Atheist appealing Scouts' decision to expel him

Saturday, December 28, 2002

SEATTLE -- An Eagle Scout who was expelled from the Boy Scouts of America after he refused to declare a belief in God is appealing the decision.

Darrell Lambert, 19, who had earned 37 merit badges in a decade with the organization, was told in November he could no longer belong to the Boy Scouts after he revealed he was an atheist.

"Teaching boys to mistrust and reject nonbelievers makes a mockery of the true moral values of Scouts," Lambert wrote in a letter to the organization. "I, personally, have not imposed my beliefs on other Scouts and ask only to be given the same consideration in return."

The Associated Press received a copy of the letter Friday.

The Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts of America did not return calls seeking comment after the close of business Friday.

Soon after Lambert was ousted, the Chief Seattle Council said the Boy Scouts is a "shared values organization."

Lambert's appeal will be reviewed by a regional committee, which has 60 days to make a decision. If it upholds the local council, Lambert could appeal to the Boy Scouts' national office, which would have final say.

As a private organization, the Boy Scouts has the right to exclude people from membership. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the group's ban on gay leaders in 2000.

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