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EBOR no belief in a higher power

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Without going into any specific detail in the case, during an EBOR what questions would you guys follow up with a Scout that expressed that he had no belief in a higher power?

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It really depends on when, where and how the statement was made and how, when and where the EBOR became aware of it. There is no one precise answer. It's multitude answers and very nuanced based on what happened.

 

You need to provide more specifics.

 

In another words, it's a car wreck and you're the paramedic who might be able to keep him alive. But it really depends on the injuries.

 

 

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I should have been a bit more clear. What questions would you ask to the young man to really gauge if he means what he is saying. Examples would be(I'll admit that I have a Christian background, that is why I am asking your guys input, so that I can get some better questions to ask):

 

If there is no higher power, then what dictates what is right and what is wrong?

What happens when you die?

You believe in the big bang theory, then where did the single point of matter come from?

 

​

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The statement was made during the EBOR, and seemed quite set in his beliefs, and was quite perplexed when he was informed that a belief was required for membership in the BSA. He was asked which point of the scout law he thought was the hardest for him to follow, he stated reverent, and went on to say he had no beliefs.

 

The EBOR was postponed for one month.

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Personally, I would avoid such questioning if possible.

 

 

My aim is to provide an environment in a Scout unit that is congenial and welcoming to believers. Scouts are welcome and encouraged to be believers.

 

But I'd avoid interrograting boys about their beliefs if the aim was to flush out a boy who was not a believer.

 

 

About the only time I'd make a point of acting was if a boy piped up in a Scout activity to announce he was an atheist. In fact, I had a Cub Scout who did that a couple of years ago! Since he didn't repeat that after making that announcement once, I had no need to pursue it even then.

 

I had a District Chair interrogate me about my religious beliefs once:

 

 

DC "Do you believe in Godd"

 

 

Me "Yes"

 

 

DC "Are you a church member?"

 

 

ME: "No"

 

 

DC "Would you like tyo become a member of my church?"

 

 

ME "No"

 

 

 

 

That was five or six years ago. Nothing since then.

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Well, we on the SM/ASM side have tried to help boys provide a meaningful dialogue on this before sending them to a BoR. Even our least religious scouts have been able to make some connection between implicit beliefs and their sense of morality. So, since I have never dealt with a scout in this position, take what I have to say with a grain of salt ...

 

First of all, there is no "magic question" that will help a boy re-think his stance the night of a BoR. Nor should there be. It's okay if a scout who is godless suddenly realizes that Duty to God is part of the award. But it's wrong to try to fix it then and there.

 

That said, here are some things we ask in scoutmaster conferences, and maybe you want to be sure someone goes over with your scout this month ...

 

What is morality?

Where do your sense of morals come from?

Why would you want an award that affirms your "Duty to God"?

What to you think of other scouts' pursuit of religion?

How important is it to ensure another person's practice of religion as he/she sees fit?

Do you ever look at everything around you as some kind of miracle?

How important is it to you that the best explanation for all things excludes intervention from a higher power?

 

There are also no "magic answers" that you should be looking for. This is an opportunity for the boy to decide if the values of scouting resonate with his values. Tell him that there are more important things than "fitting in" and accepting an award that dishonors his beliefs.

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The EBOR was postponed for one month.

 

The EBOR did the right thing. If they don't have an immediate solution, it gives them time to find an solution. It gives them time to step back and figure out what to do. I'd hope they finished the rest of the EBOR before suspending the EBOR. But resuming and continuing the EBOR might be a good solution too. It allows for a smooth closure either way.

 

The key, IMHO, is whether the scout was just making honest conversation. A primary component in most faiths is compassion. We as leaders need to show compassion and understanding to the scouts. If the scout was just being honest about himself, then I'd support the scout and support his earning Eagle.

 

I like the view that scouting is "faith friendly, not faith based". As long as the scout can be friendly and work in such an environment, then move on and let him have his achievement. Heck sometime we start taking pledges / oath before we even realize how much we don't agree with some of the words.

 

I'd only object if it was clear the scout was making a point or going to use the Eagle process to advocate for atheism or advocate for how BSA is wrong.

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This kind of problem is one that is an almost inevitable consequence of one person attempting to judge another's thoughts. I agree with SP's response that he would avoid that line of questioning. If the scout has signed the form and at the EBOR, if he has the required signatures on the application, that should be sufficient.

 

Years ago there was a forum member (Buddhist) who openly stated that he was an atheist. As I remember, some of the forum members questioned how he reconciled his non-belief with the DRP and he answered that he maintained reverence for the higher power of reason. I thought it was a brilliant response.

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As a SM I have counseled scouts who I know to have unconventional religious beliefs to be ready for some type of question about their beliefs.

 

My understanding is that as long as you are not an atheist or agnostic then you are within the BSA guidelines, and if a scout says "I am not an A or A, I can't really articulate exactly what I believe, but I am comfortable that I personally Do My Duty to God, and I'm not really comfortable being examined about my beliefs" that that should be enough for an EBOR. After all a scout doesn't have to be a member of a particular religion, and no matter what he believes it's not really for us to judge whether he is right or wrong about it.

 

A person could believe in God and answer the questions you thought of in a way that you would probably totally disagree with:

1) I believe there is a God but I believe he has left it to us to determine what is right and wrong

2) I don't think any of us know what happens when we die

3) I think that both matter and God have simply always existed.

 

I think questions about respecting other people's beliefs under Reverent are more to the point if you really want to examine how well a scout is living this part of the Law.

 

But be wary of them too, I once had a scout (not in my unit and not during a BOR) tell me that since everyone who didn't believe as he did was going to hell he thought that doing anything other then tell other people that they were wrong and condemned was a breach of his Duty.

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I should add that the time when I was most concerned about a scout and this issue I made a point to attend the EBOR as an observer in case things went south. As it was he was asked an innocuous question and gave an innocuous answer.

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... I once had a scout (not in my unit and not during a BOR) tell me that since everyone who didn't believe as he did was going to hell he thought that doing anything other then tell other people that they were wrong and condemned was a breach of his Duty.

 

... and ... When they grow up, they show up at my church with a bull horn at 1:00am after Christmas midnight mass.

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In the Irish working class parish in which I grew up that would not have ended well. A lot of folks started celebrating Christmas Eve early and then went to midnight Mass with ruddy cheeks and Rudolph like red noses.

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T2E, while all of the board members are protestant Christians, we are all aware of the BSAs requirements of faith in the DRP, Guide to Advancement, and its definition of reverent. We are only looking for an answer that satisfies the BSAs requirements nothing more, and nothing less. The answers you gave would be perfectly acceptable to us for the purposes of the EBOR.

 

If this young man comes to realize that he believes in something, it is not our place to grill him on those beliefs, but it is our job to ensure that he has done his duty to God, and that he is reverent, as defined by the BSA. I think the easiest way to find out is to simply ask him if he thinks he has as a scout is trustworthy.

 

qwazse, thanks for the advise. I am willing to let this go as long as I can, assuming he is willing to do some soul searching on his beliefs. But if he is steadfast in his denial of a belief, that is a different story.

 

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The statement was made during the EBOR' date=' and seemed quite set in his beliefs, and was quite perplexed when he was informed that a belief was required for membership in the BSA. He was asked which point of the scout law he thought was the hardest for him to follow, he stated reverent, and went on to say he had no beliefs.[/quote']

 

I think you're being set up.

 

How has he been 'reverent'? To his lawyer parents?

 

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