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Agnostics excluded from BSA?

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It's all very simple.

 

If a Scout decided that the best way for him to fulfill the requirement of spiritual responsibility (ie duty to God) was by asking questions, thinking philosophically, and acting morally, he would be doing his duty to God.

 

Agnosticism is founded on the philosophy that when humans stop asking questions, we stop learning. Many agnostics feel that if they stopped asking questions about spirituality and decided precisely what they believe in, they would stop learning, too. They find it as hard to understand how a man can go through his entire life in the same religion as others find it hard to understand why he won't make up his mind.

 

If a Boy is willing and able to agree to live by the Scout Oath, then he is allowed to be a member.

 

Therefore, agnostics have every right to be members of this organization.

 

After all, as long as a boy believes that he is doing his duty to God, what right do we have to tell him that he's not?

 

 

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From a page on the Web-

 

"Accordingly, the Agnostic Church seeks to discover the true nature of God, not excluding the question of whether God exists or not, by encouraging further scientific research and the gathering together (and integrating as a whole system of thought) of the entirety of knowledge known to all individuals throughout the universe."

 

Now read page 54 in the current 11th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook.

 

A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

In other words:

1. There is a God.

2. Do whatever your religion tells you to do with regard to item #1.

3. Understand that others may not have a 1 or 2, but respect them anyway.

 

Since the Web page stated "not excluding the question of whether God exists or not", it would seem that agnosticism is not acceptable in the BSA, because they are more or less in the "undecided" column...

 

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cjmiam brings an important point up by seeking to codify the meaning of agnostic with a definition from an authoritative source. While I am sure that the definition given is accurate for those within the Agnostic organization, itself, I am left wondering if it is also as correct for many folks who are not as interested in setting artificial boundaries for themselves. The simple definition of agnostic as someone who is seeking knowledge, and therefore does not profess to "know all things", is one that is most prevalent in the community at large. While it may be upsetting to some fundamentalists, or others who hate to have their belief system challenged, it is not a challenge to the recognition of a higher power. Picking nits seems to be a time honored passtime for some, but as a leader, it seems pretty pointless to spend so much time trying to disqualify folks for simply being honest.

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OK, good research cjmiam. I was not aware that Agnostics had a "governing body" I was always told that Agnosticism rejects codefied belief systems in favor of a personal experience and a personal relationship with God therefore making an Agnostic Church impossible if not just an oxymoron. But hey, I'm not an Agnostic.

 

Be that as it may, I have sat on two Eagle boards where the Scout being reviewed identified himself as Agnostic (after lengthy discussion). The board in closed discussion was informed by the district advancement chairman that because the both boys stated that they believed that there was a God they should be awarded their Eagles even though the boys both weren't sure what the proper mode of worship and observance was. If they did not believe that there was a God then they were not to be passed. With further thought I stand corrected from my earlied post, A district level Scouter indicated that the BSA will not accept an Athiest as an Eagle.

 

All of this discussion leads me to think that wether or not the boy calls himself an Agnostic is irrelevant. What matters is that the boy believes that there is a God and that it must be honored and all of the labeling is a non-issue.

 

This has been a pretty interesting thread. Thanks to all the posters for keeping it polite and calm.

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This has been an interesting thread with a civil discussion, as Mike Long points out. There was never any doubt in my mind that agnostics should not be excluded. As I implied earlier, I would not expel, or be part of any attempt to expel, any boy who declared himself to be an atheist. I also agree with the interpretation of the eagle requirement that may prevent some declared atheists from receiving their eagle. At that point I think a personal choice has been made by any such scout.

 

I am also somewhat bemused to learn that there is an organization of agnostics. I would think an agnostic organization is an oxymoron. Is this a great country or what?

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