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Agnostic Scout?

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Does that preclude him from being able to remain a Scout? He isn't done forming his opinions, he is just exploring....and as he put it "being an agnostic is cool".

 

Michelle,

 

It really depends on the adults in your unit. Obviously your nephew's experiences with religion within the BSA program have so far all been positive. But you might want to caution him that when he applies such a label to himself, he is wearing an "attitude detector" that works in much the same way as "cool" unconventional haircuts, clothing, or piercings.

 

"Agnostic" is a trigger word in the BSA, and if he uses it in front a fundamentalist he may see the smiling encouragement he is accustomed to disappear. His belief "in something higher than me, I'm just not sure what that is," would eventually be accepted, but the perceived injustice of having to justify his religious beliefs to someone who is "uncool" about religion may radicalize him: force him into defending a position before he is done exploring.

 

Kudu

 

My guard stood hard

when abstract threats too noble to neglect

deceived me into thinking

I had something to protect.

"Good" and "bad,"

I defined these terms

no doubt quite clear somehow.

Ah, but I was so much older then,

I'm younger than that now.

 

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I copied the statement from the BSA website,

 

OGE, I'm agnostic about finding truth on the BSA website.

 

The version I have of the BSA's DRP (as it appears in the semi-secret BSA charter & bylaws) is more sinister. It requires "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary for the best type of citizenship...."

 

I wonder how many people realize they are agreeing to that when they sign up :-/

 

Was the DRP reworded?

 

Kudu

 

See:

 

http://inquiry.net/adult/uua/bsa_drp.htm

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Kudo, I do appreciate your words about how he presents his beliefs to his leaders. One of the things he is taught at home in regards to religion is it isn't always a comfortable topic for general conversation. He saves most of his questioning and debating for private conversations at home. He also knows that BSA as a whole require a belief in A God, though be it not specifically the Christian God of the Christmas and Easter, but a God nonetheless. I think he is just in the questioning part of his decision making process, much like when he was 6 and on his first plane trip he asked me "Tia, where's heaven?" Trying to put things in place in his head so he can make his own best decision.

 

YiS

Michelle

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Perhaps some clarifications would be helpful here. Regarding agnosticism, the term applies to two distinct philosophical positions. Hard agnosticism maintains that knowledge of God or gods is unknown or inherently unknowable. Soft agnosticism maintains that one does not know such things, but does not maintain that they are inherently unknowable. Soft agnosticism is often a personal designation, rather than an absolute doctrine like hard agnosticism. Soft agnosticism is compatible with weak atheism, which is a absence of belief in God or gods, but they are not identical.

 

Deists believe that God exists, but that He is completely transcendent and does not interact with the world, apart from the initial act of creation. Deism maintains that reason is the only means to know God and that moral truths can likewise be deduced by reason.

 

The Declaration of Religious Principle requires a certain kind of relationship with whatever definition of God one provides, not a specific definition of God. An agnostic could or could not meet this requirement. Even a pantheist who happened to be a materialist would meet this requirement if he admitted that "no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to [God/the world] and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member..." The materialist pantheist can follow this, as could the philosopher Compte, who applied the title "God" to humanity.

 

The point is that the "God" specified in the DRP doesn't have to be the Creator, benevolent, intelligent, or even personal. The "God" in question doesn't have to be singular, spiritual, transcendent, immanent, or the subject of prayer. This may be a dodge of the assumed intent of the authors, but it is a legitimate dodge given the religions which the BSA implicitly accepts as subscribing to it.

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Even a pantheist who happened to be a materialist would meet this requirement if he admitted that "no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to [God/the world]...The materialist pantheist can follow this, as could the philosopher Compte, who applied the title "God" to humanity.

 

Yeah, I find that atheist Scouts can usually accept Carl Sagan's quotation of Einstein's paraphrase of Spinoza's pantheistic definition of God as the sum total of all the natural laws in the universe.

 

Likewise Tim Jeal's biography Baden-Powell characterizes Baden-Powell and his famous father as pantheists, although the later might have taken exception to that. For a list of references to "pantheism" in Professor Baden Powell's The Order of Nature, (which B-P pronounced 'the most remarkable book he had ever read') see:

 

http://inquiry.net/ideals/order_nature/pantheism.htm

 

Kudu

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I think this whole thread is a good illustration why public schools can't charter scout units any more.

 

Plus, if you look at the real world, a lot of units deliberately ignore the BSA's discrimination. There are a few Venture Crews on the east coast that were formed for medival fantasy role-playing, run by college-age kids, and you'd better believe they ignore the no gays or atheists rules.

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Merlyn_LeRoy,

I kinda agree with you.

Sure if the idea of a school chartering a BSA unit is going to upset someone I can maybe see how not having one is a good idea.

While I think it's sad that we have lost religion in our schools that is just me.

Not being a native born American, I do get a little confused at times.

I always thought of Americans as being against "Big Government", I think the idea that the government can dictate to a school district is un-American.

What ever happened to the will of the people?

Here in the sleepy little hamlet where I live, parents would love to see their kid take part in a Christmas play. The local community supports Scouting and the BSA, in fact they see bashing the BSA as just wrong.

But it seems that they have no voice.

As for:

"There are a few Venture Crews on the east coast that were formed for medieval fantasy role-playing, run by college-age kids, and you'd better believe they ignore the no gays or atheists rules"

I think you are talking about NERO?

I have no idea if they ignore the rules or not?

I do know that I helped get a Crew started that wanted to use the NERO program as a activity for a Venturing Crew.

Sure there were a few people who weren't happy but NERO is dedicated to the legendary days of high fantasy, while running a fun (and above all safe) game.

http://www.polarlarp.com/

I admit it's not my cup of tea, but these guys seem to enjoy it and they have all signed the BSA membership form.

I would hope that they wouldn't be telling lies??

Eamonn.

 

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I think this whole thread is a good illustration why public schools can't charter scout units any more.

 

Not sure I understand your point here Merlyn. Are you saying because we can't agree on what an agnostic believes is a good reason schools shouldn't charter BSA units? Don't see the correlation.

 

Plus, if you look at the real world, a lot of units deliberately ignore the BSA's discrimination. There are a few Venture Crews on the east coast that were formed for medieval fantasy role-playing, run by college-age kids, and you'd better believe they ignore the no gays or atheists rules

 

Just because there are some BSA units that ignore policy doesn't make it OK. That would be like saying it's OK to loot & plunder as long as you don't get caught!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Here in the sleepy little hamlet where I live, parents would love to see their kid take part in a Christmas play.

 

I assume you mean a Christmas play that is sponsored by a religious organization, not a publically funded one. I, for one, am glad that religious pageants are no longer sponsored by publically funded schools. The majority faith always enjoyed them to be sure, but those of us in the minority were always aware of the religious message. Some didn't mind, but many did and just didn't say anything so as not to create bad feelings towards their kids in the school.

 

Like other parents, I too enjoy school sponsored pageants just as long as they don't promote one religion.

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Eamonn writes:

Sure if the idea of a school chartering a BSA unit is going to upset someone I can maybe see how not having one is a good idea.

While I think it's sad that we have lost religion in our schools that is just me.

 

Would you rather go back to 1844, where a dozen Christians were killed in Philadelphia over the bible riots? Christians killing other Christians over which version of the bible to use in public schools.

 

Or maybe you'd like to rescind Engel v. Vitale, so school bureaucrats can write prayers for other people's children to recite.

 

What you see as "lost religion" is really religious freedom. You just can't see it.

 

Not being a native born American, I do get a little confused at times.

I always thought of Americans as being against "Big Government", I think the idea that the government can dictate to a school district is un-American.

What ever happened to the will of the people?

 

If a local school decided that all children will recite Christian prayers at the start of school, would that be OK with you?

 

Here in the sleepy little hamlet where I live, parents would love to see their kid take part in a Christmas play.

 

And I'm sure there are churches that would love to put on such a play, so what's stopping them?

 

The local community supports Scouting and the BSA, in fact they see bashing the BSA as just wrong.

 

Well, some people still support whites-only groups, and see criticism of those groups as wrong, too.

 

But it seems that they have no voice.

 

Sure they do; they just can't use their local government to promote their particular religious views (and neither can anyone else).

 

As for:

"There are a few Venture Crews on the east coast that were formed for medieval fantasy role-playing, run by college-age kids, and you'd better believe they ignore the no gays or atheists rules"

I think you are talking about NERO?

 

Not that particular one, no, but I'd be willing to be that every LARP (live-action role playing) group that's a Venturing Crew ignores the no gays/no atheists rules.

 

I have no idea if they ignore the rules or not?

I do know that I helped get a Crew started that wanted to use the NERO program as a activity for a Venturing Crew.

Sure there were a few people who weren't happy but NERO is dedicated to the legendary days of high fantasy, while running a fun (and above all safe) game.

http://www.polarlarp.com/

I admit it's not my cup of tea, but these guys seem to enjoy it and they have all signed the BSA membership form.

I would hope that they wouldn't be telling lies??

 

I'd be willing to bet a lot of them are lying; why don't you ask them and report back? LARPs generally need insurance coverage, and they can get it pretty cheaply by being a Crew.

 

And do you think lying to the BSA is uncommon? When I corresponded with the Centre County Sheriff's Office about their Search & Rescue Venture Crew, everyone connected with the program insisted that they don't discriminate (and discriminating against anyone on the basis of religion or sexual orientation is against their written nondiscrimination policy).

 

Do you think public schools that used to charter Scout units kept atheists out of them? They'd get sued, and lose.

 

Ed writes:

Are you saying because we can't agree on what an agnostic believes is a good reason schools shouldn't charter BSA units? Don't see the correlation.

 

If this issue had arisen in a unit chartered by a public school, do you think the principal should decide if the student is "religious enough" to be a member in the school's Scout unit?

 

Just because there are some BSA units that ignore policy doesn't make it OK.

 

Sure it does. I'm all in favor of BSA units ignoring the policy, and many do already. And, of course, the BSA dishonestly chartered units to public schools for decades, yet you manage to never see that as dishonest. This is just the opposite situation, where an organization deliberately intends to ignore the BSA's requirements.

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MODERATORS:

 

I see signs that this thread is shortly going to become a war of words between some parties, which will take it completely off course of the original post.

 

My intent was to solicit responses regarding advancment, not to open ( or should I say 're-open' ) a dialog on religious preferences, school sponsership of BSA, sexual orientation, UFO's, 'innies' or 'outies', which way to hang the toilet paper roll, or anything else!! :-)

 

I respectfully request that you close this thread to preserve the valuable and insightful feedback on the original post.

 

Thanks Much,

 

CA_Scouter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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