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Good afternoon to all!


I followed this Agnostic Parent thread with great interest, both as a Wolf DL and parent. My older son is a Webelos I, and I have had a difficult time myself with the religion thing. We do not practice religion in our family, and while I was aware of the religious aspect of Scouting I have to plead ignorance on the Declaration of Religious Principle.


My son will not be moving into Boy Scouting next year because of the religion requirements, and that's not at our insistence, it was his choice. He feels that being forced to practice religion and pledge faith to a being he cannot believe in is unfair. I discussed it with him, and explained that as a private organization the BSA can require anything it wants of its members. We wiggled around the God requirement for his Bear rank, and we have wiggled around the Duty to God requirement for our Wolf scout. The wiggle room seems to be nearly gone.


As I said, I plead ignorance to the Declaration of Religious Principle. When I filled out my DL application there was no cover sheet to it, which is where the Declaration of Religious Principle appears. Had I seen it and read it, I never would have signed it. Apparently, I am not a good enough citizen to qualify as a leader. So, knowing this now, do I step down as DL and remove my kids from Cub Scouting?



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Please don't take offense but why not consider exploring religion to be sure that there is nothing to it? I invite you to visit a few churches close to home with an open mind. What if you are wrong and there really is a God? According to my beliefs, a lot depends on your decision.


If you are not willing or still don't find a reason to believe then regrettably the right thing to do is to drop out. I truly hope that it doesn't come to that.



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Eager Leader


I am sorry to hear your son felt forced to practice a religion, that should not have happened.


as far as having to "pledge faith to a being he cannot beliceve in" that ios a choice he is free to make but how then goes he fulfill his prmise to "do my duty to God"?


No one is forcing him to believe, just as no one is forcing him or you to belong to an organization of believers. That was your choice.


Why choose an organization that has a a manin tenet something you do not believe is true?


Why did you choose to skirt around the advancement that had to do with duty to God? Why not investigate it as a family a choose outright whether to accept or reject the existence of God? And then live a life that was reflective of whichever commitment you chose?


The bible says that faith alone is not enough, that by our actions faith is made perfect. In scouting two things are required and accptance in God no matter how you choose to worship Him, and actions to perfect that faith. You are not required to practice any religion.


just as a side note. While the Declaration of Religious Principles was on the left, the signature line you signed as a ledaer said something similar to: I have read and accept the conditions of the Declaration of Religious Principles, if you did not see them then the probably should have asked before you signed saying you had.


I once heard a good freind of mine who is a Presbyterian minister tell a scout, what's even more important than you believing in God is knowing that God believes in you.


It is never to late to discover God's love. I hope you and your family remain open to that event.







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You do not have to be a member of a mainstream religion. You do not have to be a Christian. You do not even have to belong to ANY specific religion.


The Declaration of Religious Principal :


The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, 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 organization or group with which a member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.



Do I believe in "God"? I don't know. Do I believe in "Something"? Again, for me this is a rather loaded question & a very personal issue. I believe in "Good" & "Evil", but weather these two things (entities?) should be in one religion rather than another (or any) is a whole other issue. I was raised Roman Catholic & intensly dislike the politics therein, but it is the only organized religion I know. When we had kids we decided that they needed some base. Something to start themselves off from. A beginning. So, we enrolled ourselves & them in our neighborhood Catholic Church. We also enrolled them in the Church's school. These belief's give them something to work with. You can't say you believe or don't believe in religion if you have no idea what religion is.


As they get to the end of High school & beyond, they will make their own choices of what feels right to them.


So, as I said, I don't know if I believe in "God" per say, but I do "recognize the religious element in the training of the member" & so had no problem with agreeing to the Declaration of Religious Principal. Religion, & the belief in religious aspects, like Scouting, is a journey. What a boy of 7 believes in is not necessarily what a young man of 17 believes in or an old man of 50 (oops!).


If you REALLY can not subscribe to the religious aspect of Scouting & do not want your children to even consider it, then YES, you should seriously think about quiting BSA & moving on to an organization you really believe in.


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I had religious training as a child, in a Congregationalist church. After I completed Sunday School and was old enough to attend church with the adults, my parents asked me if I wanted to go to church. My reply was, and still is, "no, this is all a big fairy tale". I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, this is how I feel.


I have asked both my boys if they want to explore religion, and they have both said no. Should I force them to? No. I don't remember Girl Scouting having such a strong religion component to it, and I was a Girl Scout for 9 years. I truly think Cub Scouts is a terrific program, and our pack is well-run. But can I subscribe to believing in something I don't? NO.



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This is great...thank you for speaking up EagerLeader...

As I mentioned in another forum topic, I'm not sure each Pack reviews and advises the parents or scouts on what they are signing at the beginning. I do think that there was a great approach suggested and would like to implement into our Pack.

However, EagerLeader has a not too surprising view point shared by more people as they enter scouting. These views are fought in court and are not easily answered in these forums. I am a practicing Catholic and while my forum as Agnostic Parent kept growing, I continued to do my homework on the religious principles that make up the BSA.

Unfortunately, the atheistic agnostic or atheist has nowhere to turn within the BSA unless the subscribe to the belief in a higher power.

Visiting a local synagogue, church or mosque is always a great first approach to religion, but the scout needs to be ready to understand why and it can (and should be) used as a learning experience.

Not sure where EL is located, but in my area there are alternatives to camping, young adult activities (including the Christian based YMCA)that offer activities without being part of the scouts.

But if nothing more, and I think EL has a good view point so far on this, is that the boy needs to develop and nurture their own beliefs and values by their parents guidance.

Historically speaking, it may work just the opposite for EL's son and instead of having religious training early on and ultimately turning to atheism...maybe the son will be guided to a belief that he is comfortable with and will eventually grow spiritually. BSA will always have a spot when these young men are ready.


As a follow up question, how does EL, as a leader, deal with the issue that the form was signed and now has admitted to questioning their own religious beliefs? Do we turn the leader away?

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This entire topic hasn't been an issue for me until I read your thread about the Agnostic Parent. Now I am questioning whether I am a fit human being, capable of teaching second-graders how to recycle. I am not a bad person! I'm not a homosexual, or a pervert, or anything else BSA declares is not "morally straight", I just don't happen to believe in a "higher power that grants favors". The whole issue of the Declaration of Religious Principle was not explained to me, and I honestly do not recall seeing it on the Adult Application I signed. There was also no mention of it at all during Basic Leader Training, or Leader-Specific Training.


I attended Scout Sunday with my Den. I sing Scout Vespers with them. I recite the Cub Scout Promise with them, and the Pledge of Allegiance. All of these make reference to God. Does this now make me a hypocrite, to BSA and our country?


One more question... hypothetically, if the CM knows I do not believe in God, and he is aware of the DRP but turns a blind eye (so to speak) to this fact, where is the harm?


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EL - I could not have summed it up any better...


My views to the family that have different beliefs will not change...

My agnostic parent also recites the Pledge, bows their head at scout led prayers and never makes an issue of their belief.


So now what do we do...you probably have seen the other thread I started as Faith in Scouting. Turn the proverbial blind eye...kick out all the self proclaimed atheists and atheistic agnostics? (The preceding question was rhetorical in nature and should not have a reply).


This is a tough topic and I give credit to anyone who is a BSA leader or is an active parent of a scout regardless or race color creed sexual orientation or FAITH. Unfortunately, the BSA did take a stance (right or wrong) but my question still remains...how do we handle leaders and scouts once we know?


I didnt know what I signed up for either...

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No one forces a scout or leader to practice, belong to, or profess any religion. It only requires its members to acknowledge God, a supreme being, a higher force; whichever word or phrase best describes the member's understanding of our creator.


If you don't see that in the world around you; in the vastness of the universe as it extends out to infinity; in the fantastic constructs of the atom; in the miracle that is life; then, yes, it's time for you to step down as a leader.


Why should you? After all, "Cub Scouts is a terrific program, and our pack is well-run." Why should you step down as a leader? Because as a leader, you are required to encourage the scouts in your den (including your sons) to live the ideals of scouting, which includes duty to God.


I recite the Cub Scout Promise with them, and the Pledge of Allegiance. All of these make reference to God. Does this now make me a hypocrite, to BSA and our country?


You say you recite the words of the Cub Scout Promise, but it seems you don't listen to them. Let me refresh you memory.


I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the law of the pack.


Do you wink at your sons when you're all standing up and reciting the Promise at the Pack meeting? Perhaps you skip the phrase "to God" and hope no one notices? Do you realize your sons are watching you? That the lesson they're learning from you is that it's all right to not be honest with themselves and others about their beliefs?


Yes, your actions do make you a hypocrite. It's time for you to step down.


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"One more question... hypothetically, if the CM knows I do not believe in God, and he is aware of the DRP but turns a blind eye (so to speak) to this fact, where is the harm? "


Hypothetically, the harm is that you are teaching your son that its ok to be dishonest, as long as it suits your own personal needs.


Not believing in a higher power does not make you a bad person, and the BSA does not state anything to that effect. What it does, is to violate one of the principles of the BSA, just like, to use a simple example, eating meat violates the principles of vegan organizations.






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No, I don't wink at them when I recite the Pledge and Promise. No, I don't skip the phrase "to God". And no, I'm not teaching anybody to be dishonest with themselves.


No one in my den, including MY OWN SON, knows that I do not believe in God or any other related ideal. How can you accuse me of being deliberately deceptive???? I don't try to discuss religion with anyone, and when the topic comes up I either don't participate in the conversation or gently change the subject.


As I said before, I was unaware of the religious requirement to be a leader. I only learned of it a few days ago when reading another forum thread.



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Are you all also going to tell me that, since I don't believe in God, that I can't live in the USA because I can't recite the Pledge of Allegiance without being a hypocrite? That I shouldn't be allowed to handle US currency because it all has "In God We Trust" printed on it?


So now I know that BSA has a religious requirement for their adult volunteers. And yes, BSA is a private organization and as such can require anything they want of their members, however ambiguous the requirement may seem. Apparently I have a decision to make, and unfortunately the Pack just rechartered with my name as DL. Do I leave the den in mid-stream to an incompetent leader (trust me on this one)? "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."





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Now that you are aware of the declaration of religious principles, I guess the only thing left is for you to be true to yourself. Afterall, that is all that really matters in the end, isn't it.


You recite the pledge of allegiance and scout promise, sign some papers and have joined an organization that requires as part of its membership your recognition of God. Granted, you could just continue to go along saying these things while ascribing no meaning to them. If that makes you feel hypocritical, I can certainly understand.


If I were in your position, I would seek a different avenue to employ your talents and energy in helping youth. While that may mean the loss of a committed adult volunteer, the BSA is simply not open to all.


Good luck.






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One of the most difficult part of trading opinions on the internet is the fact you only know as much about a poster as he/she chooses to reveal. Over the years I have become more jaundiced over posters and what their agenda's are. Here we have a leader who didn't know there was a religious component in Scouts, even though the phrase "Duty to God" is in the Cub Scout promise.


Then we are told the Cubmaster doesnt seem to care (hypothetically) and leaving would leave the den in the hands of a "incompetent leader".


If I were a really suspicious person, I could think this thread is a setup to get scouters to say that in light of all the circumstacnes presented, it was ok to have an Atheist leader. Then, the argument could be if its ok to have an atheist leader sometimes, why not all the time. So, I use caution when reading threads of this sort. Are we being set up?

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You stated that nor even your sons know that you don't believe in God. How is it that they do not know this and live in your home. My children know where I stand on these issues and I knew where mine stood (even though we never discussed it). They know, or at least have thier suspicions.



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