My kid wants to join the Boy Scouts. I know they have become more inclusive, but still hold onto the idea that everyone should have faith. Both me and his dad are atheists. My kid says he believes in god (prob getting it from friends at school). Mind you he also still believes in Santa. He’s asked for a few years now, and we’ve always explained why we didn’t agree with it. He’s 10 now, and asked again. I’ve researched and there aren’t other programs/groups in my area that are comparable.
Do I concede?
I’ll support him with whatever he chooses to believe in life.
Boy Scouts used to be fun when I was a kid. My troop never tried to shoved God or anything else down our throats. We got to get away from mom.and dad for awhile, and go hiking and camping. Got to wear cool uniforms ( at least as a kid it was cool). We played sports and got lots of exercise. It was a positive experience for me.
My nephew is an atheist. He did fine in the Scouts.
His Mom is Jewish - she was one of the troop leaders.
I'm pretty sure it depends on where you are and who is running the troop. You'd find out fast because your kid will tell you. In this case I might say "If the religious part of this group bothers you I will let you leave before the year is up". A one time agreement.
My nephew loved his time with scouts. They had no issue with the kid who was gay in his troop either.
If it makes him happy, I think you just have to let him go one day. His friends obviously have a huge influence on him, so don't be the bad guys who won't let him be with his friends. Just teach him to never stop asking questions, to be curious about the world and to question authority. Even as a christian he will be fine. Just talk with him from time to time about what he believes and tell him what you believe. He should know that it's okay to have different opinions.
The opinions on Scouting will be positive or negative based on the experience of the poster. I was in Cub Scouts even though I grew up as a JW and being a member of Scouts was banned but my buddies were all in cubs so my mother relented and let me go on the sly, it was a good experience. I didn't go to Scouts because of the hazing requirements and even at 11 I valued my freedom enough to not give into that peer pressure. I came back for Rovers in my teens because camping with girls was too good a thing to pass up, we did a lot of crazy stuff and it was a safe environment to mature in compared to some of my other peer groups that included punk rockers, nerds, bikers, mods and some other groups that didn't groove on camping.
I became a Scout Leader when the local troop was falling apart, in the worst part of town the Scout Troop had been reduced to a couple of kids from under privileged families in a church basement with a couple of old church matrons having them work on badge work. I changed the program back to the Scouting I remembered, got the kids outside, tripled the enrollment in a year and took them all camping and taught them woodcraft. I left the troop when I took on overseas projects but I am still in touch with some of the kids who now have kids of their own. There were sexual predators in the Scouting movement but I made it clear what would happen to them if I caught them doing anything harmful to the kids, they behaved themselves as far as I know.
The Scout Leader will make all the difference to your child's experience, if the kids express any concerns then get them out, otherwise you should let them have a lot of fun learning a lot of valuable life lessons.
And yes, the holy roller idiots asked me if I believed in a higher power and I said I did because hey who knows but I don't believe and god and haven't since I was a Boy Scout, it is still a requirement that they ask this question. I also received a Distinguished Conduct Medal from the Chief Scout of Canada who represents the Queen, the only Scouter to receive such an award in my region, so much for immoral atheists.
I was in scouts when I was a kid. Both my parents were athiest, and I was too, kind of. I had a great time and came out with the same view on god as I did entering it. I recall no mention of god or faith. I don’t know if the experience is the same today, but that was mine. I would say let him go.
My personal thought is that there is far more to be gained from Scouts than reasons not to join.
Many in my family and lots of friends/kids (almost all atheists) have been involved with Scouts and have benefited from the experience.
Obviously, as in any organization, there may be aspects that aren't perfectly aligned with each of the members ideals, and keeping a good line of communication open is key.
I was a den leader for several years and found that in that position I was able to stress inclusion and play down dogma. But there is an eliment of religiosity that one encounters. A lot depends on the posture of the other adults involved as well. At some point though Santa has to be unmasked.
I was in the Boy Scouts (troop 211) still have both my uniforms. IIRC they never forced religion onto me. They are bias against gays and athiests tho. Which is bullshit. I'd talk to the troop leader, or just maybe let him join since he believes in god? The Boy Scouts does teach you some life lessons tho and some morality. I don't know of any other similar group out there. Plus if you make it to Eagle Scout, and join the military, you are already one rank up.
Sign the kid up. If you have multiple troop/pack options around you, pick the one with the most kids and leaders. It'll allow you be active without feeling obligated and give the kid more opportunities in the future. I was an atheist for nearly my entire time in the Boy Scout troop and it never came up even at my Eagle board of review. The political rhetoric and BS all comes from the national level down. The friends and good times are entirely dependent on each individual troop.
My family rarely went to church but meetings were at a Methodist church and we interacted with the congregation quite a bit. I think its good for even non-religious people to have positive interactions with churches. It reminds you you're always just talking about other humans and humans are almost all good.
I wish I could go back and volunteer but the bold print at the top of the leadership form is declaring your belief in god. I'd lie and just sign it if I had a kid but it feels wrong for me right now. There are other organizations that will let me just help without the BS.
Funny enough, the first two other atheists I ever met in the wild were eagle scout brothers at a regional scouting function.
That's a tough one. My youngest was a cub/boy scout. He loved so many things about it like the camping and first aid, etc. There really are a lot of good skills and development that can come out of it if you can tolerate it. We were fortunate to find a fairly relaxed troop that didn't press on religion too much. Even during scoutmaster conferences my son, an athiest, would equate god to the universe, and they seemed cool with it.
I believe, and maintain that as a parent or any educator it is our responsibility to teach children how to think, not what to think.
If your child believes in a God, there is nothing wrong with that. But challenge it.
As far as the scouts go, if there are few other program around, then let them. There are other values that the organization has, that are worth it. Just challenge the bad ideas and nuture the good ones, like Socrates.
Childhood is all about exploration and testing of everything, even beliefs and religion. Continue to let them know what you think, but let them explore and discover. With any luck, they will be good at it and discover the scientific method. That should then be the end of religion.
Let him join. If you resist, then there's a chance he will resent you and could strain your relationship for years. Always be upfront with him and share your concerns. Hopefully, he will do the same. This would probably be a good time to tell him the truth about Santa. Tell him there are stories adults tell children to stimulate imagination and creativity but are not true (i.e. Santa). If these children do not discover the truth themselves or told by someone else, then they continue to believe in these untrue stories, pass it down to their children and so forth. This can lead to misinformation and false beliefs (i.e. religion and gods)
I was in scouting when I was a kid. I don't recall the experience has overtly pushing religion and am more aware of that aspect of it now, as an adult, and I don't like it. I wouldn't prevent your son from participating. I think the best thing you can do for your son is teach him to be a critical thinker. Teach him to do his own research on this and other topics and come to his own conclusion. That's what I have tried to do with my two kids and neither of them are believers.
I was in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts the God and believe thing they really didn't push when I was a kid it was more about the outdoors and survival and just plain old having fun camping hiking and being there.
That being said of course it's your call.