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  • #76
    Since my opinion was asked...

    What does it mean to me? In a nation with no state religion and no crown, we all come together to serve our one nation together while serving our understanding of God. We can be at a Camporee, and Friday night, the lone Jewish Scout in a nearby Troop/Pack comes over when he hears Kiddush and Hamotzi at our camp site. It means to me that we can do a service project and raise food for the Kosher Food Bank, the group down the street can raise rood for the local Church Food Bank, and we all call it Scouting for Food. The inclusion of reverence is HUGELY important to me and the program we're running.

    If you are interested in a real discussion of Jewish law and how it would pertain, call your nearest Modern Orthodox affiliated synagogue and the Rabbi there should point you in the right direction regarding an open-minded by halachically valid ruling...

    We recently participated in a Memorial Day Service with the BSA. Before we went in, I spoke to my Scouts and told them, if they ask you to remove your hats, if you have a Kippa on under the hat, remove you hat, otherwise, keep your head covered. Christians remove their hats out of respect for their God, we cover ours out of respect for our God. If we are double covered, nothing stops us from uncovering out of respect for what is going on.

    When they bow their heads, we stand at attention, we do so respectfully and quietly.

    I don't feel qualified to give an opinion on saying Amen at the end. Whenever a prayer is offered to God, whether by Jew or Gentile, it is appropriate to say amen. However, if a prayer is offered in Jesus's name, it's shaky grounds of what Christians call blasphemy (and Jews group under Avodah Zara, the worship of the stars or foreign gods).

    Their was an invocation, a keynote speaker (who was very devout and spoke of inspiration from scripture), and a benediction. We were proud to participate, but it was VERY Christian... and I'm 99% certain that the people thought that they were being non-sectarian (talking about Our Father, and God, and no explicit bowing of heads), but it was a VERY Christian prayer, while they didn't realize it.

    I'm not sure how I'd handle it in a diverse unit. Our Unit ranges in Jewish theology (about 1/3 are affiliated Orthodox, the others are unaffiliated or affiliated Reform/Conservative), yet we are all able to participate together in these functions. I got into an argument with the head of our Jewish Committee because he didn't want boys in his unit offering prayers to Jesus, the pastor said that they could, and I took the Pastor's side. The Troop is part of the Church, how can you prohibit Christian prayers?

    We stand at attention respectfully and silently during the Christian prayers, that are clearly non-denominational Protestant prayers, but certainly sectarian, because their is no such thing as a non-sectarian prayer. If the prayer isn't sectarian, it isn't much of a prayer.

    The God of Israel most certainly has a name. When the temple stood, it was uttered in the holy of holies. The Roman persecution wiped out the families responsible for keeping the name known for the third temple era. In common non-prayer speech, Orthodox Jews say Hashem (which translates into The Name), and non-Orthodox Jews normally say God/Lord.

    Comment


    • #77
      jblake47,

      Technically under Jewish law, the Scout that doesn't realize that a strawberry grows on the ground and instead offers the prayer for the fruit of the tree has taken the Lords name in vain offering the wrong blessing. Implying control of the divine wrath is simply silly. Although, in a mixed-faith setting, such a violation could constitute a Chillul Hashem, literally translated as "descretion of the Name" but a catch all when a Jew acts badly and therefore reflects badly upon the Jewish people and therefore the God of Israel.

      Comment


      • #78
        Originally posted by AZMIKE
        Over a tenth of the people who self-identify as atheists even say they believe in God and an afterlife. That's screwy, I know, but there it is. There is a natural human pull towards religion.

        MERLYN: I'd say there's a natural human pull to not know what words mean.
        Under the terms of service for this thread, I have to avoid insulting other groups, and am obliged to say that I can't agree with your contention that over a tenth of people who identify as atheists are ignorant of basic English vocabulary.

        AZMIKE: Someone could, I guess, say they were an atheist, but that they still believe in God (again, about a tenth of atheists do).

        MERLYN: I have never seen an actual cite for that; what I HAVE seen are surveys that either don't use just the word "god" (Pew used "god or a universal spirit", which is NOT the same as just asking if a person believes in "god"), or even worse, a survey that assumes lack of religion = atheism.
        Happy to give you the cite, Merlyn. You may have been looking at a different Pew survey than this one, which breaks down the religious and non-religious categories quite well, and doesn't conflate the two concepts as the survey you are referencing did: http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/re...study-full.pdf. The survey was based on about 35,000 American adults

        It's useful reading for the broader purposes of this thread, as it illustrates the broad range of opinion within specific denominations: The lack of dogmatism in American religion may well reflect the great diversity of religious affiliation, beliefs and practices in the U.S. For example, while more than nine-in-ten Americans (92%) believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, there is considerable variation in the nature and certainty of this belief. Six-in-ten adults believe that God is a person with whom people can have a relationship; but one-in-four – including about half of Jews and Hindus – see God as an impersonal force. And while roughly seven-in-ten Americans say they are absolutely certain of God’s existence, more than one-in-five (22%) are less certain in their belief.


        This is interesting, in light of what we have been discussing. I was incorrect when I said about 10% of Atheists believe in God. It's actually about twice that, or 1/5 of all atheists. Wow.

        It could be that, as Merlyn suggests, those are just people who don't know what "atheist" means and aren't "real" atheists. But that brings up a bigger question: are the ranks of atheists that show up in general surveys, such as Gallup, overinflated because a fifth of self-identified atheists are terminally confused? There are apparently a lot fewer "real" atheists out there than the surveys show.

        Anyway, on the "Conception of God":

        Among Americans in total, 92% believe in God; of that net figure, 60% believe in a personal God, 25% in an impersonal force, 7% believe in some other conception of God or don't know.

        Among Jews in total, 83% believe in God; of that net figure, 25% believe in a personal God, 50% in an impersonal force, 8% believe in some other conception of God or don't know.

        Among Buddhists in total, 75% believe in God; of that net figure, 20% believe in a personal God, 45% in an impersonal force, 10% believe in some other conception of God or don't know. Given all the talk on here, I was frankly surprised to see the stats as high as they are.

        Pew broke down "Religious Unaffiliated" into Atheist, Agnostic, Secular Unaffiliated, and Religious Unaffiliated, which seems a reasonable breakdown to me, Merlyn.


        Among Atheists, 21% believe in God (!!!!); of that net figure, 6% believe in a personal God (Double !!!!!!!), 12% in an impersonal force, 13% believe in some other conception of God or don't know.

        Among Agnostics in total, 55% believe in God; (What th- ?) of that net figure, 14% believe in a personal God, 36% in an impersonal force, 5% believe in some other conception of God or don't know. Actually, that final 5%, or a fraction of it, are apparently the only "real" agnostics in the poll, as everyone else seems to have a pretty firm opinion.

        Among the Secular Unaffiliated in total, 66% believe in God; of that net figure, 20% believe in a personal God, 40% in an impersonal force, 7% believe in some other conception of God or don't know.

        Among the Religious Unaffiliated in total, 94% believe in God; of that net figure, 49% believe in a personal God, 35% in an impersonal force, 9% believe in some other conception of God or don't know. It's interesting that among the group that apparently don't belong to an organized religion, there is a higher belief in God

        Of the 21% of atheists who believe in God ("or a Universal Spirit," so this may have been the figure Merlyn was thinking of), 8% are absolutely certain there is a God, 13% are less certain.

        12% of atheists believe in Heaven, but only 10% believe in Hell. I'm not sure what to make of that. 36% of Buddhists believe in Heaven, and 26% in Hell. I'm not sure what to make of that, either. In every group, more people believe in Heaven than Hell. So perhaps we are a nation of optimists.

        It could be that there are a lot of people who are very unsure of what they believe, and describe themselves as "Buddhist" because they feel it shows non-judgmentalism or something. (I've had young people who describe themselves as Buddhists describe some very non-Buddhist beliefs to me.) They may have no conception of what Buddhism actually entails. There is also a very broad range of belief within Buddhism. I still have no idea why so many self-identified atheists gave the responses they did. Maybe they are close readers of Blaise Pascal.

        It's a very in-depth survey, and contains some real surprises whatever your beliefs or lack of same. I'd recommend it to everyone on this thread.
        Last edited by AZMike; 05-27-2014, 06:57 PM.

        Comment


        • #79
          Under the terms of service for this thread, I have to avoid insulting other groups, and am obliged to say that I can't agree with your contention that over a tenth of people who identify as atheists are ignorant of basic English vocabulary.

          If they actually call themselves atheists yet believe one or more gods exist, then they simply do not know what words mean. However, I've pointed out other problems with such surveys so this isn't necessarily what's going on.

          Happy to give you the cite, Merlyn. You may have been looking at a different Pew survey than this one,

          Nope, it says exactly what I mentioned -- here's a direct quote from your link: Indeed, one-in-five people who identify themselves as atheist (21%) and a majority of those who identify themselves as agnostic (55%) express a belief in God or a universal spirit.



          I was incorrect when I said about 10% of Atheists believe in God. It's actually about twice that, or 1/5 of all atheists. Wow.

          No, you can't change the response from "
          belief in God or a universal spirit" to "belief in God". That isn't what it says.

          It could be that there are a lot of people who are very unsure of what they believe,

          Or what words mean. Or a combination. Or other factors, like being asked about "
          God or a universal spirit" instead of just "god".

          Comment


          • #80
            And if you like dueling Pew survey citing, this shows that out of the 5% of respondents who said they do NOT believe in "god or a universal spirit", 14% of them said they were some flavor of Christian:

            http://www.pewforum.org/2009/04/02/n...lves-atheists/

            And if you think it's unlikely that 10% wouldn't know the definitions of words, how about 26% of Americans not knowing that the earth goes around the sun?

            http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...th-survey-says
            Last edited by Merlyn_LeRoy; 05-27-2014, 07:30 PM.

            Comment


            • #81
              Originally posted by Merlyn_LeRoy View Post
              Under the terms of service for this thread, I have to avoid insulting other groups, and am obliged to say that I can't agree with your contention that over a tenth of people who identify as atheists are ignorant of basic English vocabulary.

              If they actually call themselves atheists yet believe one or more gods exist, then they simply do not know what words mean. However, I've pointed out other problems with such surveys so this isn't necessarily what's going on.

              Happy to give you the cite, Merlyn. You may have been looking at a different Pew survey than this one,

              Nope, it says exactly what I mentioned -- here's a direct quote from your link: Indeed, one-in-five people who identify themselves as atheist (21%) and a majority of those who identify themselves as agnostic (55%) express a belief in God or a universal spirit.
              See below.


              I was incorrect when I said about 10% of Atheists believe in God. It's actually about twice that, or 1/5 of all atheists. Wow.

              No, you can't change the response from "
              belief in God or a universal spirit" to "belief in God". That isn't what it says.
              See page 5. It breaks the respondents down by those who believe in God and those who beleive in an impersonal force. Words have meanings, as you have pointed out, Merlyn.



              It could be that there are a lot of people who are very unsure of what they believe,

              Or what words mean. Or a combination. Or other factors, like being asked about "
              God or a universal spirit" instead of just "god".
              [/QUOTE]

              It breaks down belief exactly as I said, Merlyn: 21% of atheists said they believed in God. That is further broken down into the 6% of atheists who believe in a "personal God," the 12% of atheists who believe in an "impersonal force," and the remaining undecided. So, 6% of atheists believe in a Sky Daddy (to use the usual term of abuse), the others in the survey are apparently deists.

              That's not unusual. Several prominent atheists have moved over into the deist camp.

              Comment


              • #82
                Originally posted by Merlyn_LeRoy View Post
                And if you like dueling Pew survey citing, this shows that out of the 5% of respondents who said they do NOT believe in "god or a universal spirit", 14% of them said they were some flavor of Christian:

                http://www.pewforum.org/2009/04/02/n...lves-atheists/

                And if you think it's unlikely that 10% wouldn't know the definitions of words, how about 26% of Americans not knowing that the earth goes around the sun?

                http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...th-survey-says
                How is that relevant?

                The level of pseudo-scientific knowledge is high in both the religious and secular camps, and in both the liberal and conservative groupings of Americans

                Comment


                • #83
                  You know I'm just not sure what violation is going on but I get the feeling that the spirit of this thread is not being served just now. Perhaps MattR could assist?

                  Comment


                  • #84
                    I quote myself:

                    1) There will be no mention of anything political or legal, including anything from national. Nothing about Dale or the Constitution. Nothing about polls. Nothing about anything the BSA has written about religion or the meaning of Reverent. No nuanced legalese meanings of some phrase buried in some declaration of religious principles.

                    I made this rule up based on a long history of arguments on this forum. Merlyn, AZMike, please start a new thread.

                    For everyone else, PackSaddle asked for feedback in a previous post. I'm curious what you think.

                    Pack18Alex, it sounds like you're doing what I've done for many years, be polite and wait it out. Which implies, along with most of the rest of the opinions here, drop the invocation. There are a lot of good words of wisdom out there I could use in my troop.
                    Last edited by MattR; 05-27-2014, 08:49 PM. Reason: race condition with Pack's comment

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      "Pack18Alex, it sounds like you're doing what I've done for many years, be polite and wait it out. Which implies, along with most of the rest of the opinions here, drop the invocation. There are a lot of good words of wisdom out there I could use in my troop."

                      MattR, you are interpreting my words VERY differently than intended. I am not "waiting it out" -- if I were to wait it out, I'd leave the room, turn around with my back towards it, etc. I am standing At Attention, and my Pack is standing At Attention, an intentional level of respect.

                      We are standing there, respectfully, but not actively participating (because Jewish Law prohibits it, not because we don't respect what they are doing). I don't consider the Reverence component of BSA minor or insignificant, I think that it's VERY significant, and VERY important.

                      And the way we, as Jews, participate in an "interfaith" or "non-sectarian" or what have you Christian prayer is that we stand, respectfully, while they offer praises to the Almighty.

                      I'm comfortable enough in my religion, and I have tremendous respect for others that are comfortable in theirs. A friend who was there with his scout child and I were talking, we found it VERY inspiring when the Keynote speaker talked about getting through his son's deployment by reading Psalms (Tehillim in Hebrew, FYI). We saw a new insight into our faith and the works of our bible by seeing how others gained inspiration from it.

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        Fair enough, I didn't see or remember the ban on citing polls in the OP. My apologies.

                        To get back to the OP, "So, the subject is: How do I have an invocation at a troop meeting that isn't painfully generic on the one hand and completely exclusionary of minorities on the other? This is compounded by the fact that the prayers I do see at scouting events, even those that are “non denominational,” tend to be completely foreign to me. That's because they are usually ad-hoc and I can't join in. Is there a Philmont Grace style of prayers? Dcsimmons suggested taking turns doing it right among the different faiths. Has anyone gotten that to work?

                        Just spitballin' here, but is a formal invocation the best time to for a scout to explore his own faith tradition, and to help him find the tools to hold other people's faiths as valuable and worthy of respect? (Which I say is the end goal of this aspect of Scouting.)

                        Some of the best advice I received as a new father was to try to engage my son on sensitive issues while performing a neutral activity - while doing yard work together, or whittling together, or hiking. Some therapists follow the "peripatetic" model, of doing counseling while walking at a brisk pace with their client. A lot of us has found this works. Rather than using the convocation, perhaps it would be helpful to explore those two issues at other, less formal times. If you can catch a boy at the right time, they love to talk, and they like to share their opinion and usually appreciate the chance to talk about things that are important to them, if they can do it in an environment where they know their opinions will be taken seriously. Campfires seem to be a good time to do this.

                        For instance, our troop has done service and Eagle projects that have benefitted a wide variety of faith groups - our CO, a storefront nondenominational ministry in an economically depressed area, a religious mission that helps detained illegal immigrants' kids, and others. Rather than focusing too much on which prayers we use, perhaps while having pizza after the event, or sitting around the campfire in a quiet moment at the monthly campout after the project, or driving home from a campout. we could lead them into reflecting on what they learned from working for a different religious group:
                        • "You met Pastor Tim and his wife Sarah, who is also a pastor, when we built that play area in the backyard of their mission for the neighborhood kids that met there. The parish where we meet has a religious tradition where the priests remain celibate, but some deacons can be married. What do you think would be the hardest part of running a ministry with your wife as a pastoral partner? What would be the hardest part of not being able to marry? Do you think there would be some advantages in being married, or not being married as a pastor? What do you think the problems a woman who is married to a pastor would face? How about the children of a pastor? (if you have scouts who are the sons of a religious leader, ask them to talk about the parts that are good and the parts that can be difficult.)
                        • "We put in a lot of work on renovating the kitchen and dining area for the mission. Their goal is to help kids who aren't in the country legally and are separated from their parents. Most religions put emphasis on helping those who need it most as part of their faith. I'd be interested in hearing from all of you, and this might even help some of you in selecting an Eagle project. Who do you think are the people most in need of help in today's world? If you could pick any group of people to help, who would pick? What kind of project would you pick to try to help them? What would be the biggest hurdles you would face in carrying that out? How would that project help you to live out the mandate of your own particular faith?"
                        St. Francis of Assisi said we should preach all the time, using words only when necessary. Scouts do an enormous amount of good in their community, which is a way of living out their faith in a small-community setting. that not every boy gets to experience. Using the lessons learned and the experiences they witness as a way to explore religious and moral values in a supportive way may be one of the best venues to explore faith in a way that doesn't focus on (potentially divisive) doctrinal issues, but focus on shared religious values.

                        What do you think?

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          Originally posted by fred johnson View Post
                          Merlyn quoting the Bible? Glad that I'm not near him as he'll probably be hit by a bolt of lightening.
                          Actually, smiting an individual with lighting in oddly absent from the Bible.

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            NASA has a nice map of worldwide frequencies of lightning. As one might predict, the places that get the most rain come out on top. Plus, of course, our Midwest (must be a lot of atheists quoting the Bible out there).
                            http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/...se_storms.html

                            I think Fred was injecting a little levity, at least that's the way I read it.

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              AZMike, I used those 'neutral' times for other sensitive topics as well. But once I planted the seed, I just had to sit back and let the questions flow, lol. As for preaching, I think most of us want to tell someone what we think. We sometimes have difficulty listening.

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. So I ran up to him and said, "Don't do it!" He said, "My life has no meaning." I said, "You must have something to live for. Are you religious?"

                                He said, "Yes." I said, "So I am I! Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "So I am I! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "So I am I! Which denomination?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "So I am I! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "So I am I! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

                                He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "So I am I! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "So I am I!"

                                Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I yelled, "Die, heretic!" and I shoved him over.

                                = from Jeff Holder = http://www.i-am.org/members/index.php/154-style

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