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DWise1_AOL

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

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DWise - I am sorry for your experience in scouting as a youth, it was wrong and you were wronged.. You did say you went through years of appeal, so I would imagine it went up to National and probably beyond to the court system.. I am shocked it went so far, and that you were not victorious.. I am surprised it did not get more media attention as a case as to what is wrong with the BSA.

 

Our District had a similar case last year. Though it took a week of deliberation and speaking more with the young man's religious witness. But, the young man made the mistake of saying at the board that he did not believe in God.. He went out with his scoutmaster while the board deliberated and the scoutmaster told him what he said wrong.. On his return he corrected himself in saying he was not an atheist, he just didn't believe in God as everyone else did.. The board was about to deny him, but decided to investigate upon the statement he did not consider himself an atheist. Lucky for him the person he put down was a Catholic priest.. the young man went to a Catholic school, yet was not Catholic.. The priest though wrote a statement on his behalf which when I saw it I thought was going to be too wishy washy for the board to accept.. The letter only stated he was respectful of others beliefs and was a good kid.. But, the board decided to consider the boy "In search of" what God means to him, but that he was not a atheist. So he was approved.. Therefore the scout never needed to appeal higher then District's board. Our board has stated that you need to believe in something higher then yourself, but have stated they don't care if it is a rock, tree or lamppost, you just might need a little more explanation as to why the lamppost is a higher entity then yourself, if that is what you believe. Still I wonder, if the boy had not attended a Catholic school, and had a Catholic priest as his witness if it would have turned out so well. But, I am certain that this board would have excepted your UU beliefs and the statements of your minister as equally acceptable also..

"It appears that there is no law that requires a private organization to actually adhere to its own self-appointed rules and regulations. . . . In all court cases, BSA won the overall case on technicalities."

Preciously why I didn't bother with a case.

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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.

Well, what is your interpretation of the DRP? In the absolutely nonsectarian manner that is required by the rest of BSA's officially published policy (see the interpretive statement in the Advancement Guidelines, the Reaffirmation of Duty to God from 1991, and the official statements of the Relationships Division from 1985 and 1994), or in a definitely sectarian manner as is used by supporters of BSA religious discrimination?

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... DWise refers to himself as an "atheist" which is understood to preclude belief in God. ... BSA has magnanimously and reasonably taken a stance that allows for the widest interpretation of "duty to god" to the inclusion even of philosophical belief systems that don't have a god, like Buddhism; it's bad form to turn that around on BSA and try to use it against them.

 

Sorry, the above makes no sense at all. If a Buddhist or a Unitarian or a Wiccan or a Jew can be an atheist and a member of the BSA, then a god isn't needed, and an atheist who just calls himself as an atheist should be able to join, unless the "duty to god" requirement is so shallow that a label makes all the difference. But that's just stupid.

BSA's "official" definition of God is whatever the person wants it to be at the time. We "sneak" Unitarians, Native American spiritualist, Pagans, and even Muslims into our troop; We may even have atheists, though none have proclaimed to be such . Other troops don't allow these people, neither does our district or council. If who ever is above you in the chain of command doesn't think your definition of "god" or "supreme being" is acceptable you can be kicked out.

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Never heard of them pulling out an adult unless they were loudly proclaiming and promoting being an atheist.. Most the adults I know I have no idea what the believe or if they believe in anything it is just accepted that if they signed up they were at peace with what they signed. Many are not affiliated with any church at all. The only time I have heard of anything is if a boy gets a question at their eagle board, and they proclaim they are atheist or whatever, at which point it is usually as much of a surprise to the scoutmaster, and the boy may not even know that he is saying something that will hurt his chances of getting his eagle (or he does know and it is an "in your face" move)... That it also was an ambush by district leaders tells me that you had a corrupt bunch on your district staff and there was something other then your religion that caused them to want to take you down..
Khaliela, as you stated you weren't an Atheist, same a DWise1 states he wasn't an Atheist.. Seriously are all leaders in your area church goers? Can you really say it was about your religious views.. From what I remember you were big on the older scoutcraft ways and not the more modern beliefs.. Big into patrols going out without adult leadership etc.. You don't think their problem wasn't with you not falling in line with becoming a troop that coddled the scouts, and was really about if your belief in a superior authority didn't match their belief?

 

It is troubling to me though to hear that not only witch-hunts were going on with homosexuals, but also in this way..

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Never heard of them pulling out an adult unless they were loudly proclaiming and promoting being an atheist.. Most the adults I know I have no idea what the believe or if they believe in anything it is just accepted that if they signed up they were at peace with what they signed. Many are not affiliated with any church at all. The only time I have heard of anything is if a boy gets a question at their eagle board, and they proclaim they are atheist or whatever, at which point it is usually as much of a surprise to the scoutmaster, and the boy may not even know that he is saying something that will hurt his chances of getting his eagle (or he does know and it is an "in your face" move)... That it also was an ambush by district leaders tells me that you had a corrupt bunch on your district staff and there was something other then your religion that caused them to want to take you down..
@Moosetracker

I have no idea where you came up with the notion that I was "big into older scoutcraft ways." I was told that my my religion was occult, and that I was not following patrol method when I asked to be excused from wearing that stupid hat.

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Never heard of them pulling out an adult unless they were loudly proclaiming and promoting being an atheist.. Most the adults I know I have no idea what the believe or if they believe in anything it is just accepted that if they signed up they were at peace with what they signed. Many are not affiliated with any church at all. The only time I have heard of anything is if a boy gets a question at their eagle board, and they proclaim they are atheist or whatever, at which point it is usually as much of a surprise to the scoutmaster, and the boy may not even know that he is saying something that will hurt his chances of getting his eagle (or he does know and it is an "in your face" move)... That it also was an ambush by district leaders tells me that you had a corrupt bunch on your district staff and there was something other then your religion that caused them to want to take you down..
I asked for "Religious Accommodations" when I filled out my Wood Badge application stating that I would need personal time alone for religious observances. (I didn't tell them which religion.) When I arrived I was denied any accommodations. I was told that I would have to participate in all of the Christian services (and wear the hat) and that if I wanted to worship my own way it would have to be AFTER lights out for the evening (about 11 PM). My Patrol noticed something was bothering me and one of them followed me off into the woods one night because patrols could get dinged for not following the buddy system. When they learned that no religious accommodations were being made they decided they wanted to preform a Druid firefighting ceremony so that I could be included. The ASM for Wood Badge rejected the plan and said in front of my entire patrol that my religion was occult and had no place in scouting and that they needed to keep me in line. That was where my scouting tenure ended. One of my Patrol members wrote a letter to our council on my behalf stating that he felt that the Wood Badge staff were wrong, but he ended up being kicked out of his troop too.

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Never heard of them pulling out an adult unless they were loudly proclaiming and promoting being an atheist.. Most the adults I know I have no idea what the believe or if they believe in anything it is just accepted that if they signed up they were at peace with what they signed. Many are not affiliated with any church at all. The only time I have heard of anything is if a boy gets a question at their eagle board, and they proclaim they are atheist or whatever, at which point it is usually as much of a surprise to the scoutmaster, and the boy may not even know that he is saying something that will hurt his chances of getting his eagle (or he does know and it is an "in your face" move)... That it also was an ambush by district leaders tells me that you had a corrupt bunch on your district staff and there was something other then your religion that caused them to want to take you down..
It wasn't a local ambush, but rather it came straight down from National. No professional in BSA does anything without orders from National. DEs have standing orders to report all contacts up the chain and I'm sure that those orders do not stop there.

 

What happened in my case was that BSA had a spy planted in the Scouting Forum on CompuServe who printed out all "suspicious" postings and passed them up to National. Believe it or not, BSA presented those printouts as evidence in federal court in Chicago for the trial of Welsh v BSA. My very first message posted there was among those printouts marked in big red letters, "Atheist leader!" I was called to testify in that trial, where I testified that I subscribe to the DRP and "Duty to God" in good conscience and cannot find anything in officially published BSA policy that would require the exclusion of an atheist. The details and sequence of events are in my timeline at http://dwise1.net/scouting/timeline.txt ; I've not published it yet, so this is the only link to it.

 

The reason I was on that forum on CompuServe was that the Randall case had hit the local news. When I signed on as an adult leader a couple years prior, I was at first taken aback by the blatantly Judeo-Christian language of a surface reading of the DRP, language which directly conflicted with the "absolutely nonsectarian" statement, so I researched into the matter. What I found in official BSA publications informed me that despite a surface reading a strictly Judeo-Christian interpretation was not required. I found that I, as an atheist (for 50 years now), could indeed sign the DRP and say the Oath and Law in good conscience. From that point on, the matter was settled.

 

But then the Randall story came out, which told me that something was very wrong. So I sought out more information of what was going on. Since the public statements of BSA (including the non-rule, "belief in Supreme Being") were completely contrary to BSA policy, I knew that BSA would not be the source of truthful information. Besides, there was BSA's actions in the Randall case. The boys in Cub Scouts raised questions about "Duty to God", the pack leaders reported it to BSA and the first indication the parents had of any trouble was the letter from BSA expelling the boys from Scouting (OK, a den leader called them before that, but it was a confused conversation that didn't impart any information). After that, BSA blocked all the parents' efforts to resolve the problem and even told the father to file a lawsuit, which he did and he won, though it was overturned by the state supreme court just as the boys had earned their Eagles. That informed me that BSA would strike without warning and would allow no recourse, so I needed to go on the record for the truth. It was at that trial that I learned about Unitarian Universalism and discovered that I had been a UU for most of my life (a common experience among UUs) and met our minister who later certified to BSA in writing that I do perform my "Duty to God" in accordance with UU teachings, which BSA chose to willfully ignore in violation of their own rules.

 

In the Welsh case, he went to recruitment night to sign up with his son for Tiger Cubs, communicated misgivings about the language of the DRP and the professional there barred them from joining. The Tiger Cub leader was shocked at what had just happened, let slip that her beliefs were the same as his, and she was also summarily expelled on the spot.

 

In the Randall case, a Jewish Cubmaster in neighboring Los Angeles County wrote to them praising them for standing up for what they believe. Two uniformed BSA professionals (dare I call them "brown shirts"?) confronted him at his work place in front of his co-workers and started interrogating him about his personal religious beliefs. When he told them that his beliefs were none of their business, in complete accordance with BSA policy, they handed him his letter of expulsion and left. I later heard from Jim Randall (one of our pack's boys invited his sons to join our pack) of an LA pack who lost its Cubmaster because of religious discrimination, so the pack appointed a new Cubmaster who every parent knew was gay and that the whole pack laughed at how idiotic BSA was being; I don't know whether that was the same pack.

 

BSA religious discrimination is a long and sordid story.

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Never heard of them pulling out an adult unless they were loudly proclaiming and promoting being an atheist.. Most the adults I know I have no idea what the believe or if they believe in anything it is just accepted that if they signed up they were at peace with what they signed. Many are not affiliated with any church at all. The only time I have heard of anything is if a boy gets a question at their eagle board, and they proclaim they are atheist or whatever, at which point it is usually as much of a surprise to the scoutmaster, and the boy may not even know that he is saying something that will hurt his chances of getting his eagle (or he does know and it is an "in your face" move)... That it also was an ambush by district leaders tells me that you had a corrupt bunch on your district staff and there was something other then your religion that caused them to want to take you down..
Khaliela, your story is a new low, even for BSA. I won't even try to guess the reason they gave you, because they never give the reason. All they say is "you do not meet the high standards of Scouting". But being told personally that it was because you're not Christian?

 

Did you seek reinstatement within BSA? Your letter should have told you that you have the right to have your case reviewed. That review would have gone up to Regional and even to National. Yes, it's rather like the old Soviet system of government where the review board just rubber-stamps what National hands them, but you should have at least been able to go above Council. And National supported expelling you for not being Christian? They're like the legendary bad naval officer whose fitrep stated that he had hit rock-bottom and has started to dig.

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Khaliela, my guess is that you didn't run into an official policy from National (though I have heard stories that there are people there who are actively hostile to neo-pagens), but into a group of bigoted volunteers. You should appeal it up the chain, even if it's only to get it on record.

 

Also, which council was this, and how long ago?

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DW, if you cuss. You secure my contentment at National's dismissal of your claims.

 

For the other folks that may be in your predicament. I'm just a guy in the trenches.

 

Just thinking about the depiction of events:

 

.... At one point, the BSA attorney asked me about "God". ... I said that I was confused by his question and I needed to know the official BSA definition of "God" that he was applying, .... I saw the plaintiff attorneys wake up just then, though sadly too late. I also saw the BSA defendent attorney back-pedal furiously to get himself out of that quagmire ....

 

Again ...

 

He said, "God is whatever you say it is." So, knowing something about some non-theistic religious traditions, I offered an idea. "No, that's not it. But God is whatever you say it is." So I offered another well-considered idea and he again responded with, "No, that's not it either. But God is whatever you say it is." After a few more iterations of this nonsense, I stated, "Well, obviously my own ideas are 'God' are not the same as yours." at which point he terminated the conversation, obviously satisfied that he had gotten what he had wanted.

 

I gotta, say. It sounds like asking a kangaroo, "Can you do something about this kick-me sign?" There is nothing but pain in that line of inquiry.

 

Here's what I've garnered from what little BSA training I've had. Their definition DOES NOT MATTER. An attempt to lead a plaintiff to leverage a relativistic-argument DOES NOT MATTER. What matters is if when asked, one can say they are living a life answerable to God. The asker may not understand the breadth of that as well as the person being asked does -- or maybe it's the other way around. But, the choice of that word allows for that kind of latitude. At least what I've been taught through BSA's instruction on the matter, is that a person's willingness to say they are doing that is all I need to know. Then again, all that was in the context of taking care of youth -- not in the context of selecting adult leaders.

 

I don't think the folks who would take action to reject an adult leader are on this forum, so a straight answer as to how things are being done now (or iff there is any method to the madness) is not forthcoming. Although Khaleila's testimony indicates that at least at the council or area levels, there are lines drawn in the sand.

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Well, if you post BS you shouldn't act surprised when you get called on it. Like your kangaroo analogy, which stinks of the BSA BS lie of "we're not excluding anybody, but rather they are excluding themselves."

 

But at least you now appear to be trying to actually discuss.

 

Here's what I've garnered from what little BSA training I've had. Their definition DOES NOT MATTER. An attempt to lead a plaintiff to leverage a relativistic-argument DOES NOT MATTER. What matters is if when asked' date=' one can say they are living a life answerable to God. The asker may not understand the breadth of that as well as the person being asked does -- or maybe it's the other way around. But, the choice of that word allows for that kind of latitude. At least what I've been taught through BSA's instruction on the matter, is that a person's willingness to say they are doing that is all I need to know.[/quote']

You're headed in the right direction, but there's still a problem. BSA's definition does not matter, that is true, because officially BSA has no definition nor does it allow itself to form any definition or interpretation for "God", "belief in God", or just what "Duty to God" must entail, though it does define what "Duty to God" is, no part of which includes any specific theological requirements such as "belief in God". And as a Scouter, that is what you need to follow.

 

But then you come up with "What matters is if when asked, one can say they are living a life answerable to God." Meaning what exactly? Then you dissemble by effectively saying that it doesn't mean anything and yet that person's membership depends on it. What you are doing here is, as in your earlier post requiring "belief in God", is that you are creating and applying additional requirements that are not required. If you read the Advancement Guidelines, you will see something that you should have also been told on your training: you cannot add or subtract from the existing requirements. Officially, BSA does not require "belief in God" and yet you have added that requirement. Officially, BSA does not require "Duty to God" to entail "living a life answerable to God" and yet you have added your own personal interpretation as an additional requirement.

 

The reason why BSA attempts to define "God" is important, besides because it exposes BSA's violation of its own rules, is that that word has been loaded within our culture as referring specifically to one very specific supernatural being, YHWH. So even if you say that it could mean anything, the reality is that hardly any non-YHWHist would normally use that term to describe his own religion or belief system. So without a proper and undoubtedly lengthy discussion of what the official rules are really looking for under "Duty to God", most non-YHWHists would undoubtedly deny any belief in or allegiance to YHWH. That not at all mean that they do not do their "Duty to God" as is really required, but rather that they would deny that YHWH has anything whatsoever to do with it. And they would be perfectly right and would qualify for membership, but you would deny them that membership because of that one word, "God", and because of the additional requirements that you are imposing on them because of your own sectarian interpretations.

 

Try this little experiment. Replace every occurance of "God" with "Allah", or even better with "Vishnu". As a believing practicing Christian, wouldn't you be taken aback by being required to do your "Duty to Allah" or "Duty to Vishnu"? Especially if the gung-ho Scouter you're dealing with also requires to to declare that you believe in "Allah" or in "Vishnu". Would you as a believing practicing Christian normally express your religious beliefs using "Allah" or "Vishnu"? Are you starting to see what it's like to walk a mile in another man's shoes?

 

 

 

So why should any of this matter of BSA religious discrimination matter to you? Well, it should for several reasons, assuming that you are actually dedicated to Scouting (ie, not all volunteers register because of their support for Scouting and I'm just just talking about Mormons being drafted).

 

To start with, as the organization responsible for providing Scouting to US youth, BSA should at least be setting the example and leading by example by living by the principles of Scouting, rather than willfully violating those principles, most fundamentally Scout's Honor. In so refusing, BSA is setting the wrong example and sending the wrong message and public support for Scouting has suffered for it.

 

For example, as positive a face as I tried to put on everything, my son still could see what BSA was doing to his father and to others like the Randalls and he could plainly see how wrong their were. He's about to turn 32. When he returned home for Xmas from out-of-state university and I was driving him and a friend of his home from the airport with a minor detour so he could get a Del Taco burrito (not available in ND). As we drove past the BSA council office, he pointed it out to his friend and described it as the most evil place in the county. And the number of people who think that of BSA is growing with every dishonorable act by BSA.

 

Oh, you may think that this is a rare problem that hardly ever happens, but that is because you only hear what BSA tells you (which will be nothing) or what appears in the local news, which will only show up if somebody tries to fight their expulsion. But the numbers of children and adults subjected to BSA religious discrimination is quite large. Eagle Scout Steve Cozzo who saw the same hypocrisy in BSA that I've been describing founded Scouting for All (http://www.scoutingforall.org/). He reported receiving hundreds of phone call every year from scouts who had been expelled, about 60% for being gay and 40% for being atheists. It is not a minor problem.

 

BSA has wasted millions of dollars in court battles that it created itself and very easily could have settled out of court simply by talking with its victims. The results of those court cases, while finding that the laws cited did not apply to a private organization like BSA, did also find that BSA discriminates. And it became quite clear to the public following the news that BSA discriminates, as it also became clear to BSA's sponsors and donors who have very definite anti-discrimination policies. This has resulted in many of them dropping their support for BSA, which impacts BSA's budget which should impact their ability to promote Scouting in the USA (disregarding what's diverted to their self-inflicted legal costs and the CSE's really huge compensation package). I'm not sure, but in the reports of the recent decision to include gay youth I recall reading that BSA's main motivation in even considering the matter was because of its ever-growing loss of sponsors.

 

Scouting is also losing chartering organizations and hence units, because of those former COs' own anti-discrimination policies. The US military used to be a big supporter of Scout units, but they are being ordered to not sponsor any units because of BSA discrimination. And a number of public schools are no longer allowing BSA access to their students because of BSA's claim of being a secret religious organization (a legalistic lie they started using in the 1990's court cases, but which is coming back to bite them). This much further reduces the availability of Scouting to US youth, particularly the children of military families living overseas.

 

There's also the problem of the continuing loss of membership, which in turn concerns BSA because the donations it receives are tied to the number of youth that they are serving. Even though they have opened up programs to a wider range of members (eg, Tiger Cubs) and even though that segment of the population is still growing, membership is still shrinking. http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/html/bsa_membership.html examines the numbers and finds that for the year ending December 31, 2012, BSA has lost over 643,566 registered Cub Scouts since 1998. Total youth membership in BSA's traditional programs has declined by approximately 27% (965,244 members), since 1997! The author of that page points to the fact that BSA is catering to the prejudices of older generations while the younger generation, the parents of boys of Scouting age, are largely repulsed by BSA's virulent discriminatory policies. Another reason that the parents of boys of Scouting age are rejecting BSA is because so many of them have friends and family who are gay or non-theists, so they know that there is nothing wrong with such people and that there is no real reason for them to be discriminated against. And the number of non-believers is steadily growing, fueled in part by the children of fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative Christians who had been raised in the faith and are leaving it -- no, running from it -- in droves, the numbers ranging from 60% to 80% who leave religion altogether by early adulthood. While that last one is a problem for the churches which they have been doing their best to ignore, it also increases exposure to BSA religious discrimination and further erosion of public support for BSA and for Scouting.

 

BSA's sole purpose, its sole reason for even existing, is to provide Scouting to US youth. It is instead endangering Scouting in the USA. How could anyone who actually believes in Scouting possibly support what BSA is doing to it?

 

 

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Khaliela, my guess is that you didn't run into an official policy from National (though I have heard stories that there are people there who are actively hostile to neo-pagens), but into a group of bigoted volunteers. You should appeal it up the chain, even if it's only to get it on record.

 

Also, which council was this, and how long ago?

June 2012--Inland Northwest Council #611

I wrote two letters to National and never got a reply from either.

I contacted Scouts Canada and was told by the personel in Ottawa that they have list of people who have been denied membership in BSA and want to join Scouts Canada, but so far the WOSM won't allow you to join Scouts in another country unless you actually live in that Country. I guess Scouts Canada is working on trying to remove that provision because it would increase their membership if everyone in the USA that BSA kicked out was able to join Scouts Canada.

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Never heard of them pulling out an adult unless they were loudly proclaiming and promoting being an atheist.. Most the adults I know I have no idea what the believe or if they believe in anything it is just accepted that if they signed up they were at peace with what they signed. Many are not affiliated with any church at all. The only time I have heard of anything is if a boy gets a question at their eagle board, and they proclaim they are atheist or whatever, at which point it is usually as much of a surprise to the scoutmaster, and the boy may not even know that he is saying something that will hurt his chances of getting his eagle (or he does know and it is an "in your face" move)... That it also was an ambush by district leaders tells me that you had a corrupt bunch on your district staff and there was something other then your religion that caused them to want to take you down..
The letter "officially" said that it was because I would not follow patrol method or adhere to the principles taught at Wood Badge. I put in my course evaluation that I would never force a non-christian Scout to participate in Christian activities just because the rest of his partol was. I also said that having single religion services would not work in our troop because we have boys from multiple religions. The course evaluation was supposed to be annyonmous, but I was confronted with it by my Wood Badge Troop Guide, and because a Scout is Trustworthy admitted that I wrote the evaluation and restated that I would not force non-christian boys to participate in Christian activities.

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Khaliela, my guess is that you didn't run into an official policy from National (though I have heard stories that there are people there who are actively hostile to neo-pagens), but into a group of bigoted volunteers. You should appeal it up the chain, even if it's only to get it on record.

 

Also, which council was this, and how long ago?

That explanation doesn't seem to flush with BSA's direct service units in plenty of foreign countries.

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