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tomzak


Member

Posted Mon Aug 1st, 2011 9:16am Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Well done Stephen for being presented with the communicators badge from the Scouts. However if you ever felt like getting involved and being a scout leader then forget it as Atheists are not allowed!! Maybe this award is a small step forward. Maybe you could use your new link with the scout association to ask some probing questions and create a little publicity?

I am an adult helper at my local scout group but as an atheist I am not allowed to be a leader as atheists can't be members of the Scout Association.


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Martin Benson


Member

Posted Mon Aug 1st, 2011 8:41pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

I wholeheartedly agree with Tomzak.

The Scout Association is a private RELIGIOUS charity that has a specific rule that states 'The Atheistic Lack of a Religious Belief is a Bar to a Leadership Position'.

Thus, they operate the ridiculous rule that a grown adult cannot teach a six year old to tie their shoe laces unless they believe in god. As one official told me a few years ago, 'We ban atheists and pedophiles, because a pedophile corrupts a child's body, while an atheist corrupts a child's mind'. Or as one Welsh official recently told a group of parents wanting to start a Scout Group 'We don't admit atheists because we don't want them telling little kids that there is no god.

I have to say I am more than slightly amazed that Mr Fry accepted this award and I do feel he should have consulted the large list of complaints received annually about The Scouts by the British Humanist Association before before deciding to accept this award.

I would call upon him to hand it back.


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Nitro


Member

Posted Thu Aug 4th, 2011 3:10am Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

It's not my business wether Mr.Fry accepts or rejects any award, not really as it's on him to absorb, deflect, defend etc etd his choice if he's of the mind to, but I admit I kind of *disagree* that he should offer the award back.

Accepting an award, and then turning around and handing it back is really not very nice. I don't think the award is about anyone's moral superiority or position so much as it is a gift of admiration. It would be kind of rude to hand it back based on an after-thought.

You could argue, after all, he should not have accepted it in the first place if it's a question of belief systems.

In fact, it reflects more on The Scouts adherence to their own policies by giving him the award at all, considering their stance on Atheists, than it does Mr.Fry's accepting it. IOW, if they're so dead set against atheists, why did they give someone who's belief system is fairly well known?

The Scouts ideas on this are outdated. Antiquated. They'll either evolve or they'll not, but they do have a right to reject atheists IMHO ( and that's coming from an atheist ).

While I wouldn't group those of us who don't believe in unproveable positions many would expect us to adopt because they say so or believe it themselves, in with the same minds that are turned on by the idea of sexually abusing little children, I do believe that groups have a right to determine their own policies.

Don't join the Scouts if you don't like it. If you do like the Scouts and want to stay, you play by their rules until and unless they change them. You can certainly work from within, but only up to the point they might be able to argue you are being subverisive to their model.

I have friends, many, who are religious in some way. I have no desire whatsoever to 'move' them in any direction from how they think. After all, they don't move me. They try harder, for sure, while I could virtually care less. It's not my position from an atheist perspective to see others agree with me and abandon their faith. I mention this just to make the point that there are many groups that are uncomftorable with the atheist position. Some obvious, some not. But when you voluntarily join an organization with certain policies and then resent how those policies may limit you, maybe there's another group that needs your energies and time more???

Wether Mr.Fry enjoys his award or not is of no difference to me and those I'm an atheist, I say if he likes the aware he should keep it.

Really? Wow.

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Muldanian


Member

Posted Mon Aug 8th, 2011 4:28pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

I remember being a scout, and swearing to do my duty to God and to the Queen. I wonder if this is still done? However, I am surprised that in this day and age, that an atheist cannot be a scout or scout leader. Does it matter which god someone believes in, or is any god considered better than no god at all?


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Nitro


Member

Posted Mon Aug 8th, 2011 10:04pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

It's probably like anything else in that change takes time.

The problem legally may be if the Scouts are considered a private organization. For example, Masons do not accept homosexuals or atheists either. And I think they are allowed to continue with those rules primarily because they're a private org - e.g. not funded by offices who get funds from the public taxpayer.

I just have to believe that some laywers, some where, have already looked into this.

Really? Wow.

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Kingfisher


Member

Posted Tue Aug 16th, 2011 1:33pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

While a longstanding fan of Stephen's, I'm new to this forum and have arrived by following the title of this thread. The subject is a long and vexed one in the world of Scouting and some of your comments cut to the heart of the matter.

For 104 years the Scouts have inculcated moral values and behaviours in boys around the world and, since 1993, to girls in Britain as well. The value of this work, and play, has never been more evident than in the aftermath of Britain's riots.

As Nitro says, change takes time. Ingrained discrimination can be hard to remove and The Scout Association has long striven to progress its inclusivity without losing its core values and beliefs.

However, Martin Benson is wrong to describe the Association as a religious charity. It is, as Martin says, a private members' organisation and a charity but it is not a religious organisation. It does not seek to impose any specific beliefs on its members, only to ask that they develop and practice their beliefs. Unfortunately, they use the word "God" a lot, although Buddhists are permitted to substitute the word Dharma here.

What of the many adult volunteers who, in following their spiritual journey within Scouting, conclude that secular humanism is the most true and just philosophy of life? There are, undoubtedly, many thousands of freethinking adults in British Scouting and they do play by the rules, as Nitro says. The difficulty for them is how they can press their Association to drop its last institutional discrimination when, by asking the right questions, they are inviting the Association to expel them? You may be aware that trained adult volunteers are hard to come by in today's society. As one such volunteer, I see the great worth of what we do within Scouting. There is no alternative organisation in which secular adults can deliver fun, challenge and adventure for young people in every local community across the country. Like me, few are willing to abandon ship on a matter of principle.

It will take the likes of Stephen and the BHA to persuade The Scout Association to openly welcome adults of any philosophy and belief. Until then, secular adults in Scouting will remain firmly shut in their closet.


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delph_ambi


Member

Posted Tue Aug 16th, 2011 10:31pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Nitro, small point, but the Masons DO accept homosexuals. Their only ruling regarding relationships is to ban adultery with a fellow mason's wife or daughter. However, you're right that they don't accept atheists. They require members to have a belief in some sort of a supreme power.

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Nitro


Member

Posted Fri Aug 19th, 2011 2:47am Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Thank you for pointing that out Delph. However, I do think there is the stipulation of male-to-male marriage not being acceptable. The irony is that you're right, you CAN be a gay man, and be married, but I'm pretty sure it has to be a woman the gay man is married to as Masons ideology puts forth that one of marriages purposes is biological reproduction of the male and female. Gets tricky!

Also, I don't think they quite address transgendered issues. For example, a woman becoming a man and then trying to join. Unless, I suppose, she/he were to keep the transition strictly to himself. But if it were discovered...I don't know how they'd feel...

Theres a book that you should read "Beyond the Light" by William Schnoebelen

of course there are gay masons, as there are gay cops.

however, in masonry, one is elected in by secret ballot.

if the 'political' culture of a particular lodge is made up of members who are, for example, primarily southern baptist, conservative then your odds of being voted
in are slim to none. and I mean, of course, if you are openly gay.

now, you may find a lodge that welcomes openly gay men. but remember, too, that the masons do NOT condone gay marriage
because their foundational tenents assert that one of the
purposes of marriage is procreation, and two gay are not
biologically capable of it. therefore, while you can be an open
gay may in some lodges, you cannot be an openly gay man who is
married to his male partner.

the other thing to remember is that the masonic order is run
primarily from the very top. I'm talking 33rd degree and over.
that's a near impossible climb for *most* initiates to achieve
in their own lifetime. those rings are often handed down father to son.

it is absolutely, diabolically almost, a patriarchal order. personally,
any orgaization that bans an entire gender has something to hide
under the hood. it's why many straight men will not join. it seems
an uncomftorable idea if you look under it. they're almost like
those baptist 'promise keepers'. yeah, they promise to keep women
in line and oppressed. oh, they'll *say* differently. it's bad p.r.
to do otherwise. but if read the books of former high ranking
ship-jumpers ( who, btw, in doing so are under immediate threat
of death..and that's according to masonic rules and the initiate
ceremony itself indicates this....sword tip, meet breast..the initiate
swears on his life to uphold and anything else is betrayal of the
brothers...).

it matters little to me that oscar wilde was any kind of mason. if anything, it only lends weight to the argument that he was as
capable of making assanine choices as anyone else.

btw, i know a couple of local masons. they openly detest homosexuals. so, while there's no specific tenent that i could
find banning gay men, there is an absolute influence when it comes
to joining the order and then finding a lodge with the political
climate one might enjoy.

also, they do discriminate not just against women, but the physically
disabled/handicapped *unless* the handicap occurs after being
initiated. nice huh?

this comes from a former freemason who is also a black man. here
are his personal experiences:
"As for the handicap, there is no accommodation, unless of course the physical handicap resulted after becoming a Mason." ( look
under "eighteenth landmark" for reference )

also: "Since there has been this racial divide in American Masonry from the very beginning, each state within the United States (plus DC) *now has two Grand Lodges; one black and one white.* Each Grand Lodge is led by a Grand Master who controls the "gavel of authority" and ultimately rules over all subordinate lodges within their respective jurisdictions. With nearly 2 million Masons in the U.S., and about a third of which are Prince Hall affiliated, coupled with the rich history and traditions of both sides, you can imagine why neither Grand Master is going to easily be willing to relinquish his gavel of authority in order to form one Grand Lodge within any particular state in the country, or in the nation as a whole, as is in the United Kingdom."

I would not be at all surprised if these gay/racial issues are not
as prominate in the UK as they are here in the states. however, i don't
personally believe the free masons teach anything particularly
'enlightened' to begin with anyway. certainly not anything one can't
here elsewhere in some other faith or philosophy. in other words, there's no 'ground breaking' trains of thought.

it reminds me of little boys building a 'secret tree house' and hanging
a sign that says,"no icky girls or [whatever we say] allowed." all the secrete handshakes and such strike me as unatural behavior for grown men.

Really? Wow.

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Outofverbs


Member

Posted Sun Aug 21st, 2011 10:51pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Oh they know they can't cram their BS at atheists, nor make them subservient as any god-fearing person preferably is.

Not allowing atheists is a ridiculous thing, since one can just lie about it anyway. I know I did when I was a kid...

Wouldn't excluding people from an association or whatever it may be called, be labeled as discrimination and unlawful?


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Nitro


Member

Posted Wed Aug 24th, 2011 5:03am Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Once again, I believe if an organization is listed as 'private' versus 'public', and this has to do with taxes and funds and such and so those types of laws prolly intrude, but I think the Scouts are NOT listed as 'public', in that they are funded via tax dollars like parks are, or sidewalks.

There are MANY private orgs that routinely restrict their membership, and some on biases you may find more repellant than atheist/believer biases.

Really? Wow.

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Martin Benson


Member

Posted Fri Apr 13th, 2012 11:34pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

However, Martin Benson is wrong to describe the Association as a religious charity.

Erm, sorry, but that is not correct.

1. It makes a belief in God a condition of membership.

2. "At its core Scouting is a faith based movement" - Scouting Magazine October 2011.

3. Adults MUST declare a religious belief and are expected to operate the religious policy by personal example.

4. The study of religion is a compulsory element of every one of the progress awards.

As the old saying goes. If it quacks like a duck.......


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Martin Benson


Member

Posted Fri Apr 13th, 2012 11:57pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Sorry to reopen this, but I have just found this and I have to correct this poster.

For his information. I am gay. I am a Freemason. I was a Scout Leader for over 20 years.

"Masons ideology puts forth that one of marriages purposes is biological reproduction of the male and female."

Masonry has no such ideology. Buy a book of Masonic ceremonies and check for yourself.

"For example, a woman becoming a man and then trying to join."

Not even an issue.

"however, in masonry, one is elected in by secret ballot."

As members are in other organisations.

"culture of a particular lodge is made up of members who are, for example, primarily southern baptist, conservative then your odds of being voted in are slim to none. and I mean, of course, if you are openly gay."

Discussions of religion are banned in masonic lodges, so this would hardly be an issue. Besides which, like the Cubs or Scouts, men tend to come to masonry via their friends and a gay man is hardly likely to be hanging out with a Southern Baptist is he?

"now, you may find a lodge that welcomes openly gay men. but remember, too, that the masons do NOT condone gay marriage because their foundational tenents assert that one of the purposes of marriage is procreation, and two gay are not biologically capable of it. therefore, while you can be an open gay may in some lodges, you cannot be an openly gay man who is married to his male partner."

This is nonsense on several levels. We have NO COMMENT on marriage or its purpose. The only promise is that a Mason will not have relationships with another Mason's wife or his daughter. that is in the ceremony book, which can be purchased on Amazon.

the other thing to remember is that the masonic order is run
primarily from the very top. I'm talking 33rd degree and over.
that's a near impossible climb for *most* initiates to achieve
in their own lifetime. those rings are often handed down father to son.

The HIGHEST degree in Freemasonry is the THIRD DEGREE, which is 'completed' by being in the Royal Arch or chapter.

The 33rd degree (which is a CHRISTIAN order) is a side or specialist order of Freemasonry. I am a 3rd degree mason. I have a 33rd in my Lodge, but while I was the Master, I was 'superior' to him.

"it is absolutely, diabolically almost, a patriarchal order. personally,
any orgaization that bans an entire gender has something to hide
under the hood."

Erm, women can be freemasons. There are two UK female groupings and one MIXED grouping. The mixed one is also open to atheists too.

" according to masonic rules and the initiate ceremony itself indicates this....sword tip, meet breast..the initiate swears on his life to uphold and anything else is betrayal of the brothers...)."

Not true. Read the ceremonies. We swear (several times in our career in fact) to be good citizens and uphold the laws of the land we live in.

"btw, i know a couple of local masons. they openly detest homosexuals. so, while there's no specific tenent that i could find banning gay men, there is an absolute influence when it comes to joining the order and then finding a lodge with the political climate one might enjoy."

I my lodge, there are at least three former masters who are gay and there are other openly gay members too. Like I said, one tends to join the things your pals join. I joined because a couple of my (gay) pals said it was a good thing. It is and I ended up a Master.

There are no secrets in Masonry, they are all out there to find. Our ceremonies can be bought in any bookshop and or premises are open as public museums. Oh and we raise money for public charities too. Hope you don't get cancer, but if you do, you might end up being treated at Barts with the Cyberknife. The £2m that revolutionary machine costs was paid for by ordinary masons putting their hands in their pockets at lodge meetings all over London. Some conspiracy theory huh!

"all the secrete handshakes and such strike me as unatural behavior for grown men"
They are a traditional form of recognition that were once used by the Cathedral builders in the middle ages to tell the qualified builders from the cowboys. These days of course, geniune builders have City and Guilds certificates and NVQ's, but they didn't have them back then. All we have done is keep them up. Oh, and they ain't that secret either.


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Nitro


Member

Posted Wed Apr 25th, 2012 12:18pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

"Discussions of religion are banned in masonic lodges, so this would hardly be an issue. Besides which, like the Cubs or Scouts, men tend to come to masonry via their friends and a gay man is hardly likely to be hanging out with a Southern Baptist is he?"

Uh, the vast majority of Masons in the states extend well below the Mason-Dixon line. I'd think a well versed, upstanding and extremely knowledgeable Mason like yourself would know that and be able to understand a simple thing like 'context'. That's ok. Carrying on with your point...you're eating your own pipe and i'll show you why with your own words...

you say that you yourself lied about being an atheist as a kid yet seem
to think in the above paragraph that you might be the only Mason capable of such a thing in order not to rock the boat...I have little doubt that Masonry would encourage the use of subterfuge, indirection, and lieing to join an organization. For many that are not the 'rule makers' in Masonry, they join initially in hopes of making business connections. They generally STAY because they are aligned, and comftorably so, politically and socially with the other members. Please stop pretending there's some purity to Masonry not present in other org's.

as for the 33rd being a distinct christian org...wait, i thought there was no religion
in masonry? LOL

Women CAN NOT be free masons, and you're saying they can be is absolute falsehood...they are generally only included in lodge activity as side dishes in activities by point of being a mason's wife...there are organizations such
as "The Daughters of the Eastern Star", but they are not, by pure definition, MASONS...these is EASY TO FIND BY SIMPLY USING YOUR FAVORITE SEARCH ENGINES KIDS...

For my part, I know and have known Masons personally...I keep my distance, personally...

Would you like to start any more of your points with 'Erm...'? Makes you sound really
thoughtful instead of doing what you are, which is damage control.

As for the ceremonies, there are plenty on YT ( thank technology for busting out stuff like this versus having to rely on the never unbiased 'scoop' of actual
members ), of secret masonic videos on tape...I would recommend one filmed in Turkey
on a cell phone...I'm not talking conspiracy stuff here either...as for Masonic philosophy, that too can be researched with your favorite search engine...

point in fact: Masons ARE a sexist organization and the average Mason, particularly south of the Mason-Dixon line, are NOT FRIENDLY TO GAY PEOPLE....geezus petey, just look at the members general political affiliations: "pro-family", anti-gay, anti-choice, candidate must be a god believer

BTW, thanks for letting me know that Masonry is, in fact, a 'career'. As for my assertion that breaking the fealty of the oath an intitiate takes, you are flat either lieing or living in delusion land. Anyone here can look up the words of that oath and if they're so interested, I trust they will.

But, I trust even more that Masonry actually is what it is...a dieing organization. The numbers are dwindling faster than they are being replaced. Probably cheeses some people off, but hey, that's Life. Men actually DO grow up, imagine that

And, just like the Scouts will probably do and the Catholic church will do and many other denom's will do, they will either die out or change with the times. That does NOT erase their initial fundamental principles that they were founded on.

I don't like slavery, but it's a fact that humans enslave each other and will, given the chance. Thankfully, the affinity for slavery has, in the West at least, became unpopular and unjustifiable and abandoned.

"They are a traditional form of recognition that were once used by the Cathedral builders in the middle ages to tell the qualified builders from the cowboys."

Gotcha! That's a flat out lie.

And, are you going to actually try to deny that Masonry does not put forth that when you are presented with two potential employees, both of equal skills, that you should hire ONLY the Mason? Wouldn't want any cowboys taking jobs from you ol' boys eh? How in the world would you control the guilds and such? Tsk. It had nothing to do with 'qualified' versus 'cowboys'. That was the public rationalization to deflect accusation of unfair hiring practices by Masons. The fact is, those handshakes tell each other a lot more than you are letting on and they do, in point of fact, allow for discrimination AGAINST non-Masons in hiring.

roflmao...keep justifying 'Master' LOL
Nice of you to hope I don't get cancer, but if I do you can trust I won't be coming to you for the money to help AND, btw, I've already prepared for that. I adore your self-righteous arrogance though I don't think me getting cancer was a necessary scenario, was it? Well, otoh, I've noticed that when it comes to the true believer of anything, the rationale for doing and saying vile things is only a threat away, however indirect or direct.

BTW, I made it very clear in my former post that I was not speaking about masonry as represented in the UK but I'm also not going to sit here while you pretend that Masonry is more morally pure on some level than it is here in the states. You guys had absolutely NO problem with slavery or being slave owners either, and it's WHY there are divisions, still, between black and white lodges. I mean, come ON, stop obfuscating with watered down rhetoric meant to lull people away from the evil that men do just so you can actively recruit. And you guys are always recruiting and amping up who you are reaching out to and THAT is documented as well.

There are no secrets in Masonry. You're right, not anymore. Enough 'Masters' have jumped ship and renounced your organization and revealed just how (not)wonderful Mason ideology really is and, thanks to the W-W-W that information has spread like lightening. It's not a coincidence "Master" that Masonry's membership has fallen off as technology/data transfer has spread. You guys CAN'T be secret anymore, so I wouldn't surprised at all if there's plenty of internal philosophical 'culling' going on.

Aren't 'that secret'?

ROFL!! Ah, the stretches a true believer will take in order to deflect. Not 'that secret'.

I'll be chuckling all day over that one.

Really? Wow.

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rnorman345


Member

Posted Fri Jun 29th, 2012 12:54pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

Hi all, I believe that this is all a great shame, a lot of misunderstandings.
1 An atheist CAN teach a Beaver, Cub (or Scout) ‘how to tie his boot laces’; as Tomzak says ‘he is a helper with ...‘ He/she cannot, again as Tomzak correctly says, become a ‘leader’ – i.e. take total responsibility for the young persons' welfare, as leaders have to make the Promise, the first part of which is: ’On my honour, I promise, that I will do my best to do my duty to God …’ i.e. they have ‘a faith’, Muldanian a belief in God is NOT a condition of membership …… Martin please re-think your 3 and 4, as you are correcting the misunderstandings of masonry
2 BP had great foresight – he understood that his faith in a God had not suddenly appeared, he had gathered it on his road through life; at times he had ‘not known’ indeed he had ‘doubted’ maybe, even, for a period been certain that there was no God. He instigated a promise called ‘The Outlander Promise’ which was designed for people who were unable to say ‘I will do my duty to God’ as they were agnostic or indeed were unable to say ‘and to the Queen/my country’ as they were stateless. Unfortunately this has gone by the way side.
3 Please note that BP also only suggested that we can do our best – NONE of us is perfect
4 Also, unless things have changed, the Scout Association in the UK is not a religious charity; it is, again as far as I am aware, an educational charity. I am aware that in some countries, even in Europe, Scouting is split between religious sects. I know that BP viewed this as a great shame as he went to great efforts to encourage them to join together and allow all faiths to prosper together within Scouting. There are Scout (groups) in the UK who are outside the SA – not completely sure why, though it started in 1966 when my shorts went out
5 Finally as you can see from the above there is no dichotomy in Scouting awarding a badge to an atheist or, indeed, a humanist and there should be no dichotomy in Stephen accepting it; one of my best friends in Scouting had a humanist funeral I would welcome help from any humanist in running my sections – if they can put up their fears and worries about my faith


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Nitro


Member

Posted Thu Aug 2nd, 2012 9:47pm Post subject: Scouts and Atheism

You'd welcome them, just so long as they have no plans on being leaders? Just curious.

I'd like to believe that you are amicable and open minded to all those interested in becoming scouts, but in your first few paragraphs it's clear that atheism DOES bar someone from vertical aspirations. If you are not actively trying to get that changed, then you accept it yourself in which case I just wanted to ask you what I have.

BTW, I am not nor ever have been involved with Scouting. I can remember a male relative of mine being involved and when his little sister expressed interest in joining his group he let her have it and said,"We don't take GIRLS in my troop. Join the GIRL Scouts!"

Which she did do

The gender separation aside, which I honestly don't have that big of a deal with personally, so long as the Scouts take public funds they open themselves to caving to public will as it changes or whatever. You'd be better off forming up like the Masons have

Really? Wow.

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