Update on my Boy Scouts experiences

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Update on my Boy Scouts experiences

Postby DallasHeathen » Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:25 am

I've mentioned some of this here already, but I'll recap. My 10 year old son is in the Cub Scouts. I signed up two years ago to be an assistant den leader, to help out the guy who's doing the den leader duties. I had to sign the Scouts' Declaration of Religious Principle, saying basically that I believe in God. I wanted to help, so I held my nose and signed it.

Last fall at a campout, he commented that he would like to pass the torch, and asked me in a group of other guys what I thought about taking it over. I walked over, and only within earshot of him and one other, let him know that I couldn't, because I'm an atheist, and they don't allow atheists, and I was willing to help as an assistant but didn't think it would be appropriate for me to be a leader.

This fall, I've noticed that he is not enthusiastic at all with his Scout activities. Last week, our Cub Scout den visited a Boy Scout troop to check them out, and see whether that would be a good one for our boys to graduate into. This Boy Scout troop had a Chaplain position, which surprised me a little.

Then tonight we were talking and the subject of this Boy Scout troop came up, and he said he was not keen on that troop. I asked why, and he told me that this summer, he lost his religious faith. He said he had read the books by Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, and found that they had made really good arguments against believing in any god.

So I'm not sure where this will lead for the Scout group, but I was greatly encouraged to hear his story. I know Dawkins had said that his goal with The God Delusion was that if you weren't an atheist when you started reading, he hoped you would be when you finished. I remember thinking that the book wasn't likely to convert anyone, but it was a good thought. And now I find out that it really did, someone that I consider a friend. Maybe my comments before had something to do with it, I'd like to think that.

Anyway, not much of a point, but a story I wanted to share.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:40 am

Thanks for sharing that. It's encouraging.

In another atheist message group that I manage I have a co-manager who was a Chrisitian, and the only internet personality I ever met in person.

Over the past two years I noticed subtle changes in his posts. Last week he delared himself a non-believer, and realizes now how silly his beliefs were. His big problem now is how to explain this to his devout Lutheran wife, or if he even should.

Theres a sea change going on in people's thinking. The more of it, and the sooner, the better for civilization.
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Postby donnyton » Sat Oct 20, 2007 4:17 pm

I think one thing you DO need to do is to make sure he understands how to go about judging arguments as good or bad. If he can read atheist books that make good arguments and lose his faith, what will happen when he reads Christian books that make deceptively enticing arguments?
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Postby cookiecutter » Sat Oct 20, 2007 5:45 pm

Atheist eagle scout here Image

Glad to see that Dawkins' book helped someone. I'm also glad to see some other atheists in Scouting. It really is a great program and helped me become a better person, but that is despite their bigoted policies and not because of them. I know for a fact that one of my fellow scouts was an atheist, and I believe his Dad, who was committee chair, was one as well.

I would remain in Scouts because it really is a great experience. Try to find a troop that was indifferent to religion like mine was and one that is active. That way you and your son will get the most out of it.

I also agree with donnyton saying to discuss how to go about judging arguments. When I first became an active atheist (which was after attending an LDS service on a boy scout trip), this was something I investigated. I wanted to make sure I was on a sound ground, and to find out why theists were not. If only theists would do the same :P
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Postby donnyton » Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:06 am

But atheists have accused me of taking Dawkin's book as a gospel just as they do with their bible; we need to prove them wrong.
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Postby jhawksgirl » Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:56 am

My son has been in scouts since Kindergarten (and he's in 6th grade now). He bridged from Cubs to Boy Scouts with his Arrow of Light award and we had some interesting conversations with the district zone leader about the fact that I wouldn't make Jake choose a religion. It's also well known, in the troop, that I'm an atheist.
At first, the powers that be didn't want me to attend meetings or help supervise. But, they seem to be easing up with the realization that I'm not going to instruct my son or husband to take everyone's faith away (yeah...a mom actually said that via e-mail. She thought that I would do that.).

This is just another prime example of how atheist mothers and fathers can lead by example. Pretty soon, it will be really hard to demonize atheism when all of these great families are being formed within that philosophical position.
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Postby DallasHeathen » Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:53 pm

jhawksgirl wrote:At first, the powers that be didn't want me to attend meetings or help supervise. But, they seem to be easing up with the realization that I'm not going to instruct my son or husband to take everyone's faith away (yeah...a mom actually said that via e-mail. She thought that I would do that.).

I think I would strike a deal with them that I wouldn't try to teach their sons to be atheists if they didn't try to teach mine religion.

cookiecutter wrote:I know for a fact that one of my fellow scouts was an atheist, and I believe his Dad, who was committee chair, was one as well.
I don't know if it's always been the case, but nowadays they make you sign a form that, basically, you believe in God. I didn't like signing that, and I don't think I'd do it again.

A major problem for me and the Scouts is not only do they not allow atheists in, they actually teach as one of their major principles, that you have to believe in God to be a good person. That sucks.

Another aside, the other night, I was telling my wife about our den leader's de-conversion, and discussing scouts and religion, when I mentioned that it also bothers me that they don't allow homosexuals in. This made my wife indignant towards them - it didn't seem to bother her that they discriminate against her own husband, but if they discriminate against homosexuals, then they're bad.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:08 pm

Dallas said:
... it didn't seem to bother her that they discriminate against her own husband, but if they discriminate against homosexuals, then they're bad.


Hmmm...guess you know where YOU stand.

Why not get her to be an anti-discrimination Boy Scout activist AND teach her a valuable lesson at the same time? Switch teams.

:shock:
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