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NJCubScouter

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Everything posted by NJCubScouter

  1. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    Ed Mori says: IMHO, a homesexual cannot be a good role model. And that's exactly what it is, your humble opinion. There is no other basis for this policy than opinions, some of them not so humble. So how about if you exercise your humble opinion in your unit, and let my CO exercise its humble opinion in my unit? (Btw I am not exactly sure what that opinion would be in the case of my CO, though I suspect that school district policy would probably dictate non-discrimination; in fact that is the policy now, though to my surprise nobody has ever raised it.) How would that hurt anyone? It wouldn't change the program. It wouldn't change anything. In fact, it would probably help the program in my state by bringing back United Way funding and other support. (The United Way chapter in my county was one of the first in the nation to cut off funding.) Not that attracting funds is a reason to change a policy. The policy should be changed, in those units that choose to, because it is the right thing to do.
  2. NJCubScouter

    Appointed Senior Patrol Leaders?

    Roy, it sounds like what you did was appoint an "interim" SPL for about a month until a proper election with at least one qualified candidate could be held. Others may disagree, but I don't see anything wrong with that. It seems to me that what you did was consistent with the idea of a boy-run troop. Assuming that the age and rank requirements were adopted by the PLC, if there was no qualified candidate, you either had to temporarily modify the rules, or have a "caretaker" for a fairly brief period until someone satisfied the rules. Either would probably be acceptable, but what you did sounds like the better option to me.
  3. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    CubsRugr8 says: Even if I use youth membership instead of unit numbers, the charge of undue influence by the LDS and RC church bodies just doesn't hold up. I have not expressed an opinion on the "undue influence" issue, I was just asking how you got your numbers. I still do not agree with your calculations, see below. But, as I have said in another thread, I don't think the issue is how the BSA policy got this way, the issue is that the policy infringes on the religious belies of some BSA members. The BSA says it is "absolutely nonsectarian," not just nonsectarian among the "majority religions." In 1996, the church bodies in tjhmammers membership information sponsered units which contained 54% of youth membership. Almost all of these church bodies still teach that sexual relations belong in the context of a heterosexual marriage. Therefore, it is perfectly logical for these church bodies to support a policy which says that a person who advocates sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage (by their public actions and/or words) cannot be consider suitable to serve as a Scout leader, who is supposed to be a role model to youth. Do you realize that your number includes several religious organizations that joined in legal briefs AGAINST the BSA position in the Supreme Court? This includes one of the major groups in the United Methodist Church and part of the Episcopal Church; I do not see any Unitarians or Jewish groups on tjhammer's list and suspect they are somewhere down in the low zero-point-something percentages. Even if you are correct that all of the religious groups on the list teach "sexual relations belong in the context of a heterosexual marriage," your statement that it is "perfectly logical" for them to support the BSA policy is irrelevant. The fact is that some of the religious organizations on the list, or major parts of them, believe in traditional marriage but at the same time do not condemn homosexuality as immoral and do not support the BSA policy. So I think your total number includes some groups that should not be included. As I said, not that it matters. If the BSA are violating the religious beliefs of others, it does not matter if they are 60 percent or 10 percent.
  4. NJCubScouter

    Another article about the Ten Commandments

    Ed Mori says: If I'm not mistaken, the reason for the James Dale decision had nothing to do with the 1st Ammendment. It dealt with the freedom of association. Ed, "freedom of association" (and its varieties, including the right of "expressive association") is one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Here is the first sentence of the official Supreme Court summary of the Dale decision: Held: Applying New Jerseys public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit Dale violates the Boy Scouts First Amendment right of expressive association. The entire summary (called a "syllabus," which in every profession besides the law means something different), is located at http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-699.ZS.html That page also has links to the actual opinions in the case.
  5. NJCubScouter

    Webelos to Scout Transition

    I have no suggestions as to the transition program itself, but I do have a suggestion to improve your communication with the units. You say you have only heard back from 10 of 80 units. Have you tried monthly district roundtables as a means of communication? In our district our Boy Scout and Cub roundtables are held at the same time in the same large room, with the opportunity for the occasional joint session when the topic warrants. I would say roughly 25 percent of units are represented most months, which may not sound like much, except that you are only at 12.5 percent right now. And what about your unit commissioners (which we don't really have, maybe you do), if they are out visiting their units they can be another channel for you.
  6. NJCubScouter

    The issue is religion

    Tj, the only issue I would take with your comments is that I do not particularize the issue to any one church. I have studiously avoided the issue of who controls what at the national level. I have read several articles and they seem to bear out the fact that religious organizations effectively control decision-making at the national level, though they differ regarding the relative strength of one church versus others. I also cannot disagree with BobWhite's point that whoever controls BSA National does so in accordance with the by-laws. I don't want to get into it, and I don't need to, because in my view it is all irrelevant. All talk of conspiracies, secret conclaves, I basically ignore it. What is important, and undeniable, is that the BSA policy excluding gay leaders is motivated by religious doctrine. The BSA itself says so -- it's a "faith-based value." The mechanics of how this religious doctrine became a BSA policy, and whether one, two or twenty organizations are involved, and who they are, and how the votes get counted, may all be interesting as matters of political science and organizational dynamics. They are not, as far as I am concerned, relevant to my conclusion that the BSA is violating its own religious principles. That conclusion is explained in my previous post. I do, however, appreciate your extensive knowledge regarding Scouting history and the mechanics behind these issues. Until about 2 years ago I was really unaware of the role that religious politics played in the early history of Scouting, and how religious organizations function in Scouting today. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, of the four units I have been involved with in my life, none have been affiliated with a religious organization. As a boy, my pack and my first troop were chartered to the public school I attended, my second troop was chartered to a property-owner's association, and my son's pack is chartered to his school's PTA. These units were of very mixed religious membership, though I guess when I was a boy, all 3 units probably had 30 to 40 percent Jewish membership due to the areas we were living in. Religion was and is never really discussed in these units, in fact I have been part of introducing some mention of religion in our pack. We never had an invocation at our blue and gold dinners before this year, though it was my suggestion that we use that term rather than "grace" and that the message be very ecumenical in nature. (Our invocation was written and delivered, and very well, by a second-year Webelos Scout.) But back to me: All these units I have been involved with have existed because parents in a neighborhood or community wanted there to be a Scout unit for their sons, and otherwise there wasn't one. It was never a matter of an organization wanting to charter a unit for its own purposes, or the benefit of its members, or as outreach. I guess that is a matter for another thread or a different main topic. But I don't doubt that this history has kept me somewhat insulated from a more religious emphasis in Scouting. But back to the actual point: The policy conflicts with the BSA's Declaration of Religious Principles because it elevates a doctrine of some religions, which violates the doctrine of other religions, to a national policy. If it were a choice between every unit having to allow gay leaders or every unit having to exclude them, this would create a real mess because no matter what the BSA did, someone's religious principles would be violated. Fortunately, the "local option" would allow everyone to follow their own religious principles, like the BSA says it does. Now all the BSA has to do is to do what it says it does. You know, be trustworthy.
  7. NJCubScouter

    The issue is religion

    I have raised a particular issue in a couple different threads and I haven't really gotten a response, so I'll start a new thread. Premise # 1 -- The BSA policy regarding exclusion of gay leaders is motivated by religious doctrines. (I have seen some people try to deny this, but it is pointless, the BSA web site itself says that the alleged immorality of homosexuality is a "faith-based value," and it is the BSA's policy so they should know.) Premise # 2 -- BSA policy is that it does not give preference to one religious belief over another, or as stated in the Declaration of Religious Principle, that it is "absolutely nonsectarian." It does not say that it is nonsectarian as long as your beliefs coincide with that of the majority of religions, or the majority of Western religions, or religions that are CO's for the majority of units in the United States. It says "absolutely nonsectarian." Premise # 3 -- Several religious groups (including some that have been CO's of numbers of units for years, and that have religious awards approved for uniform wear by the BSA) have stated that the BSA's exclusion of gay leaders violates their own religious principles. (Some individuals outside these groups say the same thing, but that's not necessary to the premise, it just gives it extra weight as we approach the conclusion.) Premise # 4 -- Most if not all of the groups and individuals in Premise # 3 have said that the violation of their religious beliefs would be remedied if their units (and other units whose CO's felt the same way, whether for religious reasons or policy reasons), could be excused from the ban on gay leaders. Conclusion: By denying local option, the BSA is violating its own policies regarding religion, including the Declaration of Religious Principles.
  8. NJCubScouter

    Earrings

    Roy, it seems to me that your troop's request (I like that it is phrased in terms of an "ask" and would not be surprised if you get more compliance that way than a troop that "tells") is mainly for safety reasons. And perhaps secondarily to avoid having valuables lost or damaged during physical activities. Is that correct? If so, I don't see how anyone could object to it. It is fair, evenhanded and has a worthwhile purpose(s). ("Evenhanded" because it does not single out only those types of jewelry that have come into vogue in the past 15 years, but applies to all.) It does not imply any moral judgment about those who wear earrings when not at Scout activities. As for the ban on items that advertise smoking and alcohol, nobody could object to that either, as use of the things being advertised is expressly discouraged by the BSA and prohibited at BSA activities. (By the way there also are items of clothing out there that promote use of illegal drugs, you might want to make sure the policy also includes promotion of illegal activities. You might think that goes without saying, unfortunately there is always someone who thinks they are smarter than everybody else; outsmarting such people probably accounts for two-thirds of the statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations that exist in the world.)
  9. NJCubScouter

    Another article about the Ten Commandments

    By the way, I liked "The American President" the first and probably the second time I saw it (both on tv.) My enthusiasm has waned after someone bought the tape for my wife (most probably me, as a gift), and my wife and daughters proceeded to watch it for the third, fourth, tenth, whatever-eth time. Over time, it has dawned on me that it is basically a love story with the political stuff tacked on, and I can only take a love-story movie once, if at all. (Notice I avoided using the term "chick flick.") And also by the way, though I agreed ideologically with almost all of the liberal-leaning political comments made by the Michael Douglas character, I did have to wince at the naivete of some of his statements. I guess the one that really got me was when he is discussing gun control and says "we're going to get the guns." I doubt that any national politician, no matter how pro-gun-control, would say it quite that way with any hope of being elected again. (That was not, repeat not a comment about gun control, so back away slowly from the keyboard. It's just a movie review.)
  10. NJCubScouter

    Another article about the Ten Commandments

    OK Rooster, after I had read 90 percent of your post, my answer to your comments about why "separation church and state" is read into the Establishment Clause was going to be, "because a majority of the Supreme Court says so." But you did get around to that at the very end. There are a lot of things the Constitution is interpreted to say that it does not literally say. The First Amendment says nothing about "expressive association," and yet James Dale is not an Assistant Scoutmaster. Article III says nothing about the U.S. Supreme Court being able to reverse a STATE supreme court's interpretation of STATE election law, and legal scholars generally agree that they can't, and yet George Bush is the president. More esoterically, the Eleventh Amendment says you can't sue another state's government in federal court, and says nothing about sovereign immunity, and yet a majority of the Supreme Court says it means you can't sue your own state government in federal court. And there are a lot of other examples. In the world of constitutional interpretation, you win a few and you lose a few, and I would say that in the last 20 years and particularly the last 10, your side of the political spectrum has won a few more (or more than a few more) that it has lost. As for local governments wanting to post the Ten Commandments for its historical significance, if you really believe that, the Brooklyn Bridge is less than an hour's drive from my house and I would be happy to turn over the deed for the right price. However, I suspect that you are well aware that the reason these governments want to display the Ten Commandments is for its religious significance. I agree with the ACLU that neither the Ten Commandments, nor the Five Pillars of Islam, nor the laws of Kashruth (some of the other 500+ commandments from Exodus and Leviticus followed by ultra-Orthodox Jews), nor the Twelve Steps to Nirvanah (I made that last one up but you know what I mean), belong posted on public property. Let them post the Declaration of Independence instead.
  11. NJCubScouter

    How to reach more youth

    I have wondered about the specific subject of minority interest in Scouting, in the context of my own unit. About 99 percent of my pack is from the area that sends its students to the elementary school whose PTA is our CO, and where we meet. We probably have 80 percent or more of the Cubs who live in this school's sending-area. In other words, we are pretty-much tied to one geographic (suburban) area and are not really competing with other packs for the boys in this area. My guess would be that 10 to 15 percent of the population is black and a similar percentage is Hispanic. Every family, every fall, gets a "School night for Scouting" flyer sent home with their son, and sometimes there is recruitment in the spring as well. Kindergartners and first-graders are pretty good about getting flyers home to their parents, and second through fourth graders aren't that bad either (though after that it begins to drop off, and by high school you're lucky if you know anything about what's going on at school.) This is all to say that the "advertising" is pretty well covered, and is across-the-board to all of our "target population." And yet, in the four years I have been involved with the pack, I have not seen a single black Cub Scout in our pack. There had been two Hispanic boys (twins, actually) who graduated last spring, and two (brothers) who joined last fall, so I guess our Hispanic percentage is steady at about 4 percent (with 50 boys plus or minus.) There usually also are 3 or 4 Asians (Chinese and Indian.) But it's the complete absence of black Scouts that baffles me. By the way, I suspect that about 30-40 percent of the black residents in this area live in one neighborhood that is within easy walking distance from the school. And everybody has cars anyway, this is the suburbs. So it's not a question of transportation. I guess I could understand if a black family attended School Night but wanted to pay us a visit before joining, saw a room full of white faces and felt uncomfortable and didn't join. But they don't even get that far. I wonder what the boys in our pack think about this, though I wouldn't "make trouble" by asking. After all, when they go to school, the kids come in all "colors," but when they attend Cub Scout meetings at the same school, with other boys all from the same school, it's lily-white (except for Ramon and his brother, I forget his name.) Maybe kids don't notice these things. I wonder if this is true in other units in similar demographic areas. I am not talking about an impoverished urban area where societal pressures make it difficult for Scouting to take root at all. As I say, we have a pretty consistent 50 boys (of a potential population of maybe 400, which I suspect is somewhere in the middle in terms of "reach".) I think our program is not spectacular but ok (not enough of those white parents get involved), and we have a relatively small number of dropouts (our Webelos 2 den started as 14 Tigers and is graduating with 13, though there have been 1 or 2 replacements along the way.) So it's probably not our program. It's just that one portion of the population is absent. Has Scouting become just a "white thing?" I say that not to be negative or argumentative, and I know it is not literally true. I just don't know why this is happening.
  12. NJCubScouter

    How to reach more youth

    bigbeard suggests, among other things: Make Den Chief an official rank requirement for Star, maybe. I assume you don't mean to require every boy to be a Den Chief to make Star. I assume you do mean to make it a position that will satisfy the position-of-responsibility requirement; but it already is, for Star, Life and Eagle.
  13. BobWhite made a few points in different posts on the "Undue Influence" thread that I want to respond to. In the interest of trying to allow that thread to be about what it was originally about, I have started this new thread. So here are my responses to BobWhite: As a religious leader and Eagle Scout, said tio a group of us at a national training center on this issue, his church is in total disagreement with the BSA on this issue. However they still charter and will continue to charter scouting units. The reason he gave was that this is such a small part of who we are and what we do that to deny the use of the program to the community would be the greayer evil. In my own little way, I have taken the same approach as that religious leader. I have continued to spend many hours working for the boys in my pack and my son's den. As a matter of fact, I did not become a registered leader until three months after the Dale decision, and even after I concluded that the BSA was not going to do the right thing and change the policy, I became an assistant cubmaster. Now with my son less than a year from crossover, I am considering volunteering as a committee member for whichever troop he joins. But I'd be a lot happier if the organization I was involved in would not persist in making what I believe is a tremendous mistake, which is both wrong in and of itself and has greatly tarnished its reputation among people I have to deal with in my life. The one place I may draw the line is getting involved above the unit level. I have been going to Roundtables and have "become known" to both the DC and DE, and would not be surprised at a call one of these days to get involved in the Cub program at the district level. At this point, I don't know what I'll say, though my disappointment at national is far from the only factor. A big problem with the BSA on this issue is the politicizing of it. For most involed it is not about serving youth it is about making a political inroad, and the BSA does not intend to sacrifice itself as someone elses political pawn. The problem is that many of us who oppose the policy believe that the BSA's exclusion of gay leaders is exactly that -- a political position, combined with a religious doctrine. I believe that they have used the BSA as a tool to promote their political-religious position against gays. Now, have some opponents of the BSA also pursued a political approach? Yes. But what I guess I keep coming back to is that the BSA is the one with the wrong policy, not the opponents. So, if the BSA is pursuing a wrong policy with the wrong motivations and using the wrong tactics, and the opponents are pursuing a wrong policy with (let's say) the wrong motivation and using the wrong tactics, when you balance it all together, the policy is still wrong and needs to be altered so there is a compromise. None of the political posturing, lawsuits, or anything else can change that. The following paragraphs are from 2 different posts by BobWhite but they make the same basic point. The rules of scouting say that if you want to implement a change you go through the proper avenues. You take your views to the national representative of the executive board. You don't rally to have funds cut or have sponsors leave or put on the BSA's uniform and denouce them at the same time. That is destructive to the youth we serve. Now go the the home site for Scouting for All, an organization they say is made up almost half by Eagle Scouts who want to improve the scouting program. Follow the events link to their annual National Rallies. The goal of which is to pursuade charter organizations and corporate sponsors to quit their support of the BSA and for scouts and scouters to return their awards to natioal. I agree, at least as far as my own activities are concerned. I have not rallied or spoken against Scouting nor have I lobbied chartered organizations or funders to cut ties with Scouting. In fact, in my own small way, I have done the opposite. I live in a township with approximately 8 Scouting units with an average membership of about 70 (due to 3 over-100 units), and half of these meet in public schools. Through my non-Scouting activities, I have a number of friends on the school board, and I have kept a close eye on my friends in order to alert the DE if we start to have a problem in using school facilities for free, and start to mobilize the troops, so to speak. (It also doesn't hurt that the v.p. of the school board is an assistant scoutmaster of one of these troops.) So, ok, BSA, I am out there working for you. Now how about meeting me halfway, comply with BSA's own values of non-discrimination, and let units decide for themselves whether they want to exclude gays as leaders. As for whether Scouting for All's tactics are right or wrong, I will not judge. I do not participate in them. But the point is that if their tactics or even their motivations are wrong, and even if I wish they would stop, they are still right on the ultimate issue. If the BSA does not respond to Scouting for All's approach because of their tactics, then let them respond to my opinion, because nobody can argue with my "tactics." BobWhite also goes through a litany of Scouting leaders who cursed in front of the kids, had a drinking problem, had affairs, and partied (presumably with alcohol or other prohibited substances) with children, and how they all got kicked out. There are several differences between these people and, for example, James Dale. One, these people were booted because of their conduct. James Dale, and the other 4 or 5 well-publicized cases that I am aware of, were booted because of their status. Second, whether to boot these people was probably up to the units and/or council, and I would guess that the individual circumstances were taken into account. For example, if it had been a long-time Scoutmaster with the drinking problem and the problem was a mild one, he might have been given a longer period to work out his problem before being "gone." The extramarital affairs, I don't know. I suspect that some who have had affairs have been allowed to stay. I also suspect that the result in some of these cases depends somewhat on what part of the country you are in and what kind of community you live in. However, in the case of gay leaders, supposedly there is NO option. Dale got a termination-of-registration letter with a demand that he not be involved with any Scout unit. It's an AUTOMATIC NATIONWIDE policy for gays, not case-by-case like everything else. Third, and this I guess is where the real dispute comes in, those people were poor role models. In my opinion a gay person, simply by being gay, is not a poor role model. As I have said, heterosexuality is not a value, it is simply what most people are. I guess we will never agree on this issue, but I think that if the BSA wants to do the right thing AND remove this distracting issue (two different goals), it needs to make room in the organization for those who disagree. But, don't be a guest in someone's home and complain that you don't like the way they run their house. That's not polite and it's not effective. Your not a prisoner, if you feel you'd be more comfortable in someone else's home, or in your own, then you owe it to yourself to go there. It's not your house, and it's not the house of the people who temporarily control the votes on the national committee, it's our house. I have just as much right to be in this house, and try to change the rules of the house as anyone else, because it's my house as much as anyone else's.
  14. NJCubScouter

    Some responses (from other thread)

    Let me just pick out a sentence from LongHaul's most recent post: The exclusion of Gay leaders, just as the exclusion of Female leaders is policy not program and shouldn't be confused. I can't help pointing out that the exclusion of female leaders is former policy -- actually now the policy is local option. Just as it should be with gay leaders. The BSA, having won the legal right to exclude female leaders, soon decided to allow female leaders anyway. That is how this issue should end. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.
  15. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    I do realize that this has gone off-thread, and now I am going to take us a little further into theological territory. Not too far, hopefully. But religion is the key to this whole issue, so it is worth discussing. Ed Mori says: The oath says duty to God. Now, for you and me, that is the same God. For a Muslim, it might be a different God. I don't know if your God and my God are the same. As I said, my beliefs combine some aspects of the Old Testament and some aspects of Deism, and I suspect from your question about Sodom and Gemorrah that you haven't read the web site about Deism yet. The theological question is: If you believe that the bible is the literal truth and the Word of God in all respects, and I consider much of it allegorical and that it is the word of man, I am not sure our God is the same. My God made some people gay, he doesn't condemn them and he doesn't much like the fact that you call them "sinners" and favor excluding them. Which one of us is right, if either, we may or may not find out someday. And by the way, Muslims do believe in the God of the Old Testament. He (God, that is) is Elohim in Hebrew and Allah in Arabic, this is not a coincidence. It all means God. The Muslims revere Abraham, the first of the three Hebrew patriarchs, as their own patriarch, but trace their lineage from Abraham's son Ishmael instead of Isaac, the second patriarch of the Jews (and by extension the Christians.) The Muslim prophet Muhammed is said to have revealed the God of the Old Testament, added some teachings and changed some practices, similar to what Jesus is said to have done for the Christians. (I know it is not an exact match, as you believe Jesus has a divine nature.) Ed also asks: Since you say homosexuality isn't a sin, explain why God destroyed Sodom & Gomorah? I don't know that he did. To me, it's a story in a book. I have no reason to believe God destroys any cities. The people he created do, and the natural forces that he set in motion do. But in my little religion, he doesn't pick out a city or a person and say, here comes the lightning bolt. That's why I actually don't believe that you will be sent from the Gates of Judgment to Hell even though you favored the mistreatment of the 5 percent of God's flock who turned out to be gay -- because my religion doesn't have Gates of Judgment or Hell. Ed also said: I feel the oath means duty to the God you believe in. I agree. The God you believe in. Meaning, each one of us. Not necessarily the God that the religion you were born into believes in. Not necessarily the God that anybody else or any organized religion believes in. The God you believe in. I perform my duty to the God I believe in, just fine.
  16. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    CubsRugr comes to a conclusion based on several "if"s, the key one of which is If the majority of units (about 60%) are chartered to religious organizations which still officially teach that sexual relations belong in the context of a heterosexual marriage Assuming for the moment that this "if", if true, would support your point, I don't see how you get the 60 percent figure from the list that was posted. The issue is not whether a particular church teaches "that sexual relations belong in the context of a heterosexual marriage." Reform Judaism probably teaches the same thing, but they also teach that homosexuality is not a sin and that discrimination against gays is wrong. We are talking about "morally straight," so if a church does not teach that homosexuality is a sin, they don't make the list. You get LDS and RC. United Methodists are divided so let's say you get half. You're at 38 percent. Which other churches are you counting to get up to 60 percent? And I disagree with using unit numbers instead of membership numbers, since they are so skewed. If LDS wants small units, that's fine, but why should they be allowed to double their voting strength that way? Actually the answer is simple, because everybody else lets them do it, and that is how the by-laws are written. So everybody else needs to get smart. Someone suggested the United Methodist Church was considering having smaller units. Maybe everybody should limit unit size to 30 boys for a troop and 50 for a pack, and the voting strength will start to balance out. In my town alone we have two packs and one troop with 100 boys each, two sponsored by public school PTA's and one by a church of unknown position on this issue. Those 3 units with 3 CO's could be 8 or so units with 8 CO's. Is that what we're coming to, though? Pure power politics? Is this the lesson we want to teach the boys? Even if the number is 60 percent, what are you saying to the other 40 percent? This is supposed to be an organization FOR ALL BOYS. Are the 60 percent going to deed to the 40 percent, 40 percent of the land at Philmont, 40 percent of the council camps and offices, 40 percent of the offices at Irving, 40 percent of the uniform inventory? Is Mr. Williams going to cut his half-million dollar salary and benefits to a mere $300,000? Maybe this IS the lesson we need to teach the boys to prepare them for the real world. Dog eat dog, beat the other guy before he beats you, take what you can grab and the hell with everybody else. Maybe we need to take helpful, friendly, courteous and kind, and maybe 1 or 2 others, out of the Scout Law to reflect reality. You who agree with the BSA on the gay issue, and who bolster your argument based on voting strength, power politics and might-makes-right, think about where you are taking the boys.
  17. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    Ed, not that my own religion particularly matters to the discussion, but as I thought I implied, I am Jewish. My actual beliefs are a mixture of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements within that faith, and portions of Deism (the actual religion of some of our founding fathers including Thomas Jefferson, see more at http://www.religioustolerance.org/deism.htm), and maybe a few personal things thrown in. So, I am not a Christian (though my wife and children are.) But within Christianity (which as I understand it, includes all Protestant denominations, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, LDS and others), there are some denominations, some organizations within denominations (such as Methodist and Episcopalian) and some individuals who do not believe homosexuality is a sin and who (as Chartered Organizations) have opposed the BSA's position as being inconsistent with their beliefs. On the other hand, Orthodox Jews (except for a few dissenters) do believe that homosexuality is a sin. But again, what matters is not "who is what," but that the BSA has said it will not pick and choose among religions -- and seems to be doing exactly that. I'd also be interested, Ed, to see you respond to the rest of the points in my post (including the one in the preceding paragraph), not just what religion I am.
  18. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    Ed Mori, succintly stating the real issue in this whole debate, says: In God's eyes, homosexuality is a sin. Therefore being homosexual is a sin. Sin is separation form God. In my opinion, one cannot be reverent to God if you are separated from Him. OK, but that's what YOU believe. It's the teaching of your religion, or the way you interpret it, and it's how you perceive God and what his eyes see. And if your belief is based on scripture, it is YOUR scripture and the way you and/or your religion interprets it and applies it to today's world. You are free to practice YOUR religion in YOUR home and YOUR place of worship. But the BSA says it does not choose between religions or religious beliefs. It is "absolutely nonsectarian" regarding the religious practices and beliefs of its members and leaders -- that comes from the Declaration of Religious Principles that we all signed as part of our applications to become leaders. And under MY religious beliefs -- which are a combination of the religion in which I was raised and some of my own beliefs -- homosexuality is NOT a sin, is not condemned by God, does not separate a person from God, and does NOT prevent one from being reverent. What IS a "sin," or at least "wrong," is to exclude someone simply because they are a homosexual. As it happens, the religion in which I was raised, or more specifically my "movement" within that religion (Reform Judaism), shares that view. Reform Jewish leaders have joined with those of some Christian faiths in asking the BSA to change the policy. So my question is, why is right for the BSA to practice YOUR religion to the exclusion of mine, when it says it (as an organization) does not give preference to ANY religion? Maybe the BSA should start enforcing everybody's ideas of what sin is, not just that of your religion. But then we'd run into a few problems. Can't cook hamburgers on a campout, the Hindus say the cow is a sacred animal and it is a sin to slaughter one for food. Can't drive to camp or set up camp on Saturday, the Orthodox Jews say that Saturday is the sabbath and therefore all "work" (which some define as meaning almost every human activity other than praying in a temple or sitting quietly at home) is banned on that day and it is a sin. (The relatively small number of Orthodox Jewish Scouts and Scouters work around that problem so they can participate in Scouting.) Can't drink alcohol, even off-duty, the Muslims say that is a sin. Or is it just YOUR religion that gets to say what a sin is, and what is or is not reverent? And if the answer is yes, why is that?
  19. NJCubScouter

    Name that age group...

    Amazing what you can find on the Web. See www.girlscouts.org, which says: Theree are five age levels in Girl Scouting: Daisy Girl Scouts, ages 5-6; Brownie Girl Scouts, ages 6-8; Junior Girl Scouts, ages 8-11; Cadette Girl Scouts, ages 11-14; and Senior Girl Scouts, ages 14-17. They have it by age, but at least in my area it seems to go by grade in school. I guess it works out to: Kindergarten for Daisies, 1st-2nd for Brownies, 3rd-5th for Juniors, 6th-8th for Cadettes, and high school for Seniors. When my daughters were Girl Scouts (one quit around fourth grade and the other around second grade, and that was about 6 years ago), I seem to recall people referring to Cadettes as "Girl Scouts" as the other levels by their names. Why this is, I don't know.
  20. NJCubScouter

    Undue Influence?

    Well, I see that after an apparent few days absence leaving me to carry the torch for truth, justice and the ever-increasingly American way, the much better-informed tjhammer has jumped back in and is saying almost everything on this issue that I would say, and more. So I just have a few things to add: BobWhite... and by the way, I also want to sincerely thank you for the wealth of information and wisdom that you bring to the day-to-day Scouting topics. In all the recent debates about how troops should be run, advancement, boys with blue hair, etc., some of which got ridiculously overheated, I have agreed with you virtually every time, and have learned from you. I respect you and your obvious concern for the boys and providing them with a good program, and teaching other adults to do so as well. This seems to be the one topic where we disagree, and we disagree very strongly. Funny, huh? Anyway, Bob, one problem I have is that when the BSA talks about its values, as in "A Louis Harris poll found that 95% of U.S. parents want the Scouting program and its values for their children," I think most people do NOT understand that to have anything to do with the gay issue. When I think of the values of Scouting, I think of trustworthy, loyal, etc., morally straight (mainly meaning to respect and not hurt other people and to obey the law and be ethical, don't take drugs, don't father any children yet, and like that), respect for others, respect for the environment, duty to whatever you call God in whatever form he/it may take for you, self-reliance, and all the others Scouts practice (or are supposed to) on a daily basis. I don't see how heterosexuality (of which, despite some speculation, I am a practitioner) is a "value" that belongs on this list. Non-discrimination, however, IS a Scouting value. I guess this is where the real conflict comes in on this issue: You believe that people like me are trying to change the values of Scouting, while I believe that the current BSA policy violates the values of Scouting. Maybe not the values of Scouting as they existed in 1910, when those values also included racially segregated troops, but the Scouting values of today -- which we probably agree on 98 percent of the time -- the 2 percent being this one issue, and perhaps what I see as an overemphasis by some on religion in Scouting. As for the web site you posted, Bob, I went there and read it, and it is great information but as I say, does not support the BSA's position on gay leaders. In fact, I found this part particularly interesting: BSA has a long tradition of service. In the midst of the Depression, Boy Scouts provided nearly 2 million items of clothing, food and household furnishings for the needy. In 1954, Scouts planted more than 6 million trees and set out 55,000 nesting boxes for birds. In 1988, Scouts collected 65 million cans of food for the poor. In various "Get Out the Vote" campaigns, Scouts have been responsible for millions of adults going to the polls. Other Scouting programs have urged people to comply with the national census, donate blood and organs, practice natural resource conservation and implement Civil Defense advice. Scouts serve their country in wartime, too. During World War I, Boy Scouts grew fruits and vegetables on thousands of mini-farms, sold war bonds and savings stamps to help finance the war, and organized coastal patrols to watch for enemy ships. They collected 100 train car-loads of peach pits and nut hulls to make charcoal for gas mask filters. And they conducted a national census of black walnut trees (prized for making gunstocks and airplane propellers), locating enough to fill 5,200 rail cars. World War II saw Scouts distribute posters, conduct defense housing surveys, sell war bonds, assist the Red Cross and provide food for GIs. In 1944 alone, 184,000 Scouts planted victory gardens, and 126,000 more helped short-handed farmers harvest their crops. An Emergency Service Corps composed of older Scouts worked with Civil Defense officials as messengers, emergency medical assistants and fire watchers. In addition, Scouts collected precious commodities: nearly 6,000 tons of rubber, 17,400 tons of tin cans, 21,000 tons of scrap metal, 590,000 tons of paper, 10 million used books for GIs to read, 7,000 tons of clothing for European and Chinese refugees and 750 tons of milkweed floss (used as a substitute for hard-to-get kapok in life jackets). Great stuff. And it would not have made the slightest difference if some of the leaders and some of the older boys were gay. And guess what? I am sure that some of them were. They helped build Scouting and they helped build this country (and one of them recently helped prevent terrorists from flying a plane into the Capitol or White House, in the face of his own certain death), and it was just fine as long as they stayed "in the closet." Some of them -- including a very, very small number of prospective Scout leaders -- don't want to be there any more, because apparently it is not a very healthy place to be. And for that, an "intense minority" (as we used to say in political science class) has banished them from the BSA -- at great cost to the program's public image, and by extension to the program itself. Finally, as for the ugly new Webelos hat: Obviously SOMEONE who does not share my values designed that hat. On the other hand, after my son tried on the new hat, he said that it is more comfortable. It (along with the new Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Scout hats) is softer and sits flat on the head, unlike the "old" hat my son still wears, which has that stiff piece of material that makes the front "stand up" a bit. (On the other other hand, they also removed the "head guard" in the Webelos hat, a little flap of material that gets between the clasp on the activity badge pins and the boy's forehead. And they raised the price from $9 for each of 4 hats over a 5-year period, to $11 for each of 5 hats.) But the new "comfort factor" goes to show, I guess, that even when Scouting makes a mistake, there is some good in it. Except on the gay issue.
  21. NJCubScouter

    Why the Rush

    Bob, since I am somewhat in "learning mode" along with sctmom, and want to know some things so I can tell whether a prosective troop for my son is well-run, I have a question: On the idea of a "bag of bags" (which I do recall from Philmont and Appalachian Trail backpackers back in the last century)and keeping the tent floor clear, how are these ideas imparted to the new boys prior to their first shakedown? Is it all in the handbook? (My son's handbook is still the Webelos book.) Is there a training session run by the troop guide? An instructor? The PL? An adult? Is anything provided in writing? If I recall correctly, when I was a boy my father (as ASM then SM) had periodic training sessions about backpacking as he went about the process of transforming us from being a cabin-camping troop to a backpacking troop. But it seems to me that how he did it may not have fully complied with the idea of "boy run" or the "patrol method." He was (and remains, at age 75 and lead trainer of our council's Philmont crews) a great teacher of Scouts, but now I wonder if the current method is more for the adults to make sure the older boys have the necessary knowledge and training skill to teach the younger boys, rather than doing it directly. If I recall correctly, my father did have the SPL/ASPL-types do the shakedown inspections under his supervision, at least after we had been to Philmont. (That was part of my father's program, nobody in the troop had ever been to Philmont before, so one year we had the SM, 2 ASM's (which he still was) and about 10 boys go, as one full crew and part of a second.)
  22. NJCubScouter

    Why the Rush

    Of course, a Scout who makes First Class at 12 -- or even 11 and a half or less -- regardless of whether due to "First Class First Year" or on his own initiative, must perform SOME position of responsibility in order to advance to Star. It does not necessarily have to be patrol leader, it could be troop librarian, scribe or something like that. I'm guessing that few SPL's would want a 12 year old (or less) as their troop quartermaster, but some could probably handle it. Some could probably also handle being PL. Here is an issue I am unsure of. Assistant Patrol Leader does not appear on the positions-of-responsibility list for Star (at least on the web site I just looked at), and yet if a boy makes First Class at 12 or less, it seems to me that APL would be the ideal position for him to learn leadership and advance to Star. I have read in some forums that some troops consider APL to be on the list even though it is not. I am sure some of you Scoutmasters (Commissioners etc.) can tell me more about the APL issue. Seems to me it should be on the list for Star, though maybe not for Life. I have to admit that all this is rather foreign to me, on the basis of my own Scouting experience. My hazy recollection (this is from the early 70s) is that people generally made First Class around 13 or 14, though I remember one 8th grade Eagle who must have made First Class at 12 or so. I was a Patrol Leader at Second Class, but that was because I had quit for a year and a half, joined a new troop in a new town, and was at 14, certainly old enough to be a PL -- but with a few things left to do for First Class. There was, back then, no suggested time period within which you were supposed to make First Class, in fact there were MINIMUM times which now exist only for the higher ranks. In my troop, when you were Star, you were generally considered ready for ASPL or to "retire" to the brand-new Leadership Corps -- so for that purpose, I guess it "helped" that Star seemed to be the point where most guys dropped out, otherwise we would have had an overflow at ASPL, and I never liked the Leadership Corps idea anyway. I think we had 4 SPL's in a row (including me) who were 15 (or maybe 16 in my case) when we became SPL. I take it that SPL's tend to be younger now. We had a well-worn path from PL-ASPL-SPL-JASM with no breaks in between. (This might be less likely in a troop that elects PL's, which for whatever reason we didn't do. We didn't even elect SPL's until I, as ASPL, decided it was time to do so (wink wink) and got the TLC (now PLC) to agree. Also my father had just won a contested election for Scoutmaster if you can believe that, and he told me that if I was going to be SPL we'd better have an election because he did not want to prolong the political ruckus by appointing his son. And besides the book said you were supposed to elect the SPL, and now that I'm SM we're going by the book. He said.) I always wander off-thread when I start reminiscing.
  23. NJCubScouter

    Troop Property and Funds

    No offense, LongHaul, but this thread has become pointless. The facts keep changing.
  24. LongHaul says: Obviously I misunderstood your reference to a nation at war. Fair enough. I don't look at this as much as a gay/straight issue as I do an issue of someone trying to impose their views on others. I also see it as an issue of "someone trying to impose their views on others," but I suspect that I am referring to different "someones" than you are. I don't care what two grown people do in the privacy of their own home. Maybe you don't, but I don't think the same is true for a number of other people who post on this subject. Nor do I think it is true of the BSA, which says that this type of private conduct is immoral, and if you avow yourself to be of the orientation that is prone to engage in this type of conduct, you're out. But to make it public and then insist that I accept it is offensive. I don't think of it so much as making it public, as being honest. I do not want to get into a whole discussion of why gay people "come out," there are probably whole books and web sites about it and I am not an expert on the subject. But I will say that gay people have told me that we heterosexuals are announcing our orientation to the public all the time, we just don't always realize it. I mean, do you ever hold your wife's hand in public? Do you ever show pictures of your wife and children (if any) to your co-workers? Before you got married, did you ever talk to anyone about your "girlfriend?" You were, and are, essentially telling people all the time that you are straight. Where does that leave a gay person? To make up stories when asked personal questions in social or office settings? To say, I never discuss anything about my personal life (which in some peoples' minds, says more than an actual answer)? To evade and say "I just haven't met the right girl yet." (That would be for a guy. Heh heh.) Or to be honest and reveal your orientation, or identify your "partner" or whatever. In my opinion, any of those are acceptable -- including the last one, which avoids some of the problems created by the first three. As far as you accepting it, I don't see who is insisting on that. Asking that the BSA not discriminate, that is what is being requested. You can decline to accept something that someone does without excluding them. As far as "offensive," I find discrimination offensive. Yes the gay/Eagle scouts are showing bravery, they are demanding to be heard. This issue is not about gays "demanding to be heard," it is about not discriminating against them. I don't think James Dale demanded to be heard. He did not go to his troop and say "I am gay, you must accept me." There is no evidence that he mentioned anything about his orientation to anyone connected with the troop. Rather, at a college in a different county, he became involved in a student organization seeking to end discrimination against gays and to help gay college students deal with the problems they face, and his name got into the newspaper in this connection, and the BSA kicked him out without any further discussion. If Bush tried to reach a compromise with Osam that didn't include is standing trial the people would impeach him. OK, and I'd be first in line to impeach him. I still don't know what that has to do with this issue. Are you equating a compromise that would absolve the murderer of thousands of people, and one who makes war on the USA, with a compromise that would allow Scout units to choose their own leadership?
  25. NJCubScouter

    Troop Property and Funds

    Hey, the forum has learned to read html again, wtg forum dudes! K9gold-scout, I am familiar with what you are saying about a separate 501c corporation that is created to be a CO for a Scout unit, in fact in my township we have a troop that has that. The CO is Friends of Troop xx. There are several differences between that and what LongHaul is talking about. First, Friends of Troop xx, in both your example and mine, actually goes through the IRS paperwork and gets approval as a non-profit corporation, and then continues to submit whatever is necessary to maintain that status. I doubt the same can be same of LongHaul's example. Second, I am not sure that LongHaul's association could successfully complete the IRS process. I suspect that when Friends of Troop xx, Inc. fills out its application to the IRS for non-profit status, and gets to the line, "Describe the charitable, educational, social (or whatever) purpose of the organization," Friends etc. puts down something like: "To provide the youth of the community with the Boy Scouting program under a charter to be granted by the Boy Scouts of America." I am not sure whether the words "Boy Scouts" would be enough for the IRS or whether you need to add in that the program is an educational, social and community service program that includes training in citizenship, physical fitness, character and leadership, using the methods and under the rules and regulations of the BSA pursuant to its Congressional charter granted in 1916, but somewhere in that mass of words the IRS analyst will stop reading and get out the Approved stamp. What does the "association" put down when it gets to that line? That it is a holding company? I don't think that gets approved. And is it really seeking donations in its own name, or do people who give money think they are giving directly to the troop? And it can't really put down that it is providing the Scouting program, because that isn't true -- the CO is doing that, even if the actual assistance and funding that they provide is negligible. Again, LongHaul, I think you gave away the game in the first post when you called it a "dummy front." If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and has a sign around it's neck that says "I'm A Duck," it's difficult to claim that it's a cow.
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