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Is "Belief in a Supreme Being" an Actual Rule by Now?

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Hi DWise:

Please catch me up with this. You say you don't accept a Supreme Being, but had no problem with accepting Duty to God. How did/do you define "God"? Also, in a later reply you talked about your religious beliefs. How can an atheist have religious beliefs?

Peregrinator:

 

I thought I was quite clear on what I meant by being "strongly agnostic". Here it is again (with a key part in bold):

The gods are supposed supernatural beings that we have created to explain what you do not understand. The basic problem is that we are unable to perceive the supernatural or even determine whether it actually exists. As a result' date=' I am strongly agnostic, because I believe that we cannot know anything about the supernatural.[/b'] If a theist were honest about it, he would also have to hold the same agnostic position. All anyone can do with the supernatural is to make guesses and assumptions. A theist makes the assumption that supernatural beings do exist and then tries to figure out what he can about the gods. An atheist makes the opposite assumption that the gods don't exist, or at the very least realize that what we call "gods" are of human invention. Even if real gods do exist, it is the invented ones that we use, which may come close to the real thing or miss by tera-light-years. Even with the Christian God the image that believers hold is a pale substitute, but it's the best that the human mind can work with; thus a believer should engage in a life-long attempt to understand God, something that should be ever growing (I have a brochure from church about a book co-written by a rabbi whose thesis was that most adults have a childish view of God because they formed their ideas of God in childhood and never returned to form a more mature view as they grew up).

Could you please point out what part of that you did not understand or had difficulty with?

 

As I just shared with Merlyn, we atheists repeatedly get subjected to theists (mainly fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative Christians) pontificating to us what atheists think and believe. In the process they only succeed in demonstrating how completely clueless they are and yet they absolutely refuse to hear from us atheists ourselves what we actually do think and believe.

 

Here is a link to a page on the website of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, religioustolerance.org, entitled, "Agnostic-Atheists. Agnostic-Theists. More definitions. Famous Agnostics.": http://www.religioustolerance.org/agnostic2.htm I just found it today, but you will notice that many of the definitions and quotations offered say the same thing that I had just repeated for you:

Can an Agnostic also be an Atheist?

Theists believe in the existence of a God, or a Goddess, or in multiple Gods, or multiple Goddesses or in a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. Agnostics believe that the existence of a deity can neither be proven nor disproven.

 

However, some Agnostics consider themselves to be Atheists. That is because the term "Atheist" has two slightly different meanings:

 

1. Strong Atheist: A person who positively believes that no God(s) or Goddess(es) exists.

...

This is the definition of Atheism used by most Christians, other Theists, and dictionaries of the English language.

 

2. A person who has no belief in a God or Goddess. ... A person can be a non-Theist by simply lacking a belief in God without actively denying God's existence. This is the definition of Atheism used by many Atheists.

 

Some Agnostics feel that their beliefs match the second definition, and thus consider themselves to be both Atheist and an Agnostic. Such confusion is common throughout the field of religion. ... A lack of clear, unambiguous definitions for religious terms is responsible for a great deal of confusion and hatred. It makes dialog among Agnostics, Theists, and Atheists very difficult. In fact, when such a dialogue is attempted, it should be preceded with a long session to agree on a set of definitions.

 

Can an Agnostic also be a Theist?

Agnostic-Theist: A Theist firmly believes in the existence of a God. An Agnostic has concluded that there is no proof for either the existence or non-existence of God. However, these two beliefs are not necessarily mutually exclusive. An Agnostic could still believe in the existence of God even though they accept that there is no proof either way.

...

George Smith, the author of "Atheism" divides Agnostics into two types:

Agnostic Theists: those who believe that a deity probably exists, even though god's existence cannot be proven;

 

Agnostic Atheists: those who believe that it is very improbable that a deity exists, even though god's non-existence cannot absolutely be proven.

 

Another category of Agnostic are the "Empirical Agnostics." They believe that God may exist, but that little or nothing can be known about him/her/it/them.

 

Still another category are "Agnostic Humanists." These individuals are undecided about the existence of God. Further, they do not really consider the question to be particularly important. They have derived their moral and behavioral codes from secular considerations. Their ethical behavior would not be altered if a deity were proven to exist.

...

Charles Darwin, ... :

"The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic."

 

"I think an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind. The whole subject {of God} is beyond the scope of man's intellect."

You can plainly see them saying the same things as I have. I will remind you that I have held and developed my beliefs for many decades and that I have only just today found this webpage that I just quoted from. I would suggest that it is your own definitions and understanding of "atheist" and "agnostic" that need to be re-examined and corrected.

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We accept the idea of a Supreme Being because our founder, Baden Powell, told us to.

In contrast to the Christian-only Boys' Brigade, which started two decades earlier, Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement as a youth organisation (with boys as 'Scouts' and girls as 'Guides'), which was independent of any single faith or religion, yet still held that spirituality and a belief in a higher power were key to the development of young people

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in the United States takes a hard-line position, excluding atheists and agnostics.[11] The BSA has come under strong criticism over the past years due to their religious policy and stance against agnostics and atheists:

"Declaration of Religious Principle. The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honour I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of his favours and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members."[11]

The Boy Scouts of America has accepted Buddhist members and units since 1920, and also accepts members of various pantheistic faiths. Many Buddhists do not believe in a supreme being or creator deity, but because these beliefs are still religious and spiritual in nature, they are deemed acceptable by the BSA since their leaders subscribe to the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle

While the BSA associates with the WOSM for mutual benefit, the WOSM does not control the BSA

 

Earlier I asked about how an atheist can have religious beliefs since religion implies the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power. I can accept you have moral beliefs or idealistic beliefs; I would just not call them religious

 

Is Where Have All the Boy Scouts Gone? your website?

We accept the idea of a Supreme Being because our founder, Baden Powell, told us to.

In contrast to the Christian-only Boys' Brigade, which started two decades earlier, Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement as a youth organisation (with boys as 'Scouts' and girls as 'Guides'), which was independent of any single faith or religion, yet still held that spirituality and a belief in a higher power were key to the development of young people

All your links to http://www.scouter.com/wiki are broken, which is too bad since I would have wanted to have seen what this forum's Wiki had to say about "higher power". But needless to say, while it may be your own narrow sectarian interpretation that a "higher power" must be a "Supreme Being", reality and the world's religions say otherwise.

 

A "Supreme Being" would be what is referred to as a "personal god", which Wikipedia defines as:

A personal god is a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being".

That definition alone indicates that a "higher power" need not be a personal god. We also have other examples, such as the Tao, Hinduism's Brahman-Atman (the ultimate reality -- "The personal God is impersonal reality reflected upon the mirror of ignorance and illusion." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman#Brahman_and_Atman), Confuscianism's natural social order, the physical laws of the universe, all of which are higher powers than each individual and none of which are personal gods (aside from a tiny bit of wriggle-room with Brahman, depending on which school).

 

You are bound to your sectarian view of "higher power" because of your own religious tradition. The rest of us are not similiarly bound, except for those whose religious traditions share your sectarian views. As per officially published BSA policy.

 

To paraphrase the idea and purpose behind officially published BSA religious policy:

We want to be absolutely nonsectarian regarding religion' date=' but we don't know anything about it. We are not experts in all the different religious beliefs that exist, so we don't try to be. Instead, we leave the evaluation of any member's religious beliefs and of the performance of his religious duties up to the experts in that particular religious tradition, which would be the member's religious leaders and religious community (which includes the family). The most that we can possibly do is to strong urge that each member does give attention to his own religious duties, whatever they may be.[/quote']

 

While the BSA associates with the WOSM for mutual benefit' date=' the WOSM does not control the BSA[/quote']

Which also invalidates your attempt to use Baden Powell for support. You cannot have it both ways.

 

I would remind you of the reason why I quoted from WOSM's definition of "Duty to God". I have moved since the time of my direct involvement, so my printed Scouting materials are packed away somewhere. That means that I do not have at hand the definition and explanation of "Duty to God" that is contained in the Boy Scout Handbook, the Cub Scout handbooks, or officially published BSA policy -- what I've been quoting is from my notes and correspondence that I have on disk. When I Google'd for BSA's definition, all I was able to find was WOSM's. That is all as I had stated. I also stated that what I remember BSA's definition and explanation as saying was the same as what WOSM is saying. I feel that I was quite clear on that.

 

That renders your objection to WOSM's definition both moot and irrelevent. Now, what would have been relevent would have for you to have provided BSA's official definition and explanation. But you didn't do that, did you?

 

Earlier I asked about how an atheist can have religious beliefs since religion implies the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power. I can accept you have moral beliefs or idealistic beliefs; I would just not call them religious

Religious beliefs only imply that to you because you are bound by the sectarian views of your own religious tradition. I am not bound by your sectarian views. As per officially published BSA policy. And while you would not call somebody else's religious tradition "religious" because of your own sectarian views, that does not prevent us from considering our own religious beliefs to be religious. As per officially published BSA policy, that judgement is not yours to make for anyone except yourself and for someone within the same religious tradition.

 

For more information, maybe you should have a chat with a minister from my church, the Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA). I'd like to know his reaction and response when you tell him that UU beliefs are not religious.

 

Quite honestly, once when I was asked what I believe in, I quite literally responded with, "Truth, justice, and the American way." Corny, but true. And of the American way I particularly value religious liberty and am dedicated to preserving it.

 

Is Where Have All the Boy Scouts Gone? your website?

No, it is not. I haven't put it up yet. Actually, I had a single page marking "more to come" on my old website, but then that provider suddenly went out of the hosting business and I've been putting my site up elsewhere in my "copious spare time" (engineer parlance -- we have too much work to do to have any spare time).

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DWise1 - God and religions are funny things. They mean many different things to many different folks. The BSA has their declaration of religious principle stated on their application. You keep giving what appears to be a circular argument to me - you apparently did or said something that someone felt was in violation of membership. Possibly, you posted something that upset an individual and they (rightly or wrongly) looked for a reason to kick you out of the BSA. Sort of like tax evasion for Al Capone?

 

 

 

I stated my opinion on the BSA's previous stance on avowed homosexuality on this forum but I did not "preach" that to Scouts, at roundtable events or bring it up at my Wood Badge training. Was that due to cowardice? Prudence? I'm sure everyone has their opinion. Bottom line, for the general public the DRP, Scout Oath and Law (I'm Boy Scout oriented) are the guidelines. Does the BSA have not so public position papers? I'm sure they do but I'm not interested in picking a fight.

 

 

 

Now, is any of the following untrue?

In 1989, six-year-old Mark Welsh, after receiving a flyer advertising membership, attempted to sign up for Tiger Cubs, the Boy Scouts of America's Scouting program for six- and seven-year olds. To become a member of the Tiger Cubs, each child must have an "Adult Partner", typically a parent, who also becomes a member of the organization. Mark's father, Elliott Welsh, agnostic, informed a BSA official that he did not want to sign the "Declaration of Religious Principles" section of the adult application. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, denied Mr. Welsh membership, thereby also denying Mark membership. One year later, when Mark had reached the age of eligibility for Cub Scouts (who do not require Adult partners), he was still denied admission into the Scouting organization as he refused to repeat the phrase "to do my duty to God and my country" in the Cub Scout Promise.

 

 

 

From what I gather from the above, no secret regulations were used. I don't see the issue of "supreme being" relevant in the decision.

 

 

 

P.S. Anyone else ever gotten this error message?

 

The string you entered for the image verification did not match what was displayed.
Yes, I'm familiar with the Welsh case. I met Elliott on-line on CompuServe immediately upon joining their Scouting Forum. And the BSA spy there printed out just about every message posted there and turned them in to BSA, whose lawyers then presented a thick stack of those messages in federal court as evidence in the Welsh trial. In fact, the very first message I posted there was included and marked "ATHEIST LEADER" in big red letters.

 

We followed reports of those CompuServe forum members about the proceedings and the actions and statements of BSA officials and of other participants. While that is an accurate account of what had happened, it is also true that BSA frequently invoked its non-existent "rule requiring belief in a Supreme Being" in the Welsh case as well as in all the other cases involving religious discrimination. That included BSA's persistent and well-publicized direct lies to the public about having a rule requiring "belief in a Supreme Being".

 

I would also point out how the Welsh case started as being a prime example of the problems caused by the surface wording of the DRP in absense of any explanation of what officially published BSA policy actually says. In fact, on recruitment night for our pack there was one parent who balked at that wording, so I sat down and explained what it meant according to officially published policy and she found that she could agree with it. Rather, it is when that policy is kept secret from the parents so that all they have to go by is the surface wording that these kinds of problems even arise.

 

You keep giving what appears to be a circular argument to me

How so? Please explain why you think that and what you think is circular about my arguments. I think that I've been very straight-forward in my reasoning and in my presentation. For that matter, I cannot see how officially published BSA policy could be construed to say something different.

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I wonder why a non believer would want to join an organization of believers (in this case the Boy Scouts). I do not get it. The Boy Scouts are a private orginazation and as such have the right to dictate who can be a member. The Boy Scouts have that same right as other private organizations such as the NAACP, NRA, NOW, and the Catholic Church do. The NAACP can discriminate by refusing to accept a Klansman as a member. The Catholic Church discriminates against Jews when it requires priests to be Catholic. NOW would be correct in denying membership to George Bush a person who is not pro-choice. And the NRA discriminates by denying membership to President Obama who wants to ban the private ownership and use of guns.

 

The Boy Scouts as a private organization can have a good reason, bad reason, irrational reason, or any other reason in establishing membership criteria. Their reason can be one that you might not approve of but as a private orginazation it is their right to discriminate. I appose everything the Nazi Party of the United States stands for but they have a right to exist and they have a right to establish membership criteria. To be clear I am not comparing the Nazi Party to that of the Boy Scouts.

 

What is sad and to me it is anti-freedom to have those who oppose the Boy Scouts sue the Boy Scouts time and time again attempting to force them to take them in as a member. Atheists have no right to be a member of the Boy Scouts in the same way Jews have no right to be priests of the Catholic Church. Why is it anti-freedom for Atheists though the use of the courts to become a member of the Boy Scouts is because if this were to happen some court might require another private orginazation to accept as a member someone they do not want. The NAACP might be required to have a Klansman as a member. The NAACP might be required to operate their orginazation against their wishes. This has happened. In the 1950’s legislators in the South passed laws requiring the NAACP to turn over their membership information to them. This was done so the police could harass and threaten the members and supporters of the NAACP. The US Supreme Court ruled the NAACP could not be required to give their membership information to government officials. They ruled such laws violated the 1st amendment.

 

Where do we get our rights. The founders believed we get our rights from God. In the Declaration of Independence Americans declared in 1776 that "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.†Those who signed the Declaration of Independence, and the people of the states they represented believed that fundamental truth.

 

Through out America’s history the belief that God is our creator and the source of human rights has been acknowledged again and again. In 1781, Thomas Jefferson in his work titled, “Notes on the State of Virginia†wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God.â€Â

 

Congress in September 25, 1789 approved a resolution calling on President Washington to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving for the people declaring, “A day of public Thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging . . . The many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a Constitution of Government for their safety and happiness.†This President Washington did so establishing the first Thanksgiving holiday under the US Constitution. In the proclamation given Washington thanked God for the recent victory over the British and helping establish a nation founded on the liberty of the people.

 

In 1863 President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address said, “. . . that this Nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and the Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not parish from the Earth.â€Â

 

In June 15, 1954 President Eisenhower signed into law that amended the Pledge of Allegiance to read, “ . . . one Nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.â€Â

 

The Boy Scouts in the oath referencing God attest to the basic fact that our rights come from God. You might not agree that our rights come from God but that is irrelevant because the historical fact is that Americans believe that our rights come from God that no government can take away.

 

What should Atheists do? First they and their supporters should leave the Boy Scouts alone. Secondly they can join another organization such as the 4H Club, the Boys Club, or Atheist United that will welcome them as members. They can form their own camping orginazation and set whatever membership criteria they want. They can get together with friends and go camping.

 

Finally I go back to the beginning, “Why would a non-believer want to join the Boy Scouts an organization of believers in God who do not want non-believers as members?"

 

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I wonder why a non believer would want to join an organization of believers (in this case the Boy Scouts). I do not get it. The Boy Scouts are a private orginazation and as such have the right to dictate who can be a member. The Boy Scouts have that same right as other private organizations such as the NAACP, NRA, NOW, and the Catholic Church do. The NAACP can discriminate by refusing to accept a Klansman as a member. The Catholic Church discriminates against Jews when it requires priests to be Catholic. NOW would be correct in denying membership to George Bush a person who is not pro-choice. And the NRA discriminates by denying membership to President Obama who wants to ban the private ownership and use of guns.

 

The Boy Scouts as a private organization can have a good reason, bad reason, irrational reason, or any other reason in establishing membership criteria. Their reason can be one that you might not approve of but as a private orginazation it is their right to discriminate. I appose everything the Nazi Party of the United States stands for but they have a right to exist and they have a right to establish membership criteria. To be clear I am not comparing the Nazi Party to that of the Boy Scouts.

 

What is sad and to me it is anti-freedom to have those who oppose the Boy Scouts sue the Boy Scouts time and time again attempting to force them to take them in as a member. Atheists have no right to be a member of the Boy Scouts in the same way Jews have no right to be priests of the Catholic Church. Why is it anti-freedom for Atheists though the use of the courts to become a member of the Boy Scouts is because if this were to happen some court might require another private orginazation to accept as a member someone they do not want. The NAACP might be required to have a Klansman as a member. The NAACP might be required to operate their orginazation against their wishes. This has happened. In the 1950’s legislators in the South passed laws requiring the NAACP to turn over their membership information to them. This was done so the police could harass and threaten the members and supporters of the NAACP. The US Supreme Court ruled the NAACP could not be required to give their membership information to government officials. They ruled such laws violated the 1st amendment.

 

Where do we get our rights. The founders believed we get our rights from God. In the Declaration of Independence Americans declared in 1776 that "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.†Those who signed the Declaration of Independence, and the people of the states they represented believed that fundamental truth.

 

Through out America’s history the belief that God is our creator and the source of human rights has been acknowledged again and again. In 1781, Thomas Jefferson in his work titled, “Notes on the State of Virginia†wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God.â€Â

 

Congress in September 25, 1789 approved a resolution calling on President Washington to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving for the people declaring, “A day of public Thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging . . . The many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a Constitution of Government for their safety and happiness.†This President Washington did so establishing the first Thanksgiving holiday under the US Constitution. In the proclamation given Washington thanked God for the recent victory over the British and helping establish a nation founded on the liberty of the people.

 

In 1863 President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address said, “. . . that this Nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and the Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not parish from the Earth.â€Â

 

In June 15, 1954 President Eisenhower signed into law that amended the Pledge of Allegiance to read, “ . . . one Nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.â€Â

 

The Boy Scouts in the oath referencing God attest to the basic fact that our rights come from God. You might not agree that our rights come from God but that is irrelevant because the historical fact is that Americans believe that our rights come from God that no government can take away.

 

What should Atheists do? First they and their supporters should leave the Boy Scouts alone. Secondly they can join another organization such as the 4H Club, the Boys Club, or Atheist United that will welcome them as members. They can form their own camping orginazation and set whatever membership criteria they want. They can get together with friends and go camping.

 

Finally I go back to the beginning, “Why would a non-believer want to join the Boy Scouts an organization of believers in God who do not want non-believers as members?"

What should Atheists do? First they and their supporters should leave the Boy Scouts alone.

 

Since atheists have first amendment rights, and since the BSA has been less than honest when excluding atheists, no.

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JoeBob : "I wonder why a non believer would want to join an organization of believers (in this case the Boy Scouts). I do not get it. "

 

From what I see of members of the BSA I would hardly call us a group of "believers" like a church would be.. Perhaps some units tightly controlled by a religious organization who limit their units to members of their church, or insist on prayer and Sunday services.. But, the majority of groups that treat religious teachings as up to the parents and really don't deal with it, we are a group of believers and those who don't give it much thought except a fuzzy perhaps there is something..

 

Since BSA units are not 90% to 100% of prayer and Bible readings, but instead 90% to 99% of camping and fun, I get it..

 

Joe - If your unit it 90% to 100% religion centered, I feel sorry for the fun your kids are missing.

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Since atheists have first amendment rights

 

Of course you and other atheists have the right to speak and criticize the Boy Scouts and I will defend that right. When I say “Leave us alone†I say to you, the parents of atheist children, the ACLU, NOW, Atheists United, and other liberal legal interest groups stop suing the Boy Scouts. School Districts, cities, states, and other government organizations stop the law suits! There have been law suits against the Boy scouts since the 1970’s over the issue concerning membership. And the law suits continue. We are a private orginazation and we have the right to decide who we want in our organization. We have the right to establish membership criteria. You and other atheist have no right to be in the Boy Scouts. When I say “Leave us alone†I say stop attempting to join the Boy Scouts using force via the courts. It is anti-freedom.

 

and since the BSA has been less than honest when excluding atheists, no.

 

We have been very honest. Since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America there has been a reference to God in the Boy Scout oath. Since the 1950’s when conducting a flag ceremony God has been referenced when Boy Scouts have recited the Pledge of Allegiance. And since the 1970’s the Boy Scouts have been very clear in press releases, statements made by officers of the Boy Scouts, briefs given in the courtroom, and arguments given to the US Supreme Court that if you are an atheist you cannot be a member. How clearer than that can we be.

 

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Since atheists have first amendment rights

 

Of course you and other atheists have the right to speak and criticize the Boy Scouts and I will defend that right. When I say “Leave us alone†I say to you, the parents of atheist children, the ACLU, NOW, Atheists United, and other liberal legal interest groups stop suing the Boy Scouts. School Districts, cities, states, and other government organizations stop the law suits! There have been law suits against the Boy scouts since the 1970’s over the issue concerning membership. And the law suits continue. We are a private orginazation and we have the right to decide who we want in our organization. We have the right to establish membership criteria. You and other atheist have no right to be in the Boy Scouts. When I say “Leave us alone†I say stop attempting to join the Boy Scouts using force via the courts. It is anti-freedom.

 

and since the BSA has been less than honest when excluding atheists, no.

 

We have been very honest. Since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America there has been a reference to God in the Boy Scout oath. Since the 1950’s when conducting a flag ceremony God has been referenced when Boy Scouts have recited the Pledge of Allegiance. And since the 1970’s the Boy Scouts have been very clear in press releases, statements made by officers of the Boy Scouts, briefs given in the courtroom, and arguments given to the US Supreme Court that if you are an atheist you cannot be a member. How clearer than that can we be.

My 0.02 cents..

 

I think that there are very few boys that have made a choice in their faith at the age of 15 let alone 6.

I think that that are even fewer atheists.

Most of these kids are probably agnostic if you really pressed them for an answer.

 

Joe I think the biggest issue is what is faith in God. Many confuse faith as Christianity.

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I wonder why a non believer would want to join an organization of believers (in this case the Boy Scouts). I do not get it. The Boy Scouts are a private orginazation and as such have the right to dictate who can be a member. The Boy Scouts have that same right as other private organizations such as the NAACP, NRA, NOW, and the Catholic Church do. The NAACP can discriminate by refusing to accept a Klansman as a member. The Catholic Church discriminates against Jews when it requires priests to be Catholic. NOW would be correct in denying membership to George Bush a person who is not pro-choice. And the NRA discriminates by denying membership to President Obama who wants to ban the private ownership and use of guns.

 

The Boy Scouts as a private organization can have a good reason, bad reason, irrational reason, or any other reason in establishing membership criteria. Their reason can be one that you might not approve of but as a private orginazation it is their right to discriminate. I appose everything the Nazi Party of the United States stands for but they have a right to exist and they have a right to establish membership criteria. To be clear I am not comparing the Nazi Party to that of the Boy Scouts.

 

What is sad and to me it is anti-freedom to have those who oppose the Boy Scouts sue the Boy Scouts time and time again attempting to force them to take them in as a member. Atheists have no right to be a member of the Boy Scouts in the same way Jews have no right to be priests of the Catholic Church. Why is it anti-freedom for Atheists though the use of the courts to become a member of the Boy Scouts is because if this were to happen some court might require another private orginazation to accept as a member someone they do not want. The NAACP might be required to have a Klansman as a member. The NAACP might be required to operate their orginazation against their wishes. This has happened. In the 1950’s legislators in the South passed laws requiring the NAACP to turn over their membership information to them. This was done so the police could harass and threaten the members and supporters of the NAACP. The US Supreme Court ruled the NAACP could not be required to give their membership information to government officials. They ruled such laws violated the 1st amendment.

 

Where do we get our rights. The founders believed we get our rights from God. In the Declaration of Independence Americans declared in 1776 that "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.†Those who signed the Declaration of Independence, and the people of the states they represented believed that fundamental truth.

 

Through out America’s history the belief that God is our creator and the source of human rights has been acknowledged again and again. In 1781, Thomas Jefferson in his work titled, “Notes on the State of Virginia†wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God.â€Â

 

Congress in September 25, 1789 approved a resolution calling on President Washington to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving for the people declaring, “A day of public Thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging . . . The many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a Constitution of Government for their safety and happiness.†This President Washington did so establishing the first Thanksgiving holiday under the US Constitution. In the proclamation given Washington thanked God for the recent victory over the British and helping establish a nation founded on the liberty of the people.

 

In 1863 President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address said, “. . . that this Nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and the Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not parish from the Earth.â€Â

 

In June 15, 1954 President Eisenhower signed into law that amended the Pledge of Allegiance to read, “ . . . one Nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.â€Â

 

The Boy Scouts in the oath referencing God attest to the basic fact that our rights come from God. You might not agree that our rights come from God but that is irrelevant because the historical fact is that Americans believe that our rights come from God that no government can take away.

 

What should Atheists do? First they and their supporters should leave the Boy Scouts alone. Secondly they can join another organization such as the 4H Club, the Boys Club, or Atheist United that will welcome them as members. They can form their own camping orginazation and set whatever membership criteria they want. They can get together with friends and go camping.

 

Finally I go back to the beginning, “Why would a non-believer want to join the Boy Scouts an organization of believers in God who do not want non-believers as members?"

When I was CM, doing the 'roundup' thing, there was absolutely no mention, whatsoever, by me or the other CM's present, or the DE, of anything about there being a religious requirement for membership. The only thing we talked about was all the fun the boys would have, with examples of the activities and sometimes even a few scouts present in uniform. We were recruiting. We weren't trying to polarize people by telling them right there that, "By the way, if you don't believe so-and-so you're not welcome as a member". So when you ask why someone would want to join a private religious organization if they didn't share those religious beliefs, in my experience it is because that recruiting process was deceptive and allowed people to remain ignorant of BSA's status as a private religious organization.

 

Years later when I asked him, the DE noted that it would have 'turned people off' if we had stood in front of those families and told them that we want them to consider joining BUT gay persons and atheists are not welcome. If we had then, as the DE went on to explain, we'd probably get fewer people to sign up. THAT, to me, is clearly a deception. And I think that provides part of the answer for the first sentence in your post.

 

Edit to add: I have several times over the years, offered the opinion that in those recruiting efforts, we should prominently and proudly proclaim that BSA is a private religious organization and that we reject gays and non-believers. That way the potential customers would know what the product really is...and the marketplace would take care of things.

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Since atheists have first amendment rights

 

Of course you and other atheists have the right to speak and criticize the Boy Scouts and I will defend that right. When I say “Leave us alone†I say to you, the parents of atheist children, the ACLU, NOW, Atheists United, and other liberal legal interest groups stop suing the Boy Scouts. School Districts, cities, states, and other government organizations stop the law suits! There have been law suits against the Boy scouts since the 1970’s over the issue concerning membership. And the law suits continue. We are a private orginazation and we have the right to decide who we want in our organization. We have the right to establish membership criteria. You and other atheist have no right to be in the Boy Scouts. When I say “Leave us alone†I say stop attempting to join the Boy Scouts using force via the courts. It is anti-freedom.

 

and since the BSA has been less than honest when excluding atheists, no.

 

We have been very honest. Since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America there has been a reference to God in the Boy Scout oath. Since the 1950’s when conducting a flag ceremony God has been referenced when Boy Scouts have recited the Pledge of Allegiance. And since the 1970’s the Boy Scouts have been very clear in press releases, statements made by officers of the Boy Scouts, briefs given in the courtroom, and arguments given to the US Supreme Court that if you are an atheist you cannot be a member. How clearer than that can we be.

We have not been completely honest. See my comment to your first post.

Edit to add: Here's what my disclaimer at roundup would be:

"Folks, now that we've explained the program and shown you some of the great things we do, we must also inform you that BSA is a private religious organization. As such we reject membership applications if you are non-believers. We also reject adult leader membership for anyone who is gay. However, if your son turns out to be a homosexual, we will allow him to continue as a member until he is 18 years old."

THAT would be honesty. Try that the next recruiting night and see what it gets you. Who knows, in your community it might even boost membership.

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Since atheists have first amendment rights

 

Of course you and other atheists have the right to speak and criticize the Boy Scouts and I will defend that right. When I say “Leave us alone†I say to you, the parents of atheist children, the ACLU, NOW, Atheists United, and other liberal legal interest groups stop suing the Boy Scouts. School Districts, cities, states, and other government organizations stop the law suits! There have been law suits against the Boy scouts since the 1970’s over the issue concerning membership. And the law suits continue. We are a private orginazation and we have the right to decide who we want in our organization. We have the right to establish membership criteria. You and other atheist have no right to be in the Boy Scouts. When I say “Leave us alone†I say stop attempting to join the Boy Scouts using force via the courts. It is anti-freedom.

 

and since the BSA has been less than honest when excluding atheists, no.

 

We have been very honest. Since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America there has been a reference to God in the Boy Scout oath. Since the 1950’s when conducting a flag ceremony God has been referenced when Boy Scouts have recited the Pledge of Allegiance. And since the 1970’s the Boy Scouts have been very clear in press releases, statements made by officers of the Boy Scouts, briefs given in the courtroom, and arguments given to the US Supreme Court that if you are an atheist you cannot be a member. How clearer than that can we be.

Pack, I agree. When son #1 was interested in cub scouts, the cubmaster tried to do just that in presenting the program to us parents. I'm pretty sure he was following his own script, not the districts. He went a little too far in describing BSA as a "Christian" organization. (My experiences as a scout -- especially at Jamboree -- showed me how diverse the organization was, so I knew he was being a bit narrow.) But, he was clear to point out that it welcomed boys of all religions and expected leaders to have some belief in God. His statement didn't offend away any parents in the room. And, even if a couple folks weren't the church-going type, I think they appreciated the disclosure.

 

He made no mention of homosexuality. Not because he was naive to it, but because it wasn't even on his radar considering the couples in the room and the age of youth he was dealing with.

 

For the Venturers (and older boys), I have encouraged them to read the fine print on the youth application ("reference" being one of the foundational steps of teaching any skill, especially scouting). They are more than welcome to ask questions. Some Christians do ask for clarification on how broad "non-sectarian" is. Generally I tell them "very broad" and that they might find themselves in the company of the kind of people Jesus would bunk with, so their parents probably would not approve. I've also made it clear that I have no intention of applying the "gay ban" to youth. So far, it hasn't scared any of them away. (On the other hand, the possibility of little Jenny being around boys with the prevailing orientation has been the occasional deal-breaker!)

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Since atheists have first amendment rights

 

Of course you and other atheists have the right to speak and criticize the Boy Scouts and I will defend that right. When I say “Leave us alone†I say to you, the parents of atheist children, the ACLU, NOW, Atheists United, and other liberal legal interest groups stop suing the Boy Scouts. School Districts, cities, states, and other government organizations stop the law suits! There have been law suits against the Boy scouts since the 1970’s over the issue concerning membership. And the law suits continue. We are a private orginazation and we have the right to decide who we want in our organization. We have the right to establish membership criteria. You and other atheist have no right to be in the Boy Scouts. When I say “Leave us alone†I say stop attempting to join the Boy Scouts using force via the courts. It is anti-freedom.

 

and since the BSA has been less than honest when excluding atheists, no.

 

We have been very honest. Since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America there has been a reference to God in the Boy Scout oath. Since the 1950’s when conducting a flag ceremony God has been referenced when Boy Scouts have recited the Pledge of Allegiance. And since the 1970’s the Boy Scouts have been very clear in press releases, statements made by officers of the Boy Scouts, briefs given in the courtroom, and arguments given to the US Supreme Court that if you are an atheist you cannot be a member. How clearer than that can we be.

I say to you, the parents of atheist children, the ACLU, NOW, Atheists United, and other liberal legal interest groups stop suing the Boy Scouts

 

What lawsuits about membership requirements have been filed since Dale? I don't know of any.

 

School Districts, cities, states, and other government organizations stop the law suits

 

Any public school or school district that charters a BSA unit ought to be sued. But again, I don't know of any since the Dale decision. There was the 2005 letter from the Illinois ACLU threatening to sue if the BSA continued to charter discriminatory BSA units to public schools, but since the BSA pretty much stopped issuing charters to government entities after that, I don't know of any lawsuits.

 

There have been a few lawsuits post-Dale over special government deals that the BSA gets, because the government shouldn't take public tax money and spend it on an organization that discriminates on the basis of religion, as that's a first amendment issue.

 

And the law suits continue.

When I say “Leave us alone†I say stop attempting to join the Boy Scouts using force via the courts.

 

Which lawsuits? I'm serious, cite some actual recent lawsuits. I'm very up on atheist issues and I don't know of any.

 

We have been very honest

 

Nope, not when public schools were the #1 largest chartering partner while the BSA expected these public schools to exclude atheists. That's in violation of the constitution. Texas was the worst, with 25% of all cub scout packs chartered by public schools.

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JoeBob : "I wonder why a non believer would want to join an organization of believers (in this case the Boy Scouts). I do not get it. "

 

From what I see of members of the BSA I would hardly call us a group of "believers" like a church would be.. Perhaps some units tightly controlled by a religious organization who limit their units to members of their church, or insist on prayer and Sunday services.. But, the majority of groups that treat religious teachings as up to the parents and really don't deal with it, we are a group of believers and those who don't give it much thought except a fuzzy perhaps there is something..

 

Since BSA units are not 90% to 100% of prayer and Bible readings, but instead 90% to 99% of camping and fun, I get it..

 

Joe - If your unit it 90% to 100% religion centered, I feel sorry for the fun your kids are missing.

Ahem, that was JoeC, not JoeBob.

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My best friend, a non-catholic (non-Catholic?) sent his boys to a Jesuit run high school. Why? Because he thought that they would get a good education. I had my two sons go through the BSA program (Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts) because I thought it would do them and myself good. Both even earned their age appropriate religious youth emblem award (Light of Christ, Parvuli Dei and for one of them Ad Altare Dei). Maybe because their mother pushed them? Maybe because they thought having medals and knots on their uniform was cool?

 

 

 

Anyway, my point is that the DRP was anything I was that enamored with or against so either way I thought the program would be good for my boys.

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I wonder why a non believer would want to join an organization of believers (in this case the Boy Scouts). I do not get it. The Boy Scouts are a private orginazation and as such have the right to dictate who can be a member. The Boy Scouts have that same right as other private organizations such as the NAACP, NRA, NOW, and the Catholic Church do. The NAACP can discriminate by refusing to accept a Klansman as a member. The Catholic Church discriminates against Jews when it requires priests to be Catholic. NOW would be correct in denying membership to George Bush a person who is not pro-choice. And the NRA discriminates by denying membership to President Obama who wants to ban the private ownership and use of guns.

 

The Boy Scouts as a private organization can have a good reason, bad reason, irrational reason, or any other reason in establishing membership criteria. Their reason can be one that you might not approve of but as a private orginazation it is their right to discriminate. I appose everything the Nazi Party of the United States stands for but they have a right to exist and they have a right to establish membership criteria. To be clear I am not comparing the Nazi Party to that of the Boy Scouts.

 

What is sad and to me it is anti-freedom to have those who oppose the Boy Scouts sue the Boy Scouts time and time again attempting to force them to take them in as a member. Atheists have no right to be a member of the Boy Scouts in the same way Jews have no right to be priests of the Catholic Church. Why is it anti-freedom for Atheists though the use of the courts to become a member of the Boy Scouts is because if this were to happen some court might require another private orginazation to accept as a member someone they do not want. The NAACP might be required to have a Klansman as a member. The NAACP might be required to operate their orginazation against their wishes. This has happened. In the 1950’s legislators in the South passed laws requiring the NAACP to turn over their membership information to them. This was done so the police could harass and threaten the members and supporters of the NAACP. The US Supreme Court ruled the NAACP could not be required to give their membership information to government officials. They ruled such laws violated the 1st amendment.

 

Where do we get our rights. The founders believed we get our rights from God. In the Declaration of Independence Americans declared in 1776 that "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.†Those who signed the Declaration of Independence, and the people of the states they represented believed that fundamental truth.

 

Through out America’s history the belief that God is our creator and the source of human rights has been acknowledged again and again. In 1781, Thomas Jefferson in his work titled, “Notes on the State of Virginia†wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God.â€Â

 

Congress in September 25, 1789 approved a resolution calling on President Washington to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving for the people declaring, “A day of public Thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging . . . The many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a Constitution of Government for their safety and happiness.†This President Washington did so establishing the first Thanksgiving holiday under the US Constitution. In the proclamation given Washington thanked God for the recent victory over the British and helping establish a nation founded on the liberty of the people.

 

In 1863 President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address said, “. . . that this Nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and the Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not parish from the Earth.â€Â

 

In June 15, 1954 President Eisenhower signed into law that amended the Pledge of Allegiance to read, “ . . . one Nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.â€Â

 

The Boy Scouts in the oath referencing God attest to the basic fact that our rights come from God. You might not agree that our rights come from God but that is irrelevant because the historical fact is that Americans believe that our rights come from God that no government can take away.

 

What should Atheists do? First they and their supporters should leave the Boy Scouts alone. Secondly they can join another organization such as the 4H Club, the Boys Club, or Atheist United that will welcome them as members. They can form their own camping orginazation and set whatever membership criteria they want. They can get together with friends and go camping.

 

Finally I go back to the beginning, “Why would a non-believer want to join the Boy Scouts an organization of believers in God who do not want non-believers as members?"

Why would anybody want to join the Boy Scouts? Think about it! Why would anybody want to join the Boy Scouts? In particular, why would any adult, especially a parent of a boy, want to join?

 

How's about because they believe in the principles and ideals of Scouting. Because they remember what they had themselves learned as Scouts (or the women vicariously through their brothers) and they want their own sons to learn the same things and to have the same experiences, so they join as well as volunteer leaders. Or because they loved the experience and want to continue in it, giving back to the movement.

 

That last category would include senior Scouts who age out at 18 and stay on in the troop as junior adult leaders. Or men and women whose own sons have aged out and remain active at the district and council level; our district had several such members of the "Goat Patrol". Or men who have no sons who want to continue on -- we have one such who was active in Venture Scouting and also volunteered to help with our troop.

 

The reason for joining Boy Scouts is Scouting! Why else would anyone join?

 

The Boy Scouts as a private organization can have a good reason' date=' bad reason, irrational reason, or any other reason in establishing membership criteria. Their reason can be one that you might not approve of but as a private orginazation it is their right to discriminate.[/quote']

 

Yes, but once they have established their membership criteria, then they are obligated to apply and enforce it! BSA has indeed established its membership criteria in its officially published Rules and Regulations, Bylaws, and other official policy statements.

 

None of BSA's officially published policy gives any reason for excluding an atheist just for being an atheist. BSA has repeatedly claimed to have a rule that requires "belief in a Supreme Being" and insisting that that was the rule that required them "against their will" to exclude atheists. The problem is that that rule simply does not exist. Not only would such a rule directly conflict with officially published BSA policy, but it has even been officially denied:

1. In 1985 in the Paul Trout incident by CSE Ben Love and Relationships Division Director William McCleery III.

2. In a 21 December 1994 letter by Relations Division Director Larry Townsend.

3. In the Randall trial by Orange County Council SE Kent Gibbs when directly ordered by Judge Frazee to produce that "rule" that Gibbs kept going on about.

 

As a matter of fact, the entire reason for this topic is for me to ask whether anyone knows whether this "rule's" offical status has changed since circa 1998, when last I had checked.

 

The founders believed we get our rights from God. In the Declaration of Independence. {etc}

It is really not a good idea for you to always assume that when someone uses the word "God" then it must always mean the same as you would use that word and that it must always mean your own god. It rarely works out that way. You always need to be aware of context to be able to approach the true meaning of anything that's said or written.

 

You should also become familiar with Deism, which didsn't believe in a personal interactive god, but rather in a remote Prime Mover that had gotten the Universe started and then stood back to let it run. One term for this "Creator" was "the God of Nature" or "Nature's God" which had created the Laws of Nature. And certainly, that is the exact wording we find in the Declaration of Independence. You will also find it in Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, in which Paine refuted Christianity, which he considered to be a form of atheism because it denied the true God of Nature in order to worship a man. There's even a conspiracy theory, like "who really wrote Shakespeare?", that Paine had ghost-written the Declaration, since it is so similar to his style. And I'm fairly certain that your sources consider Paine to be an atheist, but his beliefs weren't much different than other Deists', such as Jefferson and several other Founding Fathers.

 

Since you mistakenly find religious significance in the alteration of the Pledge, you should also read A Memorial and Remonstrance by James Madison, in which he described the need to separate government and religion a few years before he drafted the First Amendment. In it, he enumerates and demonstrates the detrimental effects on both government and religion when the two are allowed to co-mingle. And this has come to pass; in Supreme Court Justice Brennan's dissenting opinion in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984):

...I would suggest that such practices as the designation of "In God We Trust" as our national motto' date=' or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form a "ceremonial deism," protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content. [/quote']

So in the Pledge and the new Motto, "God" has been reduced to meaningless "ceremonial deism". Congratulations! I'm sure you're so proud of yourself.

 

 

And that "any significant religious content" had been arrived at by "rote repetition". Gee, that sounds like "Duty to God" in the Scout Oath, doesn't it? Only officially published BSA policy does tell us what it means, that each member is to be attentive in the duties of his own religion. What does BSA require that duty to be? It doesn't! That is up to each member's own religious leaders and community. What does BSA define "God" to be? It doesn't, nor may it! That is up to each member's own religious leaders and community. What about "belief in God"? Not only does BSA not attempt to define it, but it doesn't even require it! Well, except for that fictitious non-rule that BSA keeps lying about.

 

All that BSA officially requires regarding religion is that definite attention be given to that aspect of one's life.

 

Atheists have no right to be a member of the Boy Scouts in the same way Jews have no right to be priests of the Catholic Church.

Where exactly in BSA's officially published policies does it say that atheists cannot be members of BSA? Cite it and quote it!

 

Of course, you may have difficulty doing that, besides for the obvious reason that it does not say it. That other difficulty would be just gaining access to the documents. Back around 1990, copies of BSA's Rules and Regulations and Bylaws were readily available for sale in the Scout Shop. But then BSA suddenly pulled them all off the shelves and restricted access to them on a need-to-know basis. Why? Because they started showing up in court in the hands of the victims of BSA discrimination. And because they clearly showed the courts that BSA was violating its own officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, and policies. Faced with the truth, BSA did what all liars do, which is to try to hide the truth.

 

 

Let me ask you a question. Both "A Scout is Reverent" and the description of "Duty to God" in the first Handbook require the scout to respect the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion. Obviously, a religious bigot cannot do that.

 

Why then would a religious bigot ever want to join the Boy Scouts? Especially since his beliefs are in direct opposition to the religious principles of BSA and of Scouting.

 

 

And, yes, I do fully realize that I'm yet again casting pearls before swine. My minister kept warning me about that, but here I go again.

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