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

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I suffered through BSA's religious discrimination in the 1990's and was very active on the rec.scouting during that time. I was also very active in Scouting at the time even though I had been summarily expelled for being an atheist, but since my boys aged out I have been out of the loop since circa 1999. I am starting to prepare web pages describing my experience and I need to know the current situation.

 

The main problem was that BSA claimed to have a rule that required belief in a "Supreme Being" and used that "rule" as the reason for expelling both youth and adults for religious reasons. That "rule" did not exist. That wording was tried in the 1980's purportedly to make BSA more inclusive, but when it resulted in the expulsion of Life Scout candidate Paul Trout, a Unitarian Universalist who did not believe in a "Supreme Being", BSA and CSE Ben Love responded to the negative publicity and hundreds of letters of protest by reinstating Paul Trout and dropping the "Supreme Being" wording, calling it a mistake. By 1991, the very same CSE Ben Love had reinstated that mistake saying that it was now a rule and was now using it to actively root out and expel non-theists.

 

When I affiliated in 1989 I hadn't heard about that situation, but knowing about the "Duty to God" wording from my prior involvement as a youth I knew that I had to deal with it. So I researched into what "Duty to God" is supposed to mean and found that the officially published policy on "Duty to God" and on religion did agree with my own beliefs and that I would have no problem swearing to do my "Duty to God". It was a couple years later when news about the Randall twins broke and I suddenly found that BSA was violating its own officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, and policies. That was also when I first became aware of that definition of "Duty to God" as requiring belief in a "Supreme Being", which itself directly violated officially policy that BSA is forbidden to make any such definitions. I went on rec.scouting to discover what was going on, the resident BSA spy included my postings along with countless others that were submitted as evidence in federal court (Welsh v. BSA), and that led to my expulsion.

 

I was able to research what BSA's Rules & Regulations and Bylaws said because at the time they were sold in the Scout Shop and so were readily accessible to all. Then when copies kept showing up in court to show that BSA was violating its own rules, BSA took them out of the Scout Shop and restricted access to them. They were also used in the Randall trial in which the judge finally got fed up with BSA's double-talk and directly ordered our Council Exec to show him that "Supreme Being" rule, to which our CE had to admit in court and under oath (I would assume) that no such rule actually existed.

 

My question is whether such a rule exists now. In the 14 years since last contact, has BSA changed its officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, or policies to give that "belief in a Supreme Being" mistake actual official status as a real rule? If so, then when and where is it?

 

Every time I try to post I get an Edit Conversation box that complains "Empty Response"

 

 

I suffered through BSA's religious discrimination in the 1990's and was very active on the rec.scouting during that time. I was also very active in Scouting at the time even though I had been summarily expelled for being an atheist, but since my boys aged out I have been out of the loop since circa 1999. I am starting to prepare web pages describing my experience and I need to know the current situation.

 

The main problem was that BSA used a "rule" that did not exist, belief in a "Supreme Being", to expel both youth and adults for religious reasons.

 

My question is whether such a rule exists now. In the 14 years since last contact, has BSA changed its officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, or policies to give that "belief in a Supreme Being" mistake actual official status as a real rule? If so, then when did that happen and and where is it officially published?

 

EDITED BY PACKSADDLE:

I'm also trying to respond and getting the "Empty Response" message. I sent a message to the managers to see if they can fix this problem. Anyway, I'll abuse my moderator status just a bit by offering Welcome to the Forums!

Even if the forums are evidently not working well just now.

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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.

 

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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.

Also, from the youth application:

 

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, 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 organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to these precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.

 

And from the Adult application

 

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, 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 organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to these precepts from the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of leadership.

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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.

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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 guess Merriam Webster & Co. wasn't one of those?

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So the servers working now? Here's my original reply [cut and pasted from "Debugging "]...

 

The by-laws are easily found here:

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...AndBylaws.aspx

 

They seem pretty unambiguous to me: "God" being a surrogate for the wordy "prime mover, who may be known or unknown to us mere mortals" or whatever the missionaries to the Celts were trying to use to communicate what they were trying to say about the Semitic deity adopted by the Roman empire.

 

I'm not sure how this is distinguished from "Supreme being", as the notion of "God" in the original language, although not Semitic, conveyed every notion of supremacy, perhaps more than even the Latin "Deus".

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So the servers working now? Here's my original reply [cut and pasted from "Debugging "]...

 

The by-laws are easily found here:

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...AndBylaws.aspx

 

They seem pretty unambiguous to me: "God" being a surrogate for the wordy "prime mover, who may be known or unknown to us mere mortals" or whatever the missionaries to the Celts were trying to use to communicate what they were trying to say about the Semitic deity adopted by the Roman empire.

 

I'm not sure how this is distinguished from "Supreme being", as the notion of "God" in the original language, although not Semitic, conveyed every notion of supremacy, perhaps more than even the Latin "Deus".

No one goes to debugging to find replies, and if anyone is watching the debugging threads (however doubtful) I'm sure they don't need off-topic stuff clogging them up.

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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 exploring the numinous.

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They seem pretty unambiguous to me: "God" being a surrogate for the wordy "prime mover, who may be known or unknown to us mere mortals" or whatever the missionaries to the Celts were trying to use to communicate what they were trying to say about the Semitic deity adopted by the Roman empire.

 

Seems pretty ambiguous to me. Here's an exact quote:

"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."

 

Now, from the above quote, it would seem to me that polytheists are not acceptable, as it clearly indicates one god, goddess worshippers are out, as it clearly indicates a male god, some Deists and others are out if they believe in a non-involved god as it clearly indicates this god gives favors and blessings, and it would seem people who worship damager-gods are also out.

 

But since most, if not all of the above really ARE acceptable gods, it seems the BSA's description is utterly wrong and misleading.

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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.....

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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.

I wonder if this was another reason National rejected the Covenant of the Goddesses submissions for a Pagan Religious emblem? Instead of "Duty to God" our book was titled HART & CRESCENT AWARD and included requirements on "Duty to Goddess." http://www.cog.org/index.php?p=content/CoGWeb/About.html

 

We were told the reason they wouldn't accept it was that there weren't any Pagan Organizations that chartered a unit. Of course being pagans, we'll never be able to charter a unit because of the requirement that we have a building. We meet and worship in nature so we don't have buildings; hence we can't charter a scout unit.

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It depends entirely on which “supreme being†you believe in AND what unit you are trying to be a member of.

 

Every unit has the right to reject members for whatever reason they choose. We have a Catholic Pack that only allows Catholic boys in the unit, provided they attend the local Catholic School. If you’re Catholic and don’t attend the Catholic School you aren’t “Catholic Enough†to be a member of their unit.

 

As far as National is concerned just because your application wasn’t accepted because you believed in the wrong god (or believe in the same god, but weren’t godly enough), does not constitute a rejection. Scouts denied membership in local units are still eligible to be a member of Boy Scouts of America provided they find an organization with a building and applicable insurance that is willing to charter a unit that will allow them.

 

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So the servers working now? Here's my original reply [cut and pasted from "Debugging "]...

 

The by-laws are easily found here:

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...AndBylaws.aspx

 

They seem pretty unambiguous to me: "God" being a surrogate for the wordy "prime mover, who may be known or unknown to us mere mortals" or whatever the missionaries to the Celts were trying to use to communicate what they were trying to say about the Semitic deity adopted by the Roman empire.

 

I'm not sure how this is distinguished from "Supreme being", as the notion of "God" in the original language, although not Semitic, conveyed every notion of supremacy, perhaps more than even the Latin "Deus".

s99, since I wasn't sure if there was something in the text causing the error, I pasted my reply in debugging. It stuck. Trust me, I spared all you debuggers lots of other rejected messages after that.

 

You're welcome.

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So the BSA currently has a black eye......You are helping this fellow blacken the other one.......

 

give it a rest for cryin out loud.....

I was trying to think of a "Friendly" way to tell him to get lost.

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