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Was I the only reader who got a queasy stomach reading your post? You were told to ask your fellow scouts whether or not they subscribed to a faith or doctrine? It's just plain wrong to put you, the SPL, in that position. Frankly, I think it's just plain wrong for the troop to even ask the question (unless it's a church sponsered troop and membership in the church is a troop requirement - rare, but allowed by BSA). Please put my tender stomach at ease and tell me I misread your post.

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Don't shoot the messenger, but, Ummm, need to correct one thing said here - our nation is not founded on the Bible, nor were our Founding Fathers necessarily Christian, deists yes, - as quotes from some of them prove (Paine, Madison, Jefferson and Adams). I've deleted the more extreme statements but they are easily found:


Thomas Jefferson:


I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.



John Adams:

Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?


Also Adams:

The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.


Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:

The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.


Here's Thomas Paine:

I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).



It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.


Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance.



Finally let's hear from James Madison:


What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.


Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote:


Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.


These founding fathers were a reflection of the American population. Having escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7% of the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the Declaration of Independence was signed.



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Pack, Jefferson's word was actually "sacred", but Franklin, and the rest of the Comittee of Five, made him change it to remove Religion one more step away from what they knew would be their govt. founding doctrine.


CubsRgr8 - count me in as a queasy stomach!! Also, I'm less enthusiastic than others about the whole post.


Vicki, well informed - well written. Thank you.


EagerLeader, we all wish you well. Choose your path slowly, this isn't black and white - not even close. There are many Buddhists who qualify for membership - but they wouldn't fit in with much of what you've read above. You do not need to participate in anyone else's religious organization or beliefs. You do not need to feel confined to the word "God".


You certainly don't need to accept the word "hypocrite". Most people on the planet are searching for answers and purposes and truths. Most are (culturally) lucky enough to be starting their quest from the opposite direction as you. You don't seem to be sure of the answer, or there would be no need to write your original post. So, assuming you're still "searching", I'd put forth the effort to come closer to an answer which can comfort you. Trevorum is a good resource - he's well informed. Google "Buddhism" or any other faithbase you can think of. You don't need to find your truth tonight, just be looking for it - sooner or later you'll bump into reverence - and you'll wonder why you didn't see it all along.


IMHO, Eager leader, Scouting is another searchjourney, though other Scouters may define you using their terms and beliefs, we supposedly teach young boys to grow and define themselves. Perhaps now is a good time to take another step toward growing, changing and defining yourself.


With all due respect to BW, trying to create change from within is often a good thing - not easily accepted by others; but the critical are often critical of outsiders trying to make changes, as well. Growth only comes with change and it has to come from one direction or the other.



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John, wonderful post! As one still on her faith journey aka an honest seeker, I enjoyed reading it.


Realized after I posted that I failed to properly attribute the quotes and statements. Most of that e-mail was from SIX HISTORIC AMERICANS, by John E. Remsburg (who interviewed many of Lincoln's associates). Much of his work on Jefferson came from THE MEMOIRS, CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANIES FROM THE PAPERS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON, 4 volumes ed. by Thomas Jefferson Randolph (the grandson of Thomas Jefferson).


I did some of the writing and verified the quotes.



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Perhaps OGE was right, and EagerLeader was just trolling for a response, or maybe she just didn't like the answer--after all, nobody, even those who think the policy should be changed, told her to just keep quiet and stay in the position. Rather, the advice--with which I agree--was:

1. Consider whether you really, really are an atheist or not. BSA allows a pretty broad set of beliefs to qualify.

2. If you really, really are an atheist, you don't qualify for membership and the honest thing to do is resign.

Very reasonable, nothing about being "unworthy" or a "bad person."

It's just like when the CM of my son's old pack presented me with a knot, but I discovered later that I don't qualify because I hadn't attended Roundtables. I don't wear the knot. It's simple.

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The same men that gave us the self-evident truths (*it is the highest of all truth because no other proof is needed), gave us slavery and supported it not only with their ownership but with scripture and with their votes. It is one of the most glorious but curious of statements in history. Could we then in all fairness call that a myth or was it an expectation born of compromise which could only become a debt delayed to be paid over many years and with many lives but never in full?



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I really don't understand why an Atheist would want to join Scouts. I think everyone knows now that part of the requirement is the belief in a Supreme being. I actually have no problem with the Leader that said she does at least recite the Promise with them and teaches the kids the requirements. They might be better served by someone that does actually believe in God, but good leaders are very hard to find.


I find Faith a touchy subject even within my Den. We have had a Pastor come in and speak to the boys, and have discussed it as a Den. I am a Wolf Leader and I find that at this age if I can make them understand even what the word Faith means, then I'm pretty happy. I leave most of the discussions about what "Duty to God" means to the boys and their parents though. Sometimes I catch looks passing between the parents during the discussions in the Den. Rolling of eyes etc. I think that if the parents don't like it, then perhaps they should join another organization. I'm not a Fanatic. I actually feel guilty because I hardly ever make it to Church anymore. I do believe though, and actively teach it to my son at home.


For those that don't care for it, then leave. I'm not trying to be harsh, but it would be like me showing up in an Atheists living room and saying I'm going to pray for the next two hours and you're going to watch. Don't try to make our organization change to suit you. You know what the organiztion is. If you don't then you haven't been reading the news, listening to the radio, etc.


I do think a program like Scouting could greatly benefit young boys who are being taught Atheism. Perhaps someone should start a separate program for them. Separate from BSA. I wish them all the best of luck.





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You can visit my living room anytime and pray for two hours and as long as you don't break something or cause me get a snakebite, you're welcome. I'll probably start daydreaming after the first couple of minutes. My wife complains that I do this when she's talking to me as well. Incorrigible, I suppose.

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If you have ever read the newspapers, how can anyone involved in Scouting not know there is something about religion in the rules. To sign up to be a leader as an atheist without questioning this shows me that you are 1) not aware of current events or 2) do not care enough about the policies of the organization. Either way, you now know and quite simply, should resign from the organization. The "incompetent leader" will survive without you. I've been involved in Scouting for over 35 years, have never had religion shoved down my throat but know its a part of Scouting. I've also seen incompetent leaders come and go yet somehow the program continues, other leaders step up, and boys grow into young men. You may be missed but the program will be be better without you in the long run. Sorry to be so blunt and I hope you find an organization that will conform to your beliefs rather than one that requires you to conform to rules of the organization.

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Personally, I don't let anyone carrying a venomous snake through my front door, praying or not.


Seriously, this actually happened to me once (not the snake part) when I was young and had lots of spare time. These very nice people came to my door and wanted to talk religion. I was (and still am) very interested in different belief systems and so I invited them in for a chat. After a while they started to pray. They graciously invited me to join them but I declined. They continued for at least 30 minutes and, unsure what to do, I tiptoed around my apartment, doing the dishes an folding laundry. In retrospect, it was like something you'd see on a sitcom. They finally came to a conclusion, and we all expressed cordial wishes and they left. They came back the next week (and the next...) but not wishing to get their hopes up, I thanked them for their interest and gently begged off. They eventually moved on to more promising targets.

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All kidding aside, RisingScout, BelieveInScouts, and Calumetz - welcome to the forum, all of you! At the risk of my sounding like a broken record to the others, please remember that "BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion" (BSA position statement - June, 2000).


In other words, belief in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God of the Old Testament is NOT required for membership. For example, Wiccans who pray to natural spirit deities are welcome, as are Buddhists who do not recognize gods at all, as are Zoroastrians who worship the very ancient supreme God Ahura Mazda, as are those whose interpretation of god is cosmic.


The only persons who are not allowed membership under current BSA standards are self-proclaimed atheists.

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Not to be terribly off topic here...but I wish a slight retraction from Fuzzy....

The gents who gave us "self evident" did not "give" us slavery...which was here before the first whiteman set foot in the Americas, and which has been around thoughout the history of Man ...and still exists on many contentents...Afican, Asian, European and American...


but to lay its existence on the men who brought forth this nation is just a bald-face lie...and I expected better...of fuzzy


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Trevorum, good one! On that basis, I know a few politicians who wouldn't make it in...but, ahem, I already have a few venomous creatures here, oh well too late.

FYI, I'm visited by Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally. Similar situation, but they take one look at my bookshelf and quickly make their escape. Probably afraid of something venomous. :)

(no, it's not my mother-in-law, I love my mother-in-law)

(OK maybe 'love' is perhaps too strong a term, it would be more like 'have great affection for', yep, that's it.)

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