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

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"BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the Practice of religion." (BSA policy statement).

 

 

 

​Accordingly, there is no requirement for "God" to be defined as a "supreme being" (although most certainly, the overwhelming majority of members use that definition). I personally know many Scouters who conceive of "God" in very different ways than a supreme being.

I've not found dictionaries to be particularly helpful in understanding BSA policies.

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

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OK, Finally!!!

 

Here's the response I had tried to send a while back:

 

 

 

Welcome to the forums. You are not alone. I think Merlyn may be better

 

able to respond to your questions as he is a long-time forum member

 

and critic, and is quite knowledgeable with regard to this topic. My

 

response is that the membership application now has a Declaration of

 

Religious Principle (DRP) that anyone signing the form agrees to. From

 

my experience, some people never notice it, and even when they do,

 

they don't pay much attention to it. Others take the DRP very

 

seriously. There's quite a diverse set of views on it.

 

 

 

As near as I can tell, the requirement is for a belief in a 'higher

 

power', not necessarily a supreme being. As I understand it, BSA will

 

accept a belief system that worships a rock or even the 'Flying

 

Spaghetti Monster', (I'm not making this stuff up) both of which, to

 

my mind, hardly qualify as a supreme being...at least not.any more

 

than my cat does (although that cat evidently THINKS it is some kind

 

of supreme being).

 

 

 

In this manner, BSA has, for all practical purposes, accepted any

 

belief system, although a recent forum member has noted that being

 

Pagan has led to local rejection. One forum member long ago noted that

 

his belief in the "higher power of reason" seems to be acceptable to

 

BSA. And in response, even some of the most devout forum members

 

shrank from criticizing him. It's hard to argue with that one.....

From the BSA's June 7, 1991 "questions and answers" from the scouts-l listserv:

http://listserv.tcu.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind9711&L=scouts-l&D=0&P=34070&F=P

...

Q. Some people maintain that God is a tree, a rock or a stream. Would a

person believing such be eligible to be a member of Scouting?

 

A. The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion. The Scout Oath

states a requirement for a Scout to observe a duty to God, and the Scout

Law requires a Scout to be reverent. Again, interpretation is the

responsibility of the Scout, his parents and religious leaders.

...

 

The Pagan religious award was rejected because, after meeting the old requirements, the requirements were changed. I've heard that the BSA will not charter to any pagan organizations to prevent them from ever getting the required minimum of 25 units chartered to get a religious award recognized.

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

Rick, just to be clear, BSA has not disallowed the "Unitarian religion" awards. There are currently four Unitarian religion awards that are approved for uniform wear. see http://www.uuscouters.org/uuso-awards/

 

 

 

This may seem like a fine point, but what the BSA did about 15 years ago was disapprove the awards developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association. The dispute between BSA and the UUA was concerning homosexuality, which is now moot for youth members.

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OK, Finally!!!

 

Here's the response I had tried to send a while back:

 

 

 

Welcome to the forums. You are not alone. I think Merlyn may be better

 

able to respond to your questions as he is a long-time forum member

 

and critic, and is quite knowledgeable with regard to this topic. My

 

response is that the membership application now has a Declaration of

 

Religious Principle (DRP) that anyone signing the form agrees to. From

 

my experience, some people never notice it, and even when they do,

 

they don't pay much attention to it. Others take the DRP very

 

seriously. There's quite a diverse set of views on it.

 

 

 

As near as I can tell, the requirement is for a belief in a 'higher

 

power', not necessarily a supreme being. As I understand it, BSA will

 

accept a belief system that worships a rock or even the 'Flying

 

Spaghetti Monster', (I'm not making this stuff up) both of which, to

 

my mind, hardly qualify as a supreme being...at least not.any more

 

than my cat does (although that cat evidently THINKS it is some kind

 

of supreme being).

 

 

 

In this manner, BSA has, for all practical purposes, accepted any

 

belief system, although a recent forum member has noted that being

 

Pagan has led to local rejection. One forum member long ago noted that

 

his belief in the "higher power of reason" seems to be acceptable to

 

BSA. And in response, even some of the most devout forum members

 

shrank from criticizing him. It's hard to argue with that one.....

At the May 2013 meeting of the Religious Relationships Task Force, we began review of a proposed Sikh religious award for Cub Scouts. Uncertain as to how many units are sponsored by Sikh chartering partners, I asked whether the rule of 25 was still in effect. The answer was to the effect of "... not really." I get the distinct feeling that inclusiveness has become more than a mere slogan within BSA National (despite pockets of resistance) and that the Hart and Crescent award might get a different reception today.

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

They're not in my 2012 printing of the guide to Awards and Insignia, though.

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Below is the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle

Article IX. Policies and Definitionsâ€â€From the Charter and Bylaws

Section 1. Declaration of Religious Principle, clause 1. 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 honor 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 favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

You don't help your cause when your website includes pictures of pretty women showing their breasts. Not sure National would be too impressed with the nipples on view when they are telling Scouting's female yoots to wear swimwear that keeps everything covered.

 

Why are the women showing "skin" but the men tastefully hide their wedding tackle?

 

On the plus side, seeing the Cerne Abbas Giant via a Scout site was pretty funny.

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

Moreover, the dispute in which the UUA awards were denied recognition was mostly about free speech. BSA wanted the UUA to remove criticism of BSA membership policy from the UUA literature. UUA refused so BSA decided to take their cowardly action. I doubt that this conflict is resolved as long as the other membership restriction remains.

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

see http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/relig.aspx

 

 

 

also http://www.scouting.org/filestore/membership/pdf/522-031_WB.pdf

 

 

 

and http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-879_WB.pdf

 

 

 

and http://www.praypub.org/main_frameset.htm

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

Trevorum, the UUSO (Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization) group that produces those awards have nothing to do with the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association). The UUA still runs it's emblem program and offers them to scouts. They are just not "approved by the BSA". The UUSO is a group of scouters not associated with the UUA that decided to put together a emblem program that would make the BSA happy. Their awards are not recognized by the UUA.

 

The UUA emblem program:

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169557.shtml

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Part of the problem is that the BSA is inconsistent in how they interpret their own policies. For example, the BSA has said the following is incompatible with BSA values (and one of the given reasons for disallowing the Unitarian religion awards):

 

http://www.uua.org/re/children/scouting/169563.shtml

 

But I think it is an excellent way of looking at Duty to God. Of course I am Unitarian, so I am biased. However, I cannot see anything in there that is "inconsistent with boy scout values".

Rick, in case you're not aware, Trevorum is a founding member of the UUSO. He is very knowledgeable of the history and issues surrounding this.

 

Edit to add: I also have the utmost respect for what Trevorum and others have tried to do...and that is to try to find a way for boys who were affected by BSA's action to experience scouting without the effect of BSA's action. Anyone who pursues something like this for the purpose of providing benefit to young people gets my admiration. I might disagree with Trevorum about other aspects of this issue but I celebrate his attempt make things better.

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As long as don't declare you are an outright "atheist", you can pretty much declare anything you want about what you believe about "duty to God" in the oath and be a BSA member. Even an "agnostic" might not have a problem because he can simply declare what "duty to God" and "Reverence" means to him and that will pass for many units.

 

At the inception of the BSA in 1910, it was commonly understood what was meant by "God" in the context of the Judeo-Christian belief of a Supreme Being. Many Scouters, like myself, still hold to this ancient belief. The Declaration of Relgious Principle has been with the BSA from the beginning and can be found in the first edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (Handbook for Boys - 1911, Ch. VI-Chivarly, p. 250). Nothing new.

 

 

 

 

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I'm always amazed at the mean spirited abuse others inflict on others by throwing around the word discrimination. It's not about clearly communicating. It's hate speech. BSA has always had a faith component.

 

Now we can debate if BSA should change that, but it's not discrimination any more than my neighbor discriminating against me when he doesn't want me entering his house without permission.

 

Personally, I think BSA should leave membership to the charter orgs because it's the only way to avoid the ugly interactions of people we've seen flood these threads for years.

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Below is the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle

Article IX. Policies and Definitionsâ€â€From the Charter and Bylaws

Section 1. Declaration of Religious Principle, clause 1. 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 honor 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 favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

Khaliela, while there are certainly scouters who would like to see a Pack and Troop chartered by a Wiccan coven along with a religious award that centers on the divinity inherent in nature, as has been said, the BSA doesn't do skyclad. The visual impact of your site doesn't give anyone a warm fuzzy that the campfire skits are going to be in keeping with BSA ideals. As far as a building, that's true. You would need to provide something with actual walls, roof, and mailing address, even if you don't use it for every meeting. Surely you don't keep everything under a bush in the woods.

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Below is the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle

Article IX. Policies and Definitionsâ€â€From the Charter and Bylaws

Section 1. Declaration of Religious Principle, clause 1. 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 honor 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 favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

" Surely you don't keep everything under a bush in the woods. "

Really haven't seen many Arthurian legend movies, have you? Disclosed locations were problematic to druids. Worse for wiccans --ever since Grim & Co. sued for fire safety violations on behalf of Hanzel and Gretels' parents. ;)

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