By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com November 06 2002 1:00 AM ET
An Eagle Scout who has earned 37 merit badges in a decade with the Boy Scouts says he has been kicked out of the organization for refusing to declare a belief in a higher power. Darrell Lambert said Monday that he'd just been informed of the decision by the Chief Seattle Council, the Scouts' regional governing body. "They kicked me out today," he told the Associated Press. "They said my registration will be sent back to me. Am I bitter? No. Disappointed? Yeah. We're in the 21st century. Our country was founded on religious freedom, and the Boy Scouts of America is still discriminating." He said he plans to appeal the decision with the Scouts and that he has 60 days to do so.
The issue arose about a month ago after Lambert attended a Boy Scout leadership training seminar. There he argued with a Scout leader from a different troop over whether atheists should be expelled from the Scouts. The council said last week that it would give Lambert about a week to declare his belief in a higher power. Lambert refused, saying that to lie would make him a bad scout. As a private organization, the Boy Scouts is permitted to exclude certain people from membership. The association's ban on gay scouts and troop leaders was reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.