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John-in-KC

Get Ready For New Requirements In Faith

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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.

 

Seriously?!?!  I didn't realize that Christian Scout leaders were supposed to be on conversion missions at Jamboree!!!

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Mozart I don't know how preachy you can get with a streetlight and little green men from Mars..

 

My son has sat on this board and probably will again when he moves back into the area, his belief is wild I don't quite know it, but I know it is some concoction of Greek mythology and nature.. He has no problem with this board, but was put off when the guy his wife & he asked to officiated the wedding (it was not a priest but someone from the Masonic Lodge who had a license to marry) said he wouldn't marry them until he knew they had some religious belief, he was fine with his wife's normal belief only she was a "stay at home" Christian, he wasn't too happy with my sons belief and tried to tell him that he needed to believe differently.. The guy ended up marrying him, but I think it was only because my son bowed to the wants of his soon-to-be bride.  Anyway when my son went through this board himself, he had not defined his Greek mythology/nature belief, he was still "questioning" and "in search of".. That was fine enough for the board to pass him.. The only problem answer really would be "I am an atheist", or "I don't believe in God" (no explanation as to what you do believe which kinda also says I am an atheist.)

 

I can see you being sensitive on the subject you see a trap.. Really if the scout just understands the meaning of Reverent and can define it, he would be good.. All scouts should at least know the meaning behind the 12 points of the Scout Law they rattle off weekly.

 

But I understand being sensitive to.. I think a casual discussion in a SM Conference or EBOR on reverent is a lot easier then the new cub Scout because it specifically asks the kids about faith and religion.. Faith may be ok if you are of the opinion that it is still faith to believe in little green men from mars, but religion gets me, as I don't believe in institutional Religion at all, and I believe you can have a belief in a higher power without religion.. So I just wonder how many Den Leaders/ Cub Masters will turn down a kid who does not believe in religion -or- how many parents will walk away from CS just reading the requirements of each rank, and thinking that since they do not attend church on Sunday, their son can never pass the rank requirements.

 

So in some ways I get you being sensitive to the issues. But, with the new requirements the SM conference will start getting the scouts to think about reverent before they ever make the EBOR and an EBOR is nothing but a SM conference with different people in attendance.. It is not testing the scout (as a SM conference is not a retest), but it is having a discussion with him to figure out if he has thought about the concepts and embraced the scouting beliefs.. That does include at least having a basic understanding of what the meaning of the12th point of the scout law is.. I am sure you would be happier if they picked the 1st point or the 4th point as it would not be such a sensitive subject for you personally, but they don't they always ask about the 12th point..

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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.

 

Even I as a former pastor think such antics are in very poor taste.  I am forming a support process for a scout, not changing his mind about what he should believe.  Forcing one's will on another, especially a minor ranks up there with abuse, and this opinion comes from a clergy person.

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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.

 

I never thought of the red meat to the conservative right.. I always thought it was to strengthen a legal fight with atheists, but that is a totally plausible thought.. Really both are, killing two birds with one stone so to speak..

 

I also agree that conservative Christians can take this and run with it.. I see plenty of out-of-hand moments ahead, and rethinking and changes ahead as they find some of their zealot religious right folks take this way out of hand and drive scouts out of the program..

 

While religion can have a place in BSA, it can not become a thorn in it's side..

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I for one have no idea who's going to be on the EBOR or even a regular BOR.  Right now we are so small and new we have to call on others in the area to come and do them for us.  

 

With that being said, it is my responsibility to make sure my boys know what a BOR is meant to do, how it plays out, what the board can ask, what it can't and then I role play with the boy to make sure he has to gumption to speak up and call foul when it is appropriate to do so.  If one is building confident leaders out of these boys, one had better walk them through the processes to accomplish this.

 

Once I primed the pump with one of my buddies on a BOR for one of my TF boys.  About half way through the Review, my buddy asked the boy if he could tie the square knot that was part of his advancement requirements.  The boy shot back, "Yes, I can, and if don't and would like to learn, I would be happy to teach you."  Afterwards my buddy told me he figured I had set him up rather than the boy.  :)

 

I have had boys remind the members of the BOR that certain questions are inappropriate and they refused to answer them.  Buried deep in the back of the minds of all my boys is the knowledge that this is THEIR BOR, not the members of the board.  As I have mentioned in other posts, I had an Eagle Candidate basically take over his EBOR and set the tone and shot up his hour by telling them all that was exciting about scouting since his first contact as a Tiger Cub.  I think they got in 2 or 3 questions of their own, but it only sparked the boy to even greater detail about his scouting experience.  I was surprised that when all was said and done and the dust settled, he was asked to be the speaker at the Golden Eagle Dinner the council puts on every year seeking the big donations.

 

Be Prepared.  Be Confident, Be yourself.  You won't have to worry about a thing.  Works every time.

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Stosh, The gift of gab will get him those invitations, lol.

My EBOR took all of about 15 minutes. Maybe 20. As I remember it was held on the 5th floor of a bank building and the board consisted of a group of civic and business leaders and executives who were completely unknown to me. My appointment was one of many at a set time on a set date and everyone entered on time and exited on time. I believe it was a council-level EBOR but it might have been a district-level one...I'm not sure about that part.

I marched in in full uniform, saluted and stood at attention. They put me at ease and asked maybe 10 short questions. There was absolutely no mention of faith or duty to God. The only question of significance was with regard to what I thought Eagle meant to me. The rest had to do with camping, pioneering, and emergency skills. 

Sometimes I think the grilling I see boys suffer through has an element of academic-envy or something. But somewhere along the line things changed a lot.

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Our EBOR's - about as far from the Bible Belt as one can get - always ask if a Scout believes in a "Higher Power."  A Scout who says "no" will not be passed.  A Scout who says "yes" is likely to be, whether he means God, Buddha, Zeus or the Power Rangers, assuming he's met all the other requirements.

 

Taking a "more religious" line in the Bible Belt is more likely to increase the number of Scouts, not hurt the program.

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Stosh, The gift of gab will get him those invitations, lol.

My EBOR took all of about 15 minutes. Maybe 20. As I remember it was held on the 5th floor of a bank building and the board consisted of a group of civic and business leaders and executives who were completely unknown to me. My appointment was one of many at a set time on a set date and everyone entered on time and exited on time. I believe it was a council-level EBOR but it might have been a district-level one...I'm not sure about that part.

I marched in in full uniform, saluted and stood at attention. They put me at ease and asked maybe 10 short questions. There was absolutely no mention of faith or duty to God. The only question of significance was with regard to what I thought Eagle meant to me. The rest had to do with camping, pioneering, and emergency skills. 

Sometimes I think the grilling I see boys suffer through has an element of academic-envy or something. But somewhere along the line things changed a lot.

 

This boy was full uniform, marched in and saluted as well.  The Board didn't know what to do with the salute so they gawked at each other for a while then told him to sit down.  He had them on their heels within 5 seconds of walking into the room.

 

After the boy came out, one of the Eagle committee people approached him and told him it was inappropriate to salute other people and that the salute was just for the flag.  BEEP: Wrong answer!  The boy whipped open his hand book and within seconds has the reference page and showed it to the gentleman who grunted and walked away.

 

Like I said, teaching management is quite easy to do.  Teaching leadership is a rush!

 

Be Prepared, Be Confident, Be Yourself.   :)

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If the Power Rangers qualify then all is well. I can feel the noodly touch of the one true higher power as I write, and BSA can count itself safe from those who would minimize the importance of this requirement. Whew!

Edited by packsaddle

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There's nothing to say the Power Rangers don't qualify, but one must remember the integrity and sincerity of whatever power one believes in is important.  We have a lot of Paper Eagles and Parlor Scouts out there that the 12th Law and the first part of their solemn oath is the least of their problems.  Integrity and honor come from within, not something imposed on a person from the outside like rules and regulations.  Saying you are Christian and yet not acting like it is no different than saying you're Jewish and yet not acting like it. What is a Power Ranger follower supposed to act like.

 

Contrary to popular belief, most "religions" have already been established, it's just a matter of traditions that separate one variation to the next. Even the roots of atheism can be carried back to it's philosophical/theological origins.  Isn't it rather strange that the Koran, Torah and Old Testament seem to be remarkably similar?  

 

So, in the midst of all that, how is the BSA supposed to define "religion"?  Defining that which is validated by faith is not possible.  I believe there is a God, others believe there isn't.  But we both believe.  BSA has chosen to go with any belief that there is a God/god that such belief is beneficial to the development of the scouting character and principles.

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Q:  "How do you fufill your duty to God?"

 

A:  "Every religion that I'm familiar with has a emphasis on respecting people and helping others.  I think those ideas are reflected in the scout law in being trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and reverent.  I do my best to fulfill the ideas in the scout law.  Let me give you some examples..."

 

Q: "Do you believe in God?"

 

A:  "When you are on a hike and reach the top of a mountain and look for miles at the beauty of valleys, lakes, forests and fields, it is impossible not to believe that there is something greater than ourselves that inspires us to be better people."

 

Check the box, move on.

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Maybe I'm some kind of subconscious Neo Con, but I don't think asking about a Scouts religion is out of bounds in a SM or BOR. That being said, it shouldn't be emphasized more than any other part of the Oath or Law.

Obviously, this topic can be abused like trying to bring Jewish Scouts to Jesus.......

If a Scout gets to an EBOR and doesn't understand what Reverent means according to the BSA, then some adults have done that Scout a disservice. 

BP believed that religion helped young men form their character. I'm concerned as other posters are that some leaders will run through this requirement like a bull in a china shop, instead of an opportunity to help a Scout think about the topic and articulate what they think. 

Maybe I grew up in an impolite family, but religion has never been a taboo topic, just one that needs to be approached with respect and understanding. 

In short, I don't think the requirement itself is the issue, but how some leaders take it is going to be an issue. IMO I think the Cub Scout changes are much more substantial than the Boy Scout ones. 

Sentinel947 

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Sentinel947,

 

I think you have it correct.  There's nothing wrong with the 12th Law, The Oath and any open discussion around those topics within BSA.  How one lives out that is entirely up to the scout, but as a SM or BOR member there's nothing wrong with talking about how the boy does that.  And here's the rub, talking about it and imposing one's religion on another is offensive.

 

SM: Have you found Jesus?

 

Scout: Gee, I didn't know he was lost, 

 

SM: No, I mean to you believe in the name of God?

 

Scout: Is that with a capital G or a small G?

 

SM: No, I mean "G-O-D".

 

Scout: Oh, the word we use because we really don't know his name?  In that case, no, I don't believe the word God is is name.

 

SM:  Okay, then, How's being Kind or Thrifty working out for you?

 

:)

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I was looking for some statement made in some official BSA documentation something about a boy choosing a rock as their higher power and that would be fine.. I know I had found it once or twice in the past, but couldn't today (so if anyone knows where it is, maybe they can post it.)

 

Anyway in my search I stumbled upon this piece, which is a blog in the Scouting magazine so maybe it was in the actual magazine and other of you have seen it, but I thought it addressed a lot of what we have been discussing.. First seems that it is not unusual for our EBOR to discuss Reverent or duty to God, so Mozart's concern that we are breaking a rule and retesting, do not seem to be shared by BSA.. Second, BSA is going is suggesting that the CS requirements do stay within the family and not to discuss them in the den for den leaders to approve or not.. Third - that a boy can be in scouting and not believe in God, can't get Eagle (I am unsure about other ranks) but can be in scouting, fourth - at least per this Scouter (who is deemed a BSA expert on the subject) - this change is supposable done to correct the scout hearing about duty to God for the first time at an EBOR, rather then what we think that it is to shore up a fight to open the doors to atheists or red meat to the conservative right (hmmmmmm... I will take that with a grain of salt.)

 

http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/10/03/belief-in-god-scouting/

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