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Boy Scouts Ask Open Source Community For Help 973

Posted by kdawson
from the trustworthy-loyal-helpful-friendly dept.
Lucas123 writes "The Boy Scouts of America are looking to the open-source community for help in building software to use for fundraisers, special events, and other functions, for their more than 121,000 local scout troops. Some open source advocates, who are former Boy Scouts, support the idea, despite a few reservations. According to the article, there are no plans for a scout merit badge in open source — but there has been a merit badge in computers since 1967, 'and it is possible that if the program is successful, it could eventually be used by IT-savvy scouts themselves.'"
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Boy Scouts Ask Open Source Community For Help

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  • No (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#23731029)

    The Boy Scouts of America actively discriminate against atheists and homosexuals despite receiving government funding. They can fuck right off.

  • Tell them this: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#23731041)
    Until they remove the "MPAA approved" copyright merit badge, dont help them in any way.

    Or... Does anybody remember THIS [arstechnica.com]? I do.
  • Re:BSA (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:22PM (#23731107)
    That's the other BSA. This is the one that hates atheists.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:28PM (#23731237)
    My kid was told that he couldn't join, because he said that he didn't believe in their "supreme being". One scout leader, high example of morality that they are, told him to "just lie", but he would not. I should support a group like this?
  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:32PM (#23731331) Homepage Journal

    The Boy Scouts of America actively discriminate against non-Christians and homosexuals despite receiving government funding. They can fuck right off.
    There fixed it for ya.
  • Re:yes, well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:32PM (#23731337)
    I am/was an Eagle Scout and I couldn't agree more. Get rid of the discrimination against gays and atheists and I would be happy to support the organization. Until then, screw them. They already get to discriminate against people and get sweet heart deals on to host their meetings on public property.
  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:37PM (#23731445) Homepage Journal
    Congrats to everyone who responded to this thread. That whizzing noise you heard was the joke going over your head.

    Parent was a joke based on the fact that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA) have the same three-letter abbreviation.

    Parent was referring to the second BSA (the MS mouthpieces).
  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:39PM (#23731513) Homepage Journal
    Really? Then how come the BSA has awards for Jewish members (the Ner Tamid award -- I won it back in '75), and my nephew just became an Eagle scout?
  • Misleading... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:39PM (#23731539)
    It's not a merit badge, it's a patch.
  • Re:Tell them this: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:42PM (#23731597)
    It's a patch, not a badge. It may sound like nitpicking, but they really are different. A patch is a little something you can put on your uniform that your local BSA council can make up on the spot, usually with little or no supervision that you did anything. A merit badge is a nationally approved badge with certified councilors and a constant paper trail. It's a hell of a lot easier to make a badge than a patch.
  • Re:Tell them this: (Score:4, Informative)

    by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:43PM (#23731621) Journal
    There has never been a "Copyright merit badge" - that was just a cloth patch associated with some misguided local event.
  • Re:No (Score:1, Informative)

    by Borealis (84417) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:49PM (#23731765) Homepage
    Perhaps you are confusing the term "atheist" with the term "non-christian". Judaism is still a religion.
  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by tonyreadsnews (1134939) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:50PM (#23731785)
    Actually if you click on the little parent button on the comment you just responded to, you will see that the title is BSA and the text is "I thought they hated open source."

    I know you're not new here, but parent != summary...
  • Re:yes, well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fortunato_NC (736786) <verlinh75 @ m s n . com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:50PM (#23731795) Homepage Journal

    If you want to try to persuade them that they are wrong, with logic not violence, fine.

    Seriously, do you have ANY idea how ironic this statement is?

    Just a few examples of how Christians "persuade" people that they are wrong:

    1. The Crusades
    2. The Spanish Inquisition
    3. Jewish Blood Libel
    4. Forced Conversion of Conquered Peoples
    5. Abortion Clinic Bombings / Murders of Doctors

    And calling the Boy Scouts homophobic is hate speech. You, my deluded friend, have no sense of scale, and your irony meter is busted beyond repair. Good luck with that.

  • Wow... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Beefslaya (832030) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:50PM (#23731811)
    As an atheist Eagle Scout, I never once felt oppressed. I just chose not to go to Non-Denominational services.

    As far as gays go, they are of the same policy "don't ask, don't tell" as the military.

    For obvious reasons, if you are affiliated with NAMBLA, you won't be allow to be a Scoutmaster.

    It really amazes me the ignorance out there for this organization that truly helps youth (boys and girls) put their heads on straight and open their minds to so many possibilities.

    I'll be helping with some of the projects. I owe the organization for my achievements.

    Maybe some of you out there have 2 cents to give??
  • by Esc7 (996317) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:59PM (#23732047)
    I was a boyscout. I was in it since graduating Cub scouts and stayed in until venture scouts. While not getting my eagle, I was very active and did a lot.

    Boy scouts to me was all about hanging out with my friends, going camping, going backpacking, shooting guns, making lashing structures, sailing, swimming, cooking, basket weaving, learning first aid and emergency prep, knot tying, metal working and a whole host of other things. Boy scouts was where I was introduced to DnD, the best thing to play when your'e out in the wilderness with absolutely no electricity and only your imagination. It was a wonderful experience, now as an adult my fellow scouts are my best friends and the scoutmasters are revered mentors. It helped me grow into a Man, and if I have a boy I will more than likely enroll him.

    The point is, our troop was nothing more than boys and their dads. We don't have some clergy like the church ruling our actions. In fact the scout leaders FORCED us to do EVERYTHING. We planned the trips, the meals, the transportation, the meetings, the lessons. They merely assisted and guided. What this means is that all the talk I hear now of homophobia and anti-atheist discrimination is a kind of surprise. It NEVER came up in my troop, I'd say a good majority of them weren't associated with any religion.

    The troop's views are the sum of its constituents. It's not that The Boy Scouts are passing down from on high that no gay kids are allowed. Hell I think we had at least one in our troop. Did it make a difference? No, the whole thing was about having fun, not excluding people.

    I'm sure that the troops that make the news with this, and the top level administration pandering to their evangelical base are simply made up of people who think homosexuality is a sin and atheists are immoral. Don't forget a good portion of America DOES think this. It's a reflection of a portion of the population.

    So know, that yes there are liberal troops out there that don't concern themselves with exclusion, only with the boys and making their lives better. I'm a testament to it, and I'm certain there's hundreds others like me. As time rolls the general views of America's population will change, and then so will the Scouts. Until then, denying them them help, when helping would teach an excellent lesson is unecessarily mean. I know that I will try to help if this project comes around. All the boys don't deserve to be punished for what wrong people say.

    BE PREPARED.
  • Re:BSA (Score:2, Informative)

    by nawcom (941663) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:04PM (#23732199) Homepage
    Wow. My troop leader "highly suggested" that I quit Boy Scouts when I mentioned that there is no god. Later I was kicked out since I didn't want to quit, and I didn't fully understand how direct his suggestion was.
  • by b0bby (201198) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:04PM (#23732215) Homepage
    According to Wikipedia:
    "The Boy Scouts of America's position is that atheists and agnostics cannot participate as Scouts (youth members) or Scouters (adult leaders). According to the Bylaws of the BSA, Declaration of Religious Principle:

            "The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law." The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members."

    And:
    "Since 1991, openly gay adults have been officially prohibited from joining the Boy Scouts of America. A 1991 Position Statement states: "We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts." The BSA thus "believes that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law."

    The language used to describe the BSA's policies on homosexuals has evolved over time. Prior to 2004, the policy stated:

            "We do not allow for the registration of avowed homosexuals as members or as leaders of the BSA."

    In 2004, the BSA adopted a new policy statement:

            "Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scoutingâ(TM)s values and beliefs."

    So, there is clearly institutionalized discrimination. The Girl Scouts of America, however, do not discriminate on the basis of sexuality or (lack of) religion.
  • Re:No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hairy Heron (1296923) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:06PM (#23732247)

    The BSA isn't a government agency nor do they receive public monies,
    Sure they aren't a government agency but they very much do receive public money and government services. I'm not sure what rock you've been living under to not know about that.
  • Re:yes, well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:07PM (#23732265)
    When did all of this change? I honestly don't remember all this crap on either side when I was in it.

    I was a Boyscout from '96 to '00. I went camping almost every month. I've been to Philmont. Boyscout camp every summer. I think I've learned more from that organization about live than anywhere else. I have a camp stove and fuel in my car. When I drove from LA to IN and IN to DC after graduation to 'see the country'. I would regularly eat pasta or any thing else I could cook up. (Get some eggs/bacon and have a proper breakfast instead of McDonalds).

    I learned to blow things up properly. I can set up a tent in the dark (and now half drunk). I can build a fire using a single match and stuff I gathered. I know what bark to look for for starting fire after the rain. I can cook with cast iron (and at home I use nothing else). For competition we'd boil eggs in paper cups (paper won't burn below the water line). Carried sleds on years global warming made Klondikes suck. Snow shoe, canoe, swim, shoot, high rope climb, I could go on.

    When I went to college I ran into some "city boys" that had no clue how to start a fire.

    Their idea was gasoline (stupid, diesel is better) and a torch. I suppose it would have worked, but there's a finesse in starting fires with a single match, or a bow drill, or flint and steel. It's like doing in assembly what some people use Java for.

    The only thing was our local troop met in the basement of a Methodist church.

    I can't wait until I have sons so I can get back into scouting (if they're interested).

    I suppose towards the end of my tenure we got a new Scoutmaster. No more fires over X size. We bought those Walmart popup rain flies instead of using the WWII ones that took 12 guys to setup. (And lasted 80 years longer than the walmart ones). Sort of killed it for me, plus all my friends were a year older and when they left not as entertaining. And the biggest thing that killed it was council 'from the top' decree that Camouflage was banned. How were you supposed to properly hide during capture the flag?

    But nothing of gays and atheists.
  • by gtx (204552) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:09PM (#23732307) Homepage
    What you're failing to account for is the fact that the rules of BSA state that these people simply cannot be a part of the organization:

    http://www.bsalegal.org/faqs-195.asp [bsalegal.org]

    So even if individual troops overlook these rules, they do so in direct opposition to the rules. I don't know about you, but I see no reason to support an organization that dismisses me due to its own ignorant definition of "immoral."
  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by ttfkam (37064) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:09PM (#23732333) Homepage Journal
    Except that BSA policy is to either have an atheist swear falsely to a belief in a deity or drop them for being honest.

    "Any organization could profit from a 10-year-old member with enough strength of character to refuse to swear falsely." Editorial, New York Times, 1993-DEC-12, commenting on the Boy Scouts' exclusion of a young Atheist.

    There is a difference between proselytizing to convert other scouts to atheism and simply affirming that one is an atheist. Unfortunately the BSA sees no such distinction.

    A Christian scout who steals, cheats, or fights will be given counseling, and an effort will be made to keep him in the fold provided he poses no imminent threat to others. An atheist scout who lives an exemplary life will be rejected unless he lies about his beliefs. How is this a moral example for young people?

    http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/West/10/31/atheist.scout.ap/ [cnn.com]
  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:11PM (#23732361) Journal

    They were taken to court and, quite rightly, had their rights to discriminate as a private organization upheld. So oh well, screw the bigots.
    Not so rightly as that. They're a private organization that receives federal funding...
  • Re:How old are you? (Score:3, Informative)

    by thephotoman (791574) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:15PM (#23732487) Journal
    Hell, even the Boy Scouts of 10 years ago (the group I knew) is not the Boy Scouts of today. The group was inclusive even at that point. It was shortly after I stopped going to meetings regularly that things really started changing for the worse.
  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:26PM (#23732825) Homepage Journal
    As an AC has already mentioned, your troop leaders were breaking the rules. I sure there are a lot of people involved in Scouting who are like that. Indeed, tolerance and respect for unusual opinions and orientations would seem to be consistent with the whole Scouting ethos.

    But officially speaking the rule is no gays or atheists [bsalegal.org]. And as long as that's the rule, a lot of us are just not going to have anything to do with the BSA, no matter how tolerant some of its individual participants are.
  • Re:thirded... (Score:4, Informative)

    by thephotoman (791574) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:29PM (#23732931) Journal

    Penn and Teller's show on the Boy Scouts was fascinating - turns out a huge chunk of the Boy Scouts is financed by the Mormon church.
    This is particularly true in the Rocky Mountains. My troop (back in the day) went to Colorado for summer camp one year, and the best two weeks of the summer were reserved for LDS (Mormon)-affiliated troops only.

    In the South, it's the Southern Baptist Church that dominates the Scouting conversation. My troop wasn't affiliated with a church (the scoutmasters were largely atheist/agnostic), and thus had some rather interesting struggles (finding meeting locations, getting feeder relationships with Cub Scout packs).

    My knowledge of Scouting in the Midwest is rather shaky, as my only contact with it was with a Methodist-associated troop (as was my original troop, from which my agnostic one split mostly because the original troop grew far too large to be managable). That said, I remember a more developed outdoors program than in my native part of the South. I don't know what things are like on the coasts.
  • Re:No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:35PM (#23733085)
    mod this as troll

    In becoming an eagle scout, they ask for your understanding of reverence, duty to god, etc.

    You don't even have to subscribe to a particular religion, so long as you seem to grasp a notion that there is some underlying force that binds humanity as one (my words, not theirs). The concepts of helping others and self improvement are tied to this, and shows an awareness beyond thinking that "we're just a bunch of chemical arrangements that'll die off someday so what does anything matter, pardon while I start an emo band".
  • by geohump (782273) <geohumpNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:39PM (#23733191) Journal
    I was a scout during the late 60's and early 70's. Back then there was no restriction on Homosexuals in the Scouts. While I had a wonderful time in scouting, this change to an attitude of prejudice and intolerance is NOT what I learned Scouting was about. In fact, its directly the opposite of the actual principles of the Boy Scouts. The religious bigots who manipulated the system to add this expression of hatred and intolerance to Scouting need to be kicked out of the BSA and their rules with them. No help for the BSA until they return to their former, better policies.

    background info - 2 years at religious christian college, BS in Comp-Sci, married, 2 kids (Yes, I am a middle American. Would someone please kick the flaming idiot neo-cons and intolerant-hate-mongering religion-ists out of Washington DC? Please! )

  • Re:BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheMCP (121589) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:40PM (#23733225) Homepage
    The lawsuit wasn't claiming that as a private organization they didn't have the right to discriminate.

    The lawsuit claimed that as they take tax dollars to run their organization, they are not a private organization.

    Discrimination in the boy scouts: your tax dollars at work.
  • by Kennon (683628) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:42PM (#23733263) Homepage
    It's so weird how the BSA has, (or not) become some kind of religious group. Back in the mid-80's in central California I was a member of Cub Scouts for 4 years and a Boy Scout little over 2 years and have zero recollection of anything religion-like being part of the experience. We didn't even pray before meals. We played Dungeons and Dragons on camp outs and listened to Pink Floyd and learned wilderness survival, hunting and fishing and read Popular Mechanics magazine and built stuff. The experience was completely secular. There was a Mormon troop in town and they met at their temple and we camped next to them on many a jamboree and camp out and never once do I remember ever seeing a bible or even hear anyone utter anything about religion. Is this religious thing regional? Or maybe part of the religious rights resurgence from the mid-90's?
  • Re:BSA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:42PM (#23733265)
    I can personally vouch for this. When it came time for my cub scout troop to do the 'religion' merit badge. I was forced to pick a religion- they were not satisfied with me quietly being an agnostic. And if you admit to being gay, you can pretty much forget about it.

    I guess it really depends on the troop for how bad things are with it, but I honestly think the BSA is more bad than good.
  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by rho (6063) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:44PM (#23733325) Homepage Journal

    Eh. The older Scouts and adults often end up getting involved with Order of the Arrow, which is by any definition heathenism. You participate in Indian dances, often working with local tribes to learn them. The whole thing is drenched in Indian symbolism and liturgy. I'm not even sure you could consider it monotheism, though it is theistic to some degree. I infer that you think the organization is fundamentalist, but I hope I've demonstrated that it's hardly that simple.

    Part of the issue with the article you linked is that the Scouting organization is highly decentralized. Local councils and even troops are pretty autonomous. I know that he wouldn't have been hassled in our local troops, and we're in the middle of the Bible Belt, so it's not fair to tar the entire organization on that one case. The national office will support the council's decision, but they wouldn't interfere if the council ignored it.

  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Niten (201835) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:47PM (#23733413)

    I believe the problem is when you stand up and scream you are an atheist and want everyone else to change what they are doing to do it your way, is when there are problems.

    That's a real straw man. With rare exception, atheists and gays are not out to change people's private beliefs and practices. What they do want is to establish equal rights and standing for themselves in the public sphere, and that is a goal we should all be able to stand behind.

    It's rather predictable that people would confound a strong stance on atheist/gay rights with rabble-rousing and crass noisemaking, though; after all, that's precisely the same reaction with which all manner of civil rights activists have been received in the past, be they slavery abolitionists, or women's suffragists, or anti-segregationists.

    So you're probably correct that the parent poster got by in the BSA without incident by not making noise such as, e.g., refusing to recite the Boy Scouts pledge which commits one to a religious deity. And that's the problem. Until gays and atheists can proclaim themselves as openly as Christians and straights do in any public or semi-public organization, and not be required to pay lip service or deference to the Judeo-Christian worldview -- without being kicked out, or frowned upon, or generally treated as second-class citizens -- then our work is not yet done.

    (Fortunately for the parent poster, his local scoutmasters were apparently more tolerant than the national organization: discrimination against gays and atheists is still very much the official policy within the organization.)

  • by avoiceinthewildernes (620182) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:48PM (#23733441)

    What you're failing to account for is the fact that the rules of BSA state that these people simply cannot be a part of the organization
    What you're failing to understand is that a local troop's interactions with the BSA are practically nil.

    Any large organization will have its share of idiotic nutjobs, especially in positions of bureaucratic authority. The question is whether the organization is so corrupt and inflexible that one does a greater wrong by engagement or by disengagement. This is a case where, for anyone not entirely ignorant of that actual character and values of actual troops in the actual world, it is obvious that engagement and respectful disagreement with official policy is the better course.

    Only someone ignorant of what Scouting is actually like would dismiss it out of hand on the basis of what BSA says and does. It would be like hating all Americans on account of disagreements with the current administration.

    By the way, for those who think there is something hypocritical about local troops overlooking certain of the rules from the BSA, there is nothing in the spirit or character of Scouting that endorses stupid rule-mongering. Quite to the contrary, Scouting encourages boys to think for themselves and become self-reliant.

    For the record, I am an atheist, and my son is a Scout (which meets in a Church). When I was a Scout, there was a least one boy in our troop who was gay. Those with a knee-jerk reaction against anything that might be a bit wholesome and admirable need to be a bit more reflective and thoughtful.

    By the way, Scouts were multiculturalists and promoters of racial and religious tolerance long before these were mainstream values. In fact, one can earn a religious awards in totally non-theist religions like Universalism and Buddhism.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by X-bubblehead (245993) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:49PM (#23733471)
    Here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_emblems_programs_(Boy_Scouts_of_America) [wikipedia.org] is a handy little link listing the various religious emblems boy scouts can earn. Note the vast array of Christian sects like Baha'i, Buddist, Hindu, Islam, Jewish and Zoroastrian.

    Loose your bile all you want but at least make a tiny effort to be accurate with it.
  • Re:yes, well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:53PM (#23733585)
    1. The Crusades. Took place in the 13th century.

    2. The Spanish Inquisition. Took place in the 19th century.
    3. Jewish Blood Libel. Not sure what you mean by this.
    4. Forced Conversion of Conquered Peoples. And when, pray tell, was the last time this happened?
    5. Abortion Clinic Bombings/Murders of Doctors. Please. This has no more bearing on Christianity as a whole than Muslim terrorists have on Islam as a whole. The actions of a few extremists do not condemn an entire group.

    Sounds to me like you're the one without a sense of scale. The things you mentioned are either a) so far in the past, they're irrelevant to the character of today's Christians, or b) the actions of a small segment of the population. By your logic, Americans are all bad people because we have a few rapists and murderers.

  • Re:BSA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:55PM (#23733641)

    I can personally vouch for this. When it came time for my cub scout troop to do the 'religion' merit badge. I was forced to pick a religion- they were not satisfied with me quietly being an agnostic. And if you admit to being gay, you can pretty much forget about it.

    I guess it really depends on the troop for how bad things are with it, but I honestly think the BSA is more bad than good.
    I can personally vouch for being abducted by space aliens, but that doesn't make it true.

    In BSA, Cub Scouts don't get merit badges. Furthermore, there is no 'Religion' merit badge nor any merit badge with religious content anyway. And if you're talking about some scouting organization other than the BSA, you should have mentioned it, and it would be fairly offtopic anyway.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:02PM (#23733849)
    The BSA is NOT a "acknowledged
    military youth auxiliary organization". Here's what it is:

    The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

    Now....for some, morals are the same as religion. To other's, they are not. Now, understand this....kids can be anything they want. If a Troop kicked you out because your gay, then they are WRONG. The rules specifically say you cannot be a leader. That is all! The only thing that IS SPECIFIC is this:

    The Scout Oath

    On my honor I will do my best
    To do my duty to God and my country
    and to obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong,
    mentally awake, and morally straight.

    Duty to God.....it doesn't say which God. You don't believe in God, then you can't join. Period.

    However, you can be a gay Boy Scout....you just can't be a gay Boy Scout Leader.
  • Re:yes, well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:08PM (#23734039) Homepage Journal

    "respecting" religion isn't important at all. Tolerating it on my part, you could perhaps make an argument for, but respecting... not likely. Respect needs to be earned. Tolerance (as long as other's liberties are not interfered with) is an obligation born of freedom.

    There's quite a gulf between religion, which is largely made up of systems for trying to influence what people of dissimilar outlooks (religious and otherwise) think through the promotion of myths, as compared to healthy sexuality, which is consensual activity between informed individuals of already similar outlooks.

    If you want to find unhealthy sexual outlooks, just look for the people promoting, writing, and enforcing laws against consensual, informed sexual behaviors. There's no easier way to find the sexually dysfunctional.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by Comboman (895500) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:15PM (#23734237)
    I'm not sure if Wikipedia can compete with the Penn & Teller as a reference source, but here you go: BSA Units and Charted Organizations [wikipedia.org]

    Yes, more units are sponsored by LDS than any other single source, but it's hardly a majority. A lot are sponsored by other churches, businesses, Legions, PTAs, Lion's clubs, fire departments, etc.

  • Re:BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by coaxial (28297) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:32PM (#23734777) Homepage
    As a matter of fact, the BSA isn't against non-Christians. Quite the contrary. The BSA encourages people of all faiths to participate and earn appropriate badges [wikipedia.org]. The BSA, is just anti-atheist.

  • Re:BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:08PM (#23735739) Homepage
    There is an alternative, Sprial Scouts [spiralscouts.org]. I'm not saying it's a great alternative, they're a small organization with a fairly limited number of troops at local levels, but they are an alternative. It was founded as kind of a Wiccan/Pagan alternative to BS and GS, but they are explicitly unbiased on any points of religion, race, sex, or sexuality.

    My understanding is that they're a fairly crunchy granola sort of organization (makes sense, given their origins), but the few people I've known who worked with them (all online friends) said the national organization was nice to work with and helped as much as possible. YMMV, and I've never personally been involved with them in any way.
  • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:18PM (#23737135)
    Scouting is open to all young people aged 6 to 25 of every faith and background.

    I seem to recall having to promise to do my duty to God and to the Queen. Back then I didn't have a problem with that; nowadays I'm an atheist and a republican :-)

    Looking around the UK Scouts website, they don't seem to insist on the kids being straight or theistic (although they do encourage religious participation, and although they vary the wording of the promise for many faiths there's no atheists' formulation). However, I am disturbed by the implications of this document [scoutbase.org.uk], listing their 'Key Policies'.

    It seems there are exactly two kinds of people they refuse to accept as troop leaders.

    Atheists, and paedophiles.

    Am I the only one who finds that incredibly insulting?

  • Re:BSA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Niten (201835) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:55PM (#23739633)

    There wouldn't be a legal problem with any of this if, as you claim, the Boy Scouts of America were purely a private organization. But that's not the case. They seek out and accept public funding for many of their activities, and chapters have even gone so far as to sue the government [philly.com] when it decides to take the moral and legal high ground and stop subsidizing their exclusionary activities [washingtonpost.com].

    Now if the BSA were to stop accepting any public money for their activities, the legal problems would go away. Granted, a private organization that excludes homosexuals is still no less despicable than one which denies Jews or Blacks; I and others would continue to criticize them, in the same way that most people criticize, e.g., the KKK, while fully recognizing their right to express their own views. But the gross injustices to tax-paying atheists and gays are what must be addressed, and they can easily be addressed without interfering with the organization's "moral values".

  • Re:BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by jmac1492 (1036880) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:22PM (#23740057)
    The current rendition of the Scout Oath includes a line about morally straight. I don't remember what the official original definition of this was when it was first introduced to the Oath, but it had made no reference to homosexuality at all. In fact, of the 26 definitions of "straight," only one of them refers to heterosexuality. Most of them deal with things being in an unadulterated state. One definition even aligns its self precisely with what the Scouts should stand for: "honest, honorable, or upright, as conduct, dealings, methods, or persons."

    The 11th (current) edition of the Boy Scout Handbook defines morally straight as "To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful to your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance."

    The BSA has no problem with gay Scouts. The problem it has with gay Scoutmasters is the same problem it has with female Scoutmasters: The possibility that you might be attracted to a Scout is enough to disqualify you from being a Scoutmaster. If you think that's too heavy-handed, that's another discussion, but "morally straight" is not meant to imply "sexually straight."

  • Re:BSA (Score:4, Informative)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @10:40PM (#23741193) Journal
    They receive no federal funding.

    What happens is that the Federal Government makes it really easy for employees to donate to charities of their choice by checking a box on their payroll forms each year. There are several hundred funding choices, including Catholic Charities, Muslim charities, and all kinds of private organizations.

    Essentially, some congressman thought it would be nice to facilitate giving among the massive and federally bloated work force, but it is entirely the employees choice and is no different than them giving the money directly.

  • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:53AM (#23742597) Homepage Journal

    While the higher-up organization might make stands on certain issues, it did not reflect my experience. The previous Scout Leader was an Atheist.
    The higher-ups don't merely "make stands", they make rules. And the rules say that no scout or scout leader can be an atheist or gay. The fact that nobody ratted on your atheist scout leader speaks well for the people in your troop, but if anybody had, he would have been shown the door.
  • Re:BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:10AM (#23742729) Homepage Journal
    Religious discrimination is illegal in many contexts (employment, retail sales) but there's no blanket ban. How would you enforce it? If my prejudice agains Presbyterians keeps me out of Walmart, whose to know?

    In most jurisdictions, discriminating against somebody based on their sexual orientation is perfectly legal. You may think that's wrong (as do I) but being wrong doesn't make something illegal.

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