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John-in-KC

Get Ready For New Requirements In Faith

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The Bible may be quoted on different sides of religious issues.  BSA is likewise.  I wonder, for example, what BSA says and will say specifically to the atheist religions who have been in  Scouting for generations.

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A SM was always supposed to check on a scouts progress in his rank requirements as well as his scouting experience, so how does this change it?

A SM was not previously required to discuss with each Scout at each SM conference how the Scout has fulfilled his duty to God. It's a change in the requirements. Of course, as I said before, we don't know exactly how it is going to be worded, so maybe it would be best to have this conversation in a few weeks, when we do know.

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...what happens if, in the course of this discussion, a Scout says he really isn't sure whether there is a God? Or he doesn't think there is a God? I believe there was a thread on that several months ago when the subject came up in an EBOR. What is the Scoutmaster supposed to do? And does it differ based on exactly what the Scout says, or doesn't say?...

 

Seriously again this will depend on how rigid the EBOR is on this..  Our board has denied a scout who stated he was an atheist, but with another the poor scout said enough to leave doubt but in the end, they passed him..

 

It was a while back so I don't remember things word for word, but scout when asked said he did not believe in god.. Then board had him go outside with scoutmaster while they discussed it.. The SM explained to scout what his words meant to the board.. When the scout returned (I believe the board was going to not pass him) but he hastily explained he was not an atheist and that he was very open to learning about religion, but he was more believing in science.. But, the scout went to a Catholic school and had listed a Catholic priest from the school as his religious reference. So the board held off making a decision until they contacted the Catholic priest.. The priest had nice things to say, but it was more that he was open to listening and respecting the religious views of other.. I feared this may not have been good enough.. I was happy when the board decided the scout was searching and had not yet formulated a specific view and they passed him.

 

So perhaps this scout can join Mozart in the Scientology religion, they can join together.

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It was a while back so I don't remember things word for word, but scout when asked said he did not believe in god..

 

Just curious, but why were they even asking that question about belief in God? There's nothing in the current rank requirements demanding a Scout believe in God. If asked about his belief in God or how he did his duty to God, I would instruct the Scout to answer how he did his duty OVERALL, not just to God. If he were asked directly about his belief in God I would counsel him to say that he considers that a private matter and is not really ready to discuss it. I would further counsel him to re-direct the questions to what he accomplished during his tenure overall as a Scout.

 

To focus on his belief in God and open that to discussion you might as well ask him about his sexual orientation too. 

 

If I were anticipating such a review in my unit I would be in the room during the BOR coaching the Scout, or if needed requesting a recess to help him answer or deflect such questions.

 

My two cents.

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To focus on his belief in God and open that to discussion you might as well ask him about his sexual orientation too. 

Sexual orientation (as you suggest it here) has little to do with living the oath and law? God is not a specific requirement, but living the Oath and Law are. A good Scoutmaster reviews and guides the scouts in how they are living the Scout Spirit. If the scout isn't guided during his experience, then you end up in the situation just mentioned where the scout risk not meeting minimum expectations. 

 

Now you may personally not like those parts of the law and oath that refer to spirituality, but it behooves all scoutmasters to listen and guide the scouts in their personal experiences.

 

That is not to say the scoutmaster is prying into how the scout is reverent or his duty to god. It is inquiring to the scout's expectation and his personal thoughts toward his expectations. Many times a scouts expectation is doing nothing more than being open minded, which is fine. But it is better for the scouts to know where they stand early in his life so that they have a chance to ponder that part of the scout spirit attributes and relating his thoughts in front several adults in a board of review.  

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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BSA  Board of review Training

 

 

 

Discussion of a Scout’s religion is very appropriate at a board of review, but it should be done with respect and appreciation for the variety of faiths and beliefs in the United States. An openended question like “How do you honor the 12th point of the Scout Law?†will allow the boy to discuss his religious beliefs. A blunt “Do you believe in God?†should be avoided as there are some religions that do not use the name “God†for their supreme being or higher power.

 

 

 

For a very young Scout, going to religious services regularly may be a complete answer to the question. For an older Scout, you may expect a description of service to his fellow man or the community. You may even find that a Scout will state his inability to meet his own expectations of duty, but that he strives nevertheless to do so. It may be that this humble answer is a sign of the greatest devotion.
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I do not know why, most questions variate scout to scout depending on their scouting experiences but there are 2 or 3 questions always asked, one being to explain what the 12 point of the scout law means to them. Do not know why the guy who heads the board see it as an important question, especially when his belief is he doesn't care if the scout believes in the lamp post or men from outerspace as their higher power.. But the way it is asked I think the scout can skirt their own personal beliefs and just give a definition.  No they don't ask sexual orientation, but I know there have been 1 or 2 in our council (not our district) who have waited for the EBOR to volunteer the info without prompting to dare the board to reject them.. They are upset when they are denied and National upholds the decision.

 

It may throw a new troop off, if they have never been to a BOR, but I would imagine most SM's forewarn the scout to think about his answer before going.. I imagine going forward this troops SM is aware of it. But, in the room coaching the scout during the EBOR would be a no-no and look bad for both the scout and the SM..

 

The EBOR maybe doesn't require you to ask this question (yet).. But, there is nothing stating that you can not ask this question.

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Like it or not, there is a spiritual/religious element to the foundation of Scouting.  It is very broad and for the overall program non specific.  But it is there, and we all need to understand and accept that it is part of the overall ideal of Boy Scouting.  

 

We again reach this point where we try to make it into something for everyone, and there are some for whom it is simply not the right match.  Why do so many feel that somehow it must be changed to accommodate the few, when most have no serious issue with it?

 

If someone comes up against this issue with very young scouts, then it is likely a good idea to refer it to the parents, including explaining to them the expectations of the basic program.  Older scouts often are specifically seriously searching, but with a patient discussion most times will likely discover it is a vague awareness of something greater, but it is not fully formed.  But, as the scout approaches Eagle, it IS important that they and their family comprehend the program expectations.

 

One of the best ways to simply encourage an introspection for scouts is to have them sleep under the stars separated enough that they turn to simply watching the sky, rather than talking and joking.  Similarly, having a quiet time at a spectacular vista point can generate the deeper appreciation of our greater universe and its constant challenge to our understanding.

 

If, in a rare occurrence it becomes clear that a leader is pushing this too much, then we need to intercede and make sure the family and scout do not feel threatened, yet do understand it is an important tenet of the overall program, very pointed in the the Oath and Law.

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I would think it a lot more exciting to side step this issue from Tenderfoot through Life that when he hits his EBOR and they ask and he has no answer, then they can handle the problem at that point.  Or if one wishes the more mundane approach a chit chat here and there about each of the 12 Laws and different points of references to the Oath, the boy may have maybe 7 years to ponder these issues before he steps into this EBOR.   If the Oath references God and the Law references reverent, we have a duty to work with the boy just like any other point of the Scout Law or Oath.

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Sexual orientation (as you suggest it here) has little to do with living the oath and law? God is not a specific requirement, but living the Oath and Law are. A good Scoutmaster reviews and guides the scouts in how they are living the Scout Spirit. If the scout isn't guided during his experience, then you end up in the situation just mentioned where the scout risk not meeting minimum expectations. 

 

Now you may personally not like those parts of the law and oath that refer to spirituality, but it behooves all scoutmasters to listen and guide the scouts in their personal experiences.

 

That is not to say the scoutmaster is prying into how the scout is reverent or his duty to god. It is inquiring to the scout's expectation and his personal thoughts toward his expectations. Many times a scouts expectation is doing nothing more than being open minded, which is fine. But it is better for the scouts to know where they stand early in his life so that they have a chance to ponder that part of the scout spirit attributes and relating his thoughts in front several adults in a board of review.  

 

Barry

 

Let's be fair. The case given above discussed a scout who was unsure if he believed in God being on the fast-track to getting failed during his EBOR because of his beliefs. There is a difference between spirituality and belief in God. I am Catholic so for me they are one in the same. For others may not be. One can live the oath and law and still be unsure of their belief in God. Reverent has many meanings. Doing one's duty to God (or any higher power) can be seen in many ways. Heck, let's define God shall we? Is it the Holy Trinity or something else? Who is to say?

 

Christ taught us about loving one's neighbor among other things. What do you do with a scout that does not necessarily believe in God -- or may be having a crisis of faith -- but lives his life (unbeknownst to him) according to Christ's teachings? Does an EBOR fail him because he does not believe in God but he lives his life cleaner than those judging him do?

 

If we ask about a belief in God, why not ask him about his sexual activity? Many faiths believe ANY such activity before marriage (some even DURING marriage if not for procreation) are a sin, and by extension the person in question is not living up to the law or oath.

 

This can be argued in many permutations. The simple thing to do is stick to the basics:

  • Did the scout meet the requirements for the rank?
  • Is he, by demonstrated deeds and actions NOT of a private nature, living the oath and law?
  • Don't ask questions under which you yourself could stand similar scrutiny. 

Like I said, I have deep personal faith in God; however, if you asked anyone who knows me they'd probably no clue. I don't wear my faith on my sleeve. Others do. Great! But let's not go looking for reasons to disqualify kids for Eagle. Asking a kid about his faith in God is out of bounds IMHO.

Edited by Mozartbrau
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 But, in the room coaching the scout during the EBOR would be a no-no and look bad for both the scout and the SM..

 

 

Not if you have some yo-yo in the EBOR asking a kid about his faith in God.

 

Give me 5 mins with that adult and I'll turn the tables on him. Ambushing a good kid in an EBOR with a personal question like that is below the belt. If an adult is going to do that I will darn well be in there with the Scout...and I don't care how it looks.

 

How's it look being an adult ambushing a kid with a question that adult probably can't answer. Or if he can, he's likely all preachy about it. Not being Scout-like is he?

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I counsel my boys, "Be Prepared" when it comes to anything that one anticipates along these lines.  It's not that a scout should have an answer for ever thing a EBOR might ask, but just be prepared for the unexpected and don't let it fluster you.

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Since the discussion has moved on to BOR and beyond a SM conf, wouldn't asking these types of questions (in reference to the Show Scout Spirit requirement)  and then denying a scout based on his answer "retesting" assuming the requirement was signed off by the SM? Just thinking aloud here.

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Not if you have some yo-yo in the EBOR asking a kid about his faith in God.

 

Give me 5 mins with that adult and I'll turn the tables on him. Ambushing a good kid in an EBOR with a personal question like that is below the belt. If an adult is going to do that I will darn well be in there with the Scout...and I don't care how it looks.

 

How's it look being an adult ambushing a kid with a question that adult probably can't answer. Or if he can, he's likely all preachy about it. Not being Scout-like is he?

I've seen it happen. This policy change will tend to empower or facilitate those 'yo-yos'. 

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I always ask Scouts how the live the Scout Oath and Law in their everyday lives as part of the SM conference. I frequently get fairly superficial answers so I probe with a little more thought-provoking follow up. Thrifty, Loyal, Trustworthy and Reverent require more introspection than Kind, Cheerful and Friendly, so those are the points I most frequently ask about. In this regard, I agree with what Stosh has written. I don't have any problem discussing Duty to God with a Scout or any other point.

 

But let us be honest with ourselves -- we all know this is obviously political. Maybe someone thinks this will strengthen BSA's legal case for the coming fight with the atheists. Or maybe this is just a little red meat for the conservative right.

 

Here in the Bible belt we have more than enough Scout leaders who believe Scouting is their opportunity to proselytize. I've watched adults interrupt Scouts' Own Services which they didn't feel were Christian enough. I've personally had to deal with a Jamboree ASM discouraging Jewish Scouts from attending Jewish services because he thought "the boys needed Jesus." These folks don't need further encouragement or opportunities to insert themselves in others' faith.

Edited by Twocubdad
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