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Is "Belief in a Supreme Being" an Actual Rule by Now?

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  • Is "Belief in a Supreme Being" an Actual Rule by Now?

    I suffered through BSA's religious discrimination in the 1990's and was very active on the rec.scouting during that time. I was also very active in Scouting at the time even though I had been summarily expelled for being an atheist, but since my boys aged out I have been out of the loop since circa 1999. I am starting to prepare web pages describing my experience and I need to know the current situation.

    The main problem was that BSA claimed to have a rule that required belief in a "Supreme Being" and used that "rule" as the reason for expelling both youth and adults for religious reasons. That "rule" did not exist. That wording was tried in the 1980's purportedly to make BSA more inclusive, but when it resulted in the expulsion of Life Scout candidate Paul Trout, a Unitarian Universalist who did not believe in a "Supreme Being", BSA and CSE Ben Love responded to the negative publicity and hundreds of letters of protest by reinstating Paul Trout and dropping the "Supreme Being" wording, calling it a mistake. By 1991, the very same CSE Ben Love had reinstated that mistake saying that it was now a rule and was now using it to actively root out and expel non-theists.

    When I affiliated in 1989 I hadn't heard about that situation, but knowing about the "Duty to God" wording from my prior involvement as a youth I knew that I had to deal with it. So I researched into what "Duty to God" is supposed to mean and found that the officially published policy on "Duty to God" and on religion did agree with my own beliefs and that I would have no problem swearing to do my "Duty to God". It was a couple years later when news about the Randall twins broke and I suddenly found that BSA was violating its own officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, and policies. That was also when I first became aware of that definition of "Duty to God" as requiring belief in a "Supreme Being", which itself directly violated officially policy that BSA is forbidden to make any such definitions. I went on rec.scouting to discover what was going on, the resident BSA spy included my postings along with countless others that were submitted as evidence in federal court (Welsh v. BSA), and that led to my expulsion.

    I was able to research what BSA's Rules & Regulations and Bylaws said because at the time they were sold in the Scout Shop and so were readily accessible to all. Then when copies kept showing up in court to show that BSA was violating its own rules, BSA took them out of the Scout Shop and restricted access to them. They were also used in the Randall trial in which the judge finally got fed up with BSA's double-talk and directly ordered our Council Exec to show him that "Supreme Being" rule, to which our CE had to admit in court and under oath (I would assume) that no such rule actually existed.

    My question is whether such a rule exists now. In the 14 years since last contact, has BSA changed its officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, or policies to give that "belief in a Supreme Being" mistake actual official status as a real rule? If so, then when and where is it?

    Every time I try to post I get an Edit Conversation box that complains "Empty Response"


    I suffered through BSA's religious discrimination in the 1990's and was very active on the rec.scouting during that time. I was also very active in Scouting at the time even though I had been summarily expelled for being an atheist, but since my boys aged out I have been out of the loop since circa 1999. I am starting to prepare web pages describing my experience and I need to know the current situation.

    The main problem was that BSA used a "rule" that did not exist, belief in a "Supreme Being", to expel both youth and adults for religious reasons.

    My question is whether such a rule exists now. In the 14 years since last contact, has BSA changed its officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, or policies to give that "belief in a Supreme Being" mistake actual official status as a real rule? If so, then when did that happen and and where is it officially published?

    EDITED BY PACKSADDLE:
    I'm also trying to respond and getting the "Empty Response" message. I sent a message to the managers to see if they can fix this problem. Anyway, I'll abuse my moderator status just a bit by offering Welcome to the Forums!
    Even if the forums are evidently not working well just now.

  • #2
    Below is the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle
    Article IX. Policies and Definitions—From the Charter and Bylaws
    Section 1. Declaration of Religious Principle, clause 1. The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

    Comment


    • DWise1_AOL
      DWise1_AOL commented
      Editing a comment
      click23, you should read what you post. How could you have overlooked this:
      Originally posted by DRP
      The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.
      How could an "absolutely nonsectarian" organization impose sectarian requirements? In the interpretive statements in the Advancement Guidelines and in official statements from the Relationship Committee, BSA's official policy is to not define "God", "belief in God", or even "Duty to God", leaving all that to the home and the religious organization/tradition that the member is connected to, exactly as the DRP says.

      The problem is that with its non-rule of "belief in a Supreme Being", which BSA uses to expel members, BSA is no longer "absolutely non-sectarian" and it directly violates its own officially published religious policy.

      You might want to familiarize yourself with BSA's officially published policies. My question is whether those have changed since 1998. Do you have anything to contribute?

      BTW, the DRP is nothing new. It existed when I first registered in 1989 and existed at the time when Unitarian Life Scout Paul Trout was expelled in 1985, later to be reinstated when CSE Ben Love rescinded their new "belief in a Supreme Being" wording as a mistake. Yes, he is the exact same CSE Ben Love who then reinstated that "mistake" and used it explicitly as the reason for expelling non-believers.

    • click23
      click23 commented
      Editing a comment
      DWise1_AOL, I'm not sure if you are trying to call me out on something or what, I simply posted the BSAs official policy. And I'm really puzzled on how I could familiarize myself with BSA's officially published policies even more, as what I posted was copied from the BSAs Charter and Bylaws, that is about as official as you get. I think you thought what I stated was opinion, it was not it was all direct quotes from BSA official publications.
      Last edited by click23; 06-15-2013, 09:44 AM.

    • DWise1_AOL
      DWise1_AOL commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, what is your interpretation of the DRP? In the absolutely nonsectarian manner that is required by the rest of BSA's officially published policy (see the interpretive statement in the Advancement Guidelines, the Reaffirmation of Duty to God from 1991, and the official statements of the Relationships Division from 1985 and 1994), or in a definitely sectarian manner as is used by supporters of BSA religious discrimination?

  • #3
    "BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the Practice of religion." (BSA policy statement).



    ​Accordingly, there is no requirement for "God" to be defined as a "supreme being" (although most certainly, the overwhelming majority of members use that definition). I personally know many Scouters who conceive of "God" in very different ways than a supreme being.

    Comment


    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      I guess Merriam Webster & Co. wasn't one of those?

    • Trevorum
      Trevorum commented
      Editing a comment
      I've not found dictionaries to be particularly helpful in exploring the numinous.

    • Twocubdad
      Twocubdad commented
      Editing a comment
      I've not found dictionaries to be particularly helpful in understanding BSA policies.

  • #4
    So the servers working now? Here's my original reply [cut and pasted from "Debugging "]...

    The by-laws are easily found here:
    http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...AndBylaws.aspx

    They seem pretty unambiguous to me: "God" being a surrogate for the wordy "prime mover, who may be known or unknown to us mere mortals" or whatever the missionaries to the Celts were trying to use to communicate what they were trying to say about the Semitic deity adopted by the Roman empire.

    I'm not sure how this is distinguished from "Supreme being", as the notion of "God" in the original language, although not Semitic, conveyed every notion of supremacy, perhaps more than even the Latin "Deus".

    Comment


    • Scouter99
      Scouter99 commented
      Editing a comment
      No one goes to debugging to find replies, and if anyone is watching the debugging threads (however doubtful) I'm sure they don't need off-topic stuff clogging them up.

    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      s99, since I wasn't sure if there was something in the text causing the error, I pasted my reply in debugging. It stuck. Trust me, I spared all you debuggers lots of other rejected messages after that.

      You're welcome.

  • #5
    They seem pretty unambiguous to me: "God" being a surrogate for the wordy "prime mover, who may be known or unknown to us mere mortals" or whatever the missionaries to the Celts were trying to use to communicate what they were trying to say about the Semitic deity adopted by the Roman empire.

    Seems pretty ambiguous to me. Here's an exact quote:
    "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members."

    Now, from the above quote, it would seem to me that polytheists are not acceptable, as it clearly indicates one god, goddess worshippers are out, as it clearly indicates a male god, some Deists and others are out if they believe in a non-involved god as it clearly indicates this god gives favors and blessings, and it would seem people who worship damager-gods are also out.

    But since most, if not all of the above really ARE acceptable gods, it seems the BSA's description is utterly wrong and misleading.
    Last edited by Merlyn_LeRoy; 06-04-2013, 06:02 PM.

    Comment


    • #6
      OK, Finally!!!

      Here's the response I had tried to send a while back:



      Welcome to the forums. You are not alone. I think Merlyn may be better

      able to respond to your questions as he is a long-time forum member

      and critic, and is quite knowledgeable with regard to this topic. My

      response is that the membership application now has a Declaration of

      Religious Principle (DRP) that anyone signing the form agrees to. From

      my experience, some people never notice it, and even when they do,

      they don't pay much attention to it. Others take the DRP very

      seriously. There's quite a diverse set of views on it.



      As near as I can tell, the requirement is for a belief in a 'higher

      power', not necessarily a supreme being. As I understand it, BSA will

      accept a belief system that worships a rock or even the 'Flying

      Spaghetti Monster', (I'm not making this stuff up) both of which, to

      my mind, hardly qualify as a supreme being...at least not.any more

      than my cat does (although that cat evidently THINKS it is some kind

      of supreme being).



      In this manner, BSA has, for all practical purposes, accepted any

      belief system, although a recent forum member has noted that being

      Pagan has led to local rejection. One forum member long ago noted that

      his belief in the "higher power of reason" seems to be acceptable to

      BSA. And in response, even some of the most devout forum members

      shrank from criticizing him. It's hard to argue with that one.....

      Comment


      • Merlyn_LeRoy
        Merlyn_LeRoy commented
        Editing a comment
        From the BSA's June 7, 1991 "questions and answers" from the scouts-l listserv:
        http://listserv.tcu.edu/cgi-bin/wa.e...=0&P=34070&F=P
        ...
        Q. Some people maintain that God is a tree, a rock or a stream. Would a
        person believing such be eligible to be a member of Scouting?

        A. The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion. The Scout Oath
        states a requirement for a Scout to observe a duty to God, and the Scout
        Law requires a Scout to be reverent. Again, interpretation is the
        responsibility of the Scout, his parents and religious leaders.
        ...

        The Pagan religious award was rejected because, after meeting the old requirements, the requirements were changed. I've heard that the BSA will not charter to any pagan organizations to prevent them from ever getting the required minimum of 25 units chartered to get a religious award recognized.

      • Trevorum
        Trevorum commented
        Editing a comment
        At the May 2013 meeting of the Religious Relationships Task Force, we began review of a proposed Sikh religious award for Cub Scouts. Uncertain as to how many units are sponsored by Sikh chartering partners, I asked whether the rule of 25 was still in effect. The answer was to the effect of "... not really." I get the distinct feeling that inclusiveness has become more than a mere slogan within BSA National (despite pockets of resistance) and that the Hart and Crescent award might get a different reception today.

      • Rick_in_CA
        Rick_in_CA commented
        Editing a comment
        Trevorum, that's interesting. Does that mean the UUA religious awards might be reinstated? Or is there just too much animosity toward the UUA still in the BSA? Or would that require them to admit they were wrong, which can't happen?

    • #7
      It depends entirely on which “supreme being” you believe in AND what unit you are trying to be a member of.

      Every unit has the right to reject members for whatever reason they choose. We have a Catholic Pack that only allows Catholic boys in the unit, provided they attend the local Catholic School. If you’re Catholic and don’t attend the Catholic School you aren’t “Catholic Enough” to be a member of their unit.

      As far as National is concerned just because your application wasn’t accepted because you believed in the wrong god (or believe in the same god, but weren’t godly enough), does not constitute a rejection. Scouts denied membership in local units are still eligible to be a member of Boy Scouts of America provided they find an organization with a building and applicable insurance that is willing to charter a unit that will allow them.

      Comment


      • DWise1_AOL
        DWise1_AOL commented
        Editing a comment
        I have seen situations in which a unit has rejected a member on religious grounds. However, that did not expel the member from BSA membership. When the member tried to seek redress, BSA backed up the unit in rejecting him, but kept him on as a member free to join another unit that would have him. To me, that is what the "local option" is about.

        Rather, the situation we are faced with is where the unit wants to keep the member, but BSA National has reached down and plucked him out of there while ignoring the unit and the chartered organization. That is what all these discrimination lawsuits have been about. Ironically, BSA's arguments in court have been that it wants to preserve its rights of "intimate association", and yet it arbitrarily denies the units themselves of their rights of intimate association.

        Furthermore, BSA's argument in court has been that since it is "a secret religious organization" (a fabrication suggested to them by their lawyers) then it is immune to any discrimination lawsuits; it is free to discriminate all it wants to for whatever reason. However, the argument continues, the plaintiffs are still free to sue the chartering organization and the unit itself for discrimination. So not only are they throwing their COs under the bus, but they are also making their COs liable for the discrimination that BSA commits despite all efforts by the CO to stop that discrimination. No wonder BSA is losing so much support!

    • #8
      So the BSA currently has a black eye......You are helping this fellow blacken the other one.......

      give it a rest for cryin out loud.....

      Comment


      • Scouter99
        Scouter99 commented
        Editing a comment
        I was trying to think of a "Friendly" way to tell him to get lost.

    • #9
      Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

      http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

      But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

      Comment


      • Scouter99
        Scouter99 commented
        Editing a comment
        Oh boy, packsaddle, "cowardly"? Free speech applies to the public sphere. We're all free to say anything, we are not free of the consequences of our speech. If the Unitarians decided to bash BSA within the literature of their award program, then of course they should not have been allowed to do so. They've got a pulpit where they can tell their youth what they think about BSA's policies, and that is the appropriate place to do it. WalMart did not sell a CD with songs that criticized it--why would they? That's not "cowardice" that's common sense and it's the way the world works. BSA is not the town hall, it's a private organization and it has the right and obligation to control the message its membership receives from official sources.

      • ThomasJefferson
        ThomasJefferson commented
        Editing a comment
        "We're all free to say anything, we are not free of the consequences of"

        That is said by many and frequently, but I think it is oxymoronic. You are not free to speak if the speech has consequences. Consequences negate freedom. That would be like saying you have freedom to murder, but you will have consequences.

        The truth is that the US has a rather low rating for free speech amongst the first world affluent nations. We're sort of bad at living up to our ideal that Congress not making laws that abridge the freedom of speech.

        I do not believe in "free speech", so this does not bother me. If you shout at the top of your lungs in front of my house, I'd like to see the police force you to the ground, cuff, you, and haul you off for a night in jail.

        But the childhood myths about having special freedom in the US have to stop. It's not true in comparison to places like Germany, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and France. We are probably more free today than previously.

        Frankly, I think the freedom myth is just American propaganda. Having travelled the world, there are certainly places where freedoms are curtailed and people are oppressed more than the US. But there are also places where people are less restricted than they are here.

      • packsaddle
        packsaddle commented
        Editing a comment
        @Scouter99.

        The UUA could write anything they wanted. BSA was free to express their indignation. But with respect to the religious award, BSA wasn't forced to do anything. There was nothing they could do to silence the UUA. There was nothing they could do to suppress the publicity. But the action they took: to deny recognition of the UUA award, ALSO had no effect on any of that. It didn't silence the UUA. It didn't suppress the publicity. It had no effect whatsoever on any of the issues. The ONLY thing it did was to deny something to boys who had no part in the conflict and who had no way to fight back.

        BSA didn't HAVE to do anything. If BSA had done nothing, the status of the conflict would have been the same as it was after they took action. Their action was ineffective and they knew it would be ineffective. But they took it anyway. They aimed it at innocent persons, knowing that it wasn't necessary and that it would have no effect on the issue, only on the boys. They did it anyway. Their vindictive action was gratuitous, ineffective, and aimed at boys who had no part of the conflict. But BSA knew they could take that action and there was nothing anyone could do in response. It was cowardly.
        Last edited by packsaddle; 06-06-2013, 06:59 AM.

    • #10
      As long as don't declare you are an outright "atheist", you can pretty much declare anything you want about what you believe about "duty to God" in the oath and be a BSA member. Even an "agnostic" might not have a problem because he can simply declare what "duty to God" and "Reverence" means to him and that will pass for many units.

      At the inception of the BSA in 1910, it was commonly understood what was meant by "God" in the context of the Judeo-Christian belief of a Supreme Being. Many Scouters, like myself, still hold to this ancient belief. The Declaration of Relgious Principle has been with the BSA from the beginning and can be found in the first edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (Handbook for Boys - 1911, Ch. VI-Chivarly, p. 250). Nothing new.



      Comment


      • DWise1_AOL
        DWise1_AOL commented
        Editing a comment
        No, that is not true.

        OK, that is indeed what officially published BSA policy says. But that is not what BSA practices. Which is the source of all the problems.

        If BSA is being so Christian, I wonder why they haven't bothered to read the Gospels to see what Jesus was supposed to have thought about hypocrites.

      • Jeffrey H
        Jeffrey H commented
        Editing a comment
        Which part is not true? The BSA is not Christian because it does not have a Christian confession of faith, nor any confession of faith. The only thing that could considered faith-oriented is the "duty to God" component of the Scout Oath.

    • #11
      I'm always amazed at the mean spirited abuse others inflict on others by throwing around the word discrimination. It's not about clearly communicating. It's hate speech. BSA has always had a faith component.

      Now we can debate if BSA should change that, but it's not discrimination any more than my neighbor discriminating against me when he doesn't want me entering his house without permission.

      Personally, I think BSA should leave membership to the charter orgs because it's the only way to avoid the ugly interactions of people we've seen flood these threads for years.

      Comment


      • AZMike
        AZMike commented
        Editing a comment
        Nope, you're the one who mis-described what I had said, even though I clearly stated "I'd agree that these are not ethical actions" ...and then you described the examples I gave as ethical actions. Freudian slip?

        "So, only killing SOME children is moral?" Has your government done the same? Are you sure that no innocent children were ever killed in the war against Nazism? If a people, such as the Canaanites, are in the wrong but still keep their children with them in a battlezone, who would be responsible for keeping them in a battle zone? The Israelites gave them a chance to surrender. Why did they not take it and save their own children's lives? Although again, the evidence is good that the description of total warfare given is hyperbolic.

        "Hey, that excuses ALL murders that happened 150 years ago or earlier! Wow, great morals you got there." Nope, addressed above.

        "Uh, where did I say that? Now you seem to just be making up things I've said." Read the sentence before that. The reference was clearly to "you atheists" as a group. You do realize that atheists are very fond of asking why God does not stop evil, right? You have read some atheist literature from your quotation of Hitchens, right? This is a common atheist trope. It is appropriate to ask why atheists object to God acting against evil in this case but demand that he should have acted in a more modern case.

        "Nope, like I said, arguing about morals falls under "reason" in my book. Supposedly "god"-given morals are arbitrary." No, Merlyn. If there are no objective morals, then one's choice of a moral stance has no moral warrant, and thus, one moral system would be just as meaningless as another, however you may choose to waste time arguing about it. That's arbitrary. And, as I said, from a materialist perspective, there can be no such thing as objective morality. You're arguing about something that cannot even exist from your basic premises.

      • Merlyn_LeRoy
        Merlyn_LeRoy commented
        Editing a comment
        AZMike writes:
        "Nope, you're the one who mis-described what I had said, even though I clearly stated "I'd agree that these are not ethical actions" ...and then you described the examples I gave as ethical actions. Freudian slip?"

        No, like I said, I don't consider them ethical actions.

        ""So, only killing SOME children is moral?" Has your government done the same? "

        What's with the red herring? Is only killing SOME children moral in your view? The ethical or unethical actions of my government is irrelevant.

        "Are you sure that no innocent children were ever killed in the war against Nazism?"

        What's that got to do with anything?

        "If a people, such as the Canaanites, are in the wrong but still keep their children with them in a battlezone, who would be responsible for keeping them in a battle zone?"

        How about my Jericho example? That was a city. And killing inhabitants in a city 2000 years ago meant killing people up close and personal with swords and spears, so you don't get some kind of "collateral damage" excuse. Killing children in that kind of situation means that soldiers directly killed children by stabbing them to death.

        "The Israelites gave them a chance to surrender. Why did they not take it and save their own children's lives?"

        Why not stick to my question of Jericho instead of using your own cherry-picked example?

        ""Hey, that excuses ALL murders that happened 150 years ago or earlier! Wow, great morals you got there." Nope, addressed above. "

        Not at all. Your "excuse" was appalling. It brushes off any murder if the victim would have been dead X years later, and since that's true of every murder after 150 years or more, it excuses every murder ever committed, eventually.

        ""Uh, where did I say that? Now you seem to just be making up things I've said." Read the sentence before that. The reference was clearly to "you atheists" as a group."

        Then you should have said "you atheists" or "atheists", not "you" when you are typing a direct reply to me. I'll just put that down to your poor writing skills.

        "You do realize that atheists are very fond of asking why God does not stop evil, right?"

        So what? That isn't an argument I had raised.

        ""Nope, like I said, arguing about morals falls under "reason" in my book. Supposedly "god"-given morals are arbitrary." No, Merlyn. If there are no objective morals, then one's choice of a moral stance has no moral warrant, and thus, one moral system would be just as meaningless as another, however you may choose to waste time arguing about it. "

        Well, I disagree, and since you've been busy trying to justify killing children, I'd say my moral system is better than yours.

        "That's arbitrary. And, as I said, from a materialist perspective, there can be no such thing as objective morality."

        And that's not a bad thing. Even if objective morals did exist, there's no certain way to derive these supposed morals, so it still comes down to the same thing -- humans arguing about what is and isn't moral.

        "You're arguing about something that cannot even exist from your basic premises."

        What are you babbling about now? I've never said that objective morals exist. I've been arguing about morals, not objective morals.
        Last edited by Merlyn_LeRoy; 06-22-2013, 01:34 AM.

      • MattR
        MattR commented
        Editing a comment
        Merlyn, AZMike, it's Miller Time.

        You know you won't change the mind of the other. You completely disagree with the other. You're arguing to win, not find common ground. Not very scout like. Thus, not very ethical

    • #12
      Let's try this again.

      I need to know about changes to the BSA Rules & Regulations, Bylaws, Advancement Guidelines, Declaration of Religious Principles, etc, pertaining to religion that were made since the late 1990's. In particular, I am interested in learning whether the "belief in a Supreme Being" non-rule has been incorporated into officially published BSA policy. In other words, has that non-rule been turned into an actual rule? And if so, then where?

      My own experience was from 1988 to about 1998. During that time, I became very familiar with those official publications and with the events of the time. However, I have not followed it since then, so I need to know what has happened in the meantime from circa 1995 to the present. That is the only reason that I joined here, which is not to say that I wouldn't mind sharing some of my knowledge and experiences.

      Starting around 1990, BSA started expelling members for the expressed reason that belief in a "Supreme Being" is required. BSA spokesmen and lawyers even went so far as say that they wouldn't mind keeping those members as members, but they were forced to expell them because of this here "belief in a Supreme Being" rule. And yet nobody could ever find that rule and all requests to see it were deflected or simply ignored. Finally in the Randall trial, the judge ordered BSA to show him that rule and BSA had to admit to him that that rule did not exist.

      So my primary question here is whether that non-existent "rule", which BSA even had to admit in court did not exist, has since 1995 been made into an actual rule.

      The history of that phrase goes back to the early 1980's when it was created "to broaden rather than constrict the understanding of the phrase 'duty to God' (i.e., it was intended to allow for non-Christian understandings of deity)." (as BSA had told UUA President Dr. Schulz). Then in 1985 it resulted in the expulsion of Paul Trout, a Unitarian Life Scout. The bad publicity and hundreds of letters of protest led CSE Ben Love to reverse the decision, to reinstate Trout, to name that "belief in a Supreme Being" wording a "mistake", and to apologize for that mistake. Then about five years later, the exact same CSE Ben Love had reinstated that mistake and used it for the purpose of religious discrimination. BSA professionals and lawyers would even tell the public and judges that they wouldn't want to expell these people, but this here "belief in a Supreme Being" rule was forcing them to. Despite the inconvenient fact that that "rule" simply did not exist. Their other excuse was that the Mormon Church was forcing them to expell non-believers, but that's another issue altogether.

      Even if a "belief in a Supreme Being" requirement were to exist, how could it be reconciled with BSA's other officially published requirements, such as BSA neither defining nor interpreting "God", "Duty to God", the practice of religion, that each member is to be judged solely by the standards of his own religious traditions, or that only a member's religious leaders can determine whether he performs his Duty to God?

      Comment


      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't know the answer to your question, but many powerful Christians feel they have the authority to make a judgement about the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of others belief systems. We see it constantly from our politiians.

        I suspect the answer to your question really depends upon who ask and who has power at any given moment.

      • DWise1_AOL
        DWise1_AOL commented
        Editing a comment
        King Ding Dong, the answer must depend on what the policy is. If the officially published policy is so meaningless that you have to be subjected on all levels by whatever that particular BSA professional personally believes, then why even have an official policy? For example, on another forum is a member who is a "TRUE CHRISTIAN (TM)" who repeatedly spews out virulent anti-Catholic rhetoric. So if you are a Catholic and your BSA professional is a "TRUE CHRISTIAN (TM)", then you have just been expelled from Scouting. Is that what you are arguing for? If not, then why even make that argument?

        Also, districts and councils never act independently in these matters. Control is very tightly centralized at National. DEs are required to report every single contact up the line (one of our DEs told me this). I'm sure that CEs are likewise required to report up to Regional who likewise is required to report up to National. In every case that I was familiar with in the 1990's, massive amounts of message traffic flowed up and down the chain repeatedly; nobody at Regional, Council, or District made any more whatsoever until being told by National what to do.

        Also, your response is a non sequitur. My question has absolutely nothing to do with what individuals at various levels think and feel. Rather, it has everything to do with FACTS!

        Officially published BSA religious policy is a FACT. We all know what it is, because we can go to the published documentation and read it for ourselves.

        That the "rule" requiring "belief in a Supreme Being" was not an actual rule from 1985 to 1998 is a FACT. You could not find it anywhere in the published documentation and in court, Randall v BSA, our Orange County Council Exec, Kent Gibbs, after having repeatedly claimed to have this "rule" requiring "belief in a Supreme Being" and that that "rule" absolutely required him to expel Michael and William Randall, the judge directly ordered him to produce that rule, at which point Gibbs had to admit in court that that "rule" simply did not exist.

        That such a "rule", should it actually exist, would directly contradict officially published BSA policy is a matter for discussion, though I think that the case of direct contradiction should be self-evident to all but the most self-deluded religionists.

        The question that is open and which I have repeatedly asked is this: What has changed in officially published BSA policy since 1998?

        That is a question about FACT, not about personal opinion.

    • #13
      Ya know the Anti gay folks were right on this point.....


      The assault on god has begun

      Comment


      • #14
        I think you meant assault on "God".
        The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent. If he acted in a way that treated that rock as supreme (even if it was a lady rock ), I'd count it as fulfilling his duty to God.

        I'd expect a little more sophistication from adults, but not much.

        And, that's how I've seen it played out by scouters in my neck of the woods.

        Comment


        • qwazse
          qwazse commented
          Editing a comment
          Problem is His great affection for pipsqueaks! Half the Psalms are the writer wondering when He's gonna stop putting up with our crap.

          And (for you "Goddess" fans), I'm using "His" and "He" in the gender-neutral form originally intended (a la "mother hen gathering her chicks" style).

        • packsaddle
          packsaddle commented
          Editing a comment
          "....I'm using "His" and "He" in the gender-neutral form..."

          Well I'm not. A long time ago, one of my redneck buddies, obese, beer-guzzling, tobacco-drooling, unwashed, smelly, nearly bald, and profane....liked to laugh and remark: "God made ME in His image...har, har, har, har". I had no choice but to laugh just as hard. Can't deny a good sense of humor.

        • Eagledad
          Eagledad commented
          Editing a comment
          Nobody said boot him out, I was discussing mental health. As for the jab, I'm not sure who you are refering, but you do know that zombies aren't real. Neither are vanpires.

      • #15
        qwazse: The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent.

        Why is that "sad"?

        Comment


        • qwazse
          qwazse commented
          Editing a comment
          The kid's reverence stone-ward isn't sad. That someone thinks we should boot him from scouting because the rock is not *their kind of* supreme being ... that's sad.

          Given the rapid sophistication of the Zombie in pop-culture over the past few decades, let's just extrapolate and count your jab as veneration!

        • Eagledad
          Eagledad commented
          Editing a comment
          Who said boot him from scouting?

        • DWise1_AOL
          DWise1_AOL commented
          Editing a comment
          What? You have never played the game of "God is whatever you say it is" with a BSA professional? Oh, you really have no idea what you're in for!

          Now mind you, BSA acts without warning, expelling you before you ever know that any problem exists. That is how it happened to the Randalls, despite a unit den leader spoiling the surprise with a cryptic phone call. In my case, I suspected that something was up, so I initiated the call, which pulled our council's SE out of a meeting about me.

          At some point, we arrived at THE GAME. He said, "God is whatever you say it is." So, knowing something about some non-theistic religious traditions, I offered an idea. "No, that's not it. But God is whatever you say it is." So I offered another well-considered idea and he again responded with, "No, that's not it either. But God is whatever you say it is." After a few more iterations of this nonsense, I stated, "Well, obviously my own ideas are 'God' are not the same as yours." at which point he terminated the conversation, obviously satisfied that he had gotten what he had wanted.

          OK, am I the only one here to see this? I even raised it in subsequent letters asking about my review, which was delayed for over half a decade. Their game was to say, "God is whatever you say it is", but if you ever take the bait, then they just reject anything you have to offer. In the end, in my case, it was Kent Gibbs' own personal definition and interpretation and misunderstand of "God" that took precedence, not in any way my own religious tradition's. I was being judged solely by Kent Gibbs' own personal religious standards, not my own! Who here, even among the most stridently sectarian religionists, cannot see the fault in this BSA interpretation that Kent Gibbs personally imposed upon me?

          And on that purely arbitrary basis, I was booted out of BSA.


          ABE:

          Sorry! Forgot about another game the Kent Gibbs loved to play. The Randall twins had first registered in Los Angeles County before moving down to Orange County. At some point along the way, the unit screwed up with the registration forms. BSA caught wind of this and did its utmost to take advantage of it, claiming that the boys never had been registered.

          And so Gibbs' twisted abusive game began. "Oh, you never were actually registered! All you have to do is to fill out the registration form." Form is duly filled out. "Oh, this is not acceptable. But all you have to do is to fill out the registration form." Etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. When the case went to trial, Gibbs and Orange County Council tried to continue to play the same sick abusive game, but the judge stopped them short. "Is this all that's the problem? OK! Give us a form and we can fill it out and be done with this!" Immediately, BSA started back-pedelling and making excuses.

          OBTW, you may condemn Jim Randall for filing a lawsuit on behalf of his sons being discriminated against, but you must consider the facts. Jim Randall tried his best to resolve this matter without having to resort to legal action, but BSA blocked all his efforts at every step. Finally, it was BSA itself who instructed him to sue them, not imagining that he would take them up on it.

          Our Bear den leader, still a friend, was guardian to a ward. He went to the same school as the Randall twins, though not the same school (for that matter, I'm not sure how she had come to our pack, but she was a stalwart leader). He is the one who, knowing the news (his guardian is Jewish, so perhaps like someone who's UU? *), invited the twins to join our pack. At the time, Council was doing its utmost to spread fear among the units, "The RANDALLS ARE COMING!!!!!!!!!!!!"

          Well, the Randall twins were model Scouts. They went on to fulfill all their Eagle requirements. Their Scoutmaster told the press that he wished that all his boys were like them. But they were participating by a court order while BSA's appeal to the California Supreme Court was pending. Just as their Eagle Court was looming, the state attorney general pushed the court to make its decision. The California Supreme Court decided that BSA was indeed discriminating, but it was not subject to the Unruh Act, which was the basis of Jim Randall's lawsuit. That same decision was what BSA was waiting for to issue my own final expulsion along with a couple others.

          The point is that our DE came to speak at our pack meeting after the Randalls had bridged over to Boy Scouts. He spoke about BSA being "under attack" and how they had to spend millions of dollars to defend themselves from the Randalls. Well, this crowd knew the Randalls. I remember parents muttering angrily, "What a waste!"

          Why is BSA wasting so much money and bad publicity on unnecessary lawsuits that they and they alone create? And then, given that they've been found in court to discriminate, COs who have definite policies against such discrimination have no choice but to stop sponsoring a Scouting unit. The US military has orders to not sponsor units, not even overseas. BSA discrimination not only does not make any sense in light of their officially published policies, but it is directly detrimental to Scouting. Even enrollment has been declining within the past decade: http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/ht...embership.html


          * FOOTNOTE: Apparently, a number of Unitarian-Universalists had been born Jewish. For example, there's an old joke about somebody who had passed away and was buried in a UU cemetery. The surprised response was, "But he didn't look Jewish!"

          In my own experience, when our church moved into new quarters one committee member of Jewish heritage requested a special vacuum cleaner to be able to handle the stairs. So there I was on a painting party and she comes down the stairs with that portable vacuum slung over her shoulder. And without my glasses it looked like the block letters on the side of the vacuum said "DRECK", which, from my knowledge of German from which that Yiddish word came, I thought was a really weird name for a vacuum cleaner, "FILTH". Then when she came closer I could see that it instead said, "ORECK".
          Last edited by DWise1_AOL; 06-15-2013, 01:20 AM. Reason: Forgot to include Gibbs' abusive game he played with 9-year-old boys.
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