Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003–2010)
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The Boy Scouts 

Penn and Teller look at how in the early 80's the religious right and specifically the Mormon Church took over the boy scouts of America and how they now discriminate against homosexuals and atheists.


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Episode credited cast:
Penn Jillette ... Self - Host
Teller ... Self - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Akeenz Akeenz ... Self - Straight Guy
Fred Berlin Fred Berlin ... Self - Professor, John Hopkins Medicine
Steven Cozza Steven Cozza ... Self - Eagle Scout, Activist
Tim Curran Tim Curran ... Self - Boy Scout, Activist
James Dale James Dale ... Self (archive footage)
Irwin Irwin ... Self - Straight Guy
Jim Jim ... Self - Gay Guy
Joey Joey ... Self - Straight Guy
Joey Joey ... Self - Gay Guy
Howard Menzer Howard Menzer ... Self - Eagle Scout, Activist
Saul Saul ... Self - Gay Guy
Larry A. Taylor Larry A. Taylor ... Self - Author, 'How Your Tax Dollars Support the Boy Scouts of America' (as Larry Taylor)
Hans Zeiger Hans Zeiger ... Self - Author, 'Get Off My Honor!'


Penn and Teller look at how in the early 80's the religious right and specifically the Mormon Church took over the boy scouts of America and how they now discriminate against homosexuals and atheists.

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Crazy Credits

A final scene appears at the end of the closing credits of Hans crossing a street without helping a senior woman to do so who is standing nearby. See more »


References Survivor (2000) See more »


Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Theme Song
Written by Gary Stockdale
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User Reviews

Scout's Honor
7 March 2015 | by BlueghostSee all my reviews

I quit the Cub Scouts in 1977. The family moved (I won't say where) to very-VERY white town south of the state capitol. The scout pack I was with were a bunch of fun boys to be with. We laughed, played games, sang songs, and practiced first aid and other mundane things. When I tried to sign up with a new scout troop, I couldn't get into the meetings. I was told when and where, and went to the "where" at the "when" time several times. I even double and triple checked the information. It was correct. But no one was there, or so I thought.

They were there. They just didn't want to let me in. I quit not soon after that. So much for "The Golden State Empire" (that's what it said on my arm badge).

And two of the boys in the troop, other than being delinquents, threw rocks at me. Boys will be boys, and if you have issues at home, you carry those issues at home, and if you smoke behind the school, like torturing animals, or have other dangerous vices as a boy, you bring those to the scouts, and the scouts are none the wiser. I've known scouts who did drugs, got into fights, and just blatantly broke laws and rules everywhere they went. Never did I see one disciplinary act when I was in the boy scouts, nor did I witness any disciplinary action from older "boy scouts".

My father taught me how to survive in the wilderness. Fish without a rod and reel. Use a knife. Fire a gun. Set up a tent. Stalk game. And what to avoid while camping, and how to avoid danger. Ergo I thought the scouts would be into the same thing. Well, I discovered differently.

Penn and Teller expose the junior near para-military organization that the scouts have become, and to be honest, always kind of were. Historically the scouts were an invention of Robert Powell during his time in South Africa, of all places. They become prominent in England during the second world war for propaganda purposes, and have since become an Americanized institution, though officially the scouts are still based in the UK. And that's the only negative thing I can say about this episode is that Penn and Teller don't touch on the history and roots of the Scouts, and possibly how that ties into their current ethos.

Otherwise it does expose, in a Penn and Teller like way, the utter hypocrisy and sheer bigotry that pervades the Boy Scouts of America today. And, to be honest, given who the founder was and the time in which the scouts were created, I'm not surprised that the scouts have become what they have in the US. And, to be honest, given my personal history with them, I really don't care.

The girl scouts, on the other hand, as per mister Juliette Penn's visualized fantasy (which I think is just way cool), seem to have avoided the pitfalls of the male ego and will to enforce the male vision of what a specific male thinks things ought to be. How interesting.

As for the Mormon church connection; wow, I had no idea. And now that I do have an idea, I think I can safely say that I was right to quit the scouts when I did, and I now see the reason I was excluded.

But, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member. And perhaps that best sums up this episode.


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3 April 2006 (USA) See more »

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