Announcement Module
No announcement yet.

Religious Emblem approved for Unitarian Universalist youth!

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
Conversation Detail Module
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Religious Emblem approved for Unitarian Universalist youth!

    In another thread fgoodwin has stolen my thunder, but yes, BSA has approved the newly created religious award for Unitarian Universalist youth.

    At the Feb 8th National meetings in Irving, the Religious Relationships (RR) subcommittee approved the curriculum proposed by the newly created Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization (UUSO), pending a review of referenced literature. The referenced items all had been approved under the previous emblem with no issue, and so we fully expect final approval sometime this month. I was waiting to hear of a formal approval before I posted to this forum, but fgoodwin now says that P.R.A.Y has acknowledged the event.

    The UUSO is not formally associated with the UUA but is an independent organization of Scouters. A memorandum of Mutual Support between BSA and UUSO was signed last year and UUSO is now a voting member of the RR subcommittee. Since then we have been working with the RR subcommittee to gain approval for the new curriculum.

    Currently, the UUSO is arranging to print the new pamphlet and manufacture the new medals. We hope to have a website up soon with the requirements and contact information. The new awards program will be formally kicked off at the Jamboree this summer.

    If anyone has specific questions, I would be happy to reply to posts or to private messages. We are very glad to be back in the tent!

  • #2

    I didn't meant to steal your thunder, but I was so excited when I read the PRAY bulletin, I had to post it ASAP.

    I am part of a new group, the "National Episcopal Scouters Association" and we are also an independent organization of Scouters, not formally associated with ECUSA.

    Please write me offline -- if you don't mind, it sounds like we might be able to learn from your experience with UUSO.



    • #3
      Do you think even though it is approved now that others in your pack will discrimanat you for wearing it? I worry about this, Because where im from they are very judgemental and not many open minds.


      • #4
        Cherie: part of doing one's "duty to God" is to respect the beliefs of others (even if you don't agree with them). Discriminating against them on the basis of that belief hardly seems in line with the Scout Oath & Law.

        My experience in several non-church-sponsored Cub Packs (I was never a Boy Scout, although my son will cross over this month, and I will experience a Troop for the first time, albeit as a parent), is that most boys have no clue which faith they are, let alone which faith the other boys are.

        Usually, all you see is the purple knot (and most boys, especially Cubs, don't even have that). Since the knot is the same for all, I don't see how a boy could be singled out for discrimination.

        Now if he wears his medal (allowed on formal occasions), my guess is, the other boys will either be curious about it or ignore it. I doubt if a boy will recognize it specifically as a Unitarian medal -- it will just be a "different" medal, and probably considered "cool" because it *is* unusual and different from the Catholic and God & Country medals that are much more common.

        Now, if your unit is actually sponsored by a non-Unitarian Church, and your son is the only Unitarian boy in it, then yes, his medal would surely stand out. But unless you actually see any discrimination happen, I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about it.


        • #5

          Your post seems to imply that you are a member of the Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization (UUSO). I was a member for a year, but I never received ANY information about the group. Indeed, the only confirmation that I had ever been a member (or that the organization even existed) was a renewal letter telling me that my "membership" had expired!

          I have some specific questions:

          1. Was the UUSO created as a result of an agreement between the UUA and the BSA?

          2. Does the UUA have an officially designated representative on the UUSO?

          3. In its interactions with the BSA, does the UUSO consult with the UUA?

          4. If a religious emblem program was developed by the UUSO, was it approved by the UUA first?

          5. Does the UUSO have any members subscribed to the Scouting discussion group, UU-Scouting? We would be interested in knowing who you are, and what you stand for.

          Rick Seymour
          UU-Scouting Moderator


          • #6
            Hello Rick!

            Good to hear from you. I've always enjoyed your contributions on Scouts-L and also on UU-Scouting (I am a member of both). Your excellent InquiryNet is one of my favorite scouting sites. (btw, everyone should visit Rick's

            As I posted, the UUSO is an independent, grass-roots group of Scouters, not affiliated with UUA except though our individual congregations. To date, we have been singularly focused on reaching a rapport with BSA and with achieving BSA approval of a religious emblem program for Boy Scouts and Venturers. To this extent, we have not spent much effort on membership and, for your experience, I apologize. For the coming year we plan to move membership way up on our priority list. We will also be preparing a curriculum for Cub Scouts.

            Reading your itemized questions, I understand that you may be suprised to hear of the news. You want to be assured that the new curriculum is acceptable to UUA, especially given the history of the previous emblem. Until such time as the requirements are published on the web (very soon I hope), I will have to ask you to be patient - and please accept my assurances that the BSA approved curriculum will look very, very familiar.

            I will reply off-line to your specific queries, but let me say that we have been in coordination with Rev. Sinkford who has approved of our organization and its objectives.

            As we go forward, I hope you will renew (!) your membership, and as UUSO develops more of an infrastructure, become an active member in pursuing our mutual objective - helping UU scouts learn about our faith.


            • #7
              I'm reminded of the adage "Those who talk don't know, and those who know, aren't talking."

              So, not knowing any of the facts, my best guess is that the UUSO simply caved on distributing the pamphlets "When Others Say God" and "In Support of All People" to Scouts working on their "Religion in Life" award. The BSA's Religious Relationships Committee had objected to these in their letter of May 7, 1999 rescinding approval of the UUA "Religion in Life" award.

              Meanwhile, here are some background information URLs for those who are interested:

              1) A summary of a 2001 UUA General Assembly (GA) panel discussion about Scouting, which includes an announcement of the NUUAS (AKA UUSO?):

              "Another person said they had just formed the National Unitarian Universalist Association of Scouters whose purpose is to maintain and expand the use of Scouting as a youth ministry and to help instill stronger ethical values in young people."


              2) A form letter from Michael Healy that was sent to people who were both a Unitarian Universalist and registered Scouter, asking them to join the National Unitarian Universalist Association of Scouters (NUUAS). The letter is not dated, but it mentions Dr. John Buehrens, who served as President of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations from 1993 to 2001.


              3) "When Others Say 'God'," one of the two offending pamphlets mentioned in the above May 7, 1999 letter (the BSA forbidding this is, to me, a clear-cut case of religious discrimination):


              4) The other offending pamphlet, "In Support of All People." I can understand why this anti-discrimination information would be unacceptable to a private religious corporation (with a government-established monopoly on Scouting) after it went all the way to the Supreme Court to defend its right to discriminate, but to me it is the moral equivalent of a hypothetical inclusion of material by Catholics explaining to Scouts working on their "Ad Altare Dei" award, on how to reconcile a "pro-life" position critical of the popular Iraq war with a contradictory high-profile BSA "Support Our Troops" policy.


              5) The offending cover letter from John A. Buehrens, also mentioned in the above May 7, 1999 letter:


              6) For those who have not already read it, the UUA's version of our dispute with the BSA, including the back and forth letters between the UUA and the BSA regarding the "Religion in Life" award:


              I guess people don't sign their posts to the Scouter Forums on Scouter.Com?

              Rick Seymour
              UU-Scouting Moderator


              • #8
                Kudu, welcome to the forum. I have tried to follow this topic and I am eager to learn more when possible. I therefore read your message with great interest - and I learned for the first time that BSA had objected to the pamphlets, "When Others Say God" and "In Support of All People" as well. I had not read of BSA's objection to these. However, I searched for the letter you mention and I think I found it on the website. The letter I found was: May 7, 1999 - Lawrence Ray Smith to John Buehrens.

                As a point of clarification for other members of the forum, the two resources that BSA mentioned in the letter regarding homophobia and religious discrimination ARE the two pamphlets that you named. They were sent (as separate pamphlets along with the religious award pamphlet and a letter from Buehrens) to boys who were interested in earning the religious award.
                However, it was to my surprise to realize that BSA placed their restrictions on UUA scouts in order (is everyone ready for this?) TO PROTECT THE BOYS. Riiight!

                While I agree that this amounts to religious discrimination, I will have to think about your characterization of UUSO as "caving". I will probably have to consult my copy of 'Leadership and Self-Deception' one more time. And then I'll think about it some more. This is worrisome.


                • #9
                  PackSaddle writes:

                  > However, it was to my surprise to realize that BSA placed their
                  > restrictions on UUA scouts in order (is everyone ready for this?)
                  > TO PROTECT THE BOYS. Riiight!

                  Actually Lawrence Ray Smith's exact words were, "Unfortunately, this simply reopens the entire issue of using boys as a venue to air your differences with the policies of the Boy Scouts of America."

                  So what does he do? His committee recognizes a group of Scouters who apparently disagree with the UUA's position regarding religious freedom.

                  Its like a group of Iraq war supporters creating a "Pro-American" Catholic religious award to encourage Catholic boys to turn their backs on the Pope.

                  Smith's committee is using boys as a venue to air their differences with the policies of the Unitarian-Universalist Association.

                  Jesse C Jaeger, the UUA's Youth Programs Director, confirmed today that the Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization (UUSO) is not known to them, and that the "UUSO has no formal relationship to the UUA and is not recognized as an affiliate organization by the UUA's Board of Trustees."

                  The statement continues:

                  "The UUA still makes available to UU Scouts our Religion in Life manual
                  and the Religion in Life emblem. We encourage the UU Scout to earn his
                  religious emblem, to have it awarded to him by his congregation, and to
                  wear it in the appropriate place on his uniform. We have never heard of
                  even a single instance when a UU Scout was told he could not wear his
                  Religion in Life emblem on his uniform.

                  "Contrary to the statement in the email that 'an entire generation of
                  Scouts had grown up without the opportunity to wear the emblem of their
                  faith on their uniform,' the UUA has sold more than 500 Religion in Life
                  emblems over the past seven years to UU Scouts....

                  "The UUA has always acknowledged the many benefits that Scouting offers
                  to boys and young men. We will continue to support UU youth who enter
                  Scouting by distributing the Religion in Life manual and emblem, and our
                  congregations will honor UU Scouts when they earn this emblem of their
                  faith community."


                  • #10
                    "Those who talk don't know, and those who know, aren't talking"

                    Someone in this thread posted that very sound comment above. There seems to be much talking without the benefit of many facts. The only facts we have are that PRAY has announced BSA approval of a Unitarian religious awards program. The announcement was silent with respect to the relationship of UUSA to UUA. So any speculation on that relationship amounts to "talking by those not in the know".

                    Why don't we wait for an official announcement from UUA before speculating on that relationship?


                    • #11
                      fgoodwin - I may be misinterpreting your statement: "Usually, all you see is the purple knot (and most boys, especially Cubs, don't even have that)." but the Cub Scouts may earn their religious award and wear the purple knot that represents that medal.


                      • #12
                        acco40, what I meant was that the vast majority of Cubs don't bother to earn their religious medal and thus don't have the purple knot to wear.

                        I agree that those few who do earn their medal may wear the knot (and device(s), for that matter).


                        • #13
                          > [PRAY's] announcement was silent with respect to the relationship of
                          > UUSA to UUA. So any speculation on that relationship amounts to
                          > "talking by those not in the know".

                          That was true until yesterday.

                          > Why don't we wait for an official announcement from UUA before
                          > speculating on that relationship?

                          That was the official announcement from the UUA, Fred.

                          1. "Religion in Life" is the Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA)'s Boy Scout religious award.

                          2. Religion in Life is administered by Jesse C Jaeger, the UUA's Youth Programs Director.

                          3. Jesse C Jaeger never heard of the so-called "Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization" (UUSO).

                          It looks like UUSO, PRAY, and the BSA conspired to lead Unitarian-Universalist youth away from their own Religion in Life award.


                          • #14
                            Since Rick didn't bother to give the link, here is the UUA announcement:


                            In my opinion, Rick's conclusion (implying something nefarious about UUSO's motives) does not follow from the official announcement.

                            And unlike Rick, I invite readers to read the announcement for themselves and draw their own conclusions.


                            • #15
                              A couple of points here: Trevorum's original post makes it clear that UUSO is not affiliated with UUA. It seems to me that if BSA wants to recognize a religious award designed by a scouter group it can do so. I do think it should be clear who does and does not support the award.
                              I would like to suggest to anybody connected with the UUA that it is dishonest to urge scouts to wear the emblem on their uniforms if you know that BSA does not recognize the emblem for uniform wear. At the very least, you should acknowledge that you are asking the boys to violate the rules of BSA.
                              My bottom line on this is that if UUA and BSA can't agree on the religious award, so be it.