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I dissagree with you.

Please turn to page 9, 45 and 54. You'll see that a scout must agree to live by the Scout Oath and Law. How can he if he doesn't believe that God exists? BSA does not establish which religions are acceptable and which are not. However, he can't do his duty to God if he does believe in some kind of God.



It's not a witch hunt, the young man made his comments to the BR, they didn't give him the third degree. Once revealed, it should be the responsibility of the BOR, troop committee and SM to determine his fate.


I agree that EVERY opportunity should be given to the lad for him to clarify his position. If he doesn't believe, he can't be a member. Soryy.



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Gonzo, so your position is that Buddhists who do not believe in a god should be denied BSA membership.


This will be of great interest to the thousands of Buddhist Scouts and Scouters who are currently registered. You should express your concerns to the National Religious Relationships subcommittee, directed by National Executive Mr. Don York. His email is DoYork@netbsa.org

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Wow - lousy situation.


Have to join in with Trev, Aquila Calva & others - "exploring Buddhism" may be the route for this young man to take. It satisfies the DRP and (more importantly) does give this young man an ethical/moral framework to operate within without much dogma to wrestle with.


Personally, I don't know that anyone really has religion or knows what they truly believe in until life's kicked them around a bit. Hopefully, this young man can stay in scouts,

grow up & let his beliefs develop in their own timeframe.


Good luck to you & your "doubting Thomas"


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You STILL don't get it:

You said "Gonzo, so your position is that Buddhists who do not believe in a god should be denied BSA membership"


You're trying to pin me down by saying that since Buddhists don't believe in "A" god, it appears as though Buddhists believe in the existence of many devas ---- See below.


I don't need to email anybody at national about anythng.


Pg 45 of the Boy Scout Handbook says in part:

... To do my duty to God

Your family and religious leaders teach you about God and the ways you can serve. You do your duty to God by following the wisdom of those teachings every day and by respecting and defending the rights of others to practice their own beliefs.


Pg 54 of the Boy Scout Handbook says in part:

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



A brief internet search of Buddhism reveals this:

Buddhism speaks of the existence of category of beings called devas. This term is generally translated as "gods" (with a simple `g' and in the plural). The term deva literally means a shining or radiant being, and describes their physical appearance rather than their supernatural powers (as the translation "gods" seems to imply).


So if a Buddhist believes in devas, he passes the belief test.


Someone who does not believe in God does not.

Either believe ------- or leave.


Now do you get it?


God or light, love, a leaf, awesome power, higher power, or whatever Trevorum thinks will pass the 'God' test, Bless America!


By the way, I hoe he can stay in scouts. Give the kid every opportunity, but if it's a dishonest attempt to circumvent the rules, I don't think so.


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I'm no Buddhist, but what I think I know about Buddhism, is that they do not believe in a higher, supreme being. They worship, if you call it that, the darma which is found within yourself and nowhere else. Self worship if it were.

From wikipedia:

Buddhism (also known as Buddha Dharma (Pali: Dhamma), "the teachings of the awakened one") is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, a way of life, a practical philosophy, and arguably a form of psychology.


Note the term "non-theistic". Not theistic, but A-theistic. Or in popular terms, atheists.


How does a Buddhist become the best citizen if they cannot recognize a higher being?

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For some reason, I don't trust wikipedia as a source, I heard anyone can make changes to it. I went to buddistinformation.com




I'm not saying one religion is better than any other. What I'm saying is that instead of his troop committee (or us) trying to pigeon hole this lad into a religion so he can become and Eagle is rediculous.


He stated that he is agnostic. I say give him a chance to fully explain and discuss with a minister his position. If he doesn't believe, he would make his own fate. At 17 years old, he should be mature enough to accept the consequences.


As I stated, I hope he can remain, but the policies are not enforced along the way, then there is no integrity in the policy. I know BSA policy is fairly broad in this matter. It shouldn't be as big a deal as we all are making it.



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OK, Gonzo, if that's your interpretation then I want to apologize. Your statements, "Belief in God is fundamental to BSA membership.", and "... a scout must agree to live by the Scout Oath and Law. How can he if he doesn't believe that God exists? " led me to believe that you saw the issue from the simplistic prism of western theology. I'm genuinely relieved to learn that you are more tolerant than that. We've had some earlier members of this forum loudly proclaim that their faith system is the only true one, and I suppose I was responding to that intolerance.


As you may have discerned, I strongly believe that religious tolerance is a vitally important value in our world. Some Scouters seem not to appreciate the value of religious diversity and I find that I am bound to confront that attitude, whether it comes from ignorance or self-righteousness. As I have said before, God is too big to fit inside one religion.


If our words on this forum serve to spark even a few Scouters to learn more about Buddhism (as you have now done) or any other belief system, then I want to again thank Scouter Terry for providing the venue.


I'm not Buddhist, but perhaps I know more about Buddhism than do many Scouters. It is not a single philosophy but has many variations. Some Buddhists are theistic; others are adamantly not (Sort of like UUs). The notion of a powerful, controlling god is as nonsensical to them as Invisible Pink Unicorns.


I miss Kahuna. I wish he were still here.

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Because your question was in the context of a BofR, the current BofR training materials might be of some relevance:


"'Do you believe in God' should be avoided as there are some religions that do not use the name 'God' for thier supreme being.


. . .


A Scout may fulfill their duty without being a member of a particular denomination or religion."


The use of the term "God" in the HB or otherwise should not be understood as requiring belief in God as revealed to Christians. As suggested by some posts above, the BSA's requirement of fulfillment of one's "Duty to God" should not be narrowly understood as defined by any creed.

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Welcome TAHAWK to the forums and thanks for your contribution. The training materials are often treated as guidelines, not rules, and that fact alone effectively makes them guidelines regardless of their intent.

The prominence of religion as a litmus test in this organization has caused it subsequently to occupy a prominence in the minds of many so-inclined scouters, perhaps taking a position of importance that was unintended for the program (as suggested by your reminder of the training materials).


This is, for better or worse, a predictable outcome for a private club that has painted itself into a legal corner as a 'religious organization'. This boy and other boys in similar situations of uncertainty are left to a fate determined exclusively by whether Gonzo1 or Trevorum is on the BOR. And this, in turn, is because of BSA's legal/political stance on god(s) and religion.

BSA's policy does have a top-down effect. Unfortunately, in this organization the boys sometimes seem to rank at the bottom.

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Hi, Packsaddle.


It seem to me that the quality of a Scout's experience has always depended on the quality of the Scouters making decisions or passing along information that impact the Scout.


I do question the notion that a Scout is "exclusively" bound by the inclinations of volunteers on his B of R. Were a Scout to be denied advancement -- or membership --contrary to BSA policy, he would have recourse to higher authority within Scouting. I have been involved on both the district and council levels in correcting improper actions by unit and District Scouters rergarding a Scout's religious obligations. I conclude from policy and experience that volunteers do make mistakes regarding the rules, but their errors are subject to correction.


Nor do I regard Scouting as a "religious" organization. I regard it as an educational organization that has, as one of several membership requirements, a requirement that its members have some, undefined religious belief.



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I'm a Methodist, our thing is "open doors, open hearts, open minds".


My mind may not be as open as my heart or our door, but I can learn. Then, my mind opens a little more.


I hope the lad stays in scouting, if he passes the BOR.


We have a Hindu scout in our unit. His mom is active and they are vegetarians. That's a unique experience as well.




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fb said .....if belief in God becomes the litmus test for being a Scout, then all of the other precepts become meaningless


I respectfully disagree. Belief in God is fundamental to BSA membership. A scout agrees to live by the Scout Oath and Law to join BSA. How can he do his duty or be reverent if he doesn't believe.


I suggest the BOR meet with the lad and a minister and determine his belief system. He doesn't have to be a member of any particular religion or church, he must however believe. Gonzo1




Thank you for stating your position respectfully. An alternative opinion may alter either of our insights allowing for an improved perspective for one or both of us.


I believe that the BSA unwittingly altered their approach to Scouting with the DRP. I still believe that each of the twelve points of the Scout Law is vital to being a Scout. I believe that each part of the Scout Oath is vital to being a Scout. I do not exclude any part of it. I do not emphasize any part of it. The total of the Law and the Oath allows for growth in Scouting. The key word is growth. I can assure anyone here that if the Oath and the Law are kept in balance that a young person will make great strides toward the three aims of Scouting, to build character, to foster citizenship, and to develop fitness. I can say this without exception, which includes Buddhists. fb


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"I agree that EVERY opportunity should be given to the lad for him to clarify his position. If he doesn't believe, he can't be a member. Soryy."


I continue to believe the opposite: if he hasn't made it expressly clear that he does not believe in God at all, I would drop the question and leave it up to his own conscience. Does this boy refuse to recite the Oath and Law? We are not told so...only that it is difficult for him.

Just as I don't think it is my job to ask for a birth certificate to verify age or a DNA test to verify gender of youth members, I believe in leaving it up to the youth members to determine for themselves if they meet the religious belief requirement, as long as they have not made a definitive statement that they do not. I simply do not think that adult volunteers at the unit level should be involved in figuring out whether a particular belief system or variety of Buddhism makes the cut. Again, I see nothing in any BSA publication requiring me to interrogate boys to enforce this membership rule, which I consider extremely vague anyway except for the extreme case in which a boy unambiguously states that he is a total atheist.

And if the President of BSA says "we don't ask those questions," who are we to deviate from the word from the top?

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The original post from mk9750 says: "I then asked which point is the most difficult to follow, and he answered "Reverent, because, being an agnostic, it's very difficult to be reverent to a God you have no proof exists".


Just as I agree that DNA tests are not necessary. I also agree that interrogation is not necessary. However, the difference is that HE said he is agnostic and being agnostic is disqualification for membership. It is exactly the job of volunteers (BOR members) to follow up with additional questions. By "leaving it up to the youth members to determine" if a particular requirement is accurate, perhaps we should leave the whole program up to the scouts. If a Life scout thinks his project is good enough, that should be good enough, right? Why have any Board of Review?


I suggested that he be allowed to clarify his position. I think trying to find a "religion" for him is rediculous and allowing to become a Life Scout and potentially an Eagle undermines the integrity of the system IF AND ONLY IF HE DOESN'T QUALIFY FOR MEMBERSHIP.


What if a girl joined who appeared quite androgenous? Suppose she had done much the same thing? What if she tied all the knots and earned all the badges? But later began 'developing' later on and it was discovered that she was a girl? Do you keep her? Or if a boy started to show that he was attracted to other boys? Do you keep him?


The integrity of the program must be maintained.


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