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True Religion

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Achileez says:

 

For me, religion begins with one fundamental beleif. It's shared by most, if not all religions. The beleif that a force or power greater than our comprehensions of physics is existent and in control.

 

Existent, yes. In control, not necessarily. Some people do not necessarily believe that God is "in control." These people, or most of them, would be considered "deists," though some deists do believe in some measure of "control" by God. (Confused? Me too. Read

http://godblessthismess.tripod.com/deism.htm if you want to be even more confused, but the article does confirm my point that some people believe in God as "creator" but not as being "in control.")

 

Just as a side note, Scoutingagain refers to "The Force" from Star Wars as being an acceptable "religion" for purposes of the BSA's requirement of belief in a "higher power" or "supreme being" regardless of its name (or number, as in the case of Hinduism, and if I am not mistaken, some Native American religions as well.) Not only would it be acceptable (as I understand the BSA's position), but in Great Britain those who believe (or say they believe) in "The Force" as a religion, have gone so far as to register "The Force" as an "official religion" (for tax purposes, I assume; remember that the U.K. has no constitutional prohibition on establishment of religion, and in fact has an established state religion, the Church of England.)

 

So, a God as creator but not controller, Mother Nature, the gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion, the non-divine object of spirituality in Buddhism, the "god and goddess" of a portion of the Wiccan religion, Adonai Elohenu of the Jewish people, Jesus Christ, Allah, the Great Spirit, The Force of the "Star Wars" universe and many others, as long as that is the "higher power" or "supreme being" that you believe in, they are all "God" within the meaning of the Scout Oath and Law.

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Hunt you asked "Bob, are you saying that a scout must worship God as "creator?"

 

I am not saying a scout has to do anything other than his duty to God and be reverent, as required by the BSA in the Scout Oath and Law. As long as the scout can do that he meets the requirements of his personal vows and the values of the BSA program.

 

As I said in my first post, you are projecting your personal assumptions into scouting.

 

You ask why the BSA supports following a false religion is better than having no religion? I know of nowhere that the BSA says or implies that.

 

You point out the BSA recognizes wildly different (and inconsistent) beliefs and practices as satisfying its religious requirement, and pondering what it is, exactly, that we are valuing with this position.

 

We are valuing diversity. The BSA values Duty to God and understand that there are many different roads to the same destination.

 

You say "Although BSA's documents refer to "God," the BSA doesn't".

 

That's just doubles speak. How can both those statements be true?

 

You ask "why does BSA value adherence to any religion, no matter what its beliefs are" and as I pointed out that is a false premise based on your own false comprehension.

 

Also, I note that you don't attempt to answer my question of why BSA has determined that a scout has the need "to accept a belief in God, etc."

 

Because the BSA believes that Duty to God, and reverence to God (like the other points of the Oath and Law) are positive and necessary attributes for achieving the aims and goals of the scouting program.

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Just as a refresher:

 

BSA Religious Principles

(Reprinted from the 1992 edition of BSA's Advancement Guidelines: Council and District Functions.)

 

The Boy Scouts of America has a definite position on religious principles. The following interpretative statement may help clarify this position. The Boy Scouts of America:

 

Does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion.

 

Does not require membership in a religious organization or association for enrollment in the movement but does prefer, and strongly encourages, membership and participation in the religious programs and activities of a church, synagogue, or other religious association.

 

Respects the convictions of those who exercise their constitutional freedom to practice religion as individuals without formal membership in organized religious organizations. In a few cases, there are those who, by conviction, do not feel it necessary to formally belong to an organized form of religion and seek to practice religion in accordance with their own personal convictions. Every effort should be made to counsel with the boy and his parents to determine the true story of the religious convictions and practices as related to advancement in Scouting. Religious organizations have commended the Boy Scouts of America for encouraging youth to participate in organized religious activities. However, these same organizations reject any form of compulsion to enforce conformity to establish religious practices.

 

If a boy says he is a member of a religious body, the standards by which he should be evaluated are those of that group. This is why an advancement committee usually requests a reference from his religious leader to indicate whether he has lived up to their expectations.

Throughout life, Scouts are associated with people of different faiths. Scouts believe in religious freedom, respecting others whose religion may differ from theirs. Scouting believes in the right of all to worship God in their own way.

 

 

 

 

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What Hunt is asking is WHY the BSA values persons who are reverent towards God, in whatever form they perceive God to be in. Is this beleif a conscience decision? Are some people born with faith and others with none. It may be a comparable situation to the debate over whether homosexuality is a choice or not. Does the BSA believe faith is a choice, and that people without it (ie athiests) are immoral, self-centered and misguided in their beleifs? But don't we look at Muslim terrorists who hijack airplanes to murder people because God wants Americans to die as misguided in their beleifs? Many people certainly do. Is the BSA cutting a line between person A with faith and person B with none and saying that person A is better? (or fulfills the character and moral requirements) If so, then that really burns person B who has now been told that his beleif preference isn't good enough for Scouting.

 

On a side note Bob, you said that:

"We are valuing diversity. The BSA values Duty to God and understand that there are many different roads to the same destination."

Now there are definitely many people who would strongly disagree with that. I don't think that you can comfortably speak for the entire BSA with that beleif. Many Christians DO see other faiths as false (I'm using Christianity because its the one I am familiar with and can speak from experience with) and wouldn't say at all that the BSA thinks otherwise.

 

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"Does the BSA believe faith is a choice, and that people without it (ie atheists) are immoral, self-centered and misguided in their beliefs?

 

No, what the BSA says is that its members need to take an oath to do Duty to God and to take action to fulfill that obligation, and that its members show reverence to God. Athiests choose not to do so and so do not qualify for membership. You cannot expect someone who does not believe in God to be able to teach duty to God, or Reverence to God, so atheists do not qualify as leaders.

 

Your attempt to suggest that the BSA vilifies atheists is misleading and inaccurate. Whether a person comes to faith through choice, environment, or inspired revelation is irrelevant. That they can fulfill the scouting ideal of Duty to God is all that is required.

 

"But don't we look at Muslim terrorists who hijack airplanes to murder people because God wants Americans to die as misguided in their beliefs?"

 

I would hope that people would realize by now that those Muslims are misguided in their politics, more so than their beliefs. Scouting would not exclude a person for being Muslim, but would deny their membership if they had knowledge that they had hijacked airplanes or murdered people, regardless of their religion.

 

"The BSA values Duty to God and understand that there are many different roads to the same destination."

Now there are definitely many people who would strongly disagree with that. I don't think that you can comfortably speak for the entire BSA with that belief."

 

I am not speaking on behalf of all members of the BSA. I was explaining what the position is of the BSA program, and yes, based on my knowledge and training I can say that very comfortably thank you.

 

 

I would not try to speak on behalf of all 6 million members, I have not yet met them all, and not all of them follow the BSA program.

 

"Many Christians DO see other faiths as false (I'm using Christianity because its the one I am familiar with and can speak from experience with) and wouldn't say at all that the BSA thinks otherwise."

 

How one or a 10-million Christians see other faiths is again irrelevant, since we are not discussing how any Christian defines God, but about how the BSA defines its ideals, obligations and membership policies.

 

 

 

 

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I've looked at the Handbook, and I also looked at the guide for Chaplains. What they say is pretty general. As I read it, the Handbook essentially says that religious faith is needed to appreciate the wonders of the universe. The Chaplain's Guide says that religious faith is needed to be "the best kind of citizen." I was not able to find a document written for adults that really explains the basis and justification for the idea that religious faith in and of itself has these beneficial results. While BSA has no obligation whatsoever to share such a document with me or anyone else, if the position is well thought out, why keep it a secret?

 

As for what I consider to be a false religion, why, that's any religion that deviates from my own on matters I consider to be essential. An anecdote from a book I read recently: during the early Reformation, Martin Luther and Zwingli, the two leading Reformation leaders had a meeting to see if they could unify their movement. They agreed on virtually everything except the exact nature of the Lord's Supper. After the meeting, each denounced the other as not being a Christian at all. It seems to me that either (a) one of them was right and the other wrong or (b) they were both wrong. They couldn't both be right.

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Hunt, it's not a secret. Where is the documentation proving that helping others at all times is important? Where is the documentation that thrifty is necesarry?. These are simple the characteristics that the program was built on and holds important.

 

If you are a person of faith then you understand why the BSA sees this as important.

 

You say "It seems to me that either (a) one of them was right and the other wrong or (b) they were both wrong. They couldn't both be right."

 

That's what you say, not what the BSA says. You are looking for a winner. One person with the "right" answer. The BSA is not. They are simply saying that as long as both parties have a belief in God and realize a duty to that God, that they (the BSA) are not concerned with the religious customs of that belief. You are welcome to believe that one is right and the other wrong, but do not project that need on the ideals of the BSA.

 

Merlyn,

You do not have a single shred of evidence to support that claim other than your own personal bias toward a program you do not meet the membership requirements for, have never belonged to, and do not understand.

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Of course I can, Bob, but as I said, you can't even see it, just as you can't even see BSA units chartered to government agencies, even though I've pointed them out to you.

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We managed to keep this thread on topic for 24 posts Merlyn, please don't spoil it. The topic here is not funding nor is it about me. If you want to discuss the other topic feel free to start another thread still beating the same dead horse. But this thread is not the place.

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Moi-lin, I've never seen anything from BSA that vilifies atheists. However, many members of BSA do see you for the godless destroyers that you are and we take comfort in the thought that when you die you will discover that there is a hell.

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My form of Christianity doesn't take comfort in the idea of anybody going to Hell. Interestly, though, in the 18th century an American preacher (I think it was Jonathan Edwards, but I'm not sure) said that one of the chief delights of the elect in Heaven would be to observe the torments of the damned in Hell. I don't think this is currently a mainstream view. I don't think this attitude helps support an argument that religious faith builds positive values. On the other hand, if Merlyn really represented the typical atheist or agnostic, I wouldn't waste my time pondering whether they should continue to be excluded--I don't like his attitude either.

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