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What happens in the BSA if a youth member decides that he/she doesn't believe in (a) God?

the only stuff i can find out about atheists in Scouting in the UK is this line:

"Note: With reference to religious belief, the avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to appointment to a Leadership position."

All youth members in the UK have to make the Scout promise (oath), and from Scout age upwards the Scout law as well.

the UK Scout promise, contains the line "duty to God" but from what i know ( dont quote this as fact ) if a youth member states that they dont believe in (a) God then that is no reason to remove that person from Scouting,as they are still discovering the world around them and defining their own beliefs.


As for adults, then an out and out atheist applying for a leadership position can not take that position. however if you beleive in 'something' and accept that there is a higher power and/or a spirual side to humanity, then that appears to be OK.

Whilst Atheists can not become full leaders, they can become associate members, although this means that they are little more than troop helpers and can not lead camps/expeditions or any thing else.


As for religion in Scouting, My local group is not attached to any church, or any other external sponsoring body, we are our own entity with no chartering organisation, our only ties are to our local Scouting district, and through that County/regional/National Scouting, then onto world Scouting.

As such region doesn't come into our programme, apart from a church service once a year ( St Georges day) and a religious Scouts own service during larger camps.

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As a scouter, I could never turn away a kid or volunteer solely

based on that persons spiritual skepticism, any more than most ministers would turn away a person who was having a crisis in faith. The only exception would be if that individual was openly hostile or irreverent to the scouts or scouters who were believers.


I know as far as the BSA policy its irrelevant WHY a person is an atheist, from my own perspective its not.


In Western culture, atheists are frequently assumed to be exclusively irreligious or unspiritual. However (as others here have stated) there are religions and spiritual belief systems, such as Buddhism and Scientology, that do not advocate belief in God. Moreover, there are some folks that simply have been raised without religion, which is no more their fault than if they were raised illiterate.


I believe there are three different kinds of atheists:


1. Religious atheists (Buddhists and Scientologists) whom the BSA has no problem with.


2. Implicit atheist who have not thought about belief in gods. In this sense it has been said that all children are born implicit atheists, in that they have no idea of God. An adult who is an implicit atheist would be characterized as having a sheer lack of philosophical interest in God, rather than on a positive denial of Gods existence.


3. An explicit atheist is a person who has made a conscious disbelief to deny Gods existence.


Most explicit atheist I have known see no point in debating their views with believers. Most show respect and reverence to other peoples religious observances, and some of them attend religious services themselves. I know quite a few Cultural Catholics who fall in this category.


A very few explicit atheist however, are what Ive come to call evangelical atheists. These people are rare, but they see it as their mission to save others from the God Delusion. I feel much the same way about these people as I do the believers who ring my door-bell at the most inopportune times to tell me about the superiority of their particular brand of Christianity.


I feel that in reality, these evangelical atheists are what the BSA policy is most aimed.


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For me, the great difficulty with the atheism issue is that people come from all over the map on this one.


You have some kids who are already, at a young age, quite firm in their belief. Others who just follow what they've been taught by their families and ministers. Others who are starting to independently study these things, taking some valuable steps in intellectual development.


I'd have a tough time kicking any kid out on the grounds of atheism. It's so very common for young people to wander all over on the question of God's love and existence. The positive thing about scouting is that it's a pretty non-stress thing when it comes to religion, and allows some kids to learn things at their own pace.

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AT1988 writes "Religious atheists (Buddhists and Scientologists) whom the BSA has no problem with"


Buddhists are not atheists. Buddhism is not a monotheistic religion and simply doesn't deal that much with theology. I suppose it is possible to be an atheistic Buddhist, but I haven't known any.

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"No, I actually change things, Ed. Complaining without action is whining."


Interesting thesis. I'd be interested to learn how one of my posts, or Merlyn's, or Ed's, or anyone else's, has really changed anything. We seem to be taking ourselves way too seriously here!(This message has been edited by sherminator505)

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Sherminator, I worked with the IL ACLU to stop charters to government entities back in 2005; however, the BSA can't be trusted to keep to its word, so all the still-illegal charters to law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities still need to be removed.

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Just for clarity; the fire and police units noted are part of Exploring, which is part of Learning for Life. As pointed out numerous times, they are an off shoot of BSA, but have "different" requirements for membership. Yes, "one" judge has ruled that the branch is still in violation; but that is a "local" decision and certainly has not been universally decided for the whole country.


And, I have to say Merlyn; since when do you "tell" anyone is the BSA what to do? You can suggest, or complain, or whatever; but you do not have the authority to "tell" them what to do, or how to define certain terms or determine "actual" legality of things in BSA decisions and actions.


Ed; please consider just ignoring Merlyn rather than continuing to either let him bait you, or attempting to bait him. Both of you simply appear in a less than positive light with your adolescent bickering.


JMHO of course.

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