The Cub Scouts made a pitch for their organization at my son's elementary school. The prospect naturally excites him. He likes craft projects, camping, and a lot of other things that Cub Scouts do. I was a Cub Scout and eventually became an Eagle Scout myself, and I got a lot out of the experience. I understand why he would want to do it.
But, it is very hard for me to say "yes" in good conscience.
The Cub Scouts are a subdivision of the Boy Scouts of America. Just as I was finishing scouting, and around the time I was starting to have very serious doubts about my religious upbringing (but before I was ready to publicly identify myself as an atheist), scouting took a turn for the worse. (I'm not alone in thinking so. Cub Scout membership is down 20% since 1997 despite growth in the population of approriate aged boys, and Boy Scout membership is down 8%, despite the fact that those who do participate are staying in longer.)
Today, I am ineligible to be a scout leader, because I am atheist. Two member's of Denver's delegation in Colorado's General Assembly are ineligible for those leadership positions because they are homosexual. The same applies to some of my fellow school parents, to many of my clients, to many of my political colleagues in the Democratic party.
I also don't want to teach my son to be dishonest to fit in, either personally or by my own example.
The turn for the worse in the Boy Scouting organization hurts. It is like learning that your childhood mentor is a child molestor. The organization, which once supported families, now tears them apart. The organization, which once support tolerance and positive values, now has become an instrument of a national hate machine.
The Boy Scouts places a premium on upholding high ethical standards. But, its conduct is deplorable. Its policies exclude more people than the entire membership of the Southern Baptist Convention, and its reasons for doing so make no sense. Why should an organization that claims that Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Jews can co-exist and meet its values, exclude secular humanists? Why should an organization exclude people who are born with the sexual orientation that they have?
Honestly, I don't appreciate the fact that my local school contributed to putting me in this bind. We don't let churches evangelize in our schools, and this state has non-discrimination policies. It isn't appropriate. I won't sue. Maybe someone else will. What's done is done. I've tried to explain things in terms as kid friendly as I can, so he understands that I'm not simply being mean.
If the Boy Scouts of America were to abandon its path of discrimination, intolerance and hate, I'd happily return to the fold. But, for now, BSA is not morally straight and in good conscience, I have to say no to scouting.