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Looks like it's a done deal

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My son, a Life Scout, also picked up on who the Scoutmaster is. (I tried very hard not to influence his opinion on this - just read the thread.) His opinion was that perhaps the SM needs to be investigated concerning her trustworthiness also. Surely, as his mother, she was well aware of his atheism and continued to pass him on Scout Spirit anyway. Listening to my son, I was reminded of how clear-cut younger youth view things like rules and requirements. (he is almost 14) We may argue philosophies and ideologies, but to him Lambert broke the rules - all of them - by living a lie. His solution? 1) Remove Lambert's registration - now done; 2) Remove Lambert's Eagle - dishonestly acquired because the preceding ranks were dishonestly acquired; 3) Investigate the SM with a view to removal from registration and maybe the District rep also for letting the atheism confession slide. A harsh judgment perhaps, but not unusual among his peers. As posted elsewhere, I have strong feelings regarding dishonesty in any form. No wonder he caught it, I taught it. I do find atheism disturbing since I am an active theist, but not threatening. It makes me so sad to think of Lambert's ultimate future. A character so badly flawed that he easily lives a lie, however, is reprehensible. I would not want him teaching my son, or even have him in my employ. It would be a grand thing if Lambert had a life-altering experience that forced him to look beyond and above himself.


Looking at the previous paragraph, I wonder how well young Lambert would have fared if he had been reviewed by a panel of Star and Life Scouts? Not from his own troop, that is, but those outside it. Down here, my son's judgments would have passed - much harsher than what the SE there did.

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Like many, I am puzzled and disturbed by the eagle question regarding Mr. Lambert. Every place I have been, eagle boards are conducted at the district level, not the unit level. Do we know what really happened here? If his mom was scoutmaster at the time, and participated in the board of review at whatever level, that is a clear violation of the rules. There may yet be a ground for revoking the eagle rank, although, as I stated elsewhere, I would be reluctant to do that. Is there any more concrete information available on this aspect of the Lambert story?

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OGE: If it seemed like I was belittling any religion or belief, that certainly was not my intention. I was trying to make the point that, no matter how "different" a belief system may be from one's own, the BSA "accepts" it if involves any sort of higher power. I see now that I made the point a bit too flippantly, given that peoples' strongly-held beliefs were involved. Plus, as I have discussed in another thread, some of my own spiritual beliefs, which do not follow any particular organized religion, turn out to be similar to some of those of the Plains Indians and other Native Americans. And I admire Hinduism because it seems to emphasize spirituality without the "judgmentalism" that is characteristic of the religions that I am more familiar with.



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I have never assumed that the Scoutmaster (Mr. Lambert's mother) was sitting on the Board of Review, but rather the members of the BOR had similar sympathies, attitudes, and beliefs as the supportive parents in their troop today.

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Rooster says:


I partially agree with NJ. I agree BSA should NOT accept some goofy excuse for a religion as "belief in God".


I don't know what part of what I said you were agreeing with, but I certainly did not say anything like your second sentence above. I don't agree with it. I think the BSA should accept anything that a person says is a religion or belief in a higher power as a "belief in God." I also think that if a person subscribes to the Scout Oath and Law, and the Declaration of Religious Principles, and otherwise does not wish to discuss their beliefs, the BSA should (and does) take them at their word. They are professing a duty to God, and that a Scout is reverent, and that is enough to indicate belief in a higher power. The BSA should not, and this case confirms that it does not, require more than that. Only in the case of an avowed atheist -- and apparently, one who does not profess a belief after being given a warning -- is terminated. I am fine with all of that.


What I am not fine with is you, Rooster, deciding for anybody else what constitutes "some goofy excuse for a religion." I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the less a particular religion looks and sounds like your own, the better chance it has of you labeling it a "goofy excuse for a religion." It is not surprising. You have already made it clear that you do not respect other peoples' religious beliefs and that you wish the BSA would change that aspect of the explanation for "A Scout is Reverent." With all the discussion lately about how people who don't like a policy can go off and form their own youth organization, perhaps you would be happier in a group that believes that you show reverence by declaring other peoples' beliefs "goofy."


Personally, I would prefer BSA to exclude Pagan religions and the like ("The Force" or some other kind of nonsense).


I'm not at all surprised. However, I suspect that what you would actually prefer goes beyong that. I don't have any proof or anything, but from everything I have seen you say, my suspicion is that what you would really prefer is if only Christians could join the BSA.


So those of you who disagree and can feel good - knowing that BSA will probably continue to accept those kinds of religions.


It's nice that I can agree with the BSA on a controversial issue. :)

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NJCubScouter, I appreciated your earlier post. I, too, was disturbed by the approach of the SE. Perhaps that is what it would take to appear 'fair' to non-Boy Scout outsiders.


If we (not just NJCubScouter and myself, but all of us) could compare religion/faith scorecards, I doubt there would be much consensus as to what is, um, legitimate? good? righteous? spiritual?. But that doesn't matter.


Scouting, as far as religion/faith is concerned, has been pluralistic, is pluralistic, and will be pluralistic. The Boy Scouts of America is not a church. Nationally, it is not a Christian organization (or anything else; it's just that Christianity seems to be brought up more often in this vein).


At the unit level, you can take whatever approach you want. So, revere whom you want to revere, and worship who you want to worship. And enjoy the freedom that this great country, and this great organization, gives to all.(This message has been edited by Compass)

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To keep myself physically strong ...


How many Scouts and Scouters have been booted out of BSA because they did not "eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, avoid harmful drugs (including alcohol & tobacco) and anything else that can harm your health."


If the BSA revoked the membership of every over weight SM, every smoker, etc. membership would decrease tremendously. Am I not trustworthy because I say the Scout Oath and am guilty of not getting enough sleep on camping trips?


Who determines what part of the Scout Oath the BSA wants to enforce and what parts they do not?


(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Dear Scouters and friends:


Since a scout is trustworthy, let me describe where I am coming from. I am glad that BSA has a right to set its own standards, but I believe that the organization is making many mistakes in doing so. I believe that BSA should allow unit level decisions (i.e. sponsor and committee) concerning who accept as scouters who otherwise pass their background check, so long as they follow scouting guidelines, as do all other scouters, about what is and is not part of the scouting program.


I firmly believe that BSA has no business dictating theology to religious denominations, as they have done with the Unitarians over the requirements for their badge.


I do not believe that youth should ever be barred by BSA for religious or sexual orientation issues, unless inappropriate behavior is involved. I believe that Eagle legitimately asks about persons beliefs, but should

pass a non believing scout who is able to articulate an acceptable set of rules by which he lives his life, and a sense of higher purpose than mere self gratification.


Now to the issue at hand.


I thought religion was a little different from the gay issue, because a person who does not have a religion can find one, and adopt it as his own, whereas I believe that sexual orientation is usually, if not always, an innate part of a person's being. I thought that the "religious test" BSA used was the statement of religious principle in the membership application, and whether or not you signed it. If you do not sign it, you are not accepted as member, if you do, you have met the requirement. It is that simple.


This young man apparently did sign the statement. In some way or other, he found a way to reconcile it with his personal values. According to accounts of what happened, when challenged about his reluctance to run a "scout's own" religious service at a training session, he said he does not believe in a god, and therefore, it would be hard for him to run a service. The instructor, a district official, according to Mr Lambert, then went off on a tirade about how atheists are evil and without morals. Mr. Lambert then left the class. Eventually, the council was notified and backed up the district official.


Here is my problem. He signed the form. Are national and council level staffs now reserving the right to second-guess the belief structure of everyone who raises an issue about faith? Did council or national chastise the trainer for his lack of respect for the beliefs of others, which is supposedly a core value of scouting?


The appropriate action, that would have maintained standards, (assuming any action was necessary) would have been to give him a failing grade on the part about religious services, and perhaps fail to certify him as a "trained" scouter. It would be not much different from failing a scouter who did not successfully camp overnight. And the trainer should have been sanctioned for attacking another scout's beliefs - regardless of what rules scouting enforces about membership.


I can imagine a scouter who supports the idea of "duty to God" without actually practicing or having a faith himself. I know enough about various faiths to know that not all require "belief" as the central core value, as does Christianity. I know enough atheists who are good citizens and examples to youth. Personally, I believe that faith in God is a gift from that same God, who makes himself known, or not, in unique ways to different people. Christian tradition is also full of examples of the "dark night of the soul", a period when God appears to retreat from our lives. And what Christian can forget St. Thomas, who did not believe until he touched the wounds of Christ. Also, any one familiar with young people knows that losing your faith is an often temporary phase of maturing.


As for giving this guy a deadline to find religion, well that is a bit silly. You simply cannot tell what is in a person's heart.


BSA should have said the Mr. signed his statement of religious principle, and that is that. Whatever his beliefs are at present, we understand his volunteer activities are acceptable to his troop.


I find it very disturbing that BSA national, and the Seattle council, have chosen to make a stand on this case. This is not an outside atheist wanting to join; this is a member admitting he no longer believes in God, at least at this point in his life. (His account is that he was a believer until high school) Let's put it this way, who empowered BSA to make theological judgments


I fervently hope that BSA changes its tune on this issue. Yes, they rightfully deny membership to any one who cannot agree that it is a good thing for folks to practice their faiths. Yes, they should encourage Scouters to show by example that spiritual issues matter. But they should not go around second-guessing the faith, or lack of faith, of your volunteers or employees or members.


BSA has the legal right to do this, but it simply does not have the competence to make these judgments.


Twin Wasp









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I looked the news story again and I did not read where this scout told his eagle board of review that he was anatheist. If this statment was made at any eagle board the Eagle award must be witheld. Words have meaning and an oath is more than just a suggestion. Where is honor?

Now the people who support the effort to force BSA to accept everyone would just as soon see "scouting for none".

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I didn't see anywhere in the article where Mr. Colson suggested teaching religion as science. However, since science doesn't have all the answers and because much of what (some) scientists claim has less scientific support than creation does, Mr. Colson is recommending that all theories of human origin be presented without the current bias toward evolution. After all, there is less valid evidence for evolution than there is for creation. Every time science advances or someone puts the facts of the Bible to the test we get more evidence to support the Bible's version of creation. Evolution is man's way of justifying his own irresponsible behavior. If there is no God my actions don't matter.


The bottom line, of course, is that it is more important to know where you're going than where you came from but God said HE created man. I'll take Him at His word.

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