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Eagle Board of Review and God Take 2

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I think that just about any question is fair game at a BOR for any rank. It gives you an opportunity to see how the boy reacts to unusual situations. "Do you prefer rock to Bach?" is okay by me. "Did God make the West Nile Virus?" is also fair game.




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There may be a subtlety here in play that to me, at least, is important.


Virtually any question is fair game for an Eagle Board. The key thing is that the boy may not be rejected as a result of his answer.


That is the problem with the "Do you believe in God?" question. If the boy is not articulate or theologically quite sophisticated, it can lead to an answer which is not technically accurate and can cause problems for all concerned.


That is why "How do you show reverence?" or "How do you honor the 12th point of the Scout Law?" is better. It gives the boy a chance to tell what he has done and is an exploring question.

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Yah, Gern, that was GW not Ed, eh? ;)


I agree with Neil for a different reason. Yes/No questions aren't the best for a BOR. Better to ask things like "you promised to do your duty to God... what do you think your duty to God is?"


So, everybody raise their hands who have had a boy declare he's an atheist at a BOR. I know I have. All kinds of reasons for that. Feelin' rebellious, having doubts, tryin' to figure things out. Had a CC approach me a few years ago with one of those, an 8th grader at a Star BOR. The man was all serious-like. "Should we throw him out?"


I just laughed. Da lad is 14 for cryin' out loud. Be happy he's strugglin' with faith and not drugs. Just engage him where he's at, I said, and show him that God is real by the example you and your fellow adult leaders set in da troop.




P.S. My wise old Beavah advice didn't help, eh? That was a fussy, prune-faced bunch in that unit. They eventually drove the boy off just by how they treated him. Yeh win some and yeh lose some in da commissioner racket. :p


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Fellow Scouters,



I just finished another weekend of IOLS, just hours ago. The discussions that came up during the instruction of Interfaith Worship Service. WOW! Another can of worms we opened up there! A couple of leaders attending the training had a difficult time accepting that youth may have a faith another higher being or a god, rather than our God.


I guess, if I were to choose another profession, I would like to be a high school teacher. It took me many years to understand that there is a differences between my own wants and needs. What I want, is not necessarily what I need. Sort of, I want a Mustang GT convertable, but I need any ole' vehicle that will get me between home and work. Trying to relate that template to my thoughts of becoming a teacher. My own differences between expectations and acceptance. While, I would have high expectations of my students, I would accept the state established minimum grade, the lowest effort to successfully pass a student into their next grade level or into their future life. At work we sometime joke, "Aim high, but set the bar low".


May an Eagle Board of Review ask the Youth about God?

My opinion. Yes.


My concern would be that they have a belief of some religious principle. How strong or how weak, I cannot control. Refering back to John in KC's earlier post in this string.

"If his faith is weak, you may......." To myself, I am happy that they have a faith, weak or strong.


For any Scout, I would be very happy to hear how strong their faith is. But I would certainly accept them explaining their weak faith, and that they are still exploring their own definitions of who their god is to them.


For the few EBORs that I have sat on, all of those candidates expressed a faith. Only a few could state how they were reverent, but the majority of EBOR candidates could not amplify how they performed beyond just their basic belief. Along with answering a myrad of other EBOR questions, I was always happy with their weak faith as exceeding my minimum threshold.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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As noted elsewhere, a Buddhist Scout, wearing the religious award recognized by the B.S.A, if asked "Do you believe in God" would answer "No." I am sure there are other examples, not to mention the religions who have multiple -- even many -- Gods.


A Scout "does his best" to do his duty to "God" - in current BSA speak, a "higher power."


A Scout swears to be "reverent."


"How do you demonstrate reverance/performance of your duty to be reverent" seem perfectly appropriate, and that approach avoids the "God" dilemma.


"Do you believe in God" is not, I think, appropriate since it does not inquire into a standard for membership in the B.S.A. or for any rank.

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Well, Gern, do you think that question is appropriate? Would there be a reason to ask a question like that? I think it all depends on the Eagle candidate.


Actually, NeilLup, if a Scout is asked at a BOR "Do you believe in God?" and answers "No, I don;t believe there is any God." then it is perfectly within the BOR's right to deny the Scout advancement.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10



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"Actually, NeilLup, if a Scout is asked at a BOR "Do you believe in God?" and answers "No, I don;t believe there is any God." then it is perfectly within the BOR's right to deny the Scout advancement.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10"


Would it not, then, be appropriate to change the training materials for Boards of Review (that caution against that very question), withdraw recognition of the Buddhist religious award and, indeed, bar Buddhists -- and all other non-theists -- from membership?

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TAHAWK got me to wondering and I found this:


From Scouting.org: "Buddhist youth have participated in Scouting for more than 80 years. Since 1920, with the formation of Troop 4 by the Fresno Buddhist Church, young Buddhists in America have enjoyed the benefits of Scouting."


The BSA was just 10 years old at the time! Did this relationship develop as a misunderstanding by BSA about the nature of Buddhism, or were they more enlightened (no pun intended) than today's red-state conservatives in interpreting "reverence"?


How would a Buddhist scout answer the question "Do you believe in God?" correctly at a BOR?





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I daresay that the religious conservatism typical of the last several decades was not the context in which Scouting developed. Buddhist scouts were earning their Eagle long before deism became a BSA litmus test.


I am not Buddhist, and I welcome further information if I am wrong, but my understanding is that Buddhism is not as monolithic as the western faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with which most of us are more familiar. Buddhists from different regions of Asia will have different sets of beliefs; some do indeed believe in deities, but one of the defining aspects of Buddhism is that it is more of a life philosophy than a religious theology and that most Buddhists do not believe in any supernatural beings, including God/gods. That said, if a "typical" Buddhist Scout was asked if he believed in "God", he would probably answer "No."


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I dare say that most people in the UK and U.S. were far more conservative on religious (and social) matters a century ago when Scouting was founded then they are today.


But if that is an issue, it can remain open. Today, deism is not a litmus test in Boy Scouting. Those that think it is need training. Those who know it is not a litmus test and yet seek to impose it on Scouts need to the placed in positions where they can do no harm.

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So to summarize for MacyM from what most are saying (if not too presumptuous):


"What do you think of a Eagle board of review that dares to ask the scout if he believes in a god?

No but a question about how the scout has upheld the 12th point of the Scout Law is acceptable.



Isn't that a violation of separation of church and state?

No because the state is not a participant in scouting - it is a private organization and can ask any question that it wishes (or ban the asking of any question for that matter).


Are they allowed to ask such questions?

They are encouraged not to ask directly about a belief in God but rather how the scout fulfills his 'duty to God' and/or demonstrates 'Reverence'. The committee is to accept a broad range of responses, there is not litmus test.


I can understand questions about scouting stuff, but about a belief in a god is going a bit far, don't you think?

Most know that atheists are not allowed but scouting is not a witch hunt. We are to help boys (and girls in venturing) to become successful adults. A youth struggling with his religious beliefs will not be helped by being pushed into a label which could push him in a direction that the questioner may not like. The BSA recognizes this and wants great latitude in answers to 'duty to God' or 'Reverence'. For example, if a boy discusses protecting nature with LNT then that could be construed as reverence for nature and therefore satisfies the requirement.



(This message has been edited by MacyM)"

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