‘To God and My Country’

    Darrell Lambert doesn't smoke, drink, or take drugs. And yes, he's heterosexual. Though an Eagle Scout, Lambert may no longer participate in Scouting. It's because Lambert is an atheist. And his announcement has led to another media firestorm over the legal and moral rights of the Boy Scouts. For ten years, Lambert has been active in Scouting in Port Orchard, Washington. He recently attained Scouting's highest honor: Eagle Scout. Now a college freshman, Lambert has been active as a volunteer, helping younger kids learn how to build campfires and read a compass. But during a recent Scout leader training session, Lambert got into an argument with another Scout over religion. Lambert announced he was an atheist -- and walked out. His announcement was no small matter. The Boy Scouts is a faith-based organization. Every Scout takes a vow of reverence; every Scout pledges his duty to God. As Mark Hunter of the Chief Seattle Council put it: "Advocating a belief in a Supreme Being has been a core value of the Boy Scouts" for ninety-two years. "The twelfth point of the Scout Law is 'reverent,' and that includes being faithful in your religious duties and respecting the beliefs of others." Lambert says he knew all this when he joined the Scouts as a child. It was not until he studied evolution in high school in the ninth grade that Lambert concluded that God did not exist. But instead of resigning from the Scouts, Lambert says he began "mouthing" the words to the Scout oath. Sometimes he went ahead and just pledged his duty to God, knowing he was telling a lie. But, he says, it really didn't seem to matter. That alone would be grounds for dismissal -- a point the media has ignored. The Chief Seattle Council told Lambert he had ten days to reconsider his religious beliefs or leave Scouting. During the ensuing media frenzy, the usual suspects began attacking the Scouts on the same tiresome grounds: intolerant bigots. But who really are the bigots here? The Supreme Court has ruled that the Scouts is a private organization and has the right to set its own standards for membership, like any private organization. And, of course, those who disagree with the Scouts' policies are free to start their own scouting groups. The Scouts came under similar attack over its exclusion of homosexual leaders. It turned out to be absolutely right. The recent scandals in the Roman Catholic Church reveal what happens when homosexual leaders are allowed to work directly with kids: Pedophilia results. While homosexuals comprise no more than three percent of the population, a recent Family Research Council study shows that they are responsible for up to a third of sex crimes against children. Someone owes the Scouts an apology for calling them bigots because it wanted to protect kids. But for us there's another very sobering lesson here. Lambert credits his atheism to his study of evolution in school. Clearly, kids are deeply influenced by the worldviews they absorb in the classroom. This is why, in every school, we must do everything we can to see that evolution is taught as a theory -- the good parts of evolution and the parts that discredit it -- and that alternative theories, like intelligent design, be taught as well. Meanwhile, let's applaud the Scout leaders for another courageous stand. It has meant abuse from the media but should earn them praise from those who believe that a Scout's oath and his duty to God -- and his character -- are non-negotiable. For further reading: Learn more about the Boy Scouts at its Website. Dean E. Murphy, "Eagle Scout Faces Official Challenge over His Lack of Faith," New York Times, 3 November 2002. Vanessa Ho, "Boy Scout who doesn't believe in God may get the boot," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1 November 2002. Gene Johnson, "Atheist says he's been kicked out of the Boy Scouts," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5 November 2002. BreakPoint commentary no. 020711, "Vindicating the Scouts: Leadership and the Lives of Boys." Timothy J. Dailey, Ph.D., "Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse," Family Research Council, 23 May 2002. Phillip Johnson, The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning, and Public Debate (InterVarsity, 2002).


Chuck Colson


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