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CA_Scouter

Agnostic Scout?

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That was an unkind and un-Scoutlike slam against Eamonn.

 

Eamonn asked "Isn't it the same with this Lad?" and I replied that it was. If Eamonn is offended by my answer, then I am sorry that he asked the question and that I lacked skill writing my answer. However, the practice of kicking children out of Scouting because they are open-minded about the existence of God is far more unkind and un-Scoutlike, isn't it?

 

What would Baden-Powell have to say about that?

 

While B-P was just a young boy growing up, officials of the state church "publicly suggested that [his father] had died without the consolation of religious faith" because of the religious progressivism advanced in his book The Order of Nature and subsequent essays. Likewise, B-P was threatened with the destruction of the Scouting Movement as a national institution when he incorporated his father's ideas into his theories of "Practical Christianity" and the "Religion of the Deep Woods." While B-P would have been more diplomatic, he understood the nature of religious fundamentalism. See:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/ideals/beads.htm

 

Rather than linking us to your personal website with every post, how about supporting your comments about Scouting with a links to BSA resources instead??

 

Obviously because I believe that Scouting should be based on Baden-Powell.

 

"Suffer ye the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

 

The meaning of Matthew 19:13 & 14 is that the nature of children is the nature of the kingdom of heaven itself. So when you turn your back on children, you turn your back on God. If we die without asking forgiveness for this, will God take for an excuse that we turned our backs on ("forbid") children open-minded about His existence because of what we read in the BSA resources? That we were "just following orders"?

 

I think not.

 

Kudu

 

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CA_Scouter asked:

Does BSA require that he be expelled from the organization due to his agnosticism?

The BSA web site states:

Q. What allows the Boy Scouts of America to exclude atheists and agnostics from membership?

A. The Boy Scouts of America is a private membership group. As with any private organization, Boy Scouts retains the constitutional right to establish and maintain standards for membership. Anyone who supports the values of Scouting and meets these standards is welcome to join the organization.

Q. What harm would come of admitting young people who are unwilling to do their duty to God?

A. The Scout Oath and Law have served as the foundation of Scouting for 94 years. It would be a disservice to over five million youth and adult members of Scouting to allow members to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath or Law.

Ed please explain to me how a Lad who is unsure if there is a God can make the Scout Oath.

Kudu, we are talking about membership in the BSA in 2005.

I see my standpoint as respecting the Lad and his wishes. I read through the link you provided and fail to see what this had to do with a Lad who is an agnostic?

I know of lots of really good people who do good who are atheists and agnostics, but because of the Scout Oath and Duty to God, they are unable to be members of the BSA.

Apart from it being a rule I personally see Duty to God being a core value of the BSA. We go on to say about doing good a little later in the Oath.

I agree with the BSA when it states:

"It would be a disservice to over five million youth and adult members of Scouting to allow members to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath or Law."

I have read that Baden Powell wasn't happy with the BSA Oath and Law -But I don't remember ever reading that he was a member of the BSA? I'm sure you will clear that question up for me. Not that it really matters, we belong to the BSA and the question was:Does BSA require?

Like it or not the answer is that the BSA does require. Some people might be unhappy with the answer but that's what it is.

Eamonn.

 

 

 

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Bears repeating:

"It would be a disservice to over five million youth and adult members of Scouting to allow members to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath or Law."

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I have often been haunted with a fancy that the creeds of men might be paralleled and represented in their beverages. Wine might stand for genuine Catholicism, and ale for genuine Protestantism; for these at least are real religions with comfort and strength in them. Clean cold Agnosticism would be clean cold water -- an excellent thing if you can get it. Most modern ethical and idealistic movements might be well represented by soda-water -- which is a fuss about nothing. Mr. Bernard Shaw's philosophy is exactly like black coffee -- it awakens, but it does not really inspire. Modern hygienic materialism is very like cocoa; it would be impossible to express one's contempt for it in stronger terms than that. Sometimes one may come across something that may honestly be compared to milk, an ancient and heathen mildness, an earthly yet sustaining mercy -- the milk of human kindness. You can find it in a few pagan poets and a few old fables; but it is everywhere dying out.

 

G. K. Chesterton

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I think it's time some of the posters do a little investigating into agnostism. I think what they will find will surprise them!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Kudu, you raised the bar to a standard that BSA rejects. Possibly because they think their authority is higher than the one you cite. Too bad for the boys.

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I read through the link you provided and fail to see what this had to do with a Lad who is an agnostic?

 

It details how Scouting can give spiritual direction to boys through indirect means. Hint: Scouting is a game!

 

I agree with the BSA when it states:

"It would be a disservice to over five million youth and adult members of Scouting to allow members to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath or Law."

 

Not to nitpick, but I see two problems with that:

 

1) It is a great disservice to five million youth and adult members to assert that they all agree with the BSA's fundamentalist interpretation of the Scout Oath. I know for a fact that only 4,999,999 members feel "disserviced."

 

2) Like all fundamentalists, they are the ones who are guilty of "pick and choose." In this case they concentrate on "Duty to God" while ignoring "I promise to do my best." A Scout who looks at the short-comings of religion objectively is living up to his promise and has taken the first steps of a great journey. These are the Scouts who often come back years later as members of the clergy.

 

I have read that Baden Powell wasn't happy with the BSA Oath and Law -But I don't remember ever reading that he was a member of the BSA? I'm sure you will clear that question up for me.

 

I would be happy to do that. I believe that the best course of action is to help establish an alternative Scouting movement based on Baden-Powell's brand of Scouting. However, I do support those who disagree with the BSA's short-sighted policies, but refuse to abandon it to mean-spirited people. If you want to "work for change from within," then the best models of Scouting are those proposed by William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt and Robert Baden-Powell.

 

Not that it really matters, we belong to the BSA and the question was:Does BSA require? Like it or not the answer is that the BSA does require. Some people might be unhappy with the answer but that's what it is.

 

Ah, but those who would have us do evil usually avoid being very specific, for fear of being quoted. The rules and regulations of the BSA are not widely distributed, but if you look closely I bet they do not really come out and say exactly what they "require" when it comes to detailing the dirty deed of kicking children out of Scouting.

 

Does the BSA regulation specify that an open-minded boy must be forced off the sponsoring institution's property within five minutes? Or is it an hour? A day? A week? A fortnight? "Fortnight" sounds real British, like something that Baden-Powell might have said. Is that the correct answer? A fortnight?

 

I have never met an "agnostic" Scout, but over the years eight Scouts (including three Senior Patrol Leaders) have told me that they are "atheist." All of them changed their minds and decided that they believed in God within six months. The quickest (one of the SPLs), was about 20 minutes :-)

 

You and FScouter are the experts here, so is the object to kick them out before they change their minds? If so, then 19 minutes would have excluded all of them, but is 19 minutes too long? On the other hand, if the objective is to kick out only the most stubborn atheist, then the correct answer for my Troop would have been five months, 30 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds--just a second before he moved on to other things. Is that the correct answer?

 

All things considered, skeptical boys would rather play dodge ball.

 

"Everything on two legs that calls itself a boy has God in him, although he may--through the artificial environment of modern civilization--be the most arrant little thief, liar, and filth-monger unhung. Our job is to give him a chance."

 

-- Lord Robert Baden-Powell

 

I wonder how many of the BSA's precious regulations that statement violates!

 

Kudu

 

(This message has been edited by Kudu)(This message has been edited by Kudu)

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I find that term "kick out" to be inflammatory. I suppose those that use it do so for effect.

 

A self-described "agnostic" boy thinks a requirement to say grace before a meal is forcing religion upon him. What to do? Listen to him, counsel him, give him other points of view, speak to his parents. Let him ponder the issue.

 

In the end the boy will choose to live the Scout Oath and Law and stay with Scouting, or he will choose to leave. Either way, the choice is his alone. But choose he must. His choice will be an ethical one if it is in accordance with his beliefs. No coercion, no "kicking him out." His personal decision.

 

The mission of this organization is to help boys make ethical choices. We just have to help them understand their choices cannot violate the oath they have agreed to live by. That would not be ethical.

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And where does it state that saying grace must be a religious thing? Saying "Thank you for this food, Amen." would suffice. And where does it state a Scout must belong to an organized religion? Nowhere!

 

An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist.

 

and a couple definitions

 

1. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

2. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

 

So where does this boy fit? We will never know if we don't ask. And the company line that answers the question

 

Q. What allows the Boy Scouts of America to exclude atheists and agnostics from membership?

 

A. The Boy Scouts of America is a private membership group. As with any private organization, Boy Scouts retains the constitutional right to establish and maintain standards for membership. Anyone who supports the values of Scouting and meets these standards is welcome to join the organization.

 

doesn't answer the question. It is just a company line.

 

I am a devout Christian. And while I agree atheists should not be allowed in Scouting, an agnostic isn't an atheist - yet. And if I were to kick this kid out of my unit because he told me he was an agnostic without gaining a greater insight to him, would be nothing short of wrong. And yes kick him out! Means the same thing as revoke his membership, remove him from the roster, etc. I have always found those who want to parse participles instead of actually understand the issue somewhat ignorant.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I agree with evmori.

 

I would add that if a youth does not have a regular exposure to "walking the walk" (ie: making decisions based on religious tenets), and feels safe enough to question God's existence, then I want him in scouting if he is choses to stay in scouting. I would rather have him explore his doubts in a group that espouses living the values, than have him excluded from that very group.

 

It's not wrong to question. For some, that is the path to a stronger ownership in their belief and faith.

 

 

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In the end the boy will choose to live the Scout Oath and Law and stay with Scouting, or he will choose to leave. Either way, the choice is his alone. But choose he must.

 

You should have the courage of your convictions and call forcing a Scout to make such a false "decision" what it is: kicking him out.

 

You didn't answer my question, either. How long do you give this Scout to make this "choice"? Five Minutes? A Fortnight? Five months, 30 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds?

 

Bears repeating:

"It would be a disservice to over five million youth and adult members of Scouting to allow members to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath or Law."

 

This statement is simply not true. The BSA's current policies are shaped by religious fundamentalists, and fundamentalism is always based on the practice of picking and choosing. Christian fundamentalists, for example, tend to quote St. Paul and the Old Testament, but ignore the central point of Jesus's message of love and forgiveness as recorded by His own chosen disciples.

 

Likewise, Scouting fundamentalists tend to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath and Law while ignoring the central point of Baden-Powell and William Hillcourt's message that Scouting is a game.

 

To give you the benefit of the doubt, FScouter, if you do not allow members to pick and choose among the elements of the Oath or Law, then what do you do when a self-described "hydrophobic" boy thinks the swimming requirements force the water upon him?

 

What to do, indeed!

 

If the "mission" of this organization is to help boys make ethical choices, then you must help him understand that his choice cannot violate the "Brave" Scout Law that he has agreed to live by. That would not be ethical. So how long do you give him to make his "choice" to stay with Scouting or leave? Five minutes? A fortnight?

 

Do you kick out Scouts if they merely admit that they have "violated" the "Brave" Scout Law, or do you wait for them to actually cry? The later is proof positive that the Scout is also "violating" the "Cheerful" Scout Law, so this Scout is clearly not making "ethical choices," a two-fold disservice to over five million youth and adult members of Scouting.

 

How about "A Scout is Clean"? There is no wiggle room here! Either a Scout is clean or he is not. Or do you compromise the BSA's "mission" by making some false distinction between a messy tent and muddy hiking boots? Do you send Scouts home immediately for failing a tent inspection, or do you have a "three strikes" policy? How about muddy boots? Do you have a "three steps" policy?

 

If the mission of this organization is to help boys make ethical choices, then you must help them understand that their choices cannot violate the "Clean" Scout Law that they have agreed to live by. That would not be ethical. So how long do you give an unclean Scout to make his "choice" to stay with Scouting or leave? Five minutes? A fortnight?

 

Scouting is game. Either you get it, or you don't.

 

Kudu

 

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If this Scout continues to refuse to say grace he will never advance past 2nd Class! And refusing to say grace doesn't mean the Scout doesn't believe in God. Remember, "Scouting does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion".

 

Love your post Kudu.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Yes, I too noted the 'party line' nature of that particular response because I read it often in these forums. The 'my way or the highway' response is sometimes a sign that substance behind the idea is absent or else even if substance is there, they just don't care. I agree with Ed, nice post.

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Ed,

You posted:

1. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

2. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Now please explain how a Lad can make the Scout Oath?

Or do we just pretend that it's OK?

I think if you are going to stand up and say:

"On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God .."

You have to acknowledge that there is a God.

Are you suggesting that we re-word the Scout Oath so it goes something like:

On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God if there is one?

I don't see the Scout Oath as the company line! I see it as the core value of Scouting.It is the heart and soul of everything thing that we do.

Sure, Scouting is a game. But I hope we never forget it is a game with a purpose.

Eamonn

 

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Eamonn,

Duty to God - correct. This Scout's God, not yours. They could be the same or they could be different. Just because this Scout is unsure of God's existence (based on definition) doesn't mean he can't do his duty. We don't actually know where he stands unless we talk to him & try to understand his position. He is not professing to be an atheist, just an agnostic.

 

I never posted the Scout Oath was the company line. I posted

 

And the company line that answers the question

 

Q. What allows the Boy Scouts of America to exclude atheists and agnostics from membership?

 

A. The Boy Scouts of America is a private membership group. As with any private organization, Boy Scouts retains the constitutional right to establish and maintain standards for membership. Anyone who supports the values of Scouting and meets these standards is welcome to join the organization.

 

doesn't answer the question. It is just a company line.

 

Rejecting something because you don't understand it is ignorance.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

 

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