HuffPost Live facilitated a fascinating discussion last night surrounding the potential addition of an atheist oath for the Scout Association and the Guide Association, two traditional children’s groups in the United Kingdom. I appeared in an on-air discussion with Dan Barker, the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist non-profit, and Jaweed Kaleem, a religion reporter from The Huffington Post.
Naturally, the discussion was spirited, with Barker taking aim at religion, calling it “divisive” and a phenomenon that “builds walls between people.” While he argued that the Boy Scouts and other international groups are essentially bigoted for not allowing atheists to be members (or, rather not offering an atheist oath for kids), I explained that, for the same reason Barker wouldn’t want someone favorable of nativities on public property on his organization’s board of directors, the scouts stick closely to their faith tradition.
“Morality has nothing to do with religion. You can be a good, kind, moral, ethical, productive citizen without believing in God,” Barker exclaimed. “What does religion have to do with morality? Morality transcends religion. Religion is divisive. It builds walls between people.”
After making this statement, I responded by telling Barker that, indeed, many atheists are kind and wonderful people. But the issue at the center of the debate over whether these groups should remove the Almighty from their oaths is an issue of freedom. Organizations essentially have the right to define their own membership requirements and the role of faith in their operations (for more about the UK scouts potential atheist oath, click here).
Watch the spirited discussion, below: