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Martin Luther King Jr. was a Boy Scout

Martin Luther King Jr., the American civil rights hero whose life we celebrate every year around this time, was a Boy Scout.

Just typing that gives me chills. It’s a fact that should make Scouts everywhere remarkably proud.

I had read rumors online claiming MLK was a Boy Scout, but this week I got confirmation: From age 11 to age 13, King was registered as a member of Troop 151 in Atlanta.

The handwritten troop charter renewal forms, scans of which you can see below, also include the name of King’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., who was the troop’s chartered organization representative.

The troop met at Ebenezer Baptist Church, now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Both King men served as pastors there.

I was pleased to learn Scouting is still alive and well at Ebenezer today. Troop and Pack 213 meet there every other Sunday.

Those young Scouts must feel so proud to meet at the same spot where one of our nation’s greatest heroes once donned the Boy Scout uniform.

MLK’s boyhood home

MLK-boyhood-home

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in this charming house at 501 Auburn Ave. in Atlanta. You can get a free guided tour of his birth home when you visit the national historic site.

This is the house King called home when he was a Boy Scout; the address is listed on his troop’s charter forms.

The quest to find MLK’s records

A Google search turns up several sites that claim King was a Boy Scout, but I wanted confirmation.

I checked the pages of Scouting magazine, but while the magazine had written about King it never mentioned his Scouting past. Same with Boys’ Life.

I turned to Connie Adams of the BSA’s records management team, which preserves and stores all national records. She found photocopies of the troop charter form with King’s name on them. But where were the originals?

Perhaps with King’s local council in Atlanta, Adams told me.

So I contacted Atlanta Area Council Scout Executive Tracy Techau, who confirmed that King was a Boy Scout: “This is 100 percent legitimate fact,” he told me.

He asked Tom Wilson, the council’s director of support services, to send me scans of the original troop charter forms. Wilson did, and you can see those scans below.

The records prove Martin Luther King Jr. was a Boy Scout

OK, enough buildup. Here are the records (click to enlarge).

MLK-Boy-Scout-charter

MLK-Boy-Scout-roster

MLK-Boy-Scout-charter-3

MLK-Boy-Scout-charter-2


Hat tip: Thanks to Tracy Techau, Tom Wilson and Connie Adams.

141 Comments on Martin Luther King Jr. was a Boy Scout

  1. This ought to be interesting….

    • Why do you say that?

      • Since you asked. We teach that MLK jr was a champion of equal rights, judge a man by the content of his character not the color of his skin etc. But until the recent vote, an openly gay boy could be kicked out for his orientation. Openly gay leaders can still not be registered members. Those that do not profess a belief in god can not be registered members. We have a way to go yet. I am sure some will say, “there i go complaining about gays and atheists again”, but since the policies are still in place to discriminate, seem right to bring it up and maybe make people realize that we are not a perfect organization.

        • That response, thankfully, went in a completely different direction than I anticipated based on your cryptic original post. I’m played to say that I agree with you 100% and stand tall with all efforts to eliminate all discrimination from BSA policies. We won’t rest until the gays, the girls and the godless are granted equal access to the BSA!

        • Look, we’re being downvoted 🙂

        • Wish. I could say I’m shocked. I’d rather engage in respectful dialogue than be blindly booed.

        • Just curious, what direction did you expect?

        • Honestly, given lack of context which came across as passive-aggressive I was ready for racist comments from someone. Relieved to find your comments opposite!

        • Actually Steve you are only somewhat right in your response. Yes some troops do discriminate against gays, however a lot of troops do not. So you statement is actually not valid based on the fact that it is a generalization unless you are talking about a specific troop. Of course no organization is perfect, but i will stand up for my troops in my city. We have 3 troops and neither of them would ever turn down another scout from joining based on beliefs, orientation etc. We believe strongly in a scout led troop, many troops do not lead like this. I hate how adults try to control an organization that is about the scouts not the adults. If we let adults run a troop it ends up turning into more of an indoctrination. I feel that troops that are mostly adult led troops would be run with this bias that you are talking about. Overall B.S.A is a great organization for a kid to join. I have seen fatherless kids with rough backgrounds go through the program with me in the early 2000’s and come out with Eagle alongside me and a lot of great character was taught to us through our experiences.

        • R.A.B., the issues I am talking about are National policy. If your troop allows gay leaders and atheists, good for you, but the policy states otherwise. My troop has not seen it as an issue, but I hope we would have the guts to stand up for equality if the time came.

        • Thanks for your comment, Steve. The Boy Scouts OF AMERICA should be a physical and organizational embodiment of AMERICA in its highest sense: an ideal that encompasses the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and all of our traditions and aspirations of and for democracy and liberty, equality of all people and freedom of thought and expression, duty and courage, hard work and tremendous generosity.

        • Christine Gervais // January 15, 2015 at 11:36 am //

          RAB, While I agree that many local units (including mine) and even councils have long refused to discriminate against gays, Steve is correct that until last May BSA youth could be denied membership, or have membership rights revoked, or be denied Eagle rank by Council for being openly gay.

          Sadly, even after the historic 2014 BSA vote opening membership to gay youth, “open and avowed” non-heterosexual adult leaders are still barred from membership. BSA continues an official, national membership policy of discrimination against gay adults – which also means that “out” gay Scouts who are now allowed would be disqualified from continuing their Scouting journey as leaders after their 18th birthday. My understanding is this also disqualifies gay Venturers over the age of 18.

          Further, national BSA rules explicitly state that atheists and agnostics are disqualified from membership. The agnostic disqualification is particularly ignorant, as agnostics by definition do not necessarily not believe in God – they question doctrine.

          There’s no over-generalization involved, these are official policies. While local units may bend the rules, bottom line is that out gay leaders can and have been “fired” from their volunteer positions once their sexual orientation was made known to officials at Council and National level. It’s sad, and it should be criminal.

          Girls younger than age 13 are not allowed to register as members of BSA. It’s ridiculous to permit them to register as high school Venturers, but not include them in the Cub Scout program or, at least, develop a junior Venturing program. It’s past time for BSA to get with the times.

          Best regards,
          Christine Gervais
          Pack 355, Glendale Heights, IL

        • “Those that do not profess a belief in god can not be registered members. We have a way to go yet. I am sure some will say, “there i go complaining about gays and atheists again”, but since the policies are still in place to discriminate,”

          Understand with regards to atheists that this is not a B.S.A. policy. It is a foundational principle of the Scouting movement, and has been since it’s inception by Lord. Baden-Powell. It is currently expressed in the Constiuttion of the World Organization of Scouting Movements, of which the B.S.A. and almost all other Scouting organizations not part of W.A.G.G.G.S are.

          “ARTICLE II
          Principles
          1. The Scout Movement is based on the following principles:
          • Duty to God
          Adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom.

          2. All members of the Scout Movement are required to adhere to a Scout Promise and Law reflecting, in language appropriate to the culture and civilization of each National Scout Organization and approved by the World Organization, the principles of Duty to God, Duty to others and Duty to self, and inspired by the Promise and Law originally conceived by the Founder of the Scout Movement ….”

          If we start admitting people that do not recognize some kind of religious duty then we have to quit the WOSM, that purple world crest comes off of the uniform, we stop going to World Jamborees, etc.

        • Here’s the link to the W.O.S.M. Constitution:

          http://scout.org/sites/default/files/library_files/WOSM_Constitution_EN.pdf

        • The issue is not Duty to God; it is how Duty to God is interpreted by the Boy Scouts of America. Note that the WOSM constitution provides that the principle of Duty to God be expressed in the Promise and Law “in language appropriate to the culture and civilization of each National Scout Organization.” We are already doing that in the Oath and Law, in language appropriate to our present-day American culture and civilization. We are, after all, “one nation under God,” and “In God We Trust,” and we express those ideals every time we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and use American money. But the BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle goes far beyond what WOSM requires, and is far more restrictive than American culture and civilization generally.

        • StandingForBSA // January 16, 2015 at 8:43 am //

          I don’t agree with the BSA policy either. Gays shouldn’t be allowed in scouting at all. Boy Scouts of America was founded on Christian morals and being gay isn’t following those morals. I’m not saying that i hate gays, the Bible teaches us to love everyone. But what i am saying is scouting needs to go back to its roots. BSA isn’t a perfect organization but that doesn’t mean we cant try to be.

        • 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.

          But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

          9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

        • 9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

          10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

          12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’a For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

        • 30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

          36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

          37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

          Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

        • The point of the scriptural quotes, by the way, is this: If you are looking for religious justification to condemn and shun homosexuals, you won’t find it in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

        • Sorry, Jesus. Your views are getting mostly thumbs down votes.

        • StandingForBSA // January 20, 2015 at 11:14 am //

          I disagree Dan Kurtenbach. Look at these verses

          If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
          Leviticus 20:13 ESV

          Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
          1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV

          Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…
          1 Timothy 1:8-10 ESV

        • Did Jesus say those things?

        • StandingForBSA // January 20, 2015 at 11:25 am //

          You tell me…did people just write things in the bible just because they thought it up and put it in there, or did the people who wrote the books in the bible hear what God said for them to put in the bible?

        • Christine Gervais // January 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm //

          Standing for BSA, the answer to your question depends on your religion. Mine rejects the idea that the Bible is the literal word of your God. Fortunately for me, BSA accepts and welcomes persons with diverserrlugious beliefs.

        • So that would be ‘no.’

        • StandingForBSA // January 20, 2015 at 11:43 am //

          Either way Dan. Im still not saying i hate gays. but when we doing something wrong, whether it be it by a government law or by the bible it comes with a price. Would you want someone who murdered his kid be a scout leader? The guy who have just had a break down and lost control. He could be a great guy. But you still probably wouldnt let him into scouts. BSA was founded on Christian morals. And those christian morals say that being homosexual isnt right.

        • Christine Gervais // January 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm //

          Standing for BSA, so you are equivocating gays with the insane and murderous? Gross. Also a straw man fallacy that invalidates your argument.

          You keep saying you don’t hate gays, but your words belie your true feelings.

          Your version of Christianity may teach that homosexuality is evil, but there are branches of Christianity rejecting that view – along with plenty other religious sects that BSA has welcomed with open arms.

          Value judgements are subjective.

        • Oh, I just consider the words and actions of Jesus Christ to be the gold standard as to what is “Christian.”

        • StandingForBSA // January 20, 2015 at 11:50 am //

          So let me try to understand what you just said. You said that the only thing that really matters in the bible is what Jesus said himself. That everything thing else just isn’t that important in defining what “Christian” is.

        • Well, you need to try again to understand, because your first attempt was incorrect. “Gold standard” = the highest or best example of something; NOT the only valid measure. But you’re really just trying to change the subject, which is this: What did Jesus do with respect to sinners? What did Jesus say about how we should deal with sinners? What was Jesus’ view on shunning people who make you uncomfortable, people in difficult circumstances, people who are hurting?

          Jesus didn’t say that the woman caught in adultery was not a sinner. He didn’t say that the tax collectors he dined with weren’t sinners. What is important about these stories is how Jesus acted, and how he told us to act toward them: with love, and mercy, and care — not condemnation, not isolation.

        • StandingForBSA // January 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm //

          You have a very good point there Dan. I do agree with you on that. But it still doesn’t change that being homosexual is a sin and that the wages of sin is death. Maybe instead of denying someone from scouting just because they are homosexual we should just try to make it clear to that person that the path they are going down is gonna lead them to destruction. We need to teach them that the bible teaches us that homosexuality is wrong. Then let that person decide whether he wants to be in scouts or not. We wouldn’t be pushing him away we would just be standing our ground and saying if you want to be in scouts you’ve gotta change and you cant be homosexual,

        • Christine Gervais // January 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm //

          1. Your religion may declare homosexuality a sin, but many religions and religious people reject that view. As BSA leaders, we are not to force our personal religious beliefs on youth.

          2. Teaching anything about homosexuality within BSA should be verboten, it is inappropriate and depending on he context may violate YPT standards (if, for example, the “lessons” involved discussion of sex acts).

          Gay people are more than the sum of their sex acts. There’s no reason to ever discuss the personal, private lives of our leaders and members – whether gay or straight – with our kids.

        • Personally, I think that is a far more Christian approach than simply banning them. We do have to be careful about what sins we get upset about, and what sins we ignore. For example, do we take that same approach to divorced people, or Scouts who have heterosexual sex with their girlfriends (not at Scouting events), or who drive over the speed limit? We just have to be careful because, as Jesus said: “1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

          Thanks for the discussion. These are very challenging questions.

    • Steve, is your premise that were he not indoctrinated in the BSA, MLK would never approve of granting special privilege to those exclusive unions whose members bear the greatest natural risk of unequal reproductive burden? As a result, for him, civil rights stopped at boundaries of race and religion?

      • Not sure what you are getting at, seems like you are trying to bait me.

        What special privileges are you talking about?

        What is a natural risk of unequal reproductive burden.

        You’ve obviously got something to say, I just can’t quite see it. I just think it’s wrong to discriminate against people for their race, color, creed, nationality, socioeconomic status, handicap, sexual orientation, gender, or religious preference.

        • I’m being a little obtuse … because popular lingo has begun to demonize the evidently-soon-to-be-minority view.
          I’m just trying to point out that heterosexual unions carry a risk to one member of the union that the other doesn’t have to bear, and that the parents of the BSA have always implicitly, then explicitly by executive policy, and by a voting representative majority recently, put their weight behind institutions that encourage both members of such unions to stick to it and raise our nation’s youth. One of those institutions was traditional marriage whose members took it upon themselves to by-and-large provide homes for our most vulnerable citizens, in return that institution gets special privilege (spousal protections, tax breaks, default powers of attorney, etc …).
          So, when the constituents of the BSA are asked to give greater latitude to individual sexual expression, most of them don’t hear the grand theme of “equality”, but rather “children be damned.”
          And many people think it’s wrong to condemn children for the sake of one’s desired form of sexual expression. MLK may have been one of those people, thanks to his many influences … including that of the BSA.

        • Q, that certainly was a reply. I still don’t really understand you, but that’s ok.

        • Daniel L Folkvord ASM // January 19, 2015 at 8:10 pm //

          I as a Scout Leader do not think that any one that is hetersexual sould be in scouting. Here in MN the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune do not tell the good news about scouting but if a person screws up they print the bad news and scouting needs leaders who help kids learn values

    • StandingForBSA // January 20, 2015 at 11:11 am // Reply

      I disagree Dan Kurtenbach. Look at these verses

      If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
      Leviticus 20:13 ESV

      Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
      1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV

      Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…
      1 Timothy 1:8-10 ESV

      • Did Jesus say those things?

      • I’m a religious man. I believe in God. I do my duty to God. I am reverent. I am a Scouter. I’m an Eagle Scout. I’ve earned the BSA’s religious emblem for my faith.

        However I don’t follow the teachings of Leviticus, Corinthians, Timothy, or Jesus… can you provide a quote or reasoning it more universal and applicable to all Scouts and faiths?

  2. Annette Grow // January 15, 2015 at 8:21 am // Reply

    This is so wonderful ! Love the documentation to confirm ! It made me cry. It was so sweet and so official at the same time.

  3. Patty Bowman // January 15, 2015 at 8:25 am // Reply

    Excellent post!

  4. Thank you for finding this fact it would also be interesting to find out how many more important people of our nation were also in scouts as a youth

    • http://www.scoutingarchives.com/famous.html

      • Alfred Kinsey!

  5. Peggy Elliott // January 15, 2015 at 9:38 am // Reply

    I love this and am not surprised, I went ahead and looked at the famous scouts list, awesome. (Now makes me wonder how many serial killers, death row inmates, etc.. were scouts. Just wondering.) My son and I have encountered many times in our 12+ years in Scouting where Scouters were not all they could be. But we still Do our Best and Be Prepared for whatever comes next!
    We Love Boy Scouts forever!

  6. Now that you’ve discovered MLK was a scout, it goes without saying you’ll be expanding this discovery into a publishedhistorical review of the program that registered Dr. King, The National Council’s Negro Division. Looking forward to reading it.

    • I don’t see that name on the forms anywhere. That being said, I don’t have any trouble believing that there was a National group which strove to register more people who today might be called African American. We want more multicultural/ethnic people in Scouting so that when we see Jamboree photos we don’t see a sea of white kids, right?

      I do see the following on the forms:
      NOTE: HOW MANY OF THE BOYS ARE– NEGRO []: CHINESE []: JAPANESE []: MEXICAN []: INDIAN [].
      Population of Town or City if under 100,000 Is Troop in open country How many farm boys
      Seems pretty standard to me, for the time period.

      • His name is on there maybe you should learn how to read.

        • Look at the last listed name in the post I was responding to. “The National Council’s Negro Division” — I’m sure you know how to read, it’s probably just comprehension? 😉

      • You’ve also noted that the same question blank asks “How many Farm Boys?” The ethnic/farm boy questions resulted from a published BSA program in the 1940’s to expand Scouting to under-served kids beyond it’s traditional base in small town and suburban America.

        BSA National had little contact with specific units except throughout he annual chartering paperwork, so this was how they got some info to measure effectiveness of that program.

    • Christine Gervais // January 15, 2015 at 11:05 am // Reply

      Interesting, Mike. Do you have links to more info on this topic? Thanks in advance.

      • The chapter “Widening Reach” in “The Boy Scouts; An American Adventure”, by Robert Peterson, published by American Heritage on the 75th Anniversary of BSA, has a good summary of the efforts to expand Scouting to minority kids and and kids on farms.

    • Christine Gervais // January 15, 2015 at 11:37 am // Reply

      R.A.B., Rude!

    • Been done http://www.davidcscott.net/books.html#book04

  7. Spencer Morasch // January 15, 2015 at 10:31 am // Reply

    Charter asks if the boys have a uniform. MLK is checked as YES. Would be a cool showpiece for the National BSA Museum if that uniform still existed!

  8. MLK won his Nobel Peace prize for a program of civil disobedience. That suggests to me that sometimes it is more ethical to disobey laws as a means of changing them as compared to obeying odious laws until they are changed. Given all the other problems, we will probably just have to rub along with the juxtaposition of citing MLK as an ethical icon and the current language about Obedient.

    It is not required by BSA that one profess a belief in God. Indeed, Eagle Boards of Review are expressly prohibited from directly asking if the candidate believes in God. Buddhists have been an acknowledged part of Scouting since the 1920’s, complete with BSA-sanctioned religious awards. Buddhists do not believe in a creator deity. Confusion is understandable given BSA’s inconsistent and vague statements, but it’s a sensitive topic.

    Thing is, problems seldom go away by themselves. The world is full of folks who want you to approve of their views. Toleration is not enough for them.

    • Christine Gervais // January 15, 2015 at 12:37 pm // Reply

      With respect, Mr. Linton, you are incorrect in regards to the offical national BSA policy on religious beliefs. Otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly with your statements.

      The following membership standard for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America is hereby adopted and approved, effective Jan. 1, 2014:
      Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.
      >>>

      “WHEREAS, the current adult leadership standard of the Boy Scouts of America states:
      The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and abide by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.
      While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
      Source: http://www.scouting.org/MembershipStandards/Resolution/Resolution.aspx

      See Article IX Section 1 of the BSA National Bylaws for the Definition of Declaration of Religious Principle:

      Section 1.
      Declaration of Religious Principle
      Clause 1. 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. No matter what the religious
      faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship
      should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America,
      therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the
      member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that
      religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization
      or group with which the member is connected shall give definite
      attention to religious life.
      Activities
      Clause 2. The activities of the members of the Boy Scouts of
      America shall be carried on under conditions which show respect
      to the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion, as
      required by the twelfth point of the Scout Law, reading, “Reverent.
      A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties.
      He respects the beliefs of others.”
      Freedom
      Clause 3. In no case where a unit is connected with a church or
      other distinctively religious organization shall members of other
      denominations or faith be required, because of their membership
      in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly
      unique to that organization or church.
      Leaders
      Clause 4. Only persons willing to subscribe to these declarations
      of principles shall be entitled to certificates of leadership in carrying
      out the Scouting program.
      Source: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/BSA_Charter_and_Bylaws.pdf

      Regards,
      Christine Gervais
      Pack 355, Glendale Heights, IL

    • “Indeed, Eagle Boards of Review are expressly prohibited from directly asking if the candidate believes in God.”

      Do you have a source for this that I could look at? I have never heard that, and in fact the last district representative that we had told me that was the one question he needed a yes answer to for him to pass a Scout on his eagle board.

      • Sure they say that. And allow atheists as members, approving the religious award of these atheists. The first Buddhists troop was chartered in 1926

        That’s my point. They say lots of things, varying their words and actions to fit the audience.

        • Tom Linton // January 16, 2015 at 1:02 am //

          Misplaced. Response to Christine.

        • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 6:12 pm //

          Yes, Mr. Linton, that is part of the problem. Equal rights and equal access must be guaranteed by the national charter in order to apply fairly to all.

      • B.S.A., Board of Review Training at p. 8: “Discussion of a Scout’s religion is very appropriate at a board of review, but it should be done
        with respect and appreciation for the variety of faiths and beliefs in the United States. An openended [sic] question like “How do you honor the 12th point of the Scout Law?” will allow the boy to discuss his religious beliefs. A blunt “Do you believe in God?” should be avoided as there are some religions that do not use the name “God” for their supreme being or higher power.”

    • I regularly ask candidates for Eagle (and other ranks) at BoRs what “Duty to God” means to them. I have on occasion briefed non-Christian parents on this. I don’t care if the answer is theistic-based or not. What I do care about is to hear that the Scout believes (or at least doesn’t explicitly deny) that there is a higher power and that at some point we are answerable to it. Whether that power is monotheistic, polytheistic or non-theistic means nothing to me, or the the B.S.A.

      • Ron, Why would it bother you if a scout does not believe that there is a higher power that he will be answerable to? That is a serious question, and I am looking for a personal answer, not a policy one. I just can’t see how that makes a difference. Is it not an acceptable answer that the universe is what it is, that there is not grand design, and that when we die, our life ends and we decompose? To you, personally, would that be OK, as long as the scout respects the beliefs of others, and does not try to force his beliefs on them?

      • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 6:19 pm // Reply

        Rhetorical, philosophical question here: how can one claim a “Duty to God” from a non-theistic “religion”?

        It seems to me the current BSA recognition of Buddhism, which does not recognize a Creator Deity, is at odds with the rejection of atheism.

  9. Brian, maybe Connie Adams will allow you to see the records of national BSA’s Interracial Service? I have “chills” knowing that these records have been destroyed or, even worse, are now being purposely hidden from serious historical researchers and members of Scouting! Thanks to all of the local councils who preserve their records! The true history of Scouting is in local records, not in commentary from national staff.

  10. Can anyone tell me more about BSA units known as “Tribes”? Down below, it lists ship, tribe, pack as alternate types of units.

    • Lone Scout Tribes are groups of Lone Scouts, Avarberg.

  11. Bill Yeckley // January 15, 2015 at 2:15 pm // Reply

    Talk about “leaving a legacy”! Wow! I wonder what became of the other boys in the troop.

  12. In his first year, MLK Jr (and two others) is classified as a S (second Class). In his second year, MLK Jr (and one of the others) is classified as a T (Tenderfoot). Shouldn’t it be the other way around? In addition, the three second class Scouts in the first form are listed as having more than 1 year experience with Scouting. Shouldn’t there be another form that shows the enrollment of these 3?

    • I believe the S is for Scout, not Second Class.

      • I would have thought the same, but if you read the top of the form it says “T” = Tenderfoot and “S” = Second Class, there is no “Scout” rank listed.

        Maybe Bryan can look into this one and provide more information?

        • Bryan Wendell // January 16, 2015 at 9:46 am //

          I have wondered that, too. One possible explanation (speculation only) is that the forms were filled out incorrectly. The Scoutmaster might have thought, as I first did, that “S” meant Scout and not Second Class.

        • There was no such thing as “Scout” rank or the Scout badge at that time. The first rank of any kind back then was Tenderfoot.

        • Bryan –

          You should know better… Scout is not (and was not) a rank!

          The Scout badge is “earned” simply by completing the Boy Scout joining requirements (see: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/joining.aspx).

          The six ranks are: (1) Tenderfoot, (2) Second Class, (3) First Class, (4) Star, (5) Life, and (6) Eagle. The Scout badge is not a badge of rank!

          Many people incorrectly assume that the Scout badge is a rank on the trail to Eagle (probably because of its patch’s shape, design and placement; the “requirements” structure/format of completing it; and the fact that it is somewhat of a pre-requisite to the other ranks). But it is not a rank! It is simply completing the joining requirements.

          And unlike the actual BSA ranks, the Scout badge does not require a Board of Review or count towards other advancement goals.

          However the 2017 program updates to Boy Scouting will make “Scout” a rank – brining the total ranks from 6 to 7. No word on how the “joining requirements” required to earn it will change.

        • Bryan Wendell // February 26, 2015 at 9:15 am //

          You’re right. And you’re correct that it will become a rank with the tweaks coming to Boy Scouting.

    • Tenderfoot (or even Second Class) after two years does not sound like very good advancement in this Troop of eight Scouts.
      They must not have heard of “First Class in a Year”, as it was later called, as a key factor in the retention of young Scouts.

  13. What I want to know, are his fellow scouts still alive. I would like to know what their Scouting experience was. How Scouting helped them become better men.

  14. I believe that is referring to Lone Scouts. At one time, Lone scouts wold be organized into tribes, boys in the general area. If no one was near by, then “mail tribes” were used.
    I don’t know when this ended.

    • Lone Scouting was fully incorporated into the BSA in the late 30s/early 40s, at which time Tribes cease to exist. Lone Scouting continues today. Tribes were formed along rail lines, counties or even states.

  15. Larry Greger // January 15, 2015 at 10:05 pm // Reply

    Everybody wants to be feelly good about homosexuals being in scouting, but no one is thinking about the safety of the straight boys. I do not want one of my scouts coming to me in the middle of the night saying Johnnie is making sexual advances on him. My policy should this ever happen , is to call law enforcement and file sexual assault charges against the boy. As far as homosexual adult leaders, we are there to set an example for the boys by the lives we live and the gay life style is not something we need to be promoting. The boys already have enough issues to deal with with out throwing something else out at them. We also have a thing called “youth protection”. I already have enough to worry about with out having a leader out there that may have an attraction to one of my boys. Let’s face it , this is the real world out there, not the Kumbaya world.
    As to the original thread of this chat page, MLK. The world wants to over look MLK’s other side that is rarely every mentioned. His association with the Black Panthers. When MLK came to town, the Black Panthers were right behind him with a riot. Never failed. I am old enough to have seen it happen with my own eyes.

    • Really, Gary? “Never failed”? Might you briefly describe your research that leads you to that claim? He did get around – until shot to death. Were you in Pasadena, California, when he visited in 1958, 1960, or 1965? See, he was a famous moral leader before he ever came west and for at least ten years before there were Black Panthers, Gary.

      I didn’t like his politics, but let’s stick to the facts.

      As for the gay issues, I doubt that “everyone wants to feel good about homosexuals in scouting.” And how typical parents feel about gay leaders taking their kids camping is likely a big driver to policy. If they have not asked the parents, they need to be replaced.

    • Good thing they don’t allow female leaders right Larry? Wouldn’t want them to have an attraction to one of your boys.

    • Wolf Den Daniel // January 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm // Reply

      1. There is no “gay life style”, no “choice”. God create gays as surely as He created straight folks like you and me.

      2. You are confusing pedophilia and ephebophilia with homosexuality.

      3. The ban on gay leaders is keeping talented lesbians away from leadership positions, and God knows we are desperately short of adults willing to volunteer.

      4. On the coasts and in urban areas, the ban on gay leaders is driving parents away from considering Scouting for their kids. Recruiting at the Cub Scout level is ailing. It the BSA cannot find a way to accommodate these parents, Scouting will die within 15 years.

      • “1. There is no “gay life style”, no “choice”. God create gays as surely as He created straight folks like you and me.”

        That is conjecture. There is no scientific proof that your assertion is true.

  16. Oh Steve, you were right. This IS interesting!

    • I knew it would be. As our society evolves, we realize what was once the natural state of things was just backward thinking. It happened with Segregated troops, It happened with female leaders, and it will happen with the current policy of discrimination. The sooner the BSA makes the switch the better off it will be.

  17. PhredJones88 // January 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    “Thanks” to all who have used this well-intentioned post proving how much they prefer arguing and the metaphorical sound of their own voice to simply acknowledging something about Scouting that’s actually a positive in the public eye.

    • Yeah, it would probably be better if people who felt that discrimination is wrong would just shut up. Get to the back of the bus, I mean back in the kitchen, I mean back in the closet, oh, just be quiet. Change comes quickest when everyone remains silent and pretends there are no problems.

  18. Given his greatness and his message, if we are going to try to associate ourselves with him, I think it is fair to ask whether we are worthy of doing so. I think it is fair to ask whether, if he were alive today, he would proudly associate himself with us.

  19. Dana Williams // January 17, 2015 at 2:02 am // Reply

    This is a post about Martin Luther King Jr and him being a Boy Scout. How do people always find a way to make it about homosexuality?? Sorry but you can’t compare that to racism and slavery. That’s an insult to every African American person who ever lived. Homosexual lifestyles are indeed a choice. Desires are not, sure we are all born with all kinds of sinful desires, but we have free will and intellect to choose our path. One cannot “decide” to not live a “black” lifestyle by their actions. Boy Scouts is a club. Don’t like the rules or requirements, find a different club : )

    • The lifestyle you lead is certainly something you choose, being black, or gay is not. I think a lot of straight people can’t understand this because we are attracted to the opposite sex, and that is “normal” My guess is to a gay person being attracted to the same sex is “normal.” Simply ask yourself, when did you decide which gender you would be attracted to? Was there a form you filed out?

      Anyway, all of that is irrelevant to what kind of Scout leader someone can be, and it is wrong to consider it in determining who can be a member.

      • “The lifestyle you lead is certainly something you choose, being black, or gay is not.”

        One’s race is genetic. But there is no scientific proof and no scientific consensus that homosexuality is.

        • I would venture that the overwhelming majority of those that are gay would tell you that there is no choice involved.

        • Emotion and feelings are not science.

        • How about the gay’s that lived HAPPY lives as heterosexuals to the point of dating and (some) even marrying & having children before “deciding” that they were “Gay”??
          That sure sounds like a choice/decision to me…

          But as I have read above and below, This original post was about Dr. Martin Luther King being a documented member of the BSA and NOT about the perceived discrimination of the BSA towards the gays and atheists/agnostics. Lets get back on track, here.

        • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 6:57 pm //

          Likewise, no scientific proof that it is not. Circles, and circles again.

      • “Anyway, all of that is irrelevant to what kind of Scout leader someone can be, and it is wrong to consider it in determining who can be a member.”

        Now, before I go any further, understand that I do not have problems with “groups of” people who are different from myself, whether it be race, color, creed, or sexual orientation (or anything else that I may have inadvertently missed); UNLESS a specific individual in one of these groups gives me a reason to have a problem with THAT INDIVIDUAL!
        I am an active troop leader and have many years of scouting under my belt (from 1971-present, (youth & adult) although not continuous) and have SERIOUSLY looked at both sides of the “discrimination” claims, standing mostly behind National.

        Yes, it may be irrelevant, but as was commented above; a Scout leader should be someone to look up to! Someone who can lead by example!
        Would you, as a “straight man” (from your comment above) want your son (or daughter, for that matter) basing their sexual “upbringing” on homosexual leader (be it male or female)?? There are many “boys” currently in scouting who are from one parent families and are in scouting for the “Male role model” (father figure) in their lives (and I assume “girls” in the GSA/Venturing, similarly)… These youth are impressionable and are basing their nurture on a person whom they are supposed to be able to look up to…
        Then add to that the possibility that a leader of whatever sex takes a liking to a scout… (The public has seen it too many times; teacher/student, scout leader/scout (both BSA & GSA), etc.) That then puts National in another tough spot with the litigation involving not just the leader but the district, council, & national (this is one reason they have added background checks to ALL leaders BEFORE registering them)… Would you want that type of “publicity” on your record?? I think not!

        • I would have no problem with a gay male or female in the troop leadership. If that person is qualified as a leader, they are qualified. Their sexual orientation is not an issue.

        • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm //

          Sir, you don’t need to hide your disdain for “the gays” behind your “scary quotation marks”. You can just say what you mean, we’ll get it.

          Many of us take no issue with the orientation of our leaders, our friends, our children, our brothers and sisters. Gender, sexual orientation, race, religion have zero bearing on leadership skills, morality, love and respect of children or intelligence. Most of that is borne out by science, though I’m certain some here will disagree.

    • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 6:53 pm // Reply

      Dana,
      All fights for freedom and equality are worthy of being compared to abolition and the civil rights movement. All fall under the umbrella of basic human rights.

      Yeah, BSA is a private club. Thank goodness there were folks who stood up for equal admission for non-whites, non-Christians and lady leaders. Else the Club would be in even worse hurt for membership and volunteers than it is today.

      Unfortunately, a lot of families have chosen not to associate with the BSA due to their discrimatory policies.

      You might not miss them, but we sure do. We could use their help, their perspective and their kids can only benefit from the excellent foundation of character development BSA provides.

  20. Those who don’t believe in God have no place in the BSA. Read the charter, it is an agency that celebrates religious diversity but requires a belief in some higher power. If you let the atheists in, the next thing they will do is require the BSA to drop God from the scout oath and reverent from the law. And if you think they won’t, look around the US where they are going to court to remove so traces of God n public lands and in Christmas parade, etc. They’ll do the same to the BSA. Is that what you really want Steve and Akela?

    • Firstly, I think the fear that people will want to remove God from the BSA is overblown, but that is just my opinion. I just don’t believe that a belief in a higher power is important. I don’t feel that it makes you a better person, or a better scout or a better leader. To me it is irrelevant. I am reverent, and I think we all should be, but past that is none of my business.

  21. “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, 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.”
    — United States Constitution, Article VI

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ”
    — United States Constitution, Amendment I

    Hard to see how BSA (a patriotic organization specifically chartered by a federal statute) could go wrong if it just used the Constitution as a model for its own rules. If it just did things the American way: no religious test for membership . . . no requirement for religion . . . and yet no restrictions on the practice of religion by members. And does adopting the American way mean removing all traces of God from the Boy Scouts of America? No more than God can be removed for our own American traditions:

    “one Nation under God”
    — The Pledge of Allegiance

    “In God We Trust”
    — The official motto of the United States

    “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’ With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
    — Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

    “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    — The Declaration of Independence

  22. If any one thinks the atheists aren’t trying to remove God from american traditions and won’t try if they are openly allowed in the BSA, they are naive. Just look at the cases atheists have won nationwide in removing God from schools, government sites, etc. This is happening all the time. Sorry, but if you give the atheists an inch (like letting then in the BSA) they’ll then push to take God out of the oath, law, and they’ll want to take away the religious awards and more. Why? Because they are offended by religion and can’t stand that some people believe. Their interpretation is freedom from religion not freedom to practice religion. They’ve perverted the constitutional definition and will stop at nothing to take religion out of everything. That’s why they don’t belong in the BSA.

    • Ye of little faith.

      Suppose you’re right, and atheists somehow manage to pry any trace of religion out of the program of the Boy Scouts of America. Can they take God out of our hearts? No. Can they take worship out of our churches? No. Can they take prayer out of our homes? No. Can they make us forget that we have a duty to God? No. Can they prevent us from feeling reverence toward God? No. Can they take divine wonder out of the clouds, the stars, the wings of a butterfly, snow on mountain peaks in midsummer, or the glowing embers of a campfire? No. Can they prevent the miracles large and small that God gives us every day? No. Can they silence the quiet voice of God that we hear when we sit alone on a rocky outcropping? No. Can they stop you from loving your neighbor as yourself? No. Can the atheists stop you from praying for them? No.

      No one can take God out of Scouting any more than they can take God out of Nature. My God is the Creator of the universe, and His power and presence doesn’t depend on the weekly recitation of a few words some old dudes came up with a hundred years ago, or on little medals pinned on shirts. And He is certainly not afraid of some radical atheists. So why are you?

      Scouting can’t grow if we wall ourselves in.

      Scouting can’t be a good influence on youth (and adults) that we don’t let in the door.

      Scouts and Scouters of faith can’t shine out into the darkness if their light is hidden under a basket.

      Remember that Zaccheus changed his ways because Jesus sought him out and called him to come down from the tree, and Jesus took the initiative to talk to the Samaritan woman at the well and reveal Himself to her even though normally Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans.

      But even if the worst happens, there is a way to keep God up front in a “secular” Scouting environment: Patriotism. Good old American tradition. Here’s what you do at your meetings:

      – Recite the Pledge of Allegiance (“one Nation under God”).

      – Sing patriotic songs, like America the Beautiful (“God shed his grace on thee”), America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) (“Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of Liberty), Star-Spangled Banner (“Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation”), God Bless the USA, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and of course, God Bless America.

      – Recite the official motto of the United States of America (“In God we trust”) (see United States Code title 36, section 302).

      – Recite excerpts of great American documents and speeches, like the Declaration of Independence (the portion quoted earlier, and the “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence” piece at the end), Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address quoted earlier, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (“that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom”), and of course, George Washington’s First Inaugural Address (“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States”).

      Hope this helps.

  23. Dan, while I respect your faith and optimism, I see the opposite happening in the country as a whole. God is being removed piece by piece by these atheists in their intolerance toward others.

    I must respectfully disagree with your thought that you’d even be allowed to sing these patriotic songs containing references to God and say the pledge with the word God in it. These people are ruthless. They will stop at nothing to take God out of the picture. Which means they’ll fight against your right to doing these songs in court, and you’ll be ordered not to, and because of s court order, if you fail to comply, you’ll be kicked out. Don’t believe me? Look what’s happening throughout the country right now in the ‘freedom from religion’ movement. These people are getting religious related items removed from places they’ve been displayed for decades, even hundreds of years.

    Have you seen the stories about them removing the commandments statue from the courthouse? How about the recent story of the 12 year old boy who was forbidden to even read his own bible in school? While I’m glad there are people like yourself who do revere God in their daily lives as I do, I have to say that my feeling is, if God is removed from scouting, it will not be the same organization. Just as the rest if America had gone, it will cease to be the same group. Moral values are severely lacking in society today. We can scarcely afford for the BSA to lose their values because of a desire to be inclusive to all.

    And that is why, once again I say atheists have NO place in the BSA. I think that excluding one, very small minority in order for the organization to retain its moral values and identity is of the utmost importance. And if it leads to the BSA being labeled intolerant and bigoted, so be it. A small price to pay for remaining an organization of character

    • Is your own personal faith in God being removed piece by piece when a religious statue is taken down or prayers are barred from secular functions? Of course not. Are your own moral values being worn away because social norms are changing? Not at all. God cannot be removed from anywhere He chooses to be, or from any person who believes. Even the most rabid, angry atheists and their court orders are utterly powerless to change that. Even if it got to the point where there was a ban on Scouts reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the Star-Spangled Banner, they couldn’t ban the examples provided to young people by Scout leaders who are people of faith.

      Jesus didn’t instruct the disciples to lock the doors and not let anyone in unless he or she was already a believer. He didn’t have a ring of bodyguards to keep sinners away from Him so that He would only have to speak to the righteous. That is not how His message spread around the world. Jesus did not live in fear of sinners or unbelievers — he sought them out, because they were the ones in need of what He had to offer.

      In the same way, Baden-Powell created Scouting for boys who need it. “Scoutcraft is a means through which the veriest hooligan can be brought to higher thought and to the elements of faith in God; and, coupled with the Scout’s obligation to do a Good Turn every day, it gives the base of Duty to God and to Neighbour on which the parent or pastor can build with greater ease the form of belief that is desired.” (B-P, Aids to Scoutmastership).

      Over the last 40 years BSA’s membership restrictions have been at their strongest; yet our membership has been cut in half while the population of the United States has grown significantly. That is because Scouting can’t grow if it locks the doors, any more than faith can.

      • Din, your posts on this thread have been excellent as usual, nice job.

        • OOPS, Dan, not din 🙂

      • I wasn’t going to comment any more, but I have to put in my 2 cents on this comment.

        I agree that WE are not losing our faith by the atheists removing “God” from anything they can, but one has to consider what it is doing to our children and grandchildren.

        Taking the “Moment of silence” for “prayer” from the public schools has removed that small reminder of faith from our children’s world. They said that the youth were being forced to pray, but I never felt the need to pray unless I wished to (of course it may have been different in other schools).
        The youth of today are as a whole less faithful/religious than the youth of my generation (currently 54). And we are headed even more in that direction where the youth are losing faith/religion. The church where my troop meets has lost the hosts of youth it had just 30 years ago. The church where I attend has had its youth membership reduced. This country was founded by religious people on religious principles, and to try and remove the faith/religion from the nation will (I fear) destroy it…
        Good references to Lord Baden Powell by the way.
        And such with scouting; I feel, as a long term scout/scouter & a life member of Alpha Phi Omega (a National Service Frat based on the principles of Scouting), that removing the “Reverent” from the Law & the Oath will in the long run destroy the basic principles of scouting and thus scouting…

        • What is puzzling to me is that so many people who are religious seem to be so lacking in faith.

        • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 6:29 pm //

          Hear, here, Dan!

  24. Dan you obviously don’t understand the gravity of the situation religious people face in this works today, especially Christians. While any Christian references to God are banned from the simplest of celebrations, our schools are touting Islam as some great religion and forcing it down the throats of American school children, presumably to teach them tolerance, yet there is no tolerance for Christianity.

    Further, your statement that ” Even if it got to the point where there was a ban on Scouts reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the Star-Spangled Banner, they couldn’t ban the examples provided to young people by Scout leaders who are people of faith”, could not be more incorrect. If they ban those tools, they tie the hands of the leaders trying to instill those values. How can you instill such values, when you are barred from using them? One has only to look in the schools across America and inner city neighborhoods with the violence and lack of family values present to see the destruction of this country is due to an abandoning of these principles.

    I’m sorry, but as an Eagle Scout who came into scouts in the 80s, I remember the handbook stating if one saw a law, rule or issue they disagreed with, to work peacefully and through the right means to change it. And I disagree vehemently with the anti religion, especially anti Christian attacks coming from atheists these days. It is one thing Dan, to be tolerant, it is another entirely to roll over and play dead while your rights are being trampled on by those who refuse to respect religion. And that’s exactly what the atheists are doing. And they will continue to do.

    • 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

  25. Steve, you answered your own question back to Ron with your last statement. “To you, personally, would that be OK, as long as the scout respects the beliefs of others, and does not try to force his beliefs on them?” The problem is exactly that… atheists don’t respect others beliefs. They want to remove God because they are offended by the concept of religion. When was the last time you saw an atheist live and let live?

    • Rory, do you even know any atheists? I wonder if your perspective on atheism is colored by your media and religious filters, as they sound fantastical compared to the real lives and opinions of atgeists I’ve observed.

      I’ve known many, I’d say at least half the parents in our Pack identify as atheist or agnostic. I have never in my life known an atheist or agnostic who gives one hoot about the religious beliefs of others, so long as those others are not imposing their beliefs. They all “live and let live”.

      I wonder, which of our personal anecdotes trumps the other?

      Regards,
      Christine Gervais
      Pack 355

    • My view is that a belief in a higher power is not important, and should be irrelevant to membership n the BSA. As long as you can be reverent, and respect the beliefs of others, you should be good to go. Perhaps the wrong labels are being used. I have wondered why people were worried about avowed happy scouts.

    • Rory, Where do you come up with this stuff? In my Troop we have several atheists, (both youth and adults), and several more agnostics. None of them are out to remove God from the program, they just want a little tolerance for those who don’t believe in him/her/they/it/whatever.

      I love your generalities about how “all” atheists are out to destroy your religion. All of the ones I know, (and they are many), just want to be able to enroll their kids in Scouting so they can go camping with their friends and not have to face a religious test to do so.

      I am VERY grateful that I am in a Troop that completely ignores all this silly stuff from National. We have an excellent program that is open to anyone, (we are still working on the Girls since that’s a little more complicated).

  26. Yes Christine, I have known a few atheists in my life and they are very miserable people who want nothing more than to remove God from our lives. I’d say it’s more likely the people in your pack that you call atheists aren’t really, they are probably agnostic or possibly spiritual but non practicing in an organized religion.

    There’s a difference. Agnostics aren’t sure there is a God. They don’t deny his existence as a whole and try to remove him from everyone else’s lives. I have no problem with people like that because like you I’ve never seen them care about others beliefs. As for atheists, I couldn’t disagree with you more. They appear to want nothing more than to remove God from everywhere because they are simply offended by his presence. I’ve never met an atheist who wasn’t full of himself and aimed to try and denounce other’s religions.

    However the BSA has clear guidelines on religion and belief in God. You may disagree, but here is a quote from an article in the subject.
    “Although Boy Scouts are not limited to any one religion, the Scouts actually give some fairly detailed guidance on how to be “reverent” and fulfill one’s “duty to God.” They include these:
    “Attend the church, synagogue, mosque or other religious organization of your choice.”
    “Practice your religion as you are taught.”
    “Pray to God or meditate reverently each day.”
    “With your religious leader, discuss and write down two things you think will help you draw nearer to God. Do these things.”
    “[L]ead your patrol in saying grace at the meals.”

    Obviously there is a disconnect about what atheists really stand for. I will offer a few links to read.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/10/atheists-sue-remove-ground-zero-cross-911-museum/

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/25/boy-scouts-gay-god-column/2357959/

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2867227 freedom from religion foundation suing to remove ‘in god we trust’

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3792145 freedom from religion foundation suing to make IRS ban political speech at churches

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5810706 players banned from wearing cross on football helmets

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/04/massachusetts-pledge-of-allegiance/2768071/

  27. Yes Christine, I have known a few atheists in my life and they are very miserable people who want nothing more than to remove God from our lives. I’d say it’s more likely the people in your pack that you call atheists aren’t really, they are probably agnostic or possibly spiritual but non practicing in an organized religion.

    There’s a difference. Agnostics aren’t sure there is a God. They don’t deny his existence as a whole and try to remove him from everyone else’s lives. I have no problem with people like that because like you I’ve never seen them care about others beliefs. As for atheists, I couldn’t disagree with you more. They appear to want nothing more than to remove God from everywhere because they are simply offended by his presence. I’ve never met an atheist who wasn’t full of himself and aimed to try and denounce other’s religions.

    However the BSA has clear guidelines on religion and belief in God. You may disagree, but here is a quote from an article in the subject.
    “Although Boy Scouts are not limited to any one religion, the Scouts actually give some fairly detailed guidance on how to be “reverent” and fulfill one’s “duty to God.” They include these:
    “Attend the church, synagogue, mosque or other religious organization of your choice.”
    “Practice your religion as you are taught.”
    “Pray to God or meditate reverently each day.”
    “With your religious leader, discuss and write down two things you think will help you draw nearer to God. Do these things.”
    “[L]ead your patrol in saying grace at the meals.”

  28. Obviously there is a disconnect about what atheists really stand for. I will offer a few links to read.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/10/atheists-sue-remove-ground-zero-cross-911-museum/

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/25/boy-scouts-gay-god-column/2357959/

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2867227 freedom from religion foundation suing to remove ‘in god we trust’

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3792145 freedom from religion foundation suing to make IRS ban political speech at churches

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5810706 players banned from wearing cross on football helmets

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/04/massachusetts-pledge-of-allegiance/2768071/

    • The Freedom From Religion Foundation does not represent the views of all atheists anymore than Fred Phelp’s church represents that if all Christians.

      • Oh snap. 🙂

  29. Akela355, I never said they do represent all atheists, but I will say they certainly represent a lot of them. Again, I’ve never met an atheist who doesn’t act very militant toward religion. Maybe some people have, but everyone of them I’ve met want God out of everything. The reality is that if you think they will leave God alone if they are allowed in the BSA, you are sadly mistaken. Atheists have proven their intent regularly in the general public. They will pursue the same agenda if allowed in the Boy Scouts.

    • And I’ve never met an atheist, among the many I’ve known, who stands for what you describe. Perhaps our observations cancel each other’s out, reality lies somewhere in the mean.

      I’ll grant you some grace as you don’t know me from boo, but your attempt to school me on atheism and agnosticism is patronizing. I’ll avoid appealing to my own expertise beyond correcting you on my understanding of religion and politics in my Pack. We’ve discussed these issues long and hard, have found peace and much enlightenment learning and sharing with each other.

      Many of us had great ethical hurdles joining the BSA because of the history of discrimination, the conflict that poses with our own personal values. Ultimately, each of us decided that it was better to work from change from within such an otherwise excellent program, than it was to passively boycott from without.

      There’s much I’ve wanted to respond to on this thread but am hobbled posting from a mobile device for now. Please know that I listen carefully, hear and weigh all that is said here, and hold no grudges even when I strongly disagree with opinions. Ultimately, my goal is always to work for the best program we can provide for all youth, and I truly believe we can all do that, working together with open arms and hearts, embracing all our similarities and differences with peace and grace.

      Regards,
      Christine Gervais
      Pack 355

  30. Christine/Akela355, I’m not trying to be patronizing. If you feel that way, I’m sorry, but the reality is there is a lot of commentary on here that chooses to ignore truth. Would you deny after what I posted for links that atheists are trying to take God out of public places and organizations that have had him present for years? For you to do so would be surprising because it is furthest from the truth. The recent history in the US proves otherwise.

    I take offense to your assertion that the BSA has had a “history of discrimination” as you call it. Discrimination is intentional and hateful. The BSA has hardly shown hate for any group. They have merely stuck by their values and honored the charter and moral values that they were founded upon.

    To turn our backs on the principles of the organization would be to ultimately see it’s downfall. The same issues are happening in the US now. Look at the attacks on the second amendment rights of citizens to bear arms. Look at attacks recently on free speech and freedom of religion. There are serious ethical concerns here and they are not to be made light of.

    We apparently will agree to disagree. And I respect your right to your opinion of atheists. I’m glad you can be so accepting of atheists in your pack. I find it hard to do so when they fail to be respectful of the values of the majority of the American public and I do believe strongly that given a chance to enter the Boy Scouts they will not leave its religious principles alone. And I’m sorry, but without those, the Boy Scouts cannot be the same organization. The BSA luckily does not have to bow down to the politically correct who believe who should tolerate everything.

    • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 7:48 pm // Reply

      Rory,

      Whose truth? I think you confuse “truth” and fact.

      I can not deny there are some extremely political atheists who work toward removing all traces of Christian religion from the edifices representing a nation founded on religious freedom. Thanks for the links. BTDT.

      (Ahh, the irony if you saluting religious freedom in the same breath you condemn it. )

      Bottom line is those atheists do not represent all atheists.

      BSA does not have a “history of discrimination”.

      BSA has practiced institutional discrimination, historically. BSA has a history of discrimination. BSA owns it, indeed their right to discriminate was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000. When an organization denies membership to individuals based on difference, that is discrimination.

      (Look at us trading definitions 😉

      I am a relative newcomer to the BSA with only five years in as an active volunteer. I know more about US history than that of the BSA. I’m not certain that our understanding of the founding principles is the same, though I have much to learn and would appreciate references to good literature on the matter.

      That said, history is in the past. We, and our children, live in the present and for the future. Our paths may be informed by the past but I think – believe, hope – those paths only become more enlightened with understanding acceptance and respect for all persons.

      You – or was it someone else- clutched pearls worrying over what about the children, the grandchildren?! Those poor babes being brought up in the shadow of the gays, the godless and the girls?! I’d say their fate isn’t all that different than those of the grands and children of our founding fathers, who were not Christians, who fought for religious freedom and -flawed though their concepts were- equality for all.

      PS akela355 and Christine Gervais are one and the same. I changed my login to my real name today 🙂

  31. Dan, there is a difference between having faith in one’s God and honoring your religious beliefs versus having faith in humanity. Sorry to be pessimistic, as I am not normally on most issues, but when it comes to the atheists leaving the symbols of my God alone, I don’t have faith in them. They’ve shown their reckless disregard for the beliefs of Christians.

    I respect your faith that God will prevail. I prefer to have my faith and fight for God to prevail at the same time.

    • Christine Gervais // January 18, 2015 at 8:48 pm // Reply

      Rory, by chance this essay (with soci science studies) came up in my feed and speaks well to some of the questions you lose re: what will become of the kids exposed to the godless… Enjoy.

      http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0115-zuckerman-secular-parenting-20150115-story.html

  32. Photo archives at Georgia State University, and the morgue of the Atlanta newspapers, the Journal and Constitution, may yet reveal a photo of a young Martin King, in a Boy Scout Uniform.

    Anyone looking?

  33. That explains his leadership skill. 🙂

  34. Personally to those who said gays should be allowed they shouldn’t be allowed because they would probably do something boy scouts was founded on Christian ideas and gays is not one

  35. There are many things in scouting that we do now, that were not done at the formation of scouting. There were many things taught in scouting that we do not teach anymore. Society and thinking evolves over time, and while the basic goals of scouting should be adhered to, things that we have outgrown (or should have outgrown), should be left behind.

    Look at Downton Abbey and the character of Thomas Barrow. When his homosexuality is discovered it is quite clear that he is considered a criminal and mentally deranged. I hope that most of us would realize that these characterizations were common until well past WWII, and were certainly prevalent at the formation of scouting, and yet are socially and scientifically unsupported.

    And one should never rely on English translations to defend a biblical point. The Leviticus passage is very unclear in its true meaning, using words that are very rarely used in the Torah or elsewhere. The most literal translation would be something like “A man shall not lie in a woman’s bed with another man.” Add this completely obtuse phrase to the fact that there is an oft-repeated formulation in Hebrew for a forbidden sexual practice “Thou shall not uncover the nakedness of… ” that was NOT used, and the waters are more murky. In addition, juxtaposition with the surrounding verses strongly suggests that the prohibition is against males participating in temple harlotry.

    As for 1 Corinthians and Timothy? The Greek word translated as homosexual, arsenokoitai, is equally obscure, and not used for homosexuality in contemporaneous literature, while terms that WERE not ambiguous were available to Paul.

    Let’s not depend on some uptight, abstinent, and likely confused men from 100s of years ago to determine who should and should not be considered elgible for scouts.

  36. This was very touching for me. The tears welled as I read the article and rolled when I saw the actual documentation. To know that my son is a part of an organization that had a hand in shaping someone so influential– makes me even more determined to support his scouting endeavors! Thanks for the history lesson– I cannot wait to share with my little Tiger

  37. LENNY JENNINGS // December 22, 2015 at 12:39 pm // Reply

    Its terrific that MLK Jr. was a Boy Scout. Just imagine Scouting in all the problem area’s of our country….. It would certainly be a blessing and a leg up for children who are deprived of a quality education. Scouting starts from where the child is, and its a ‘constant’ without the child being passed from teacher to teacher each year…. maybe having to spend the first couple of months getting to know one another. In Scouting, each year you hit the ground running….. What could be better than that!

  38. Did he make Eagle

    • I believe that MLKJr. made it to First Class or Star before preaching became more of a priority than Scouting, Nick. I couldn’t find anywhere where he was listed higher than Star Scout. That’s not a hit on him, but a reflection of the time then and now. We have a lot of Scouts who will never make Eagle, but their Scouting experiences help make a positive impact upon America nevertheless. This is a good example of this.

      This serves as a good reason why the BSA doesn’t “dole out” the Eagle rank just because someone became famous or has a lot of money or is a corporate giant. The Eagle Scout rank is *earned* by young men pursuing the goal. It’s a good Scoutmaster’s Minute piece (and a good blog piece, to which I’ll post today — Scouting Anniversary Day as well as the first full week of African-American (Black American) Heritage Month.

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