I went to a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Court recently and was moved. A young man achieved a rare accolade through perseverance and community involvement. As a former Scout, I recalled 50-milers, aquatics camp, trout fishing and roasted rattlesnake out under the big skies of my New Mexico childhood.
But there was a dark cloud hanging over the entire affair: The Boy Scouts of America is a discriminatory organization. Even while I was told that the Eagle candidate had read the U.S. Constitution and was sworn to defend it, he was also told that reverence to a deity was a requirement for Scouts. In other words, he had to believe in a god (any god really seemed adequate).
This would not be acceptable for public office under the Constitution:
“The senators and representatives … and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution, but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
It is tragic and ironic that an organization that claims trustworthiness, respect and reverence would be so callous as to deny the wisdom of America’s founding fathers in realizing that religion is a personal matter and has little to do with suitability for public participation, morality or service.
Over time, I can only hope that the Eagle Scouts and their fellow troop members work to change BSA and help to make the organization inclusive to those who are patriotic and trustworthy, and who will, on their honor, be good enough people not to cruelly exclude others from an opportunity to show them what it means to be morally upright and accept others for who they are.
Mark Davis, Tracy