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Boy Scouts and Belief in God

October 29, 1985

As someone who looks upon narrow-mindedness as a sin I must admit that the words of the Moral Majority do occasionally get me very upset. Cal Thomas recently had a few words to say about the Boy Scouts and the ruling about religion, and it is his First Amendment right to do so. It is also my right to reply.

About 10 years ago, I earned my final merit badge as a Webelo Scout and decided that the move to Boy Scout should be made. My entire awareness at this point was my bike, getting through school, and swimming at my friend Byron's house. Byron wasn't a Scout, but Byron was cool, and that was all that counted. In fact, I never really thought about his not being a Scout until I decided to be a Boy Scout.

Just before my first meeting, I asked him about it. His mother wouldn't let him, he said. Something about the Scouts being a Christian organization, and him not being Christian. Byron was of American Indian descent; his religion was older than mine.

I went to the meeting, and the scoutmaster welcomed me to the family saying that all were welcome. Very innocently, I asked, what about non-Christians? A fight broke out, and I went home in tears.

The scoutmaster had said he would welcome anyone.

My time in the Boy Scouts lasted 45 minutes. I left disappointed and scared. It was my first encounter with religious bigotry. Every aspect of religion I have encountered since has some bigotry, and I was taught that this country frowns on bigotry of any sort. I can only praise the Scouts for disassociating from it.

JAMES CHRISTOPHER REED

Los Angeles

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