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fred johnson

Fear that expanded Duty To God requirement drives us out of schools ... AGAIN ...

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I also think this ( the new specific religious enquiry) is a change that is not warranted and may well lead to other problems, both unforeseen and avoidable.

Friend Turner's comments are well thought out and cogent. They are germane, but they also do not really answer the original question. .

As with much of Scouting, "the work is done by whoever shows up". The more a Scout Leader is sensitive to our avowed non-sectarian standard, the better it will be. For an organization that attracts Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Universalists, Quakers , Sikhs and Wiccans (among others), who all see the affinity of the Scout Promise and Law to their own faith and it's ritual and basis, I find it hard to believe that the folks on this forum are having this particular conversation. This is the basis of the whole brouhaha.

How can YOU be an XYZ and agree to the Scout Law and Promise? Can't you see they are really QRS in origin?????

The proposed requirement(s) will cause wrong headed discussions. They will also lead to correctly directed soul searching. They will also lead to bad feelings and resignations. All this will not be avoided.

With this in mind, I recommend we all go camping as soon and as often as possible.

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"With this in mind, I recommend we all go camping as soon and as often as possible." And let's be sure we sleep under the stars in a group and have a generic discussion of the infinite universe we are gazing at.

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Attended a camporee recently.... The evening camp fire program was together with a Sunday service (on Saturday evening). It was okay, but it was clearly Christian with Apostles creed and several invocations / habits that are Lutheran or Catholic or evangelical in nature. And I admit I did cringe at a few of the evangelical items. But I'm sure evangelical families cringed at "the holy catholic church". .... I should admit that I did trip with the Apostles creed as I'm used to the Nicene creed and I had not said the Apostle's creed regularly since I was a kid. ... but I also still trip up on "consubstantial."

 

At least there was no usage of "The great spirit in the sky"

 

What surprised me even more was that there was no way to avoid the service part. There were many families that were not Catholic, Lutheran or evangelical. We had many Hindu, some Buddist and a few others. There was no way to avoid it as we didn't know when the camp fire would start except immediately following the service.

 

I guess next year we have to volunteer to coordinate the camporee and we could bring in a deacon or priest to run the service at the district camporee.

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Fred: I don't get how organizers of big events don't understand that they gotta include everybody. It's a basic lack of empathy. Either arrange for the major groups to have their own services, or have a very relaxed , open, committed, interfaith prayer service. I wouldn't want to be forced to go to a sectarian service that isn't my religion, but some organizers think it's ok.....

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What surprised me even more was that there was no way to avoid the service part. There were many families that were not Catholic, Lutheran or evangelical. We had many Hindu, some Buddist and a few others. There was no way to avoid it as we didn't know when the camp fire would start except immediately following the service.

.

 

Had the same thing happen at a camporee recently. Sunday morning flag raising followed immediately by a church service that would be indistinguishable from a Christian service (GOD, Jesus, prayed to etc) and after the service camp was closed. No consideration given to non-Christians. Not that I fault the Scouts that ran the service, I fault the Chaplin who didn't mentor them properly and the people that organized the whole affair that just decided everyone would be ok with the service.

 

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Our last camporee was with a different district, just to mix things up, and they had an obligatory chapel service after flags Saturday night. It would have been a perfect time for a havdalah ceremony (marks the end of shabbat) but instead we got a full on fire-and-brimstone-you're-all-going-to-hell sermon. It was bad for the Christian kids. For me, I had to keep telling myself don't answer that question, just don't do it. I finally dug into the Scout Law and courteously walked out.

 

But back to the original post. The requirement changes will not change the behavior of what I saw. They just don't see it and no micro management from national will change it. But, to try and make this useful, I'd like to hear how others will handle this. I like the part of starting with asking a scout what his duty to God is, but then what? If the kid has an answer then it's easy sailing. What if he doesn't have an answer? Do I just leave it at ask your parents?

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My view from the Cub level is different than one would have from the Boy level, especially in terms of requirements for advancement, so take that into consideration when reading this. Personally, I run a 100% secular scouting program. I do absolutely nothing to promote or require demonstrations of faith in my meetings or activities. I make it very clear that all religious awards and "duty to god" sections of the advancement requirements are to be done at home, with the boy's family. I will not attempt to accommodate the myriad of religions humans have subscribed to in my unit, and therefore simply punt and do nothing. There is so much to do in scouting that I'm comfortable leaving this part to the families to do and not come up short on programming.

 

To answer your question, MattR, about telling the kid to ask their parents... that would be my default answer. I'm not there to act as a religious adviser. That role belongs solely to the boys family and their own religious leaders. If the boy and their family can comfortably say they have fulfilled their duty to their god in a manner sufficient to them it's a sign off and on to the next requirement.

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We have our camporee this coming weekend. I'l ask during Cracker Barrel if the service Sunday is nondonminational and not christian

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One of my standard Scoutmaster conference questions is "What is your duty to God and how do you do that?" I then try to just listen. Frequently, however, my side of the conversation ends up explaining to the Scout that BSA only requires a belief in a higher being but does not dictate what that belief should be. That is up to the Scout, his parents and his faith. Yes, consistent with the Declaration of Religious Principals, if you can convince me you are a sincere and faithful Pastafarian and can tell me how you fulfill your duty to your faith, I'm good with that. Obviously, a Pastafarian is going to have a fairly high hill to climb to convince me of his sincerity. I'm not stupid.

 

Consequently, I have no problem, per se, with the rule. It's simply stating what I have already deduced from the DRP. I do, however, share the concern that those who are inclined to do so will see this as a green light to prothselytize.

 

To whoever asked if we've ever encountered someone who did this (sorry, I can't find the post to quote) -- yes. An ASM was fairly aggressive in sharing his conservative Christian faith with two of my Scouts. They tried to play nice but after the third time the ASM approached them on the topic the boys came to me. My talk with the ASM went well but I could tell he was fairly offended.

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I like the part of starting with asking a scout what his duty to God is' date=' but then what? If the kid has an answer then it's easy sailing. What if he doesn't have an answer? Do I just leave it at ask your parents?[/quote']

 

In my opinion yes. We should encourage them to talk to their parents and think about what they believe. That's about it. Our role as Scoutmaster is at most that we be good role models of our own beliefs, (As we should be everywhere in our lives.) We aren't religious counselors. Even with my Catholic Scouts, I leave their faith formation in the hands of their parents and actual religious education instructors.

 

​If a Scout for whatever reason wants to have a discussion about his beliefs or mine, that can be a great conversation, but again, there is a danger of leaders using that conversation to push their own religious beliefs.

 

To summarize there are obviously some who don't need Scoutmaster's conferences to push their own religion, but even with that danger I think discussing Duty to God in a SMC is appropriate. We should encourage our Scouts to explore their beliefs, without pushing our own on them.

 

Sentinel947

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I started one conversation like this. "How are you reverent?" Blank stare from TF going for SC. "OK, what does reverent mean?" Blank stare from TF. "Alright. Talk to you parents about what you find reverent and let's talk again next week. Remember that what I beliveve might be very different from what you do and that's OK. But at the end of the day we both probably have that feeling that wow this has to be something more than me that made all this. What I want to know is what makes you feel that way and why. Also blank stares don't count."

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In the "official "SMspecific" class and IOLS class, I can find no specific suggestions/instructions/recommendations about this new bend on the old requirement.

We had asked the Scout to promise to "do my duty to God" and be "reverent". Even had some discussions about it , in the manuals, handbooks, Fieldbooks. Might even mention it in a SMMinute. But to ask the Scout directly? Not inappropriate in my asking, but how can one rightfully judge that unless you are the Scout's religious leader/elder/family? That's where we have the difficulty. What is "passing" in this requirement? That is what was asked and what has not been "officially" answered. Or can it really BE answered?

In the asking, we may well nudge the Scout to be more thoughtful of the "God Thing", but in no way can we judge whether he is really "doing his duty".... That is for him to judge.

In Quakerspeak, we call this a "Query" . Our various Meetngs have Books of Discipline, and Faith and Practice, (you can google these) that use these queries to nudge the Friend to think about where and what they are vis a vis the Lord. Not for me to judge, lest I be judged, you know, but YOU need to think about it....

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SMC:

 

What did you do this month to be trustworthy? What did you do this month to be loyal?.... so why can't we ask What did you do this month to be reverent? We've all become phobic of the topic to the point were we can't even talk about it and thus it makes the 12th point of the Scout Law obsolete. What did you do to keep your self physically strong this month? morally straight? What did you do for your helping other people, how about your duty to your community, but we can't ask about their duty to God? Back to the phobic thingy again. So we can drop that part of the Oath because it too has become obsolete. Let's teach the boys the "Pass the Buck" game. Whenever one is put on the spot to do something that would be intimidating you just pass the buck to the next guy. This works only so long as the boys never ask you what you have done to be Brave this past month. :)

 

Stosh

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