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Merlyn says:


If you subscribe to a religion that doesn't require belief in gods (such as some forms of Buddhism) and do not believe in at least one god, you can't be a member, according to the official statements of the BSA. There's no membership exemption for people who follow a religion while being atheists.


Merlyn, what you say about Buddhism may be logical, but I do not think it is correct. In other words, it may be the logical conclusion one would draw from the BSA's general attitude toward atheists, but I doubt that you would be able to find a statement by the BSA to this effect regarding Buddhists, nor is this the practice of the BSA. (And I know you said "some forms" of Buddhism, but it is my understanding that Buddhism itself does not require a belief in any deity. Actually I once tried to figure this out in the BSA context and found an article on the Internet (probably in "beliefnet") by a Buddhist that said Buddhism is inherently "agnostic.")


The fact is that, despite the apparently atheistic or agnostic character of Buddhist, adherents of that religion are welcome in the BSA. I looked in my son's Scout handbook and confirmed my impression that there is a Buddhist religious emblem approved for wear on the Scout uniform, and next to the picture of the emblem in the book is the address for the "National Buddhist Committee on Scouting."


Now, Merlyn, I suspect you know all of this since it has been discussed in this forum before. If you are trying to cleverly make the point that the BSA is not entirely consistent in its dealings with people who don't actually believe in "God," you don't have to be sly about it, I would agree with you. It does sort of make me wonder what happens to a boy who does not believe in God, but recites the Scout Oath and Law (as Buddhists do, presumably, despite the fact that they don't believe in "God" and may have "different" ideas about what "reverent" means) and says that he is part of the "religion of Secular Humanism." (You know, the one mentioned in that footnote in the Supreme Court opinion, whose name I forget.) If that boy would be "out" but the Buddhist is "in," then maybe the rule is that it is ok to believe in an atheistic religion as long as the religion is at least 500 years old.


I don't know. I'm just speculating here. What I do know is that the search for total logic in the world is never-ending and often frustrating.

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I think the BSA is extremely ignorant on the subject of religion; look at what the official BSA spokesman, Gregg Shields, has said:




The Bahai, Hindu, Islamic and Zoroastrian faiths all co-exist. "I don't know if a Hindu should say 'I will do my duty to God and my country...' or if he should pluralize it?" I asked Gregg Shields.


"As I said the Boy Scouts don't try to interpret God. We simply ask that a scout and his leaders have a belief in God. So Hindu certainly could fulfill that need, " he replied unaware there is no such entity as "Hindu", Hindus instead worshipping a wide variety of deities.


How do the Scouts handle Buddhism, where there is no creator deity? (and is the Buddhist ideal of enlightened detachment really the same thing as "reverence"?)


"He believes in a supreme being, and that.. that is up to his interpretation," said Shields speaking innacurately and on the record.



And the BSA doesn't seem to allow just "religion" to be sufficient for membership; here's a 1998 letter to the Unitarian-Universalists:



Boy Scouts is not a secular organization as stated in Religion in Life; Boy Scouts is an ecumenical organization which requires belief in God and acknowledgement of duty to God by its members.



So I think the BSA will kick out any Buddhist members that they discover don't believe in gods, just as they've told the UUs.


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Rooster, Rooster


I love your inconsistency, first you say your first post was not an attack(which it was), then in your second post you start to attack again. First, I assure you my credentials are genuine from two top schools of theology. Second, I would love to counsel you but not in this forum. Thirdly, do not put words in my mouth, I never said anything to counter any scripture. However, I am sure that God in his infinite mercy has made allowances for people of other faiths to obtain salvation, after all Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were devout Jews, and the term Christian did not come along until the fourth century. Besides I think God has a much bigger design than you or I or any human could ever fathom. Lastly, I agree with Daigler, this site is about Scouting not religion and should not become a forum to challenge anyones beliefs. There are other forums on the net to debate religion, this should not one of them.

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Merlyn, One of my old department heads enjoyed reminding us that there is no such thing as a committee that is creative. He maintained, I think correctly, that creativity occurs at the individual level and that a group with which the individual associates can only encourage or discourage that creativity. Transferring that idea to BSA or any corporation, it is difficult to conclude that the organization could have ANY philosophy outside that held by its leaders, expressed as some sort of consensus.


In that vein, it is easy to accept that Greg Shields is ignorant of religion or any number of other subjects. But what Greg says is not necessarily the final say unless he is the BSA equivalent of a dictator. What I find particularly frustrating is the lack of clarity in how this corporation called BSA formulates its policies and regulations. It is difficult for a newcomer to understand the chain of command or organizational structure - I've never seen it in the form of a chart, and I've looked. Therefore it is difficult to understand who makes them... or how policies are made. And even more difficult to understand how to make effective changes. I sometimes wonder if this situation is intentional (remembering my administrative training in which underlings are supposed to be controlled by witholding information).


Finally, although I understand your point, I want to clarify that UU boys have not been kicked out of scouting, nor the adults. BSA simply has decided not to recognize the UU religious awards, for whatever harm that has done, especially to the boys.

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The title of this thread is GOD. The rules of this particular forum, Issues and Politics, allow for discussion outside of Scouting. At least, they did a few months ago. What they are today, Im not sure.


Rest assured though, I do not intend to take you up on the offer for counseling, whether that be on this forum or else where. My request for your help was facetious.


As for my consistency or inconsistency, Ill leave that for others to decide.


As for your qualifications, I dont doubt that you have a degree from two top schools of theology. There are many schools teaching heresy these days. Case in point


I am sure that God in his infinite mercy has made allowances for people of other faiths to obtain salvation, after all Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were devout Jews, and the term Christian did not come along until the fourth century.


I suppose it is possible to accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, and practice another faith, but I dont see how.


As to Mary and Joseph being that God chose them, and revealed His plan to them, I dont doubt that they realized and accepted Jesus as the Son of God. Salvation doesnt rely on accepting a label such as Christian; it relies on us accepting Christ as Lord and Savior.


As to Jesus status as a Jew Old Testament prophecy predicted that he would be a descendent of David. He is the fulfillment of that prophecy. The Jews were, and still are, Gods chosen people. However, their salvation rests on their acceptance of Him as the Messiah. New Testament prophecy predicts that this will occur in the end times. If you want Biblical references, I can provide them, but I would think that the aforementioned is common knowledge for anyone that picks up a Bible more than once a month.


In the end, it does not appear that you are willing to provide a logical explanation, supported by Scripture that backs your beliefs. The closest you came was I am sure that God in his infinite mercy has made allowances for people of other faiths. I suppose its possible. However, as a minister you should not preach what is not supported by Scripture. I caution you to take Gods word seriously.


James 3

1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.


Ill make you a deal: Ill read Matthew 5 (although I have before) If you read 2 Peter 2.(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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Packsaddle writes:

But what Greg says is not necessarily the final say unless he is the BSA equivalent of a dictator.


He is THE official BSA spokesman, and has been for years. He's the media liason for official BSA statements of public policy. About the only more authoritive source of BSA policy would be court statements given by BSA officials under council of BSA national's lawyers (where they consistenty state that atheists can't be members, with no provision for e.g. Buddhists who may be atheists).


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Well, Merlyn, I do not think it will surprise many that I am not going to be the one defending the BSA on the issues you raise in your last post or the linked documents. (I have previously criticized the BSA over the UUA affair.) I just wanted to point out that the BSA does "accept" Buddhists, which based on the article you linked-to, you already knew.


I also found this:



It indicates that the American Buddhist presence in Scouting goes back almost to the beginning of the BSA, and that a "formal" relationship between Buddhist organizations and the "relationships" arm of the BSA has existed for some time, though it does not specify how long.


OK, so why does a boy who says he is an atheist get kicked out, while an adherent of a religion that does not believe in God is welcome? Is it because the self-proclaimed atheist is "challenging" the BSA, while the Buddhist is not? This may be the answer. I don't think Buddhists go around telling people they are "atheists" or that they "don't believe in God." In their religion, it probably isn't an issue, so why discuss it?


I also suspect that Buddhist Boy Scouts recite the Scout Oath and Law "as written", while (as I understand it) the relatively few atheists who have been booted out, would not recite them, or modified them to exclude the terms "God" and/or "reverent." The Buddhist Boy Scout may modify the Scout Law to himself so that the term "God" signifies what the boy actually believes in -- but this probably can also be said of some Christians (who may mention Jesus Christ "to themselves" while speaking the word "God,") some Jews (who may use the Hebrew term internally), Muslims (Allah), Hindus (I'm not sure), Wiccans (the god and goddess, or just the goddess), deists (the Creator or Divine Providence or whatever), and so forth and so on. I think many Scouts and Scouters "internally adapt" that part of the Scout Oath to fit what they believe.


Now, why that could not be extended to boys whose internal substitute for "God" is something non-theistic, such as "the spiritual oneness of humankind," I am not sure. In practice, I think that is exactly what happens. The problem arises when the boy says so -- or more accurately, when he feels the need to express that his "internal substitute" for "God" is nothing at all.


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Rooster says:


The Jews were, and still are, Gods chosen people. However, their salvation rests on their acceptance of Him as the Messiah.


Gee, Rooster, when you say you don't respect the beliefs of others, you aren't kidding. The above is one of the most disrespectful things you could say about the Jewish people, who don't believe any such thing. Of course, you have the right to say it, but it's just not something one would normally expect to see in a forum related to an organization where people are supposed to be courteous and respectful of each others' beliefs.


Though, it is not the first time you have said this, or something like this, so from you it doesn't really surprise me.

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so,... about this "Religious Tolerance" award program. I see a committee of scouting leaders working with religious award committee leaders - a large unruly group, but dedicated to the cause {(Of course, we'd have to leave out a special few and include a special few so that Merlyn and Rooster can continue their game without boring us further...)(Remember, I'm about religious tolerance not self-imposed-blindness tolerance!)}. We could begin our search for award requirements with general research that requires better understanding of others and their beliefs. Then move onto an in depth study of one religion that historically seems at odds with the Scouts own religion, focusing on the environmental/political/societal events that impact religious traditions. Next, I think, could be a requirement to attend a religious service or ceremony in several different faiths, perhaps focusing on those least like a Scouts own faith.

Hmmmmmm, What else could we include??? Any ideas???

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Hey, I'm all for Scouts (and Scouters) if interested to earn their religious awards and be recognized by the BSA for doing it. Both of my sons have earned multiple (age appropriate) awards for the faith/religion that they are being raised.


If I had my druthers, however, the BSA would base membership on actions and not thoughts. Trust, loyalty, obedience, ..., and yes, even reverence are actions. If a Scout performs community service, performs "irksome tasks with a cheerful spirit", helps others, etc. I don't think that the BSA should make religion/belief a prerequisite.

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By definition, Christians believe Christ to be God Lord and Savior of all. Its not something I hope for (although, I am happy to embrace it as the truth)its simply what I believe to be true. If you chose to believe differentlyif you stated that Jesus was not the Son of God, I would not be offended. Id probably debate you, but why should I take it personally. Its your belief. I understand it as your belief. Id like to convince you to believe otherwise but its not a reflection upon me if you dont. Your beliefs, contrary to mine or not, dont harm me in the slightest way.


Are you offended by any religion that does not proclaim salvation for all - unconditionally? If so, Belief-O-Matic may be in need of a repair, because I would peg you 100 percent as a Unitarian (Universalism). Im sorry to say, all paths do not lead to God.


Christ Jesus is the only way to the Fatherthats what I believe. Its not an insult. Its just my beliefits that simple.




That soapbox seems to be getting higher and higherdont fall off now.


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Your rebuttal was not only blasphemous but shows a very poor understanding of Scripture. In case you haven't noticed over 2/3 of the Bible is devoted to the Jewish people as the chosen ones of God, maybe you never read that part, it sure sounds like it. Most Christians realize our roots are in Judaism. By the way my degrees are from the Union Theological Seminary and Harvard Divinity School. Where is your theological training from? I really feel sorry for you to be so intolerant of others beliefs. Rooster you are no "cock of the walk" in this matter. You can try to bully others but you don't phase me at all. Oh by the way I wasn't planning on counseling you, but I can suggest a couple of books for you.


Just remember Rooster God condemns intolerance and I am sure he is watching you and keeping track.

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"Just remember Rooster God condemns intolerance and I am sure he is watching you and keeping track."


Hi BadenP,


I've watched this thread throughout the day, and haven't seen anything come from you to back up your position. In fact, I haven't seen anything but insults and a list of your credentials.


Jesus told us to love one another as we love ourselves, but I don't recall Him telling us to be tolerant of all other opinions or lifestyles that are contrary to His teachings.


In fact:


1. When He sent His Disciples out to other towns to share the Good News, He told them to shake the dust of the unreseptive towns off of them on their way out. That it would have been better for that town to have been Gomorah. Doesn't sound very tolerant.


2. He told the Disciples that it would be better for a person to be cast into the sea with a grindstone around their neck, then for them to ever lead a child astray and into sin. Doesn't sound very tolerant.


3. The Apostle Paul told Titus and Timothy to first speak individually with a known sinner, then with a few other church leaders, then finally to distance that person from the group. Shun them. Doesn't sound very tolerant.


The problem is... you seem to equate tolerance with love and respect. They are not always the same.


I love my children, but will not tolerate them lying to me, stealing, etc...


It is very possible to love someone and not be tolerant of their behavior. Love the sinner, hate the sin.


Rooster has shown himself repeatedly to be this type person in these forums. He loves people so much that he keeps trying to share the TOTAL Good News with people despite them ignoring him, and despite critisism and persecution.


If that's not love... I don't know what is.

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