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Excluding the unchurched

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"With Scouts and leaders coming from a variety of church backgrounds there is opportunity to learn real appreciation for each person’s expression of faith in many cooperative experiences. Families not served by regular programs of any church often find a relationship to the local church through Scouting. Time and time again families get involved in various opportunities that provide moments of shared common ventures and growing closeness."


National Catholic Committee on Scouting 


"It is important for youth to go beyond their family, parish, and school communities to serve the greater Church community.  Catholic service leaders have a duty to reach out to young people in order to form them as young disciples who can bear witness to the gospel message. Service organizations are communities where youth can learn about joyful giving while being spiritually challenged to love others as Christ does. "


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Renewing the Vision - a framework for Catholic youth ministry


"The starting point for the ministry of Evangelization “is our recognition of the presence of God already in young people, their experiences, their families, and their culture. …Evangelization, therefore, enables young people to uncover and name the experience of God already active and present in their lives."


Youth & Young Adult Ministries Diocese of Dallas



“Youth ministry is the response of the Christian community to the needs of young people and the sharing of the unique gifts of youth with the larger community.â€


 Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, Office for Publishing and Promotion Services, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1997.




"Evangilization   . religious emblems programs, Scout retreats, pilgrimages, days of reflection, Scout Sundays, Mass attendance while on weekend trips, values in Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack, Scout Oath and Scout Law, Venturing Oath and Venturing Code, adults witness faith to youths, youths witness to one another, outreach to unchurched members of the unit."


National Catholic Committee on Scouting,  Scouting is Youth Ministry, The Vision of Youth Ministry and Renewing the Vision, "[The] Eight Components of Youth Ministry (essence of ministry with adolescents) "


"The National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) operates under the auspices of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and NCCS has a long tradition of cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America dating to 1937"


The Archdiocese of Chicago




Someone will be teaching youth values, by example or by words.  Who will that be?



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Boys join Scout to have fun with friends.   Having "caught" the boys, Scouting tries to make them better people and  better citizens who are sound in mind and body.   If our only goal is to enable

Nonsense, boys join Scouts because they are looking for God, not Adventure. Just look at all the BSA marketing materials. Revivals, pastors with their arms over the boys shoulder huddled in a cor

We're a Catholic CO, we don't have any restrictions on who can be in the unit.  As far as boys go I can't imagine excluding any youth for that kind of reason.  Frankly, I don't think I'd stay with the

What need was there to create a thread to discuss a different thread? 



Please read the OP.


It was not my intention to discuss anything more than raised in the OP: excluding youth from membership in a Boy Scout troop on the grounds that they do not belong to a 'religion."

David's unit is only an example.  I know from personal experience of other troops that adopted a policy of excluding the unchurched.


I have asked members to stick to that issue, but this is the Internet.  Topic drift seems to be inherent.  You are a mod.  

Edited by TAHAWK
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Yah, in da words of Ronald Reagan, "there you go again!". :rolleyes:   


I know I'm not at all knowledgeable about da Catholic Church.   A confusin' morass as far as I'm concerned!   Much easier to go by personal conscience and faith alone, eh? :)   But even I recognize that a set of decontextualized quotes isn't the same thing as bein' knowledgeable in an area.  It takes effort and study to do that, eh?  The parish priest and da professional Catholic school principal and school chaplain and da folks who are trained and selected to teach in their confirmation program and their COR are goin' to be far better at understandin' and interpreting their church's own documents than we are, eh? If I remember right, all their priests have at least a Master's Degree in their theology as part of somethin' like a 5-year postgraduate education.  Five years of post-grad work would be the equivalent of a Ph.D. in many fields. 


I reckon they can judge their own church's teachings better than we can, eh?  Better than I can, certainly.


Point is, if we're volunteerin' with da BSA it's not our job to argue with 'em.  It's our job to respect and support them, and help 'em run a good Scouting program consistent with their mission and values.  Even if we think they're doin' it wrong, we should be doin' our job, not theirs.


Otherwise we're doin' it wrong.



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Does your church, temple, or synagogue exclude boys who do not identify as belonging to a religion?



Next, should the a boy be excluded on the sole grounds that he does not profess membership in a religion?

No and I don't think so. But that's my opinion and to each his own. The idea of a CO saying these are our rules but anyone of any, or no, religion is welcome to join us, sounds better to me.

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I want to discuss. in the context of Scouting, whether it's a good idea to exclude youth on the basis that they are not adherents to a particular faith.


You think it's wrong to even discuss the topic.  I don't.  If you believe that the values of Scouting a worth spreading, the topic bears on how best to spread those values. Discussing a topic may make us think about how well we are working to spread the values of Scouting - or not.


Since the topic is a subset of the topic of religion, I think it is interesting what religious leaders think about the topic.


“Fifty percent of the youth who meet in our churches through Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs and Venturing crews come from unchurched families,†he said. “Scouting represents a ‘back door’ ministry for bringing youth to Christ.†  Larry Coppock, director of Scouting ministries for United Methodist Men


And I am not arguing with 'em.


The fact that you believe this issue should not be discussed does not mean we cannot discuss this issue, it just means we apparently cannot discuss it with you.

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Stay to the topic at hand, folks...  Sentinel mentioned this once this very morning.


Now, as to the topic:  Let's read the Declaration of Religious Principles again, shall we?

From Clause 3, Freedom:
"In no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denominations or faiths be required, because of their membership in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly unique to that organization or church."

"However, no church or religious organization holding a valid charter shall be required to accept as youth members or adult leaders any person whose espoused personal beliefs are in conflict with the chartered organization’s religious principles."


@@Beavah might be a little better at the plain reading of language stuff than I.


Two sentences comprise Clause 3.  I broke them apart for reading.


If a youth has a belief in God, the chartered partner does not get to proselytize into their own system.  Further, I see nothing in the clause which justifies excluding a child who is simply unchurched from Scouting.  Now, if the parents actively refuse to bring him to worship (anywhere, any denomination), then there might be a ground for exclusion.

If you are interested, here is the May 21, 2015 edition of the Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America.

Edited by John-in-KC
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As a pastor of a nondenominational Christian church fortunately we do not have to deal with this issue very often. The local Catholic pastor by instruction from his Bishop told me that the policy in his diocese is that scouts in Catholic sponsored units must be given a "Catholic" emphasis in ANY religious discussions, instructions, or activities, such as troop or Eagle projects. The Bishop stated " he does not want any Catholic youth exposed to any Hypocritical, Blasphemous, or False doctrines or teachings."


Sometimes I think it would be Much easier on scout leaders, CO's, and the youth if the entire "religious" aspect of scouting was eliminated and the emphasis put back on the outdoor program

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Not a big fan of "back door" methods, just doesn't seem very Scout Like to me and strikes me as a bit cultish. I prefer the Front Door method. (And I dont mean young men in white short sleeved dress shirts banging on my front door)


If a Mosque had a good scouting program I might consider it for my kids. If they they used the program as a "back door" to conversion to Islam I would not. If they were upfront about about their goals it wouldn't really be a "back door".

Edited by King Ding Dong
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Please read the OP.



For example, does excluding the unchurched miss an opportunity to evangelize those who were excluded?



Remember the "For every 100 Scouts" sheet that claimed that seven found religion because of joining a Scout unit?


Read the original post.  Your "for example" question is very different than the original post.  The original post is about membership and whether to exclude those of different or non belief.  Your "for example" question is about evangelizing and whether an opportunity is lost.  


Both are well meant posts, but very different questions. 

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Fred, my "for example" question addresses one consequence of excluding boys.  If you exclude them you can hardly expect to influence them towards any values, yes?  


King, as to "backdoor," I don't know exactly what Mr. Coppock meant, although I can speculate.  As I suspect you know, different churches, indeed different congregations within those churches and their IHs, have widely different behaviors as far as seeing Scouting as a pathway for evangelism goes.  


One troop I had at a large Methodist church in the 1980s was almost totally ignored by the church.  They even told us to take Scouts wanting to work on religious awards to the Episcopal church near us . They had no time to work with the Scouts. 


The Methodist church that sponsored my boyhood troop was very careful to respect all of the many religions of its Scouts, facilitating any Scout's interest in religious awards of their faith . (Dr. Bob played golf with the local Monsignor and the local Conservative Rabbi. I can't recall the joke Dr. Bob told us, but it was something about rocks in a water hazard.)

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I know that joke.


The first two go to retrieve their ball from the water hazard by walking across the water.  The forget to tell the third about the rocks and he disappears into the drink...


 (Dr. Bob played golf with the local Monsignor and the local Conservative Rabbi. I can't recall the joke Dr. Bob told us, but it was something about rocks in a water hazard.)

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Yah, hmmm....  I'm confused about what da question is again.  As @@fred johnson suggests, there are at least two different questions out there.  More, in fact.  


I guess I'm goin' to respond to this invitation:


I want to discuss. in the context of Scouting, whether it's a good idea to exclude youth on the basis that they are not adherents to a particular faith.


I'm goin' to flip it around and ask "A good idea for whom?"  


A good idea for the Chartered Partner?   I have no idea.   Depends on what they're tryin' to accomplish and who they're serving.   If they're Catholics and their version of Duty to God and Reverence is that not goin' to mass on Sunday is a grave sin, then maybe the unchurched family that never obligates their kids to worship on the Sabbath is workin' against the values they want to teach.   If they're UUA, then maybe welcomin' all comers to get them to come together in as much mutual support and prayerfulness as each is willing is the right thing.   Not for me to say.


A good idea for the BSA?  I think da Corporation is interested in reachin' as many kids/families as it can.  I reckon it'd be a bad idea for da BSA. 


A good idea for Scouting?   Nah, Scouting as a movement is all about buildin' bridges of growth and respect.   We're where (hopefully) da Catholic kids and da Muslim kids and da UUA kids and the U.S. kids and the German kids and the Nigerian kids can all come together as brother (and sister) scouts.



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