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The Out Scout

by Published on
Eric Hay
Brandon Thibodeaux
Eric Hay

“I lay there staring at the ceiling of my tent not wanting to move. It was early morning, and it was freezing. My sleeping bag had pressed up against the side of the tent while I was asleep and had absorbed the morning dew. [Outside] the two adults had turned on a propane lantern and started boiling a huge pot of water. Breakfast was going to be ready soon. As others started to wake up, we formed a tight-knit circle around the boiling pot of water, our little Mecca of warmth.”

This is from an essay written by Eric Hay, who joined the Boy Scouts of America as a Tiger Cub when he was 4 years old. Troop 1020 operated out of First United Methodist Church in the Dallas suburb of Rowlett, where Hay lived with his family. The cold, damp tent didn’t bother him. It was part of the bond he was forming with friends; they were all in it together.

Hay began climbing the scouting ranks: Tenderfoot, Star, Life. After 12 years, Hay attained the organization’s ultimate rank of Eagle Scout. He loved scouting so much he’d set his sights on a leadership role in the organization.

For Hay, scouting was far more than just something to do on a Monday night. His troop was like family. Scouting reinforced the values his parents and his church had instilled in him since earliest childhood: kindness, responsibility, pride in everything he did. When Hay was 12 years old, his mom died of cancer, and his troop planted a tree in her honor. His troop gave him the support he needed to get through the lowest point he would probably ever face.

Back then, Hay was unaware of the Boy Scout rule that could have led to his banishment from that troop—and from the Scouts—forever. Until the summer of 2012, five years after he’d left the organization, Hay hadn’t realized that gay people were forbidden from becoming Scouts.

Hay is bisexual. In its “Position Statement on Homosexuality,” in force during Hay’s scouting career, the organization stated that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirements in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight, and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts. Because of these beliefs, the Boy Scouts of America does not accept homosexuals as members or leaders, whether in volunteer or professional capacities.”

That policy was the subject of a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case in the summer of 2000, when a scoutmaster named James Dale sued the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) after he was expelled for being gay. Initially, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Dale’s favor, but in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling on appeal, asserting that the constitutional right to freedom of association allowed private organizations—which BSA is—to exclude an individual from membership if they believe that individual’s presence will affect the organization’s ability to advocate private or public viewpoints.

Following a grassroots activist effort to get BSA to reverse its policy, in February of this year the organization embarked on what it described as “the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history to consider the impact of potential changes to its membership standards policy.”

As a result, on May 23, BSA’s National Council, gathering at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine, approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership on the basis of sexual orientation. The policy won’t become effective until January 1, 2014, and the organization’s ban on openly gay adult Scout leaders will remain in effect.

In a comment piece in The Wall Street Journal, writer Eric Sasson called the change a “halfhearted shift on gay rights.” Because BSA failed to lift the ban on gay Scout leaders, Sasson deemed the shift “logically inconsistent,” leaving “many feeling dissatisfied.” Even those celebrating BSA’s decision claim the fight is far from over.

On the other side, the conservative blog Redstate.com declared that BSA was “yielding to a homosexual agenda,” and in June the Southern Baptist Convention voiced its opposition, calling homosexual conduct contrary to a Scout’s duty to God.

 

Eric Hay’s parents were socially and politically conservative, and members of their local Christian Science church. Though he now considers himself agnostic, Hay says he was faithful to God growing up and loved learning about his religion. Looking back, he thinks that religion compounded his feelings of guilt about his sexuality, “because the type of Christianity I was taught believed homosexuality was wrong.”

He recalls kids in middle school asking if he was gay, using the term as an insult. “Either that, or they’d imply it, or they’d just make fun of me as if I was.” Hay never let on that he was bisexual.

A few years before his mother got sick, Hay remembers her going to see a movie—he doesn’t remember what it was—with a family friend. “She came back and sat my brother and me down and told us that at the end of the movie two guys walked away holding hands, and that that was wrong. I remember asking her, ‘What if my brother or I was gay?’ Because by then I knew I was having feelings, but I didn’t know what they meant. She said if that was the case, we’d pray about it in order to change it. So Mom was validating this fear I had, and I spent a lot of time trying to counteract the thoughts I was having, beating the crap out of myself over it.”

Hay’s first summer trip with his Scout troop was at BSA’s Camp Constantin on the banks of Possum Kingdom Lake. During Hay’s absence, his family celebrated both his mom’s and his grandmother’s birthdays. It would be his mom’s last. By the time Hay got back from camp she had slipped into a coma. A week later she was dead. Hay was 11 years old.

Sixth grade was a peculiar time for Hay. On top of dealing with his mother’s death, he was going through puberty and attempting to make sense of his feelings toward boys. That grief and confusion would come to a head eight years later, just before he entered his sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was studying for an economics degree.

That spring of 2012 found Hay sitting in his car in a parking lot off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. He’d been working in the library all day and he watched the cars whizzing past, imagining himself jumping in front of them. It wasn’t the first time he’d had suicidal thoughts, but they’d never seemed so intense. “It got to the point that night that I ended up calling the suicide hotline,” Hay says. “I was scared. I scared myself.”

Hay had left the Boy Scouts after becoming an Eagle Scout in 2007, and he found out about the organization’s no-gays policy only when it was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in July 2012. That’s also when he discovered Scouts for Equality, a group set up to pressure BSA into abandoning its discriminatory stance.

“I had been in Scouts for 12 years,” Hay says. “If I’d said one thing—if I’d come out—what would that have done? I wouldn’t have been an Eagle Scout. This could have ended horribly for myself. The fact that this was an actual policy made it an inherent part of the organization, and I knew at that point I had to get involved to correct it.”

He emailed the founder of Scouts for Equality, a young Iowan named Zach Wahls, to offer his help. At Wahls’ suggestion, Hay launched an online petition urging his old troop to support the movement pushing BSA to drop its anti-gay policy.

He called 20 different Scout troops and sent out 25 emails to others. His message was this: I’m an Eagle Scout. I’d like the chance to meet with parents and troop leaders. “I didn’t even ask to speak to the kids,” Hay says, “but I got just one email response back, saying they didn’t have time to talk to me.”

One troop leader told Hay that the Boy Scouts accepting gays would destroy the organization, and that nothing could change his mind. “That’s when it first hit me,” Hay says. “Not only was it a huge emotional drain on me, but to hear these people talk about who I was in such derogatory terms…”

In the summer of 2012, Hay came out to friends and family in a heartfelt Facebook post. He opened his laptop and read it to me: “This note has a two-fold purpose.” One was to acknowledge his sexuality, which he had kept hidden for so long; the other was to highlight BSA’s discrimination.

“The perception of me by those whom I care about, and by those whom I was of good acquaintance in my early childhood, has paralyzed me until now,” Hay wrote. “Homosexuality is not an alterable belief. It is a state of being. … Had I affirmed this truth in words when I was younger, none of my accomplishments in my scouting career would have been possible, and I today would not be an Eagle Scout.

“For so many years I felt inadequate, as if there was something wrong with me. I value honesty above all else in this world, and I failed to be honest to those who mattered most to me, about who I am. … Boys shouldn’t have to go through what I went through. Regardless of what your thoughts are on this topic, I promise you my feelings are real, and the tears I have shed while typing this are real.”

More tears form in Hay’s eyes as he tries to finish reading the message. “This is not easy for me,” he tells me. His message continues: “I have spent years avoiding this, but I can’t do that anymore. Despite my many flaws, and despite my self-inflicted problems and the emotional turmoil I have caused myself due to my own self-loathing, I strive to be a good and honest person. I strive to follow the Scout oath and law every day of my life. In all of my years of scouting I never once took advantage of another man’s absence of knowledge about who I was. And if the Boy Scouts of America really stand for everything they say they do, then they will give others a chance to act as I did. To act honorably, with decorum.”

Hay says response to the post was mostly positive. Some people he’d hoped would respond didn’t. Others that he thought might ignore his message, or react negatively, turned out to be supportive. “And my grandparents read it. I was over at their house one day and they told me it didn’t matter to them.”

Positive reaction from religious friends, especially, gave Hay a renewed sense of hope.

“I do think it will change,” Hay says. “A policy never gets changed from the top down. It gets changed because there’s enough support from the bottom. With civil rights-type movements like this, when you have enough support and it’s moving in one direction, it will change. Scouts now is very different from Scouts 10 years ago.”

 

Zach Wahls is best known for a short video clip of him speaking before the Iowa Legislature in January 2011, when he was 19. By the year’s end that clip, uploaded to YouTube by a legislative intern, had been viewed a staggering two million times, becoming the most-watched political video of 2011.

Same-sex marriage had been legal in Iowa since 2009, but legislators were considering a constitutional amendment to ban it. In the video, an articulate, calm and measured Wahls explains how he had been raised by two mothers, that he is heterosexual, and that the sexual orientation of his parents has had “zero effect on the content of my character.”

The motion to ban same-sex marriage passed the Iowa House of Representatives, but died the next day in Iowa’s Senate. Wahls went on to write a book, My Two Moms, in which he defended his family and explained the values his parents had instilled in him—values driven home, one reviewer wrote, “by his journey toward becoming an Eagle Scout.”

It was against this backdrop that in June 2012 Wahls founded Scouts for Equality. Like Eric Hay, Wahls hadn’t known about BSA’s ban on gay members and leaders until after the fact. “In my unit it was never really an issue,” he tells me by phone from his home in Iowa. “And my moms were always a part of my scouting experience. It was a total non-issue; there was no conflict in scouting and being LGBT. But when Jennifer Tyrrell was kicked out of her son’s Cub Scout pack I thought, ‘Holy cow this is a really big deal, we need to talk about why this ban is damaging.’ So that was the catalyst.”

In April 2012, after revealing her sexual orientation, Jennifer Tyrrell was ousted from her role as a Boy Scout den mother in Ohio—a post she’d held for more than a year.

Tyrrell’s story contributed to the rapid success of Scouts for Equality, Wahls says. Another factor was Ryan Andresen, who in January this year was denied his Eagle Scout award by his San Francisco BSA group because he is openly gay. Andresen’s mother got in touch with Wahls, and Scouts for Equality helped take his story to the national media. “It was everywhere,” Wahls says now, “from morning shows to political shows. And that’s what forced BSA’s hand. I don’t think they would have announced the vote without Ryan Andresen.”

But while the May vote by BSA’s national council was a positive step, the organization still forbids gay and bisexual men and women from serving in leadership roles. Wahls says the work of Scouts for Equality is far from over, and he continues to urge BSA’s big corporate donors to withhold financial support until BSA fully embraces equality.

Both Intel and UPS—two of BSA’s biggest funders—have agreed to stop donating. And, Wahls says, “We had a win a month ago when Caterpillar, the construction giant, pulled its funding too.”

Like Eric Hay, Wahls remains optimistic. “I think we’ll see full inclusion sooner rather than later.”

I wanted to ask Boy Scouts of America whether it wished it had changed its rules sooner, whether it regretted waiting so long to hold a vote on such a fundamentally discriminatory policy. I wanted to ask why gay men and women still can’t serve as leaders in the organization.

“We aren’t scheduling interviews right now,” BSA told me in an email. Instead, I received a lengthy statement:

“The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue,” the statement said, in part. “As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter … While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”

The spokesperson added that the organization has heard from supporters of the amended policy and opponents alike, that the organization respects the deeply held religious beliefs of its members, and that the no-gay-leaders policy “reaffirms that doing one’s ‘duty to God’ is absolutely explicit and one of the fundamental principles of Scouting, and states that sexual conduct by any Scout, heterosexual or homosexual, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”

 

In the early 20th century, a lieutenant-general in the British Army named Robert Baden-Powell wrote a book called Scouting for Boys, and opened a camp in England to test the theories espoused in the book, which was about camp-craft and military scouting. The camp and book are regarded as the origin of the modern scouting movement.

Ironically, as a July 2012 New York Times op-ed by literature teacher Brooke Allen put it, Baden-Powell “was in probability a gay man himself—though closeted, of course, considering the circumstances.” The circumstances were those of Victorian England. Just a decade before Baden-Powell wrote his book, a London jury had found Oscar Wilde guilty of sodomy and sent him to prison for two years. Certain private acts between consenting adults wouldn’t be decriminalized in England until 1967.

As Geoffrey Wheatcroft wrote in Slate in 1999, the index of Tim Jeal’s 2007 biography of Baden-Powell references his “esthetic and sexual interest in men,” “pre-marital celibacy,” “dreams of young men,” and “anxieties over sexuality.”

Regardless, Baden-Powell once wrote that the goal of scouting is “to find the good in every boy and develop it.”

In his own essay, titled “The Closet Scout,” Eric Hay wrote that a Scout is “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent”—all the traits scouting founder Baden-Powell envisaged.

A Scout’s sexuality—and that of scouting’s leaders—is irrelevant, Hay says. “For their sake, the BSA needs to change its policy, and reach out to these youth, who have been ostracized for being who they are.”

Because those people—people like Eric Hay—want, and have earned, a role in scouting’s future.

  • SoberMoney

    One of the pathetically ignorant stereotypes of “gayness” in the Boys Scouts (or anywhere) is that “gay” equals some sort of sexual contagion among the other boys.

    Another ignorant stereotype is that gay people have no boundaries – and will grab private parts or try to seduce peers whenever they have the opportunity. In other words, they are perceived as predators.

    Both of these stereotypes are based purely on homophobic paranoia and a sadly ignorant interpretation of reality.

    My 60 plus years of life experience tells me sane and respectful sexual boundaries are probably lacking much more in heterosexuals than in the LBGT population (even though the Catholic Church pedophilia epidemic would indicate otherwise).

    Children raised by parents who are embedded with some form of addiction that they are in denial over will produce children – straight or gay – who abuse others sexually – or violate the boundaries of others.

    Any organization that deals with either gender of children should know this – or reorganize with new leadership.

    • SoberMoney

      Site wouldnt let me edit? Let me clarify the fifth paragraph above:

      “Chilldren raised by parents who are embedded with some form of addiction that they are in denial over – are more likely to produce predator children, straight or gay, who violate the plethora of boundaries that socially healthy people would expect.”

      • Victor Edwards

        Sober, please, as I have asked you before, do not make reference to the Bible, since you have proven convincingly that you are biblically illiterate and have no idea what it says or teaches. You just hate it because it condemns your behavior as sinful, unnatural, vile [read here “filthy”], wretched and perverse. The article is a piece of yellow journalism, using the usual homosexual lobby tactic of accusing all who oppose them of latent homosexuality. The comments on Baden-Powell is a perfect example of that kind of slime journalism. There is no evidence — NONE! – that Baden-Powell was homosexual. But we do have a clear assertion that he was “probably” so, a statement by an avowed homosexual who has used that slime argument many times before – probably.

        You will, of course, respond in the usual knee-jerk fashion and call me homophobe [not necessary; you already did up front]. But I will respond with my own invented nomenclature, which I think is far more accurate about you than your’s is about me. You are a Christ-ophobe, one who is deathly afraid of Jesus Christ, for you know and understand the capacity given to you by the very one you hate that God is your judge and that you will be in a hard way on that day when Christ judges the world, and you are found wanting.

        Why don’t you avoid that even right now by laying down your hatred and rebellion against your maker, and listen to good sense before you find yourself in “outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, where the flame never ceases and the worm dieth not.” All it takes is a mere turning of your mind from your sin to the Savior, and put away your wicked ways and follow Jesus Christ and His Word. By now you know [as I have explicitly informed you, that

        “…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites … will inherit the kingdom of God.”

        Outside of the kingdom of God, there is but one other eternal destination for your soul.

        • william trent

          Gosh, I didn’t know that religious nuts posted here!

          • Victor Edwards

            Now THERE is thoughtful response, eh? Interestingly [and according to all expectations] it is exactly the homosexual response: name calling. I experience it so often that it is to me a knee-jerk response of the homosexual class. Instead of making an argument for the rightness of your view, you deem it only necessary to accuse and ridicule by name calling. That is not intellectually honest, frankly, and I have learned that the homosexual crowd is not at all intellectually honest. So you fit right in.

            Secondly, you use here two words for which I don’t think you know the meaning. First, religious; second, nuts. What, pray tell, is your meaning of religious? Do you even know the meaning of the term? And how is the term “nuts” related at all to any part of the discussion? Mind you, I think I know what you mean, but I am giving you a fair chance to clarify to the readers what those words mean to you so that we might, with some great effort, try to have an intelligent conversation. Though you surely do not think so, I am very interested in your thoughts on the foundations of morality, and from where you derive your sense of morality. Homosexuality has been deemed immoral behavior for the entire span of human civilization, yet somehow you seem to think that the rest of mankind should bow in your general direction and call what you practice moral and right instead of vile and filthy. If you have an argument, let’s hear it.

            As for my interest in posting here, it is because I have an affection for Texas, as I spend more than a decade there and grew to love the state – at least parts of it. For me it was the place that God sent me so that I might cleave to His Son Jesus Christ. Texas is, if I may suggest, a religious state, if by that we mean a state where the majority [perhaps a super-majority] have an abiding awareness of God and Jesus Christ. I know this because I have done house-to-house ministry in Arlington, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Big Spring and other cities there. A young military man in West Texas was used by God to bring the Gospel to me, an unbeliever and all-around reprobate and unbeliever [like yourself, perhaps?]. By His grace I have been forgiven of my sinful rebellion for 22 years of my life, and now walk in the grace of Jesus Christ my Savior. I like to call my journey to West Texas my “backside of the desert” experience, like the man Moses in the book of Exodus. I vacation there when I can, usually in far West Texas or in the Hill Country. I enjoy most of the writings in this publication, though I recognize that it is about as liberal as a publication can get. It would surprise you that I, a “religious nut” to you, am to my fellow Christians a liberal because of my views. I guess it just depends on where one stands, eh?

          • william trent

            Actually, I am not a homosexual, but wouldn’t be ashamed if I were, and it seems to me that by your angry, judgmental, condescending attitude that you’re more a modern day Pharisee than a Christian. My attitude has always been this: what goes on between consenting adults in private is none of my business or anyone else’s. Why don’t you and those who think like you go ahead and say what you really want is a theocracy? I’d at least respect your honesty.

          • Victor Edwards

            Your words “angry,” “judgmental” and “condescending is little more than more name-calling. But I understand that you can’t help yourself; it may well be a genetic trait, like homosexuality. :-)

            Be that as it may, let’s get to the issue at hand. You say that what goes on between two consenting adults in private is none or our business.

            First, if you think the problem is just private behavior, you are being naive. The homosexual agenda and lobby has taken to the streets [and no, I don’t mean homosexual parades] and to the courts in a clear and unequivocal effort to make their behaviors public and to justify their immoral, vile and unnatural behavior openly in society. This is NOT about private behaviors, for I would not know of your behavior if you did not make an issue of it, just as you don’t know of my private behaviors.

            Now, on to the issue. Who made up this rule, that private behavior between consenting adults is no body’s business? What made up that rule? Surely you don’t think that is radically true, but that there is a limit to that idea. What, for instance, would you say about two consenting adults in private who were planning -or committing – criminal behavior? Their behaviors would be subject to laws that govern civil behaviors. For instance, until very recently in this very country, homosexuality was criminal behavior, and there were criminal sanctions attached to such behaviors if they were discovered.

            So from where is your rule derived? On what foundation is such a rule to be observed? What is the objective reference that would allow me to understand why you deem homosexual behaviors morally good? Who made up that rule? On what basis was such a rule promulgated? Indeed, from where, even, do you get any sense of right or wrong? On what premise or foundation, since you disallow God, do you establish your moral code? Surely you do not posit that morality is radically subjective, that every single person establishes his own morality on his own whims. If that were the case, I might establish a rule to jail all homosexuals, and since morality is subjective, you would have no legitimate objection for me making my own rules, right? Even you can see that such a thing would be utter chaos and destructive of all society. No, some foundation, some framework, some objective notions must be established for morality. I am now asking you to outline your foundations and source of morality. It seems to differ with mine. I will await your response.

          • william trent

            My source of morality, I guess, is good old common sense. Although I am an agnostic (and hellbound, I’m sure you would say) I don’t bear false witness, steal, covet my neighbor’s goods, etc., so I would say it’s entirely possible to live a moral life without bringing religion into it. And exactly what would you have done to homosexuals? Execute them, imprison them, or what? To conclude, I consider myself an agnostic because to me it’s as presumptuous to deny that God exists as to affirm that God exists. No one knows and no one will ever know.

          • Victor Edwards

            Wow, Bill, at least you did not answer with blatant name-calling. You have given me much information about your beliefs to which I most certainly wish to respond to and take this interaction to the next level, as they like to say today. But you catch me on a Sunday, and you know what I do on Sundays! :-) I will be able to get back to you tomorrow. Thank you for your substantive response. I will only clarify one thing here.

            I never said that it is impossible to live a moral life without religion; I said it did not make sense to do so. It is incoherent and contradictory. But unbelievers are nothing if not incoherent and contradictory when it comes to morality. :-)

            Back later with some responses. Again, thanks for your response. Finally someone has responded without rancor, if just for a moment.

          • Victor Edwards

            I am back, Bill, after a day of worship, prayer, devotion and utter surrender to Jesus Christ my Lord — and a joy it was! Now, back to work.

            A couple of things up front that needs attention. One, your claim that you are an agnostic is a familiar one. Many Christian philosophers have criticized this nomenclature as “disingenuous,” and that agnostics are actually atheists that do not wish to put themselves in an untenable position of having to justify their position, for as you yourself say, it one says God exists, that is a proposition that requires justification. Equally, if one says God does NOT exist, that is a position that requires justification, which most, if not all atheists are wont to do. Here is what William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist says about this:

            “So why, you might wonder, would atheists be anxious to so trivialize their position? Here I agree with you that a deceptive game is being played by many atheists. If atheism is taken to be a view, namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view. But many atheists admit freely that they cannot sustain such a burden of proof. So they try to shirk their epistemic responsibility by re-defining atheism so that it is no longer a view but just a psychological condition which as such makes no assertions. They are really closet agnostics who want to claim the mantle of atheism without shouldering its responsibilities.”

            This is disingenuous and still leaves us asking, “So is there a God or not?”

            Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/definition-of-atheism#ixzz2f5NPWcdO

            Vic says: So to claim agnosticism does not advance the conversation at all but is a ruse, a cagey deception to avoid supporting your case. Let me venture an assessment: you are really an atheist but cannot prove your position so you do as Craig says, by becoming a closet agnostic.

            Now, on to your “common sense” foundation of morality. This one is more important but far easier than most, for even those of your philosophical ilk severely rebuke the so-called “common sense” argument for morality, since in many of the unbelieving philosophers’ view is even non-existent, a convenient diversion from dealing with truth and facts. My own criticism is that common sense is neither common nor sensible. It is an abstraction that again, offers nothing to the debate, for your “common sense” may be my immorality. Here is what an atheists philosopher says about “common sense:”

            In a review of Matthew Radcliff’s book:

            “Nevertheless it is the book’s bold conclusion that stands out: CSP is not the name of our familiar way of making sense of intentional action; rather it is a philosophical creation — “a misguided reification of abstractions” (23).

            So, common sense is hardly a proper response to and completely invalid as a foundation for morality if even unbelieving scholars deny its existence! It is a total non-starter.

            But there is a small bit, if only an iota of truth if you will allow me to define your word “common sense” with the definition of “universal” [thus common and objective] moral truths. This, of course, is the foundation and basis for my own system of morality. In my own instance, these moral truths are based in the existence of the supreme “good” which we call God. We do not resort to common sense, for it is neither “common” – in the sense of universal – nor “sense” – in the sense of truth.

            To avoid an already too long comment, let me conclude this contribution with a restatement of my view, which is not my own but the common logic of just about every Christian apologist I know of.

            1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist;

            2. Objective moral values and duties DO exist; [you call it “common sense”]

            3. Thus, God exists.

            Clearly, you reject the notion of the conclusion [3] even though it follows logically from the premises. You seem to accept premise [2]. The only remaining objection you can have would be a rejection of premise [1], and if you do so, you are required to make your justification for your view.

            I appreciate the rational [using the term colloquially, not formally] discussion of these issues.

          • Lemastre

            I assume that you are a young person, considering that your arguments have been amply and repeatedly refuted for as long as I can remember. It isn’t necessary for you to go through them again. For example, it is generally accepted that atheists need not “prove” the nonexistence of God. It is up to those who claim the existence of something to show it to us. Otherwise, anyone could toss out any wacky assertion and claim it must be true till someone demonstrates that it isn’t. God-believers and those who subscribe to myriads of other so-far-undemonstrable notions are the ones in the witness chair.

            Must we believe in some religion in order to live a proper life? There are a good many atheists who live exemplary lives based on precepts paralleling the so-called “golden rule.” They don’t do it because they hope it’ll lead them to some paradise after they’re dead, but because it seems the best way for a society to function. They don’t need to refer to a book or talk to their padre to figure out what they should do in every situation. On the other hand, the history of religions is notably bloody, punctuated as it is with many instances of slaughter and other cruelties in the name of some god or other.

          • Victor Edwards

            Not even close. First, I am not young. Been around for a while and spent a good portion of that time confronting atheists with their irrational belief system. Second, the only place where it is “generally accepted” that atheists don’t have to prove their belief in the non-existence of God is among the atheist community, where intellectual laziness is sadly rampant. Our atheists friends beg the question and then refuse to defend their position. That, sir, is intellectually lazy and rather pedestrian, if you ask me. God is not in the dock, as you suggest but it is you, the god-denier that cannot defend your position. The Kalam cosmological argument has demonstrated that the atheistic belief [I use the word purposely] is logically incoherent. That the universe sprang from nothing is logically incoherent. To posit, though, a beginning of the universe, would suggest some singularity, which you atheists are scared to do, for that would suggest that anything that has a beginning must have a cause. Scares you to death. The “God Hypothesis,” always the whipping boy of the atheists, is a far better – and completely logical and coherent, given classical logic, than is some proposed creation out of nothing.

            You seem to be misunderstanding my point about morality. I have never suggested that it is impossible for non-believers to live mostly moral lives, and sometimes even exemplary lives. What I HAVE suggested is that to do so is not at all coherent on the atheistic worldview. Why do so if good or bad does not exist objectively? The only lame argument you can make is something about the survival of the race, the usual lame evolutionary claim. For instance, why is living life one way or the other even an issue for you as an atheist? And why, pray tell, is your admitted way of doing so almost matched with the Ten Commandments of the Bible? Mind you, I have an explanation of why; the law of God is written on even the unbelievers heart, as we say in theology. God made you that way and the only way you can escape that reality is either by becoming completely insane or non-human. As long as you are human, you will be following the dictates of the Christian God who created you with such capacity. You will be judged by that, in fact, whether for good or for bad – as God determines. I outlined this in a much earlier post, so I will briefly summarize again.

            “For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who SUPPRESS THE TRUTH in unrighteousness, because WHAT MAY BE KNOWN OF GOD is MANIFEST in them, FOR GOD HAS SHOWN IT TO THEM. For since the beginning of the world His invisible attributes are CLEARLY SEEN, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so they are without excuse.”

            Put in an adage, you can run but you cannot hide.

            Last but not at all least is your rather pathetic reference to “bloody religion.” I need only use a few words to prove, objectively, that your claims are nonsense. Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, not to mention the lesser genocidist atheists of Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. This is so markedly the case that historians have called the 20th century the bloodiest in human history, and the killing has been accomplished mostly by atheistic despots with avowedly atheistic principles. And why not, I ask? On the atheistic worldview, what difference does it make?

            But please, stop making this lame and false argument. It is your atheistic bias showing clearly and making your mind befuddled.

          • Lemastre

            Of course, “godless” despots abound. I am referring to such atrocities as the Spanish inquisition and the various crusades by which Europeans took it on themselves to invade the Middle East in order to convert nonChristians by rendering them dead. And of course today’s news reveals how Muslim religionists are expressing themselves around the world.

            It’s true that modern weapons enabled the last several decades to see increased death tolls in various political and religio-political compaigns. The U.S. of course has contributed a good deal to this, what with its invention of nuclear weapons and ongoing vigorous participation in wars in the Middle East. I guess that’s due to the great number of atheists holding high office.

            Also, you keep referring to atheism as though it were some organized movement with a list of “principles,” like perhaps a religion. An atheist’s basic “principle” is that he can’t accept that some supernatural, even anthropomorphic, being made the universe without scientificallly verifiable evidence.