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Quixote

Statement of Faith

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I am a Christian.

 

If asked to lead a prayer, I will lead a Christian prayer and will most certainly mention my personal savior, Christ Jesus. My faith requires that I acknowledge Him.

 

BSA does not require me to leave Jesus' name out of prayer, but rather teaches me to respect your right to pray to your god or whoever you want, however your faith dictates.

 

I have no problem with that so please don't begrudge me to say a prayer as my faith dictates.

 

YIS

Quixote

Mark 16:15

 

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What boggles my mind are people who feel the need to wear their religion on their sleeves and proclaim such things as "A Statement of Faith" on a chat forum. Why would you be so presumptuous to believe that I or anyone else cares about your faith?

 

acco40

Ecclesiastes 1

(Everything is Meaningless)

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Acco,

 

your response proves that there is intollerance even in the scouting movement - what part of my faith or witnessing of it does you harm?

 

What part of my statment causes you to attack me?

 

my post was not meant to be presumptious, but it doesn't suprise me that you don't care about my faith. I probably doesn't surprise you that I do care about yours.

 

Quixote

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Quixote, I agree with you. The key phrase is "If asked to lead a prayer." If the person in charge of arranging a prayer at a Scout function asks you to lead a prayer, I have no problem with you doing so in accordance with your faith.

 

But as I said: "if asked to lead a prayer." If I were the person doing the asking, my first step in deciding who to ask would be to determine the needs of the group, then determine the intentions of those who I might ask, and then ask someone who would lead a prayer in accordance with the needs of the group. To get specific here, Quixote, if my Cubmaster asked me to find someone to lead a prayer at the Blue and Gold dinner, and you were one of the parents in my pack, what I would do is this: I would notice that my pack has a diversity of religious beliefs, probably more than half Catholic, most of the rest other types of Christians, with a couple of Jews, an Indian kid who could be Hindu, two Chinese kids who could be Buddhist, and maybe a few more exotic beliefs that I don't know about. Also, I suspect, a few who are not being raised in any religion at all but whose parents don't make an issue about it. My determination of the needs of the group would be that a generic prayer would be appropriate; I know of nobody in the group who would object to a generic prayer, and at the same time a few boys or their parents might be made uncomfortable by a more specific prayer.

 

Now we get to, who do I ask? Knowing of your belief that your faith requires you to mention Jesus Christ, in all likelihood I would not ask you to lead the prayer. In so doing, I have not begrudged you anything. In fact, I have not asked you to choose between your own beliefs and the needs of the group. I think I have served everyone's interests.

 

I also do not begrudge anyone from using a different thought process in deciding who to ask, though I think my way is pretty logical. I also do not begrudge anyone using the same thought process from asking you, or someone like you, if that is what he/she thinks is required/permitted to serve the needs of the group. In plain English, if everyone in the troop is a Christian of the same variety as you, and prays the same way you do, the leader could logically ask you to lead the prayer, knowing that you will pray to Jesus Christ as everyone else in the troop does.

 

Now, if there are just one or two kids who might be of a different faith or pray a different way, that's a decision the leader has to make. In all likelihood, the parents of those kids know the situation and have decided that's where they want to be for other reasons, regardless of the fact that the prayers may not always conform to their beliefs. Members of minority religions sometimes have to make that choice -- as I did, for example, when I decided I wanted to marry a member of the Catholic faith who insisted on getting married in the Church. As you might imagine, that involved some compromises on my part, one of which involved the religious content of my marriage ceremony. The priest actually bent over backwards to make the ceremony somewhat generic, but obviously Jesus was still in the building, so to speak. But my point is, that was something I chose.

 

 

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If asked to lead a prayer...

 

I usually found a way around it, for in my troop, the circumstances that NJCubScouter eluded to were real. We had Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and two Chinese families (I admit to never really knowing what faith they held). I was never comfortable with a generic format with such a variety. My appreciation for the depth of belief and the differences between us all lead me to using that variety as a learning experience and tool for all in the troop. If asked to plan for a prayer at whatever troop function we had, I would always seek out members of each faith the troop had, and ask that each provide us with a prayer specific to their faith, short, but specific. And prior to any of my volunteers speaking, I would remind the gathered throng that the prayers we were about to hear and partake in, were a reminder of the very differences between us all, and that we should all listen, and hear as best we could, the words spoken. From time to time, I would ask one of the volunteers to talk about what the prayer meant in his/her own faith, so that those of us unfamiliar with that faith might glean a little more understanding. I was always just a little amazed at how far that simple method went to promoting a better understanding and tie between each of us.

 

If asked to lead a prayer, and asked to be generic under those circumstances, I never could do a good job. So I chose a different road.

 

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I (as does the Boy Scout Handbook) interpret the 12th point of the scout law as follows:

 

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

 

(Excerpted from page 47-54, Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition,(#33105), copyright 1998 by BSA)

 

To me, This reads like it was written by a christian (it references God), but the last line takes all religions (or a lack therof)into consideration (Maybe a better interpretation would be to say "A scout is reverent toward his god.")

 

I, for one, do care about Quixote's religion, as I do about religion of all of you. If I were to live by the scout Law (as I must as a Scout Leader) then I must respect everyones religious beliefs (whether or not I agree with them).

 

To be intollerant of religious beliefs, to me is unscoutlike. I would have an immediate Scoutmaster Conference with any boy scout that takes an intolerant position toward religion.

 

I agree that the whole of the group needs to be taken into account, but in our "Scouts Own" services at monthly camps, I do not do the asking, the Chaplain's aid (or the service leader) does the asking, so we get christian prayers.

 

I for one would lead a christian pray, that is all I know. But I am lucky, haven't had the pleasure of religious diversity beyond christian protestants, catholics and those who don't attend but don't mind a good christian prayer.

 

Our charter organization is a Church of the Nazarene. If the IH or COR is present, and I was doing the asking (like at the COH), I will always ask them.

(This message has been edited by scoutmaster424)

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jmcquillan, I think yours is a reasonable approach as well. You use the prayers of different faiths as a learning experience, and everyone gets their "turn." In that context a specific prayer would certainly be appropriate, and just by default, the "generic prayer" will probably be in there as well. (What I really mean is that if spoken in English, most Jewish prayers will sound, to most Christians, like an acceptable, generic prayer: Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe...)

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NJ,

 

I actually understand your logic. It is well thought out and presented. However, I still take issue with your stance. Your supposition presupposes two givens that I feel are not true - 1) a prayer that mentions God by name is inherently offensive to believers of all other faiths; and 2) there will always be someone willing to say a generic prayer.

 

As for the first (offensiveness), if we are truly a religiously free and tolerant nation, than that tolerance should be demonstrated by and extended to, every citizen. By that, I don't mean we should accept practices and teachings that contradict our own. However, we should be able to withstand someone living their faith without feeling threatened, and that includes the closing acknowledgments of a prayer. As I've mentioned in another thread, if/when that happens, Scouts and Scouters are free to acknowledge the god of their choice.

 

As for the second (willingness to say generic prayer), this assumes that at least one person in your group feels that he/she can say a generic prayer without contradicting his/her faith. I must admit that this is a fairly safe bet. However, this means that you or your designate must search out such an individual. Are you going to interview every Scout and Scouter before allowing the individual to offer a group prayer? Are you going to establish a pool of people who can say public prayers for the troop and another pool that cannot? I think these efforts to be "inclusive" are contrary your goal.

 

If you want people to be tolerant, teach them tolerance. Don't try to establish a policy, which hides their differences. This policy teaches intolerance. If you want to be inclusive, don't establish a policy, which enables one group of people to say public prayers, and bans other group from doing the same. This policy would be exclusive, not inclusive. The simple answer is to let everyone live their faith as they see fit. If someone prays to a different god than yours, than silently insert the god of your own faith.

 

acco40,

 

As a Christian, I have to question why you would attack another Christian for simply expressing his belief in Christ Jesus and maintaining his right to recognize Him in public prayer? Do you think that believers who seek to fulfill the Great Commission are wearing their religion on their sleeve? Why Ecclesiastes 1? How does that testify to your faith?

 

jmcquillan,

 

I appreciate your approach. It enables folks to be true to their faith, and it doesn't force them to sit on the sidelines. It teaches tolerance. It is inclusive. My only hesitation would be in regard to what and how much is sermonized by the Scoutmaster. In other words, I think it is right to be inclusive and to expose the Scouts and their families to other faiths in the troop. I don't think it would be appropriate if the Scoutmaster lectured the Scouts and their families as to the significance of those differences.

 

scoutmaster424,

 

I understand your point, but I disagree with your definition of tolerance. We should be tolerant of people who wish to practice a faith different than ours, and respect their right to do so. However, I do not believe that I must respect the religion itself, only the people who wish to practice it.(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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Diversity is good, learning of other faiths is good.

 

When our PLC plans a religious service, they chose prayers from different religions, muslum, jewish, buddist, american indian, they say it is because they sound cool, or because it says the same thing they learned in a different way.

 

Good point NJscouter, I think prayers of most religions translated into english would probably sound to a christian like a generic prayer.

 

Seems most religions have the same ideas for living and getting along with others, but say it in their own way, or the interpretations into english leaves them sounding different.

 

I once saw the phrase "Do unto others..." listed in more religions than I knew there were. It didn't read the same, but you knew the idea was the same. I believe the article was to show how similar the religious beliefs were even though we may not believe the same.

 

And I do wish we had more religious diversity in our area as well as our troop, but the nearest non-christian church is over 50 miles away. I suppose that is where all the diversity is.

 

Rooster - I think you said what I actually meant(This message has been edited by scoutmaster424)

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jm, NJ, sm424 & Rooster - Thank you.

 

I believe that it is important that scouting teaches tolerance. I wouldn't have a problem with my troop being led in a jewish prayer, a muslim prayer, a christian prayer, a hindi prayer, etc. as jm, nj & r7 pointed out, this teaches tolerance through example.

 

Boys learn tolerance by exposure to others' values, faiths and cultures.

 

nj - have your boys gone to camp this year?

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Rooster, what makes you think I was attacking?

 

What I do not like is outward expressions that some make about their religious beliefs. I view it as a pompous act some of the times. For example your statement, "As a Christian, I have to question ..." Why not just state, "I have to question ..." What does having to be a Christian have to do with it? To some, it implies, whether it was meant to be taken in that regard or not, that if one was not a Christian, a different thought would be expressed. Religion to me is a very private matter. I am not a big believer in ritual, headdresses, beads, icons, chants, etc. Others are, no big deal.

 

I believe you are equating not liking something with intolerance. I do not like loud suits. However, I do tolerate others who wear them. I was raised protestant. My wife and children are Catholic. Probably because of my background, when I see a Crucifix, I see a human nailed to a cross and it conjures up feelings of pain and suffering for me. I remember my first venture into a Catholic hospital and seeing a Crucifix over the bed. Not my cup of tea. Give me a plain old "rugged cross" any day. I'm sure others see a very different image from it. Would I want one in my home, no. Does that make me intolerant, of course not.

 

In my other posts I have expressed a displeasure in hearing others display outwardly denominational prayer in a diverse group setting. That does not mean I am intolerant. When it occurs I tolerate it. I am not debating anyones rights. Of course individuals have the right to pray in the way they would like. They can also eat with their fingers. I just feel it is in bad taste.

 

For example, I find it very trite when posters feel the need to quote a biblical verse in their posts, i.e. Mark 16:15, etc. My quotation or reference to Ecclesiastes was meant to inject a little levity, obviously it went above most peoples head.

 

To get away from religion but on a similar vein, take the topic of respect for the flag. We hold our troop meetings in the basement of a Church (our Charter Organization). When in our field uniforms the boys perform an opening and closing flag ceremony as I'm sure most of you do too. There is always one particular scoutmaster who admonishes a boy or two to remove their hat during the ceremony. His belief is that we are indoors and that one removes their hat as a sign of respect for the flag. My view is that if the hat is part of the uniform, stay in uniform. Also, if he wants to show respect for the flag in that manner, good for him but don't impose his beliefs on others. Lead by example I say.

 

 

 

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Acco,

 

you state "In my other posts I have expressed a displeasure in hearing others display outwardly denominational prayer in a diverse group setting. That does not mean I am intolerant. When it occurs I tolerate it"

 

quite the contrary, you ridicule the person who posted it.

 

In my book, that is intolerance.

 

 

Peace

Quixote

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acco40,

 

What boggles my mind are people who feel the need to wear their religion on their sleeves and proclaim such things as "A Statement of Faith" on a chat forum. Why would you be so presumptuous to believe that I or anyone else cares about your faith?

 

It still sounds like an attack to me, but thanks for your clarification. Suffice it to say, my faith instructs me not to be shy about proclaiming God or His Word before other men. As for Quote's reference to Mark 16:15, you should recognize that verse. It supports his claim, which is, his faith demands that he tells others about God's saving grace...the Great Commission. So what you call "being pompous", others might call "being obedient".

 

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I must comment on this.

I agree in part with most comments. I am Jewish raised Orthodox but now Reformed. I used to feel uneasy when I am present at a Christian prayer service however I no longer feel that way. The reason is that I have no right to expect tolerance of my religion if I do not show tolerance to others. I make a point to teach this to my son.

I expect a service at any function that is said to be non-denominational be just that not non-denominational Christian. In this service I would expect to hear Christian prayers as well as others. The balance is what I am seeking.

If enough people are present then a specific service should be offered for that faith as well.

 

Back from summer camp and my son is now a Star Scout!!

Paul

 

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Rooster, you hit the nail on the head. What he (Quixote) may find obedient, I find distateful (pompous). That does not make one intolerant. We disagree, that is all. I don't question his right, maybe his motives (I really don't know the individual). Others' faith lead them on crusades, pilgrimages, missions, suicidal bombings, service to others, charitable works, jihads, solicitations, and on and on. Some of these actions I find distasteful, others admirable, some blasphemous, etc.

 

As for that fact that I should recognize the verse he quotes, you should know that many interpretations exist. One could easily interpret that passage "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." {Or, He said to them, "Go into the world and preach the good news to all creation.} That the "them" in reference were the apostles themselves, not us. He commissioned the apostles to go into all the world and preach to every creature.

 

I know that the majority Christian view of that passage is that it is the primary duty of Christians to "spread the word" so to speak. However, that it not necessarily the universal interpretation. While on the subject of Mark, as a "believer" when speaking his name do you drive out demons, speak in tongues, pick up snakes with your hands, drink deadly poison, and heal the sick? If not, why do you selectively follow biblical instructions? If a scout wanted to show his faith by bringing poisonous snakes to the troop meeting I would object. I don't feel that action would make me intolerant either. Now to put things in perspective, while I feel that the snake bit would be a "health and safety issue" and my protestations would be rather stringent my dislike of denominational prayer of the likes that I assume you would make I would probably bite my tongue, show no outward disdain or disrespect. But no, I would not like it.

 

I don't want to get into a discussion of scripture interpretation. Please, just realize that just because someones religious faith dictates that the individual act in a particular manner does not mean that I have to like that particular action and not liking it does not necessarily show intolerance.

 

 

 

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