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  • Non-religious Scouts

    More than half of the Scouts in my very small, very new troop do not claim any religious beliefs at all, nor agnostic or atheist. Simply nothing. Most of their parents are semi-practicing Taoist/Buddhist. Since the family does hold a belief in deity, what's a good way to address this with the Scouts in upholding their "duty to god" as stated in the Scout Oath? I'm a Christian, and this is the first time I've worked with Scouts that are not, although I do have some knowledge of Taoist beliefs.

  • #2
    Both Taoism and Buddhism emphasize unity with the forces of the Universe. As a Buddhist, I see "God" as the spirit that guides the Universe. It's not hard for most kids to make that connection. Both groups try to avoid defining God. In fact, one of the prime tenets of Taoism is that the Tao that can be described is not really the Tao. Much of it is beyond human definition.

    If Scouts are making an effort to understand the spirit of the Universe, they are (IMHO) doing their "duty to God."

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    • #3
      In my view, the responsibility for upholding that part of the oath is up to the scouts and their family, not me. I tend to let private religious beliefs remain the realm of private family matters...and I don't poke my nose into them.

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      • #4
        I'm with packsaddle, but I apply it to the whole Scout Law. Upholding it is up to the scouts and their family, not me. I tend to let private moral beliefs remain the realm of private family matters. If it doesn't relate to just scouting, it isn't an issue I need to deal with and I don't poke my nose into it. After all, picking out one or two Laws to ignore is rather hypocritical, so I ignore all 12 equally and fairly.

        Stosh

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        • #5
          This is a good question. Are scout leaders to judge if a scout is living the god part of the oath and law in anyway or fashion? We here debate on end whether a scout is judged worthy of Eagle, but we don't dare ask the god question? And even worse, if a scout admits "simply nothing" of god, that's OK? This is the BSA and it is still presently a values program with the vision a making scouts into moral and ethical decision makers. If the choice is to ignore it, fine. But as stosh points out, future opinions from adult scout leaders of the other parts of the oath and law are held with equal or zero integrity.

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          • #6
            And if we DO ask the 'god question' and he responds with 'Flying Spaghetti Monster', you're satisfied?
            The OP says nothing about Eagle.
            If the scout maintains that he does have a sense of reverence toward something in his life then who am I to judge that belief? It's HIS belief, not mine.
            Besides I simply don't equate 'reverent' with, say, 'thrifty', as you guys evidently do. To me, the reason there are 12 points of the law is that they ARE different.

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            • #7
              And if the scout isn't thrifty, ever? Then what, ignore it? What about friendly, courteous and kind? How do you equate those values of life in a scouts everyday living? Your belief has absolutely nothing to do with the question. God is part of scouting and a requirement of being a member. Your personal prejudice against this subject doesn't help volunteers who take scouting seriously and need real help. Barry

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              • #8
                How do you address it with any other group? Are you conversant enough with say Catholocism to judge whether that scout is in compliance with his religion? What about Judaism – would you consider they were upholding their duty to God if they follow Reform rather than Conservative or Hasidic practices? And what about the breadth of Christianity, what’s the standard you use there? Would you say “you should go to Church on Sundays” but the scout’s parents’ say we don’t think that’s what is meant by Sabbath?

                If a scout is not being respectful of others’ faith you could certainly say that means he’s not being Reverent, but what affirmative actions a scout should take to be doing their duty to God seems best left to the scout, their family, and their conscience.

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                • #9
                  Eagledad, Friendly is something I observe and experience, same as courteous and kind...if I'm truly observant and mindful of the scouts in this unit. Besides I think I noted that I think they are NOT equal so your question about how I equate them makes little sense.
                  Religious faith is something that the scout is free to show if he wants but if he doesn't want to, then I do not advocate an examination of his faith by persons who are not part of it. I have no prejudice against scouts having personal faith and personal belief systems. I am opposed to those of you who think they can judge the faiths and belief systems of those scouts and their families.

                  As for 'thrifty'...I can see it now at the EBOR:
                  BOR: "Well now, scout ____________, we can see that you've been active in church and troop and live as an example in every point of the scout oath and law except we don't know about how you demonstrate 'thrifty' in your life. Could you help us out with this?"

                  Scout: "Yes I'd be glad to. See, I have plenty of money from a small business I've started so I basically buy most anything I want. I have no need of 'thrifty', at least not right now. And if I need more money, I'll take the initiative and responsibility to just earn more."

                  BOR: "I'm sorry to inform you that in spite of meeting an exemplary standard in every other aspect of scouting, and since we consider 'thrifty' to be as important as 'trustworthy' and the other points of the law or even having a deeply held faith in a higher power, your failure to live up to what we think is the meaning of 'thrifty' causes us to deny your application until such time as you CAN demonstrate thrift in your life."

                  Yeah, good luck with THAT.

                  Edit: as for new volunteers....OOPS, my bad. 'Heaven forbid' that they be exposed to a variety of views on these subjects. ONLY those which you guys approve should be allowed.
                  Last edited by packsaddle; 03-30-2014, 04:23 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    kjmillig, Just wanted to note that this unit has never had more than a small fraction of the boys from this CO...meaning: we've always had a wonderful mix of all kinds of faith systems represented in the boys: Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, UUA, Catholic, and most of the Protestant flavors. We've even had Sikhs and Jainists. The CO recognizes that if they attempted to impose a rigid standard of faith on the boys, the risk is that the unit would basically vanish. So the CO is available if any of them are curious or decide to explore the faith represented by the CO. In the meantime this mix is a great way to build trust and dialogue between faith communities through scouting's outdoor activities.
                    In your case, it's possible that these boys and their families would readily embrace your faith and you could actively 'bring them into the fold'. Do you really believe that? Or...you could respect the wishes of each family regarding these matters. Your decision.

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                    • #11
                      Very important considerations. Thank you for bringing it up. Much like sexuality, how much of this subject (the Scouts faith in a supreme creator/being/spirit) is appropriate for the Scout Leader to concern themselves with?

                      Doncha tink dis otta be in da "Faith and Chaplaincy" forum?

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                      • #12
                        Faith and Chaplaincy....talk to the big guy, lol. I have no influence.

                        Edit: no influence: unless, of course, my wife allows it, lol
                        Last edited by packsaddle; 03-30-2014, 04:27 PM.

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                        • #13
                          SScout, duty to god is in the oath, sexuality is not. Now you and others can choose to make scouting what you want, but for others that take it seriously, skipping the hard stuff isn't an option. Pack, the OP didn't talk about his faith or anybody else's, they just asked a simple question of how to work with families of no faith. Considering your history of opinions on this subject, are you really the right person to answer? Barry

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                          • #14
                            Eagledad, name the person who IS the right person to answer this. OK I'll name him. He is: kjmillig. The rest of us are free to offer our views and he will make his decision. The OP did state that he's Christian and that his unit has semi-practicing Taoist/Buddhist families. And he was uncertain how to approach this difference. That sure seems to be about his faith and anybody else's, at least from the way I read it.

                            So...go ahead and expand on my history of opinions on this subject for kjmillig. Don't just imply anything, be 'brave' and state what you think openly for all to see. Go ahead.
                            Last edited by packsaddle; 03-30-2014, 04:37 PM.

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                            • #15
                              I think his point is pretty clear that it's not about his faith or anyone else's, but how to deal with the scouts no faith. Oh and you made your point clear when you poked your nose in the discussion with your first response.

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