Remy Powell Struck by Automobile

November, 1999

Please, everyone, send Remy Powell a get-well card. He is the boy who was the plaintiff in the case against the Portland Public Schools, the boy who was recruited by the Scouts during class time. Mike Montalvo reports that Remy was injured in a pedestrian-auto accident this week. His leg is broken in three places, his pelvis was broken, and his spleen was ruptured. He also broke some ribs. He is in the Intensive Care Unit at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Mike says he is hanging in there; I will call the hospital tomorrow and try to get a prognosis; if anybody wants that report, please write and ask.

If you would, please send a card to him. I'm sure he would also appreciate photos of you and your family, perhaps photos of your animals if you have them, photos of the terrain where you live, drawings by your kids, and anything you think would lift a critically injured boy's heart. The address is:

While I was involved with United States Atheists, I met Remington many times. Would that we all could, as adults, have the keen grasp of fairness and of Freethought principles that this boy has as a child. But as for the experience of bigotry that Remy has endured, I would not wish that on anyone. This is way too high a price for a child to pay to learn what Remy has learned, and he is way too young to be learning what he knows. I can speak to this because I endured similar experiences when I was his age: nobody should ever have to go through what he has gone through, and this is why I work so hard to effect change in our world.

If you have an atheistic, humanistic, or freethought list, please feel free to distribute this section.

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A reader asks:

You don't seem to have made a case in this letter why the Scouts should not have been soliciting Remy for their program. What connection does this have with Free Thought and your magazine?

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Cliff Responds:

I'm sorry. I forgot to check Mike's website to see how prominently he still displays the Powell case. We also have sent several updates as the case progressed, and assume that many active atheists have heard of this case. If not, we assumed that folks would ask (that's part of why we're here), or would, at minimum, simply send off a note of cheer to a fellow human and a young freethinker. If he receives several hundred cards, this could only do him good in that a lifted spirit has been shown to aid recovery from illness.

Please see Tom Leykis' interview of Remy's mother at:
for a more-than-complete discussion of Remy's case against the Schools.

Briefly, the Scouts solicited Remy (and all boys) during classtime, but the Scouts' official policy will not allow Remy to join because he has come out as an atheist, and the Scouts require that you believe in God.

Not only this, the Scouts would not let either of Remy's parents participate in being Den Mother, etc., because they are athteists and the Scouts require all volunteers not only to believe in God, but to sign a "Declaration of Religious Principles" that says "No young man can grow into the best kind of American citizen without first recognizing an obligation to God."

Finally, Remy's aunt cannot participate as a volunteer in the Scouting program because she is a lesbian, and at this time, homosexuals are strictly forbidden from participating as volunteers (although some states have forced the Scouts to allow gays and lesbians to be employed within the Scouting system due to their anti-discrimination laws).

After learning all this, Remy does not want to join the Boy Scouts. However, the schools continued to force young children to listen to the Scouting sales pitch during classtime.

This is the problem with the Scouts soliciting in the public schools. I think the Scouts would set a far better example to its members and to the world if it would work toward depending on legitimate ways to get its message out to the public. I also hope that the Scouts eventually allow all boys to become members (and all humans to become volunteers), making no distinction as to religious belief and no distinction as to sexuality.

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