. I am a good citizen, and I am a nonbeliever. The idea that morality is rooted in religion, pervasive as it is, is absurd. 

Here is Zachary’s response after receiving the badge:

“I was so excited to get the badge that I opened it up while I was walking home from work. I love your organization, and I am saving up to pay for a Lifetime Membership. This badge means so much to me. There is so much that I am glad to have experienced from Scouts, but there is also much that I disagree with now. I recently used my experience retiring the colors at Rushmore to argue that we need to return the land back to the Native people, for instance. To me, this badge means owning my complex history with Boy Scouts and with religion. Thank you.”

Dawn Sherfield