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I need some help on this one.

 

At a recent Venture Crew meeting the Advisor stated to the members of the crew that he would like to see everyone work towards earning a religious award(specifically protestant). Our crew is made up of different denominations and one of the members stated that he didn't believe in "God", that he was an "Atheist".

 

My feelings is to remove him from the crew. I have already spoken to the COR about this, but would like to hear from everyone else on what they would do if this situation involved them.

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You're fufilling your destiny @InquisitiveScouter! Become my apprentice, and learn to use the dark side of the force! 

we could build a bridge out of it.

About as much as an unladen swallow?

This is a serious issue, I would have a very formal, sit down serious discussion with the young man. If indeed he is Atheist, he cannot be part of the Venturing Program.

 

Such a comment could have been made in jest, a clarification is needed, and removal is indicated if the claim is verified.

 

BTW, it not up to the Crew Advisor to set goals for the Crew members, such as receiving the Religious Awards, thats for the crew to decide

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I agree with the Old Grey one. It's not up to the advisor to set this as a goal. He can encourage it, but it is certainly not required.

 

It's important to understand what the youth meant. There was an Eagle BOR in this area that nearly got de-railed by a similar statement. After quite some discussion, the boy eventually said that he recognized that there was some "higher power in the universe", but didn't believe it was the traditional God that most believe in. The BOR eventually accepted this position as within the spirit of Scouting.

 

Here's a quote from the BSA website: "The bedrock of Scouting's values is literally and figuratively ... duty to God ... "On my honor, I will do my duty to God and my country ..." To Scouting, the question is NOT: Can a person be honorable without a belief in God? Rather, our commitment is that no child can develop to his/her fullest potential without a spiritual element. The Boy Scouts of America is not a religion ... it is an organization with strong religious tenets. It is a movement that is committed to developing the entire child ... spirituality is very important in that total development. That is why we hold to duty to God. Whether it is the Judeo-Christian ethic; or a Buddhist, Protestant, Mormon, Catholic, or Native American ethic; or that of any of the other great religions of our world, the Boy Scouts of America is committed to the proposition that no child can develop to his/her fullest potential without a spiritual element in his/her life."

 

Best of luck in dealing with this.

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Ask any Catholic priest if he ever (since becoming a priest) has doubted his faith or God. If honest, most will say yes. Same goes for member of the clergy for other denominations and for lay persons. For me, boys of Scouting age question their beliefs and those of their family. They are formulating their independence and character. I believe as Scout leaders we should act as role models and not as the "religious police" with respect to Scouting. Be reverent yourself. I'm aware that not everone shares this opinion.

 

Why on Earth do you feel compelled to remove him from your unit? Unless he is proselytizing for "atheism" among members of the crews I'd let it go. I believe the Advisor is more in the wrong with respect to Scouting's methods and aims than the young man.

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After re-reading the original post, I have to say that I'm not sure that the advisor was really all that wrong. If all he said was something to the effect of "hey guys, Scouting has these religious awards that you can work on... it's a great opportunity to expand your faith... it would be great achievement for you...", then I think he is okay. In fact, I seem to remember making a similar statement on one or more occasions. In fact, the BSA provides a poster of religious emblems that they encourage you to post for the purpose of encouraging/informing boys of the program.

 

Acco - The problem is the boy did publically state that he is an atheist and doesn't believe in God. At that point, he openly admitted to standing against the BSA policy and - in essence - lied on his BSA application (unless this is a recent change of opinion). If the other scouts picked up on it, you have to bring it to resolution, or they may see you as a hypocrit. I agree we're not the "religion police", but we also have to support BSA policies/principles.

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Thanks acco40, for saying part of what I wanted to say about the religion police (my term is 'faith nazis'). I add to the rhetorical questions: How will his exclusion benefit the crew? What benefit to him?

 

On the other hand, while I agree that the leader has no mandate to set goals for the crew, the leader is allowed to inform them of potential goals. If he merely stated an opinion in a manner similar to the original post, he isn't prohibited from that. I have heard other leaders make similar statements and after brief conversations regarding the multiple faiths in their units, they agreed that individuals should make those decisions for themselves. Fair enough.

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The advisor overstepped his place only when he stated that he would like to see everyone work towards earning a specific (protestant) religious award. If the crew is chartered to a local Campus Crusade, then his statement is perfectly acceptable. However, if the crew is chartered to a non-sectarian organization (say an American Legion Post), then the advisor is clearly in the wrong by promoting a specific religious award.

 

It is imperative that someone explain to the crew member that membership in a BSA crew requires belief in a higher power (most commonly referred to in the USA as "God"). Print out what EagleInKY posted and sit down with this youth. If he cannot in good conscience accept the concept of God as presented in those words, then he needs to find another youth organzation.

 

Why on Earth do you feel compelled to remove him from your unit? Unless he is proselytizing for "atheism" among members of the crews I'd let it go. It to me sounds like he IS proselytizing when he states that he is an atheist. Since the Venturing Oath states:

 

As a Venturer, I promise

to do my duty to God and help

strengthen America, to help others,

and to seek truth, fairness, and

adventure in our world.

 

why on earth would you encourage him to remain and be a hypocrite? We don't need any more Darrel Lamberts in scouting. Uhg, the very name turns my stomach.

 

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Eagle 1984

Are you the COR?

If you are not you cannot remove him.

I think you should sit down I find out what his belief is, and if he does not beleive in a higher being, you need to tell your COR and the DE.

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I'm sure that you could get the youth to agree to some form of theism. Pantheism, panentheism, monotheism, polytheism, deism, henotheism would all fall within the BSA guidelines. In fact, the BSA's guidelines include several religions which aren't theistic at all. There is quite a lot of room here. The only faith that the BSA excludes is the positive belief that there is NO GOD WHATSOEVER. Given the broad definitions of God (even just those accepted by the BSA), holding this position seems more difficult than accepting the existance of one of the Gods.

 

It is quite likely that the youth is using the term "atheist" for lack of a more precise or more accurate word. If nothing else, perhaps the youth will agree to being an agnostic and concede that ahigher power exists, but that its specific properties are unknown to him. This seems to work for many scouters..

 

 

The advisor shouldn't encourage earning a specific award for all members, of course. But there is nothing wrong with encouraging members to earn the awards relevant to their faiths, if availiable.

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I think Adrianvs is on track here with some good suggestions. I could see this youth questioning religious ideas...but to KNOW positively that there is no god is unlikely. The youth may well be using the term 'atheist' for lack of a better descriptor. This is one of the concerns I have regarding the whole topic of faith. One person simply cannot know what is in the heart or mind of another person. We merely have spoken or written words of expression and so often those are inadequate (a glance at most of the discussions in these forums should be convincing enough). Therefore I think we should not be so quick to judge (or eject).

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It is not enough to merely 'think that maybe there might be a supreme being but not knowing what it is' to meet the membership requirements of the BSA. You must "do your duty to God". The BSA requires not only a belief in God, but requires visible outward action on the part of the scout or scouter in service to God and their religious beliefs. What the BSA does not require is that you worship in a specific religion determined by the BSA, or that you conform to a specific explanation of God as predetermined by the BSA.

 

But, real belief, and real service, are required of all members.

 

Bob White

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I would first encourage a careful discussion with the young man about his beliefs. I would then request a similar discussion with him and his parents.

 

It is possible for a young man to be an atheist as an outward expression of an inward conflict and yet remain within the boundaries of his religion. Attempting to realign a person's beliefs with an exterior rule may be viewed as a denial of one's chosen religion and that would create quite a different argument.

 

It is important to address this issue but it could be considered part of the person's religious growth, so care should be exercised in the discovery process.

 

I have had experience with this issue and the nuances are enough to make a grown person beg for soccer.

 

FB

 

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I'm sorry, but if the BSA allows Buddhists (for whom there is no god) to demonstrate a "duty to God," then I don't think that the organization should have a problem with a deist or agnostic theist.

 

The agnostic or deist can have "real belief" as well. It's just a real belief regarding fewer specific properties of God. I agree that agnosticism shouldn't be seen an excuse for indifferentism as far as the BSA (or anyone else) is concerned. However, one needn't fully understand God in order to serve Him or do one's duty to Him. It certainly does take more than "thinking that God might exist," but a list of God's necessary and sufficient properties isn't required.

 

On the other hand, let's not think of this as a bogus membership requirement. Bob is right; it should be a real and significant part of the person's cosmology and a guiding factor in their behavior. Even if their relationship to God is primarily composed of trying to find and know God, I think that would qualify. In that case, it would be the individual's duty to God.

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