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

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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.

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.

 

True. They are both discrimination. Whether it's legal or not, or whether various people consider it moral or not, is a separate issue.

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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".

Oh boy, packsaddle, "cowardly"? Free speech applies to the public sphere. We're all free to say anything, we are not free of the consequences of our speech. If the Unitarians decided to bash BSA within the literature of their award program, then of course they should not have been allowed to do so. They've got a pulpit where they can tell their youth what they think about BSA's policies, and that is the appropriate place to do it. WalMart did not sell a CD with songs that criticized it--why would they? That's not "cowardice" that's common sense and it's the way the world works. BSA is not the town hall, it's a private organization and it has the right and obligation to control the message its membership receives from official sources.

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Let's try this again.

 

I need to know about changes to the BSA Rules & Regulations, Bylaws, Advancement Guidelines, Declaration of Religious Principles, etc, pertaining to religion that were made since the late 1990's. In particular, I am interested in learning whether the "belief in a Supreme Being" non-rule has been incorporated into officially published BSA policy. In other words, has that non-rule been turned into an actual rule? And if so, then where?

 

My own experience was from 1988 to about 1998. During that time, I became very familiar with those official publications and with the events of the time. However, I have not followed it since then, so I need to know what has happened in the meantime from circa 1995 to the present. That is the only reason that I joined here, which is not to say that I wouldn't mind sharing some of my knowledge and experiences.

 

Starting around 1990, BSA started expelling members for the expressed reason that belief in a "Supreme Being" is required. BSA spokesmen and lawyers even went so far as say that they wouldn't mind keeping those members as members, but they were forced to expell them because of this here "belief in a Supreme Being" rule. And yet nobody could ever find that rule and all requests to see it were deflected or simply ignored. Finally in the Randall trial, the judge ordered BSA to show him that rule and BSA had to admit to him that that rule did not exist.

 

So my primary question here is whether that non-existent "rule", which BSA even had to admit in court did not exist, has since 1995 been made into an actual rule.

 

The history of that phrase goes back to the early 1980's when it was created "to broaden rather than constrict the understanding of the phrase 'duty to God' (i.e., it was intended to allow for non-Christian understandings of deity)." (as BSA had told UUA President Dr. Schulz). Then in 1985 it resulted in the expulsion of Paul Trout, a Unitarian Life Scout. The bad publicity and hundreds of letters of protest led CSE Ben Love to reverse the decision, to reinstate Trout, to name that "belief in a Supreme Being" wording a "mistake", and to apologize for that mistake. Then about five years later, the exact same CSE Ben Love had reinstated that mistake and used it for the purpose of religious discrimination. BSA professionals and lawyers would even tell the public and judges that they wouldn't want to expell these people, but this here "belief in a Supreme Being" rule was forcing them to. Despite the inconvenient fact that that "rule" simply did not exist. Their other excuse was that the Mormon Church was forcing them to expell non-believers, but that's another issue altogether.

 

Even if a "belief in a Supreme Being" requirement were to exist, how could it be reconciled with BSA's other officially published requirements, such as BSA neither defining nor interpreting "God", "Duty to God", the practice of religion, that each member is to be judged solely by the standards of his own religious traditions, or that only a member's religious leaders can determine whether he performs his Duty to God?

 

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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".

"We're all free to say anything, we are not free of the consequences of"

 

That is said by many and frequently, but I think it is oxymoronic. You are not free to speak if the speech has consequences. Consequences negate freedom. That would be like saying you have freedom to murder, but you will have consequences.

 

The truth is that the US has a rather low rating for free speech amongst the first world affluent nations. We're sort of bad at living up to our ideal that Congress not making laws that abridge the freedom of speech.

 

I do not believe in "free speech", so this does not bother me. If you shout at the top of your lungs in front of my house, I'd like to see the police force you to the ground, cuff, you, and haul you off for a night in jail.

 

But the childhood myths about having special freedom in the US have to stop. It's not true in comparison to places like Germany, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and France. We are probably more free today than previously.

 

Frankly, I think the freedom myth is just American propaganda. Having travelled the world, there are certainly places where freedoms are curtailed and people are oppressed more than the US. But there are also places where people are less restricted than they are here.

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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".

@Scouter99.

 

The UUA could write anything they wanted. BSA was free to express their indignation. But with respect to the religious award, BSA wasn't forced to do anything. There was nothing they could do to silence the UUA. There was nothing they could do to suppress the publicity. But the action they took: to deny recognition of the UUA award, ALSO had no effect on any of that. It didn't silence the UUA. It didn't suppress the publicity. It had no effect whatsoever on any of the issues. The ONLY thing it did was to deny something to boys who had no part in the conflict and who had no way to fight back.

 

BSA didn't HAVE to do anything. If BSA had done nothing, the status of the conflict would have been the same as it was after they took action. Their action was ineffective and they knew it would be ineffective. But they took it anyway. They aimed it at innocent persons, knowing that it wasn't necessary and that it would have no effect on the issue, only on the boys. They did it anyway. Their vindictive action was gratuitous, ineffective, and aimed at boys who had no part of the conflict. But BSA knew they could take that action and there was nothing anyone could do in response. It was cowardly.

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Let's try this again.

 

I need to know about changes to the BSA Rules & Regulations, Bylaws, Advancement Guidelines, Declaration of Religious Principles, etc, pertaining to religion that were made since the late 1990's. In particular, I am interested in learning whether the "belief in a Supreme Being" non-rule has been incorporated into officially published BSA policy. In other words, has that non-rule been turned into an actual rule? And if so, then where?

 

My own experience was from 1988 to about 1998. During that time, I became very familiar with those official publications and with the events of the time. However, I have not followed it since then, so I need to know what has happened in the meantime from circa 1995 to the present. That is the only reason that I joined here, which is not to say that I wouldn't mind sharing some of my knowledge and experiences.

 

Starting around 1990, BSA started expelling members for the expressed reason that belief in a "Supreme Being" is required. BSA spokesmen and lawyers even went so far as say that they wouldn't mind keeping those members as members, but they were forced to expell them because of this here "belief in a Supreme Being" rule. And yet nobody could ever find that rule and all requests to see it were deflected or simply ignored. Finally in the Randall trial, the judge ordered BSA to show him that rule and BSA had to admit to him that that rule did not exist.

 

So my primary question here is whether that non-existent "rule", which BSA even had to admit in court did not exist, has since 1995 been made into an actual rule.

 

The history of that phrase goes back to the early 1980's when it was created "to broaden rather than constrict the understanding of the phrase 'duty to God' (i.e., it was intended to allow for non-Christian understandings of deity)." (as BSA had told UUA President Dr. Schulz). Then in 1985 it resulted in the expulsion of Paul Trout, a Unitarian Life Scout. The bad publicity and hundreds of letters of protest led CSE Ben Love to reverse the decision, to reinstate Trout, to name that "belief in a Supreme Being" wording a "mistake", and to apologize for that mistake. Then about five years later, the exact same CSE Ben Love had reinstated that mistake and used it for the purpose of religious discrimination. BSA professionals and lawyers would even tell the public and judges that they wouldn't want to expell these people, but this here "belief in a Supreme Being" rule was forcing them to. Despite the inconvenient fact that that "rule" simply did not exist. Their other excuse was that the Mormon Church was forcing them to expell non-believers, but that's another issue altogether.

 

Even if a "belief in a Supreme Being" requirement were to exist, how could it be reconciled with BSA's other officially published requirements, such as BSA neither defining nor interpreting "God", "Duty to God", the practice of religion, that each member is to be judged solely by the standards of his own religious traditions, or that only a member's religious leaders can determine whether he performs his Duty to God?

I don't know the answer to your question, but many powerful Christians feel they have the authority to make a judgement about the legitimacy or non-legitimacy of others belief systems. We see it constantly from our politiians.

 

I suspect the answer to your question really depends upon who ask and who has power at any given moment.

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I think you meant assault on "God".

The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent. If he acted in a way that treated that rock as supreme (even if it was a lady rock ;) ), I'd count it as fulfilling his duty to God.

 

I'd expect a little more sophistication from adults, but not much.

 

And, that's how I've seen it played out by scouters in my neck of the woods.

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I think you meant assault on "God".

The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent. If he acted in a way that treated that rock as supreme (even if it was a lady rock ;) ), I'd count it as fulfilling his duty to God.

 

I'd expect a little more sophistication from adults, but not much.

 

And, that's how I've seen it played out by scouters in my neck of the woods.

"...assault on "God"

 

So if God is omnipotent, shouldn't he be able to handle some pipsqueak's assault without our help? just sayin'

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I think you meant assault on "God".

The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent. If he acted in a way that treated that rock as supreme (even if it was a lady rock ;) ), I'd count it as fulfilling his duty to God.

 

I'd expect a little more sophistication from adults, but not much.

 

And, that's how I've seen it played out by scouters in my neck of the woods.

Problem is His great affection for pipsqueaks! Half the Psalms are the writer wondering when He's gonna stop putting up with our crap.

 

And (for you "Goddess" fans), I'm using "His" and "He" in the gender-neutral form originally intended (a la "mother hen gathering her chicks" style).

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I think you meant assault on "God".

The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent. If he acted in a way that treated that rock as supreme (even if it was a lady rock ;) ), I'd count it as fulfilling his duty to God.

 

I'd expect a little more sophistication from adults, but not much.

 

And, that's how I've seen it played out by scouters in my neck of the woods.

"....I'm using "His" and "He" in the gender-neutral form..."

 

Well I'm not. A long time ago, one of my redneck buddies, obese, beer-guzzling, tobacco-drooling, unwashed, smelly, nearly bald, and profane....liked to laugh and remark: "God made ME in His image...har, har, har, har". I had no choice but to laugh just as hard. Can't deny a good sense of humor.

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qwazse: The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent.

 

Why is that "sad"?

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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.

We could debate it, but we shouldn't.

 

The BSA is in the business of teaching young men and women to be responsible, moral members of society. 95% of Americans believe something. That's why the religious component of scouting is so important. Until the BSA says their goal has nothing to do with society, but is just a kids camping club, putting those who reject ALL faith systems in charge of scouts or awarding them scouting's highest award should be off the table.

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qwazse: The sad part about this is if a kid thinks a particular stone is his salvation and is not disparaging his buddy's devotion to Allah, I'd count it as reverent.

 

Why is that "sad"?

It's sad because while many scouters are openminded about the beliefs of the young men we mentor, and recognize it's more about respecting the beliefs of others rather than mirroring our own, a few do not...and some of those "few" happen to be positions of authority.

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