Scouting: What A Small
God I'd Aligned Myself With!
Mark M Richter
I read with some interest a letter posted on your website from Andy Prescott, an Eagle Scout who returned his badge. I recently did the same thing.
I was wondering if you have a list of Eagle Scouts who have broken off with the Boy Scouts?
I've pasted a copy of my own letter below, feel free to post it on your site. I'd appreciate it if you would not post my e-mail, etc., as these are my opinions and actions and not my employer's.
Mark M. Richter, Ph.D.
"The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind."
-- H.L. Menken
Copy of letter:
To John Andrews, of the Indianhead council of the BSA (copy also sent to National Office).
Dear Mr. Andrews,
I received my eagle scout in 1984 (or '85) from Troop 35 of the then Viking Council. Since I believe that council is now the Indianhead council (and troop 35 no longer exists) I thought it best to direct this questions towards the council/area where I earned the Prestigious (?) eagle award. I would have sent this query to the national council but their web site while providing a plethora of information, has no email addresses or contact information for the national officers.
On the wall of my office used to hang a red, white and blue ribbon adorned with a silver eagle ... do you wish it back?
Why should I ask this question? Over the past decade I have been bothered and somewhat annoyed by the movement of the BSA away from what are in my views scouting's core objectives (i.e., resourcefulness, self-reliance, and character [BSA also has a myopic view of what constitutes character]). The BSA's recent expulsion of Darrell Lambert was, for me, the last straw.
In the words of former (?) eagle scout Rick Weiss "I had not realized ... what a small God I had aligned myself with when I took the Boy Scout Oath".
I would appreciate the courtesy of a response. If there are other individuals to whom I should write please let me know. I would also like my name removed from the national list of Eagle Scouts.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <email@example.com>
To: "Richter, Mark M" <mar667fAsmsuDedu>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: July 20, 2003 9:32 PM
I read with some interest a letter posted on your website from Andy Prescott, an Eagle Scout who returned his badge. I recently did the same thing. I was wondering if you have a list of Eagle Scouts who have broken off with the Boy Scouts? I've pasted a copy of my own letter below, feel free to post it on your site.
I'm not sure that such a list could be thorough, owing to the continuing need of so many Americans to "remain in the closet" regarding one's own homosexuality or atheism. Unfortunately, this need spills over in applying to one's opinions in support of the rights and dignity of homosexuals and atheists. Indeed, you imply sensitivity to this need in your request to have us remove the business information from your e-mail signature! Such a list could only be approximate, and one who maintains such a list could whittle away at its inherent flaws by stating the number of people who contacted the researcher but did not wish to be named in any reports or lists.
If anybody does have such a list, it would be Steve and Scott Cozza, the youthful founders of Scouting For All. If anybody has such a figure (or can quickly come up with a rough estimate of this figure, simply by sending out an e-mail dispatch with a request for testimonials), he would be the one who could pull it off.
He is also the one who could round up a large number of resignation letters for posting or publication, if a project arose which featured such letters as their centerpiece or as the entirety of the project.
I have a few ideas along these lines rolling around as ways that might support Scouting For All either financially or as much-needed attention-getting devices. I will post this and will send a copy of it to Scott. Perhaps it's time to round up some testimonials (à la our De-Conversion Stories) regarding the Eagle Scout resignation movement (for lack of a bona fide name). I would be willing to donate even large amounts of web space for such a project, including a collection of "Eagle Resignation Letters," if we could get one off the ground. Seeing as how I now have two such letters, this is already enough to start a section.
Scott began attacking the Scouts at the tender age of 12 (or so) is, at 19 (or so) the busiest anti-scout activist on record challenging their policy on homosexuals. (At my request, he agreed to include the phrase "and atheists" every time he mentioned "homosexuals"; he's been very faithful to his word!) His e-mail, as shown in that letter, is:
and his web site is at:
He has an e-list to which you may subscribe simply by asking. (I used an old anti-harvesting trick on the e-mail address to thwart spammers: you'll need to put it back together yourself.)
My only wish now is to have restored to me the energy and attention span to do even what I'm supposed to be doing here at PAM, even what I could do just two years ago! I'm scrambling to post a few dozen letters as a gesture to the readers, saying, "Here I am! I'm ba-a-a-ack! Anybody wanna help?" But the idea of others able or even willing to help out has always been an unfulfilled pipe-dream. PAM, I guess, is neither destined by the stars nor ordained by the gods -- but is slated nonetheless -- to remain the work of one man.
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight years of service to people
with no reason to believe
Letter to Steve Cozza
I just wanted to say thanks for your good work!
I have been ill for almost two years, but have kept abreast of your activities. I, likewise, have been a social activist since before my teens.
Once you start, it seems impossible to stop, even when your "pet issue" gets resolved. I've watched the Vietnam War end, as well as the Apartheid regime. We closed the Trojan nuke plant. (The nuke plant on The Simpsons is Trojan in "real life," Matt being a life-long Portland resident. But guess what! We closed it down!) I single-handedly stoped enforced Twelve-Step meetings for a spell. There are several other projects that I've worked on: some successful, others, not.
What happens is that you try to live what some might call a "normal life." But then here comes some other need -- and guess who knows how to get things rolling? You and I and others like us, that's who! So without really thinking about whether or not we "should," we get on the ball and get the things done that need to be done!
I especially wanted to reiterate my wholehearted thanks to you on behalf of the usually silent atheists of the West and of the world. (More on this silence in a paragraph or so.) I remember very early in your work I wrote you and asked if you would try to include the language "and atheists" whenever you speak publicly of the Boy Scouts organization's bigotry against homosexuals ("and atheists"). Although the tone of my letter was one of frustration mingled with longing hope, you immediately took this suggestion to heart, informing me that you had done this numerous times already. You then agreed to try to do this whenever you could.
I wrote again once, to remind you. Although I forget the context, we agreed that the situation was such that for you to have added "and atheists" would have been detrimental to the immediate agenda. (I think you had been working with a group of clergy and I was unable to see this at the time.)
I do want to mention, in a spirit of gratitude, that your continuous mention of our plight along with that of the gays is working powerfully to further our goals of reducing the stigma leveled against atheists (which is more widespread and vicious than even that leveled against homosexuals). No, I do not need to take a poll or have any other kind of proof to say this, I've just watched this one "trick" (if you will) work again and again in numerous contexts and situations. Exposure, exposure, exposure, brought out over a period of time, is the key, I think! (Besides being right, of course!)
Thanks for your supportive note. Together we stand and together we will continue to make a difference for social justice and human rights for all.
Keep up the great work.
Boycott Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines Provides Financial Support To The Boy Scouts of America. Scouting for All Asks That You Write To Delta Airlines Telling them That You Will No Longer Use Delta Until Delta STOPS Supporting The BSA Who Discriminates Against Gay (LGBT) and Atheist Youth And Adults.
Please Send Letters to:
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Boy Scouts of America
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