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Partnership Opportunities Between BSA and AHG

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I would not partner any of my units with AHG. What about the non-christian families? They can be in the cub scouts and boy scouts, but then only the christian families get to be in this auxiliary you build for the girls? How is that going to work when you are recruiting? "How many of you like to go camping? OK, now only girls that accept Jesus Christ as their savior can go, but the Jewish boy over there, you can go."


And what about access into schools? You partner with an overtly religious organization, and BSA will lose access to the few public facilities they still have access to.


Good grief, folks. The kids just want to go camping. Having a code of conduct is great and all, but come on, those of us who were scouts were not fighting a culture war when we were boys. We just wanted to play survivorman and go to Summer Camp. Stop trying to make scouts into church. There's already church for that.


Let's stick to the scoutcraft and ease up on the churchcraft.(This message has been edited by BSA24)

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My understanding is that while the AHG is explicitly Christian, membership in it is not closed to non-Christians. So the first issue identified by BSA24 should not be an issue at all (unless, of course, the chartered group wishes to limit itself to Christians).


It could be that a non-Christian family would not be comfortable with that. But it's not like they are being specifically excluded from the program.

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Looks to me like non-Christians are explicitly excluded by doctrine alone. It's claiming inclusivity while knowing few, if anyone will take advantage of it, and those that do will be forced to fit their participation around an overwhelming, overtly conservative Christian message they may not be comfortable with. The AHG "Statement of Faith:"


"We believe that there is One Triune God Father, Jesus Christ His one and only Son, and the Holy Spirit Creator of the universe and eternally existent. We believe the Holy Scriptures (Old/New Testament) to be the inspired and authoritative Word of God. We believe each person is created in His image for the purpose of communing with and worshipping God. We believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a Godly life. We believe that each individual is called to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength; and to love their neighbors as themselves. We believe that each individual is called to live a life of purity, service, stewardship and integrity."




What Jewish family signs their child up for this? Buddhist? Heck, there are some Christian traditions that would be uncomfortable within this theological interpretation. What does a "Scouts' Own"-type service on an AHG outing look like, and how would the Hindu girl feel?


AHG can claim all they want that they're open to everyone, but the fact of the matter is this organization's program is geared towards a very specific flavor of conservative Christianity, which is polar opposite in scope and ideology to the specifically and intentionally non-sectarian, spiritual-as-you-define-it nature of the BSA program. We don't pair our program with a particular religious agenda, and our materials and public policies don't take thinly-veiled stances on hot-button political issues. We equip our youth members with the tools to make decisions based on their own beliefs and values, without telling them what the end result should be. In reading their program materials, I don't see the same from AHG. That's problematic to me.


Again, I see no reason why BSA resources, committees, and outings should be open or supportive of this group.

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"My complaint about the AHG would be fixed if they would remove the Christian only overtones and make it the nondescript god that the BSA uses."


If they did that, then they would lose their distinctly Christian identity and they would no longer have a reason to exist. AHG does not exist to provide something that mirrors the Girl Scouts. If you read their history, they were formed as an alternative to the Girl Scout (GSUSA) program.


I'm not knocking the GSUSA. Great organization with great history. Unfortnately, they have suffered in our community due to political stances taken by their National office that are not in alignment with local values.


(This message has been edited by Jeffrey H)

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"What does a "Scouts' Own"-type service on an AHG outing look like, and how would the Hindu girl feel? "


I expect that it would be a service of Christian Worship. The Hindu girl? You would need to ask her and her parents how she feels and if she wants to continue. Membership is voluntary.

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For that matter, how would a Hindu or a Taoist or a non-Christian Native American, or possibly a Buddhist, feel about reciting the Philmont Grace, which is widely used as a prayer before meals at camps, high adventure bases, etc.?


I like it and feel it's appropriate in interfaith groups, but could see where some people of faith who do not recognize a single "Lord" might not. (I've never heard any complaints, though) The nature of belief is so diverse that it's probably not possible to include everyone. At least not without sounding a little ridiculous. ("We thank God, or the gods, or the divine creative spirit, whatever He, or She, might be...")


I frankly doubt many people, even those who are not monotheists, will take offense at the Philmont Grace, just as I doubt many will be upset at the AHG's stated Christian beliefs if they think the program's goals and methods otherwise benefits their daughters. There seems to be a lot more cooperation and fellowship between communities of those families with traditionalist social viewpoints (i.e, Orthodox Jews, Eastern Orthodox, LDS, Roman Catholics, Evangelical Protestants) at the ground level these days, family-to-family, than before. Even if their doctrinal views are widely divergent, their views on morality and religious freedom tend to be pretty close, and an increasingly secular society and popular culture is probably part of what is bringing them closer.

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In my Cub Pack, I go over the Bobcat requirements with new families. I define "Duty to God" as involving two things:


1: Respect by each Cub Scout for the religious traditions of their family


2: Respect for the religious traditions of other families.



No complaints yet.


I'd be inclined to do that with an AHG unit as well.


I'd like to look through the program material to see what that has to say.


Since the unit is chartered by a Catholic parish, it's hardly unreasonable that there might be a bias towards Christianity, but my preference is to make as many as possible feel welcome while preserving a religious rather than a secular atmosphere.


My usual approach where their are minority religions is to recognize them and give parents an opportunity to explain the religious traditions of their faith and family.


Respecting the religious traditions of other families goes both ways.


If some part of the program is distinctly Christian, I'd simply look for a way to fudge that a bit and frame the program in a way that would keep everyone happy if possible.(This message has been edited by seattlepioneer)

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Nicely done, I will steal that! When I talk to individual scouts I usually encourage them to work at it a bit and leave it at that. In several cases, I have found that ANY interest in faith has required the scout to push his family out of their comfort zone.

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SP, that's the attitude that a program like the BSA and GSUSA allows you to do with a diverse group of young people, with a specifically non-sectarian approach to religion giving leeway to leaders with a lot of needs to serve. And you're right to present it the way you do to your Cubs.


But does the AHG program give you the leeway to "fudge it a bit?" It's not like it's just nominally Christ-based. It's a fully-fledged Christ-centered youth ministry. As it is presented, I don't see how you could possibly include "minority religions" in an AHG program if those religious traditions are not specifically more conservative brands of Christianity that fit the specific theological viewpoints of their Statement of Faith. They are rather clear and unambiguous about exactly what that theology means, not in a legal briefing or internal memo, but right there in the explanation of their program. I would venture to guess their program materials would conform fairly well to the SoF, too. So how do you reconcile that? "Fudging it" to fit religious diversity around a program geared toward relative religious homogeneity is a bit of a stretch, isn't it? It's not like this is a minor policy. It's the central component of their program!


Frankly, the idea of "fudging it a bit" brings up a whole other myriad of issues. What else in the program can you "fudge" and when does it go far enough to obscure the message of the program? Should we be "fudging it" in our local troops to make the program exactly what we want, in opposition to the way the program has been designed and presented?


And to play devil's advocate for a second, how is "fudging it" to shoehorn non-Christian individuals into an overtly Christ-centered program different than "fudging it" when it comes to, say, finding out a really great leader in your BSA unit is gay?

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Pere......catholic schools are typically the best educational oppurunities in most communities....It is a case of people of means doing the best for their kids.



I don't think scouting of any kind falls in that class.



I know of a family who became catholics to get their school tuition reduced, also shopped around for which parish would pay the highest amount for their kids.

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My question is what does the BSA get by partnering with the AHG?


I undertand the BSA partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation, the NRA, etc - but why the AHG and not the Girl Scouts or Campfire programs?


The AHG has about 19,000 members - just what does it truly offer? I see this as pretty one-sided - the BSA get's nothing but more speculation that it's trying to tun itself into a Christian only organization but the AHG gets a lot of prestige by being associated with a long-standing and at one time a well-respected youth organization (My opinion - it's no longer well-respected - it's still respected, but the one-time universal respect has taken quite a beating these last 20 years).

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