What does someone’s religious belief have to do with “teaching boys moral and ethical values through an outdoor program that challenges them and teaches them respect for nature, one another, and themselves?”

Everything, according to the Boy Scouts of America, who have just kicked out an Eagle Scout with 37 merit badges for being an atheist. [edit: originally linked to a Yahoo News story]

Let me point out that it takes a lot of time, work and dedication to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting. It takes several years to work through the ranks, you have to earn a number of merit badges, each representing that you have learned or demonstrated some skill (anything from wilderness survival to accounting), most hold some leadership position, and you have to finish up by organizing and running a community service project, then go through a review board. It’s tough to become an Eagle Scout, and you really have to prove yourself to get there.

So not only did this scout prove himself through years of dedication to the program, extra effort to earn more merit badges than are required, a major service project and an interview with a review board, but he refused to lie when threatened with expulsion. He sounds to me like the kind of person they should be thrilled to have on board.

So I say to Darrell Lambert: they can kick you out of scouting, they may be able to kick you out of NESA, they may even be able to take back your badge (though I’d like to see them try to justify that), but they can’t take away the fact that you were – are an Eagle Scout. You proved that beyond a doubt when you refused to compromise your principles and say you’d changed your mind.

To the BSA: you make me sick. I am still proud to be an Eagle Scout myself, but today I am ashamed to have been a part of your organization.