6/7/12

The Girl Scouts and Everyday Bigotry

girl scouts
I've been researching the Girls Scouts of America in search of some social outlets for my daughter, and there's a lot to like about the Girl Scouts.  Unlike the Boy Scouts, which explicitly discriminates against gays and atheists (neither are permitted to join the Scouts) the Girl Scouts seems to be much more open and modernized.  According to their web site, they welcome all girls.

The Girl Scout promise, though, reads like this:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
According to the Scouts web site:
Everything in Girl Scouting is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law. The Girl Scout Law includes many of the principles and values common to most faiths. Thus, while a secular organization, Girl Scouts has, since the movement began, encouraged girls to take spiritual journeys via their faiths' religious recognitions.
Wondering if my daughter would be welcome to join the girl scouts, I stopped by the local chapter's headquarters and had a chat with the membership director, who gave me a lengthy run-down about the Scouts.  When she spoke about he "My Promise, My Faith" badges, she emphasized that all faiths were welcome.  She emphasized that the Scouts were not a religious organization.  When I asked about girls who had no faith, she said that those girls too would be welcome, but she added, and I'm quoting her verbatim:  "I think faith just makes you a better person."

I stood there aghast.  I'm an atheist, and she told me right to my face that I was not a good person because I do not believe some version of a deity.  Now, I could believe the Vishnu, and that would be fine as per the Scouts, but since I don't believe in any deity at all, I must be a bad person.  

I didn't say anything, which is usually the case when I find myself in those situations.  I just let it slide, keep my silence, yet I was deeply offended, and in retrospect, I wish I had stood up for myself.  I would never have said the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot.  I think atheists are just better people.  No, I would never have said that because I don't believe that.  I can't pin one's goodness on one feature of his or her identity.  I wanted to say to her:  Think about what you are saying. 

So, now I am conflicted.  One thing about raising children that continually shocks me is how the faith-peddlers hit children from every direction, believing that what they are doing is just and vital and necessary.  The places to think and learn free of superstition just don't seem to exist outside of our home.  I wanted the Girls Scouts to be welcoming to my daughter, but it seems that without faith she just isn't good enough.

nRelate - Placement