In an ongoing program, FFRF is giving out atheist badges for those in (or formerly in) Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts.
Scouts who wish to earn the badge are asked to write an essay that addresses the Boy Scouts of America claim that nonbelievers can’t be good citizens. To apply for a badge, submit a brief essay, which should include your full name, age, mailing address, and contact information to: [email protected].
Here are excerpted essays from the two newest badge earners.
I was raised in the LDS Church (Mormon Church). Both of my parents were Boy Scout leaders for my brother, so I went on the camp-outs, attended the weekly activities, and did all of the activities and work for many of the merit badges. My mom even asked me to teach the knot-tying and swimming merit badges.
I attended the award ceremonies and watched the boys get merit badges for the same things that I had done. I could not get any merit badges because I am female. As you can imagine, this was a painful experience. It pointed out to me the blatant sexism in the Mormon Church. That is one of the reasons that I left the church at age 17 and became an atheist-leaning agnostic. As you may already be aware, the Mormon Church recently decided that it would rather get rid of its scouting program than include girls.
Since leaving the church, I have continued to help my communities through active volunteerism. I would be incredibly honored to become a freethought merit badge recipient.
Tarrah Henrie (FFRF Member)
I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout in the late 1950s to early 1960s. I started school just after they inserted “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and we were still reading aloud psalms at the start of each school day. (I still know a couple by memory.)
I had no idea until several years ago that
the Boy Scouts required fealty to an imaginary being (the Girls Scouts do not. Yay, girls!), or that they prohibited gay scouts and leaders. I think it’s rather remarkable/inscrutable that they’ve made progress on the gay issue but not on the God thing. Until they do, I’m hoping girls will continue to stick with the Girl Scouts instead of the newly co-ed Scouts — and maybe one day boys will be able to join the distaff organization rather than give a God nod.
Of course, we all officially agree to things we don’t agree with, whether it’s lip service to supernatural beings in order to be part of a group that ties cool knots, or clicking on all those boxes we have to click to get credit cards or access to the cloud. But that doesn’t make it right, just a necessary evil that would be better if it were unnecessary.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been any kind of scout, but for decades I’ve been working on earning my merit badge as a freethinker, through support of FFRF and other kindred organizations (I write a weekly column for the American Humanist Association), and by trying to be a good person, as well as one who is up front about her atheism.
I don’t recall if I stayed in the Girl Scouts long enough to get any proficiency badges, as they were called. So this one from FFRF would be especially meaningful to me.
Joan Resiman-Brill (FFRF Life Member)