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  • New Scout is a Jehovah's Witness

    I just had a new scout join the troop this week. While one of the ASM's was discussing Scout Badge requirements with him, the subject of the Pledge of Allegiance came up, and he stated that he wasn't allowed to say the Pledge. I have heard that Jehovah's Witnesses are not supposed to be join Boy Scouts due to this fact, but I always assumed that it was on the JW side, not the BSA side.

    Being in downtown Atlanta, our Troop is pretty liberal -- many of our boys have same-sex parents. So, my thoughts are: if his family doesn't have a problem with it, I don't either. However, I could see it making it difficult to live up to the Scout Oath and some other things that are flag-related, so when SMC time comes, it seems like I'd be walking a fine line. But he's very excited about joining, so I don't want to burst his bubble.

    Anyone else ever run into this?

  • #2
    Explain the rules of BSA if he can't follow the BSA rules then advice him to find another organization

    Comment


    • #3
      The BSA website says:
      Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.

      While the promise, scout law, etc. says:

      Understand and agree to live by the Scout Oath or Promise, Scout Law, motto, and slogan, and the Outdoor Code.

      It looks to me like he doesn't have to "take" the pledge, just repeat what it is. He could e.g. start out "the wording of the current US pledge of allegiance is blah blah blah" and he wouldn't be taking the pledge.

      Comment


      • DigitalScout
        DigitalScout commented
        Editing a comment
        ^^^^^
        Best answer.

    • #4
      Yep; I would review the material with him and act like I was in a classroom when that element comes up. "A Scout is Reverent, and respects the religious customs and traditions of others".
      So, with that in mind; we do not require him to say the pledge or do any other things against his beliefs. But, he still needs to understand the significance overall and be willing to discuss it. Very likely though that if his family is strict, he will not last long due to too many conflicts.

      Comment


      • #5
        There is some chatter on "former JW" sites about how they are not allowed to join. Clearly, your boy's parents didn't get that memo. I think you need to talk to the parents about what they think the real boundaries are, then work with the boy. I think the requirements are worded so as to give you a little "wiggle room" with this. But I think it's important to avoid anything that seems like "trickery" to the parents.

        What's most important IMHO is that the boy understands what the PoA is, why it is important to most Americans, why his religion opposes the recitation of the pledge, and how he can still refrain from the pledge (and, maybe the salute) yet still be a productive citizen.

        Comment


        • #6
          Well, the original significance of the pledge was to sell copies of "The Youth's Companion" and American flags, and promote international socialism.

          By the way, the pledge's author's cousin's book "Looking Backward", a vision of the coming Socialist utopia published in 1887 and set in the year 2000, is oddly entertaining, if a bit dry (since it's an author tract).

          Comment


          • Merlyn_LeRoy
            Merlyn_LeRoy commented
            Editing a comment
            Or when Scout stuff in the US and the UK circa 1920s used a common good-luck symbol:
            http://wednesdaysheroes.com/wp-conte...boyscouts4.jpg

          • King Ding Dong
            King Ding Dong commented
            Editing a comment
            Was there ever any uniform insignia with a swastika on it ?

          • moosetracker
            moosetracker commented
            Editing a comment
            Swastika was a symbol stolen by the Nazi and until then was a symbol for good things like life, sun, power, strength, and good luck. It's obvious that on this medal it was used for good luck.

        • #7
          Wait wait wait. Before you talk to the boy or his parents and tell them the "rules" based on what a few anonymous people told you on the Internet, I would call my friendly local council office and talk to one of the executives about this issue. I am SURE this is not the first time this has come up, if not in your council, then in other councils. Your question might get bumped up the chain of command somewhere, but someone has to know the "official" answer. I would do that before you tell this enthusiastic young man, or his parents, what is and is not absolutely required of him if he is to remain a Boy Scout.

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by NJCubScouter View Post
            Wait wait wait. Before you talk to the boy or his parents and tell them the "rules" based on what a few anonymous people told you on the Internet, I would call my friendly local council office and talk to one of the executives about this issue. I am SURE this is not the first time this has come up, if not in your council, then in other councils. Your question might get bumped up the chain of command somewhere, but someone has to know the "official" answer. I would do that before you tell this enthusiastic young man, or his parents, what is and is not absolutely required of him if he is to remain a Boy Scout.
            Thanks, NJCS -- that's a really good idea. I'll start there (and report back for the benefit of others).

            Comment


            • DigitalScout
              DigitalScout commented
              Editing a comment
              Here's the problem involving the council. If the person answering the phone is a kindly, maternal person, she will probably tell you in the spirit of scouting to make whatever accommodations necessary for the boy to feel welcome. One the other hand, if a crusty overzealous patriot type answers the phone, he's going to tell you to give the kid the boot then show up at your next meeting to make sure the kid is not there.

            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              See 5 doctors and you will get 5 different diagnosis. Same with Councils.

              That why in a situation like this I would want a ruling from an executive so there is less chance for a surprise down the road.

            • moosetracker
              moosetracker commented
              Editing a comment
              I would take it to my DE.. His bonus depends on getting boys into scouting, so he shouldn't be the crusty old badger wanting to give the kid the boot.. But, he may need to ask someone more experienced.. But he/she is a little bit better then just asking the kindly lady secretary who answers the phones.

              Still I think NJCubScouter is correct.. After all we have no one here how "KNOWS" what the right answer is, every answer was a best guess.. So seems our answers were no better then him asking other in his troop, or his wife or next door neighbor.

              When I looked it up I saw something that they could be kicked out of their church for saying the Pledge.. Given that, I would definitely not want to handle it incorrectly and be responsible for the family being excommunicated..

          • #9
            I'd be interested to hear their take on the Oath and law as well. I don't know much about the JWs but always thought taking a pledge or swearing an oath of any sort was problematic.

            Comment


            • NJCubScouter
              NJCubScouter commented
              Editing a comment
              I think there are some groups that prohibit an "oath" but are ok with a "promise", and that is what I have always understood to be the reason why we have the "Scout Oath OR Promise". Maybe I am thinking of the Quakers? I am not sure where the Jehovah's Witnesses stands with that. If a "pledge" is prohibited, the "Oath or Promise" probably still doesn't work since it is a "pledge" regardless of whether you call it a "promise" or anything else. And then there are some groups that prohibit the wearing of the flag, and I believe the official BSA policy is (or at least was) that if religious obligations prohibit you from wearing the flag on the uniform, it is ok to take it off. I think there was even a short period of time when the uniforms came without the flag, and you had to sew it on.

          • #10
            Once you iron out that mess have his parents teach the finer points of selling popcorn door to door

            Comment


          • #11
            They do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or other holidays and customs they consider to have pagan origins incompatible with Christianity. They consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the influence of Satan, and most limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses.The religion's position regarding conscientious objection to military service and refusal to salute national flags has brought it into conflict with some governments.They do not celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, nor do they observe birthdays, nationalistic holidays, or other celebrations they consider to honor people other than Jesus. They feel that these and many other customs have pagan origins or reflect a nationalistic or political spirit. Their position is that these traditional holidays reflect Satan's control over the world.

            There goes there participation in the Christmas Parade, The Veteran's Day Parade, The Independence Day Parade, They will be the Only Scout Not Saluting the Flag. How can they attend a Court of Honor, after all it is a celebration to honor people besides JESUS. And Lord Forbid Boy Scouts of America's NATIONALISTIC SPIRIT

            Can't Follow the Rules get out

            Comment


            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              Back in college late one night during exams week I was driving home in 10 below breezy weather. I had rotated my tires and not snugged them down tight enough and the lug nuts fell off and the tire slipped off lodging itself in the wheel well. The car was sitting to low to get the jack underneath.

              Two young men stopped and lifted my car up enough for me to get the jack under it. They were Jehovah Witnesses.

              The list of stuff they can't do is really long and scouts is one of them. I suspect this family is not very observant. Make sure they understand what scouts do and what is expected of a scout. Maybe there are less strict congregations. It seems most denominations come in many different flavors.

            • Merlyn_LeRoy
              Merlyn_LeRoy commented
              Editing a comment
              There goes there participation in the Christmas Parade, The Veteran's Day Parade, The Independence Day Parade, They will be the Only Scout Not Saluting the Flag. How can they attend a Court of Honor, after all it is a celebration to honor people besides JESUS. And Lord Forbid Boy Scouts of America's NATIONALISTIC SPIRIT

              Which of these are actual requirements for membership, as opposed to things you think ought to be imposed?

              Can't Follow the Rules get out

              That includes not making up new, non-existent rules.

          • #12
            While OP is off checking with pros, I propose a challenge/question: Can someone show me where, in the 2013 Requirements, or the 2013 Guide to Advancement that a Scout must perform the Joining Requirements (Scout Badge) in order to earn any rank? I've read and don't see it. In the spirit of "no more no less", does it really need to be earned?

            Comment


            • koolaidman
              koolaidman commented
              Editing a comment
              Not speaking of Cubs here. I'm talking about Boy Scouts. Some may drop their jaws when I say this, but I propose, one can earn Tenderfoot without going through the requirements of "earning" the scout badge award. It would make the JW issue a moot point.

            • moosetracker
              moosetracker commented
              Editing a comment
              Perhaps if the scout is joining for the activities and camaraderie he is not interested in rank advancement at all.. In which case, doesn't matter if he got scout rank or any of the other ranks.. He can still be a member.

            • dcsimmons
              dcsimmons commented
              Editing a comment
              The scout rank are the joining requirements. they are the pre-req for all ranks because you have to complete them to join.

          • #13
            Merlyn_LeRoy commented
            Yesterday, 04:53 PM

            Which of these are actual requirements for membership, as opposed to things you think ought to be imposed?
            Okay how would you explain how little Johnny Jahova Doesn't have to salute the Flag and say the Pledge, He never attends Court of Honors, He Doesn't attend any Events and Above all does not Have to say the Oath and Law because It is against his Religion but he is a Scout. Would you kick out the Other Scouts who did the same thing who were Not JW who followed his examples

            Initial Boy Scout Requirements a JW can not Adhere to
            1. Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.
            2. Understand and agree to live by the Scout Oath or Promise, Scout Law, motto, and slogan, and the Outdoor Code
            #2 is the Most Difficult because He can not promise to Live By the BSA Rules

            Last edited by jpstodwftexas; 09-28-2013, 02:58 AM.

            Comment


            • Merlyn_LeRoy
              Merlyn_LeRoy commented
              Editing a comment
              Okay how would you explain how little Johnny Jahova Doesn't have to salute the Flag and say the Pledge,

              Is it an absolute requirement to do either to remain a member? I explained the pledge earlier.
              If neither is an absolute requirement, I'd tell little Johnny Jahova that neither is a requirement.

              By the way, you seem to have not answered my earlier question:
              Which of these are actual requirements for membership, as opposed to things you think ought to be imposed?

              Instead, you're tossing up red herrings, which suggests to me that none of your examples are actual requirements to remain a member.

              He never attends Court of Honors, He Doesn't attend any Events and Above all does not Have to say the Oath and Law because It is against his Religion but he is a Scout.

              When is saying the promise/oath (I'll assume he is young enough to take the cub scout promise instead of the oath) and law an absolute requirement to remain a member?
              Are you adding requirements that are not actual requirements? I don't think you're allowed to do that.

              Also, your wacky capitalization doesn't make your arguments look rational.

              Would you kick out the Other Scouts who did the same thing who were Not JW who followed his examples

              No. You seem to be making up requirements to remain a member.

              Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.

              I already addressed that; he can state what it is without taking the pledge.

              Understand and agree to live by the Scout Oath or Promise, Scout Law, motto, and slogan, and the Outdoor Code

              Specifically, what can't a JW do? Assume he takes the promise and not the oath.
              Last edited by Merlyn_LeRoy; 09-28-2013, 12:16 PM.

            • moosetracker
              moosetracker commented
              Editing a comment
              "Okay how would you explain how little Johnny Jahova Doesn't have to salute the Flag and say the Pledge, He never attends Court of Honors, He Doesn't attend any Events and Above all does not Have to say the Oath and Law because It is against his Religion but he is a Scout. Would you kick out the Other Scouts who did the same thing who were Not JW who followed his examples"

              You answered it yourself.. "Because it is against his religious views".. A scout is respectful of everyone's religious views.. If others stop doing things to follow his example, they would need to have similar religious views.

              It will be interesting if he could ever advance in rank.. I tend to doubt it.. But, there is nothing preventing him from joining and being a member and partaking in what he can do..

          • #14
            Reporting in: DE response was "Hmmm.... that's a tricky one. Let me check and I'll get back to you." Still waiting...

            In other news, he joined us for our hike this weekend and had a great time -- fit in with the boys immediately.
            Last edited by dfscott; 09-29-2013, 12:23 AM. Reason: Typo

            Comment


            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              My council folks are pretty good about making the phone calls. They might be able to put you in touch with someone in your district who has had the same situation, and you can compare notes. If you don't hear back in a couple of days, make another call. This time point out how much fun the kid was having!

              Still, my knots are on working with the scout and his parents.

          • #15
            Developing citizenship is one of BSA's objectives. But US Citizenship isn't required for youth or adult members (www.scouting.org). There is no mention of a requirement for non-US citizens to be citizens of some other country or to be loyal to that country if they are. What do we suppose is the pledge requirement for non-US citizens? And if their country has no analogous pledge? Or if they are not loyal to their country of citizenship or are not legally citizens of any country?

            Would a non-citizen pledge exemption apply based on religion? Not everyone thinks of religion and citizenship as two very distinct categories. This isn't just a JW issue. The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America made an extensively researched ruling into the matter, concluding that there is irreconcilable conflict between the Islamic testament of faith and the pledge of allegiance to the USA. And yet some Muslims recite the pledge and insist their religion does not forbid it, encourages it even. Plenty of people do plenty of things that someone else knows or believes is against the rules of their religion.

            Some religion has doctrine allowing believers to (insincerely) take whatever oaths and publicly express whatever beliefs are necessary for them to get along and gain advantageous position in the social environment in which they find themselves. This helps put a more easily accepted face on their religion while they spread it to places where it does not currently dominate. One would have to consult JW's religious texts for insight as to whether or not JW has such a doctrine.

            If he'll follow BSA and CO rules, why not let him join? IF BSA or CO rules require the pledge, tell him and his parents. Whether or not the pledge or joining BSA conflicts with their beliefs is for them to decide. We're not obliged to help authorities of the boy's professed religion enforce his family's conformity to that religion's rules.

            Even if the religion forbids joining Boy Scouts at all, the boy and his parents may not know or care. They may prefer to follow their own conscience on this matter. They may even want to leave the religion but be hesitant to do it. Joining associations that don't require them to pretend to believe what they don't actually believe might help them leave a community that does.

            Many people profess a religion but act and believe contrary to it, sometimes carelessly, sometimes with rationalizations and different "interpretation." People are taught that their religion is good, true, and integral to their identity. Leaving it could cause alienation from community or family. So if a religion's requirements are inconvenient or even objectionable to the conscience, rather than openly leaving it, people may rationalize or claim to "interpret" their religion differently.

            When we believe a religion to be particularly demanding, we often refer to such followers as "moderates" and to those who do take the religion more seriously as "extremists," "fundamentalists," or "radicals." If the teachings of their religion are good, one might suppose the extremists are extremely good, the fundamentalists fundamentally good, and the radicals radically good (whereas the moderates are just moderately good).

            This issue is less clear than "For your son to join a Boy Scout troop, he must complete the exercises included in Section II of this pamphlet." Still, what if a family of Abecedarians told us, regarding that requirement, that their religion forbade them from turning to such a manmade source for knowledge?

            Comment

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