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  • Troops Attending Church on Campouts

    Our Troop is chartered to a Catholic parish church, and we identify as that church's Scout Troop. By tradition, and on direction from the COR and parents association board, our Troop always attends Catholic Mass together while on campouts. We pretty much insist that all the Scouts attend together, treating it like any other part of the program. We make it clear to parents of Webelos crossing over, and new Scouts joining the Troop, that this is our policy. Even so, occasionally a new leader will balk and sit in the parking lot during Mass or take his son back to the campsite while the rest of us go. Most of the leaders and about half of the Scouts are Catholic. The other half of the Scouts are pretty evenly split between other Christian denominations or do not identify with any denomination at all. Is there any BSA policy on Troops attending church services together when they are sponsored by a religious institution?

  • #2
    COR's can dictate membership requirements and make that clear up front before any scout joins. With that, mandating religion is a slippery slope that your COR is playing loose and free with. Instead of working to INCLUDE people and helping them feel welcomed, just the opposite might be happening. The Ecumenical Movement of the '60's brought to light by Pope John, might not haven gotten much footing in your COR's parish. It's unfortunate, because I don't see what's happening in your troop as happening in other Catholic COR's. If your troop is the only show in town, it's one thing to issue mandates, but if not, one may lose a few of the good scouts out there that either quit because their non-Catholics buddies go somewhere else.

    If I were an ASM of that troop, I hope one would not hold it against me if I either opted out of the service, and/or slept through the one I was forced to go to.

    I guess I just don't see many Catholic COR's expecting all their scouts to attend a mass instead of a service of their choice. I wouldn't expect Catholic scouters to go with them unless they wished to, either. Evangelism is an invite, not a mandate. Feel free to ignore my advise, I'm probably going to hell anyway.

    Welcome to the Forum! I hope your thread gets some good discussion.

    Stosh

    Comment


    • #3
      What is the purpose of this policy ?

      Comment


      • Basementdweller
        Basementdweller commented
        Editing a comment
        They are a Troop that is Chartered to a Catholic church.....The CO tells them they are to do it and make it a part of the program, then you do it or leave based on personal objections.

        There is nothing Evil, illegal or unethical about requiring it.

    • #4
      As a Catholic, our Mass's have special significance to us. It is the point where we get redemption from our sins and partake in the grace of Jesus Christ. Why would you want to force outsiders to attend ? Most of them will look on that in a disfavorable way and may cause them to leave your unit. Invite them to attend, and leave it at that. I agree with Jblake on his points.



      I'm not aware of any BSA documents that point to anything of this nature. There could be.



      "Go in peace, and glorify the Lord with your life."

      Sentinel947

      Comment


      • #5
        Well, this will get me in trouble but here goes. If your COR has this policy, and you are informing new members of it directly and in advance of joining, then shame on the new leaders who refuse to attend mass. If they are going to balk at the requirement then the honorable thing for them to do would be to find a different unit to join even if that meant driving to a different town. .

        What would the alternative be for your troop if you didn't mandate attendance? Would your unit leave camp on Saturday night so that the Catholic scouts could attend services in the home parish?

        BSA membership shouldn't be a driving force of your unit or COR core values. You will and have undoubtedly lost scouts to the policy. So what. The issue for your unit to decide is if mass attendance is a core value. If it is, then keep doing what you are doing. I suspect the folks that balk don't stay in the unit long anyway.

        Comment


        • jblake47
          jblake47 commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree that those that join knowing the expectations, honor the commitment.

          Stosh

      • #6
        From the GTA,
        Section 1. Freedom, clause 3.
        In no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denominations or faith be required, because of their membership in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly unique to that organization or church.

        http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf

        Comment


        • howarthe
          howarthe commented
          Editing a comment
          What does GTA stand for?

        • ADCinNC
          ADCinNC commented
          Editing a comment

        • Khaliela
          Khaliela commented
          Editing a comment
          KDD: the problem is the whole 'nonsectarian' thing. I'm from a liberal troop and even we have trouble following this.

          When someone prays everyone is expected to sit though it; we don't say "Now everyone who doesn't want to hear Jonny pray, please leave the room" before proceeding. Either we should accept all the sects or not have a religious component at all.

          To earn a Venturing Bronze award you have to learn about religions other than your own; perhaps it's time Boy Scouts did the same. (Granted I can already hear the Christians screaming "persecution!" I've never understood why it's OK for them to require the rest of us to attend their religious services, but's its persecution if we expect them to reciprocate.)

      • #7
        In an ideal world, we would always be back on Sunday morning in time for everyone to attend their own church, or no church. But that cannot always happen.

        For our Scouts that do not belong to any church, the thought has always been it is good exposure at least one Sunday (or Saturday evening) a month.

        For those Scouts that do belong to another denomination, I wish their churches had 1-hour services at 5:00pm Saturday, and 8 / 9:30 / 11 am on Sunday, and we had enough leaders to get them all to their different churches. But neither is the case. And on many occasions we would not have 2-deep leadership for any non-Catholic Scouts who would stay back in camp. So we all go to Mass together.

        Comment


        • King Ding Dong
          King Ding Dong commented
          Editing a comment
          I attended Catholic schools, and although it has been a long time, I recall a discussion with the parish priest regarding mass and who was authorized to conduct it. IIRC it did not require an extreme circumstance for a group of lay members to get together and conduct a worship service. In fact he seemed to encourage it. I don't know all the rules, maybe he was a rouge priest.

          How do you handle backpacking trips ?

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          Where we go backpacking there is a ridge, generally the birds wake us right at first light........We hike up to the ridge and watch the Sun come up.....

          that is more spiritual than any church

        • Khaliela
          Khaliela commented
          Editing a comment
          KDD: When I was with the Catholic Troop arrangements were made for a local parish to send a Priest or his designee out to where we were camping so the boys could take the sacrament of communion. You wouldn't believe how many priest were happy to tell their parishioners that they just wouldn't be around Sunday afternoon because they had to head to the hills to give communion to a bunch of Boy Scouts.

      • #8
        Originally posted by SMWally View Post

        For our Scouts that do not belong to any church, the thought has always been it is good exposure at least one Sunday (or Saturday evening) a month.

        .
        I find that terribly disrespectful. I too was a member of a Catholic Troop that had the very same requirements; my boys and I are no longer members of that unit. We joined a Methodist Troop that respects our religious differences. There isn't anyone on the planet who hasn't heard the "good news," this means that if someone isn't Christian (or Catholic) it's because they choose not be.

        Our current SM is Catholic; he also left the Catholic Troop because he didn't like the policy of forcing religion on to others (He had this crazy idea that people were given free will for the purpose of allowing them to exercise it and that included freedom to choose a religious preface.) Bottom line: You may end up running off your catholic membership as well as your non-Catholic membership.

        Comment


        • qwazse
          qwazse commented
          Editing a comment
          K. I've found a few "unreached" on the planet. Some of them in the pew next to me!

          Be that as it may, I find coerced invitations counter to the spirit of the gospel. I had a Jewish friend take this issue up with his Catholic CO. They asked him to just drive the boys to mass, and he and any boys who didn't want to attend could wait outside or run errands and come back.

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          k...you have a big chip on your shoulder about religion.......

          The truth is that the catholic SM found the policy a big pain in the ass. So Saturday night or sunday morning you need to find a church, get all of the boys who had been camping clean or reasonably presentable, load them up and haul them to church......It punches a 2 hour whole in the program.

          I don't like it and would never tolerate it......But the truth is they can require the troop to go to mass....

          The thing to remember is membership in a particular troop is completely voluntary.

        • Khaliela
          Khaliela commented
          Editing a comment
          Qwazse: Having heard the good news, and actually taking the time to process it are different. LOL!

          I, too, find coerced invitations counter productive. I've attended many a Mass, Church service, and Meeting with the Mormons, when invited. I view them as cultural experiences. However, when told I MUST attend, I just flat out refuse. It's a, "you'll catch more flies with honey" thing I guess . . .

      • #9
        First of all, the original poster asked if there was such a policy on this topic. He was not asking anyones opinion on the subject. Now, ADCin NC answered the question. It seems very clear cut to me that what the leaders of this unit are doing is in violation of the Charter and Byaws of Article IX.
        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.

        Section 1. Activities, clause 2. The activities of the members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be carried on under conditions which show respect to the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion, as required by the twelfth point of the Scout Law, reading, “Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”

        Section 1. Freedom, clause 3. In no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denominations or faith be required, because of their membership in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly unique to that organization or church.

        Section 1. Leaders, clause 4. Only persons willing to subscribe to these declarations of principles shall be entitled to certificates of leadership in carrying out the Scouting program.

        Comment


        • #10
          "And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth".

          Then he made the earth round... and he laughed and laughed and laughed!

          Comment


          • #11
            Article IX seems to even forbid grace before meals. Doesn't leave much room for "a Scout is reverent".

            Comment


            • st0ut717
              st0ut717 commented
              Editing a comment
              I am not christian. That doesn't mean I am not reverent. you confuse your traditions with reverence.

          • #12
            Originally posted by SMWally View Post
            Article IX seems to even forbid grace before meals. Doesn't leave much room for "a Scout is reverent".
            How do you figure that...

            Seems Every Graze before my Scouting meals always and still do start with " Will you please join us in a Prayer" or "Please join us in the Philmont Grace" I have never been forced to join a prayer.

            If I felt a Prayer was inappropriate or overly wind bagged I stood by Reverently until it was finished. BSA is Nonsecular..choosing no religion over another. Most Graces are Nondenominational..Otherwise You have to afford everyone of Different religions and Equal opportunity to say a prayer..Personally I don't have time for a Meal to start with a Roman Catholic Prayer, a Southern Baptist Prayer, United Methodist Prayer, Church of England Prayer, A Buddist Prayer, a Muslim Prayers, A Hindu Prayer and Lord who only knows what ever other Religion is present and wait while they all fight over who goes first..I would simply Bow my Head say The Philmont Grace by myself and sit down and Start to eat

            Comment


            • #13
              If the Chaarter is in violation of BSA. You have to follow all scout laws not just reverence. There is also obedience.

              Comment


              • #14
                Obedient? I hate seeing leaders fall back on that one. I'd like to remember that a scout is not submissive. Scouts is not the military and not a dictatorship. Too many leaders confuse obedient and submissive. Too many leaders confuse leadership and dictatorship.

                Sounds like by BSA by-laws, the issue is really the troop should not have accepted non-Catholics as members. If you want to be a faith based youth program (which BSA scouting can be), then you need to only accept scouts and leaders of that faith.

                More specifically, you can't make a deal with the devil where you have an agreement at the start that members of other faiths agree to attend your faith services. Eseentially, if you accept other faiths into your unit, you can't make them agree to attend your services.

                I reality, I'm 100% fine with charter orgs that would run their units as a church youth group. 100% fine with it. That's what later day saints (mormons) do. But, I've never seen a unit chartered by a Catholic church do that. All Catholic units I've known are open to anyone and very accepting of multiple faiths. The funny thing is that while I've seen the church and the units very accepting of members of other faiths, I've seen multiple members be down right rude and disrespectful to the church that charters their own scouting unit.

                Comment


                • st0ut717
                  st0ut717 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  in reguards to the last statement that is also reprehensible.

              • #15
                Later day saints? Some Mormons are very punctual. Latter-day Saints is what you may have meant. Let's eat Grandma!

                Comment


                • qwazse
                  qwazse commented
                  Editing a comment
                  To avoid seeming like cannibals, some also punctuate well. Let's eat, Grandma!
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