I can sort of understand — I had two boys who were engaged to scouting to various degrees. There’s the camaraderie, the camping, the teamwork, the fun activities, all good and appealing. But then it sinks in that they’re promoting right-wing ideology. No gays allowed. No atheists allowed. The best people are heterosexual church-goers.
Ryan Andresen was a kid who went through the whole routine with enthusiasm, and even got to the point where he’d completed his Eagle Scout project and was going to be given the highest award in the organization. And then they turned him down. Two reasons have been given.
One is that he was openly gay. This is a bleeding wound in scouting — Ryan is just the latest casualty.
The Boy Scouts of America have come under fire for its ban on gay members and leaders, which it reaffirmed in July, leading dozens of Eagle Scouts to return their medals. Last month, tech giant Intel, one of the Scout’s biggest donors, announced that it would no longer donate to the organization, or any organization that didn’t adhere to its anti-discrimination policy. Additionally, both President Obama and Mitt Romney voiced opposition to the Scouts’ gay ban.
There’s no denying that being gay puts you on the outs with the Boy Scouts. But there’s another reason: it turns out that everyone knew long in advance about his sexual orientation, but the final straw was that he’s a goddamned atheist.
“This scout proactively notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout counselor that he does not agree to scouting’s principle of ‘Duty to God’ and does not meet scouting’s membership standard on sexual orientation,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the organization said in a statement. “Agreeing to do one’s ‘Duty to God’ is a part of the scout Oath and Law and a requirement of achieving the Eagle Scout rank.
In other words, this was a fellow with enough integrity that he refused to check off one box on his form: he had done all the work, he’d probably put up with a lot of crap on the way (his Eagle Scout project was on bullying), and then, at the last minute, confronted with the choice to lie and conform, or to be honest to himself and others, he chose honesty.
I think he’s a better man for being true.
That ought to be the death knell for the Boy Scouts, when turning down their highest award becomes a point of honor.