I’m not sure how everyone may feel about this, but I decided I would go ahead and give my opinion anyway. Comments are of course welcome. I read a post recently from Atheist Revolution titled Skip the Boy Scouts Christmas Tree. It was originally posted in 2017 and there are some good points made but I think that overall it misses a key aspect about the Boy Scouts, which I’ll get to in a moment.
The Boy Scouts reject open atheists from joining their organization. That seems a bit bigoted on its face and when I first read the post last year, I thought it was too bad that here again, this organization chose to reject membership based on something that has nothing to do with being a scout.
They’re a private organization and they have every right to decide who may become a member, realizing they may offend some group by not accepting membership from that group. We know it’s happened before. With public pressure, and of course a loss of corporate donations, the scouts have been forced to change their position.
We may all cheer that bigotry has been overcome and that this private organization have no right to exclude anyone, but then I think, would I want my child to be a member of this long venerated institution? Probably not, but then I also wouldn’t attempt to force them to change because their rules prohibited certain groups from joining. Let them die on the vine.
Back to the post linked above, as an atheist I wouldn’t want my child to become a member based solely on the Boy Scout Oath (Pledge) which reads (emphasis mine):
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.
I don’t think I would want my child to have to pledge anything to “God” and this has been their pledge since the beginning. Maybe it’s time to sue them to take out that word and that way they’d be inclusive of atheists as well. No, let’s not even go there, okay?
Does the fact that atheist youth are not welcome prevent me from purchasing a Christmas tree from them? No. The larger question is, should it? I think it’s up for every individual to decide but then who’s next on the boycott list for atheists because we’re not made welcome? There’s plenty out there if anyone just takes a few minutes.
I don’t believe in boycotts because they actually accomplish nothing in the long term. Sure, it may make a company or institution change, but to what effect if in the end, the same disappears and all that has been done is to incur the rancor of the general public. Do atheists need any more bad PR than what is already out there?
I’m not encouraging anyone to buy their tree from the Boy Scouts or anyone else. Personally, I look for the best price, and if the scouts have the best price, guess what? That’s where I’m going to make my purchase.