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EBOR no belief in a higher power

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Agree with packsaddle. The problem is the BSA won't clearly define what they expect out of fear of alienating blocs of membership (and financial support). If you try to please everyone, no one will be happy. They need to either clearly delineate a religious requirement, or drop the matter entirely and accept all in the hopes that participation will make them better citizens. As my dear Mom used to say, "time to get off the pot."

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I had 3 three scenarios in my head going into this last night as possible out comes of the board ​He declared himself an atheist - we would have denied advancement He was still unsure of

On appeal, the result you state would be reversed as contrary to BSA policy. See Buddhists, above. With very few exceptions, those calling themselves Buddhist do not believe in a creator deity - or any deity whatsoever.


We are apparently to apply all parts of BSA's (often wildly) inconsistent statements to the extent that they pass the Scout.


Scouters do not get to define either "God" or "religion" or "relevant" to suite their personal beliefs even as BSA gives inconsistent definitions so as to avoid conflict.



I don't think it would be reversed. But ... I do believe the scout would be given a 2nd chance after they communicate what they believe. The requirement is a reference from a religous leader and/or a statement of their faith / beliefs.


The issue I was addressing was not a religious choice. I said FSM would have a high hurdle because the flying sphaghetti monster is used for demonstrate aburdity of faith / beliefs. As such, it immediately violates respect for other faiths. Essentially, it's giving the requirement the finger. ... BUT ... If the scout really did assert that was his belief and that it was not being asserted to insult or mock other faiths, then I would accept it and he'd pass.


The issue I was addressing was choosing to mock religion and faith.




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Personally I think you are walking dangerous ground here.


I'd hope not. When people effectively choose to flip off a requirement, I'd hope we could call them on it. Though I am often one of the most flexible with requirements, but there is a limit.



... but there are a few people out there that honestly identify as Pastafarians because it means something to them.


Perhaps, this is the ultimate true statement. How do you function when BSA says to recognize a duty to God ... AND ... to show respect for all faiths. BUT ... the faith of the specific person is to show disrespect and mock others faith.


We see the same contradiction in many of the larger world issues today. Groups that say we must live together, but other groups that say it's our faith or else.



There are lots of people who think that Wicca is a made up religion and isn't "real". The same can be said of any religion ...


Wicca ... I'm not comfortable with Wiccan culture or beliefs, but IMHO it would pass the requirements. Because people do believe in it. And, it's not fundamentally about mocking others faith.


... I don't believe we should be judging.


Ahhhh ... there's the other part of the issue. But we are asked to judge. We are given references. One reference is religious. Or as in this case, a scout choose to state his beliefs during an Eagle Board Of Review.


The whole point of the EBOR is to judge if the requirements are completed. In the original post, it was effectively a membership requirement issue. In my thread, it's asserting a statement of faith that mocks faith.


There is a threshold at which requirements are not met. Heck, one requirement is he's a he and he's not a she. But we can't access proof and even then maybe we should not be evaluating one's maleness. If a flying spaghetti monster is accepted as a faith, then girls should be able to earn Boy Scout ranks by saying they are male.


BSA's membership requirements include recognizing an obligation to God. It also requires showing respect for the convictions of others. We can argue about changing or eliminating requirements. And I think that's a good debate and I'd be open to changing requirements.


But for now, the requirements exist. Requirements are judged whether they are met.


(and personally, I'd be okay with eliminating the requirement that Boy Scouts are for boys too. ... but it is what it is for now)

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First - there is no requirement that states one must believe in a higher power. The requirement is a belief in God. It is people's interpretation of God as a higher power that leads to the belief that the requirement is to believe in a higher power. There are folks who have a perfectly legitimate belief that God is not in him/herself a higher power but that God is in each one of us, lifting us to higher heights.


Second - the BSA's Declaration of Religious Principles is not set in marble as many think it is - it would be except for all of the exceptions that BSA has announced that undermines the entire principle of the DRP and being a hard and fast principle. Bhuddists don't believe in God yet the BSA has said that the DRP requirement of a belief in God doesn't apply to them. Wiccans believe in a triumvirate - with a God and a Goddess ascending or descending as the seasons progress - currently the God is desceding from the height of his powers at the Winter Solstice while the Goddess is ascending from the depth of her powers at the winter solstice - they will meet at the equinox and the Goddess will reach the height of her power at the Summer Solstice as the God reaches the depth of his powers at the Summer Solstice - or at least that's how the Wiccan tradition I follow sees it - other Wiccan traditions will see it differently. The DRP requirement of a belief in God (a singular being of the Judeao/Christian/Islamic tradition) doesn't apply to us. Want to believe in "The Force" (and this is a legitimate religious belief in some countries - including the US though it's more commonly mentioned in Australia and England)? You're good to go even though it doesn't have a God and would therefore be a violation of the DRP as well.


Third - Pastafarianism and the Flying Spaghetti Monster was not created to mock the absurdity of religion - it was created by an Eagle Scout in order to mock the absurdity of of a state government (in this case, Kansas), preparing to pass a law allowing the teaching of creationism/intelligent design in the Christian tradition only without allowing other religious viewpoints in to the discussion and to prepare for a consitutional challenge to the very likely unconstitutional way the law was written. It was created to bring attention to a very serious constitutional issue but happened to catch the imagination of thousands of people to become more or less a serious religion for many people who believe in the FSM's noodly appendages and the message he brings to the world. Since we're Boy Scouts and follow the 12th point of the Scout Law, who are we to judge whether Pastafariansm is any more or less a religion than Mormonism, which also captured the imaginations of thousands of people to become more or less a serious religion for many people.



FInally - as to this boy, I would ask him about spirituality rather than religion.

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Can we please get back on topic. qwazse listed a few good questions to go over with the young man. With those and some I have came up with, I have this:

  • What is morality?
  • Where do your sense of morals come from?
  • What dictates what is right and wrong?
  • How important is it to you that the best explanation for all things excludes intervention from a higher power?
  • Do you believe it is possible to believe in science and a higher power?
  • Where did we call come from? Where did that come from? Etc…..
  • How important is it to ensure another person's practice of religion as he/she sees fit?
  • What does “duty to God†mean to you?
  • Do you think that you live up to the “duty to God†and “morally straight†points of the Scout Oath?
  • Do you think that you live up to the 12th point of the Scout Law, a Scout is reverent
  • Why do you think that the Boy Scouts have these principals?
  • Have you ever been asked about you duty to God in your troop?
  • Would you defend the right of other to practice as they see fit?
  • What do you think of others pursuit of religion?
  • How do you respect the religious convictions of other people?
  • Why would you want an award from an organization that has an oath that requires you to do your best to do your “duty to God"?
  • Are you aware that in the Boy Scouts of America the definition of God is left up to you and your parents?
  • Do you think that you meet the membership standard of the BSA?

What other questions would you guys ask?



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That's a huge list. It's not bad. And we've gone through a lot of these at Eagle SMCs to help a candidate prepare for the BoR.


I would drop or revise the "yes/no" questions.

For example:



[*]Are you aware that in the Boy Scouts of America the definition of God is left up to you and your parents?



I would change to:

[*]The BSA leaves the definition of God up to you and your parents. How does that help or hinder you in understanding duty to God?


Then, say each question in your list out loud in front of a mirror, and based on what you know of the boy and how you feel about the question, keep it or scratch it. Let's face it, a lot of us have a problem with this requirement because it seems like we're asking a boy to recite from someone else's script. That's not we should be doing here. The assumption should be that a boy has gathered some sense of a higher power in the passed few years, and he should be able to give you his perspective on what that is and is not.

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... He was asked which point of the scout law he thought was the hardest for him to follow' date=' he stated reverent, and went on to say he had no beliefs. [/quote']


​I re-read your post here. I hate being legalistic. But did he say "he had no beliefs" or did he say he believed God does not exist, aka atheist. Essentially, undecided versus decided.


If he said he does not believe in God or he's an atheist, somehow that needs to be backtracked. And, that's a really hard thing for everyone involved to do with a clear conscious.


If he just said it more as "he had no beliefs", then it can be approached as an un-answered path of thought for the young man. And it can be addressed with the questions listed earlier.



Good luck. I wish you and this young man the best and hope he can receive Eagle.

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Third - Pastafarianism and the Flying Spaghetti Monster was not created to mock the absurdity of religion ...


"I just don't believe" that people who argue for the FSM being treated equally as a religion are being intellectually honest. Sure almost anything can be treated as religion and we should be respect that and those who practice it. But, a fundamental point should be it's an honest position to start from.


The original FSM author Henderson said ...


I don't have a problem with religion. What I have a problem with is religion posing as science.


Similarly, I don't don't have problem at all with farce or humor or protest or intellectual exercises. What I have a problem with is treating them as a real religion as it dishonors the faith of everyone else.


BSA has a requirement to believe in God. Great flexibility is given including avoiding asking the key question. aka don't ask, don't tell. But once it's on the table, it's on the table.

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... The assumption should be that a boy has gathered some sense of a higher power in the passed few years' date=' and he should be able to give you his perspective on what that is and is not.[/quote']


The requirements have to do with God, not some "higher power". God. Higher power is taking a very flexible requirement and euphemistically concealing it behind a fog of confusion.


Let me ask this ... and I am being honest ... because I do want the scout to earn Eagle and I am really sad this happened during his EBOR ... and I am frustrated that BSA has created this mess. BSA should be 100% faith friendly and containing faith components but then tolerant of everyone's beliefs including atheist.


Let me ask ... THE QUESTION ... when would the scout NOT pass the EBOR? Does he only fail if he explicitly says he's an atheist or agnostic? Does he even fail then? What if he describes everything of atheism without using the key word? Does he pass or fail then?


Where's the line?

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Fred, he was very firm in no belief in God, higher power, FSM or anything. For me there are two key points.


The first is has he completed Eagle rank requirement #2? It states, “Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your daily life.â€Â

  • 12th point of the Scout Law, a Scout is reverent.
    • The Boy Scout of America defines reverent as: He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion

    [*]He must demonstrate that his lives by the “duty to God†point of the Scout Oath.

    • The Boy Scout of America defines “duty to God†as: Your family and religious leaders teach you about God and the ways you can serve. You do your duty to God by following the wisdom of those teachings every day and by respecting and defending the rights of others to practice their own beliefs.

    [*]He must demonstrate that his lives by a portion of the “morally straight†point of the Scout Oath.

    • The Boy Scout of America defines “morally straight†as: To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.

The second point is does he meet the membership standards of the BSA which state:

  • Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and © demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

With his statements, I am questioning whether he is eligible for membership, and therefore advancement, per clauses (a) and (b).



If he has not completed requirement 2 or he does not meet the member standards of membership, he will not advance to Eagle.

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click23 ... You are directly on target. The first (duties) can be argued, but the second (membership) is the challenge.


The earlier questions above are good. The key is whether there is wiggle room. And there is a strong difference between "no beliefs" and atheism. Undecided (unexplored, not sure) versus decided (atheism).


I'd only ask that you don't confused our intellectual bouncing of ideas back and forth with what to do with this scout. Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. If there is any way to favor the scout in this hard situation, favor the scout.

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