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LilSisKin

Chaplain's aid prayer policy

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My current troop's idea of a troop prayer is the Scoutmaster's benediction, which as most know, contains only a vague reference to an unnamed deity.  I also remember way back when on a camping trip on which one of the leaders (actually, me) led the troop in the Philmont Grace, which is only slightly less generic than the Scoutmaster's benediction.  So I guess that the young man in question probably also would not be chaplain's aide in my troop, if we had a chaplain's aide.

 

P.S. When I led the Philmont Grace, as I recall I decided that the kids would be confused by "raiment", since the only place I had ever heard it was in the Philmont Grace, and while I had figured out what it meant, I decided to change it, and I also decided that "shelter" sounder better in the sentence than "clothing."  So I guess I have my own little version of the Philmont Grace.

 

P.P.S.  In looking around the Internet I have found that there is also a Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve version of the Philmont Grace:

 

For this time and this place,
For Your goodness and grace,
For each friend we embrace,
We thank Thee, Oh Lord. Amen.
 
I like the old version better.  "Fellowship" is one of those great old words that seems to be on the verge of extinction.
Edited by NJCubScouter

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As a Christian pastor, I would not have this boy be the Chaplain Aide.  The leadership position requires a major emphasis on servant leadership, compassion and sensitivity. This boy indicates a lack of all three.

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Maybe this should be transferred to the  "Chaplaincy and Faith" forum, moderators?   Oh, that's right.   

 

"""This boy indicates a lack of all three. """    Stosh, while I might agree with your SOP here, how do you know, from this one posting ( welcome to our eCracker Barrel, LilSisKin) , that is the problem.  The Scout seems to have a well developed faith defined, from that one sentence.   I would think, perhaps, maybe, perchance, could be, the Scout doesn't have the World Experience yet to be accepting of "the other views of the elephant" . I have had to accept more knowledge of the other faiths of the world many times. And it ain't up to me to say that one is more better than this one.   

 

LilSisKin,  is there more to the story? 

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@@LilSisKin, welcome to the Forums!

 

I've run the gamut of

  • letting these things slide because most of the boys were Christians of some sort and the non-Christians felt that if the kid didn't follow his convictions, it would be an unworthy offering.
  • counseling the boy and his parents about how sometimes God works in mysterious ways, and we have to understand that phrases which convey joy or wonder to some convey pogroms or holy wrath to others.
  • asking the boy to get volunteers to help him so that his job is more of a facilitator than they only "voice from the pulpit."

I wouldn't just count on letting him explain things at election time and if the boys vote for them, they are stuck with him. That doesn't match real life. Winners usually have to make the biggest concessions.

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Lots of good comments, just a few more too add:

 

If he is going to offer an explicitly Christian prayer, he should communicate that up front (say something like: "if your faith allows, please join me in a Christian prayer, or if not, please feel free too silently say one more appropriate to your faith."). Adding "In Jesus name" or equivalent to the end of a otherwise generic prayer is a good way to make people feel "ambushed" and too generate bad feelings. Of course for some people, that is the point. As others have said, a lot depends on the nature of the audience.

 

One thing to be aware of is that it's basically impossible to have a truly non-sectarian prayer. Nondenominational is not the same. What constitutes "prayer" can very a lot between faiths. For many faiths, all or most prayers come out of a book of prayers, the modern protestant free form prayer is alien to them. For some, what looks like prayer may not be. Do Buddhists pray? Depends on who you ask and how you define "prayer".

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

Come Again Another Day

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Little Joey Wants to Play

 

 

We've all said or heard this verse, right?  It's pretty inoffensive.  Unless someone recognizes that it is also a form of prayer that isn't part of their tradition - then someone might take offense.

 

I don't understand what the issue/problem/bother is.  Ok - maybe that's not quite correct - it's probably more accurate to say I don't understand the mindset that would say there is an issue/problem.bother with a CA ending a prayer with "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen"

 

There are twelve points to the Scout Law.  They aren't in any particular order.  Trustworthy is not more important than Cheerful just because it's listed first.  The 12th point of the Scout Law is Reverent.  Being Reverent doesn't just mean following one's own faith.  It also means being respectful of other people's religions. 

 

The thing is, that's a two-way street.  A Scout who is Reverent doesn't just respect other people's religions - he has every reason to expect that those other people respect his religion.

 

A Scout - whether in an "official" capacity such as Chaplain's Aide or not - should be true to his religious upbringing.  If that means that he must end his prayer with that line because that's being true to his religion, then so be it.  If people complain, wouldn't that be a signal that it's time to discuss the 12th Point of the Scout Law and what it means?

 

Ask yourself this - if this Scout is not the Chaplain's Aide and came to you demanding that the Chaplain's Aide be made to end his prayers with those words, would you capitulate or would you have a discussion about the 12th Point with the Scout?  Hoping you said to yourself that you would have a discussion, if this Scout were the Chaplain's Aide, why would you capitulate to some other Scout making demands about how he conducts his prayers rather than discuss the 12th Point.

 

Part of developing good citzens is showing by example good manners and not just tolerance but acceptance as well.  As adults, most of us have been to some event - a wedding, a funeral, a meeting, where we held the minority religious view of the people in attendance - I suspect none of us (maybe I'm being hopeful since we're all Scouts) would act in a dispectful manner by playing solitaire on our phone while a prayer is said, or refusing to wear a yarmulke at a friend funeral if custom demanded it, even if it was not demanded by our own religion (or lack thereof).  Most of us will say our own form of prayer in our heads, or may just respecfully stand and reflect.  Isn't a "situation" like this one a great opportunity to display and "teach" those citizenship skills?

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one of the things that may be missing from your analysis Calico is the difference between a scout saying "his" prayers and a scout saying "our" prayers.  If a scout ends a group prayer with "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen", and you are not a Christian, what was the end of the prayer for you?

 

When I went to my Hindu friend's wedding I knew I was participating, or more accurately observing, a religious service who's tenets I categorically do not believe in, and I had no problem doing so.  But that was their service not my service.  In a multi-faith troop a variety of prayers is fine, but it is important to recognize that you are leading a prayer that your fellow scouts may not be willing, or in some cases even allowed, to participate in.

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It is important also not to confront the issue as though what the boy is asking to do it "wrong." If he feels that the way he has been taught is how prayer should be conducted, that is his right, and he should not be called on to question what he has been taught by undermining it with the fear of offending others, which at this age is surely not his intent. The issue here is not how he prays, but how the group feels about the way others express their beliefs, as manifested by their potential reactions to his mode of prayer.

 

Rather than try to fix the way this boy prays, the Troop could be introduced to the various ways prayer is offered in different faiths, and then explicitly explain to the boys that, in your troop, they will possibly hear prayers offered in different ways by boys of different religions. This prepares them for what they will participate in, or not if they choose, and gives them the chance to broaden their own perspectives while learning more about how others believe. Use it as a learning experience for the troop by making exposure to specific ideals an opportunity, not a platform for offence.

 

As for the boy in question, don't discourage him. Let him run for the position, and let him explain how he would pray and why. I personally pray with the same ending, and have a deep understanding of its significance, so I see why he feels it matters. BUT, I also understand that others are not beholden to my ideals, nor do I ever try to impose them on others. I pray how I pray, and others should do likewise. That openness can lead to a very healthy discussion among the boys. Ask them as a group how they feel about letting others worship as they please, and let the both the Constitution and that point of law which states "A Scout is Reverent" be the guiding influences as you discuss this situation as a united body.

 

Boys at this age are more than willing to say what they feel. If this issue is discussed with them, you may be surprised at how thoughtful and productive their responses can be. 

Edited by The Latin Scot

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In our Troop the Chaplain's Aide applies but the SPL makes the selection.The boys have a good idea if a person is sincere, an inquisitor, or doing as a joke.

 

One of our ministers is a retired Army Chaplain. He has handed out a chaplaincy book on how a (protestant) christian can specifically minister to  other faiths. We were supposed to return it but it keeps getting passed from scout to scout. I think the military model is a not a bad one.

 

Of the dozens of units I have met I have only met 1 that had a Chaplain. I volunteered myself at one time. I was told by both our CC and CO that our unit "just doesn't do that". 

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I have a scout who is running for Chaplain's aid this month but he is stating that he needs to say "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen" at the end of each prayer.  I know that guidelines state the prayer should be faith neutral but I wanted to get your take on if we should be allowing him to say this at the end of his prayer's or if we should have him run for a different leadership position within the troop instead.

 

No, he does not need to say all prayers need to be Christian.  A Scout is Reverent which means he is sensitive and understanding that others believe differently than he does and if he is going to be chaplain to all, he needs to be sensitive, to the prayer concerns of others, not just himself.

 

As a spiritual leader he needs to be taking care of his boys.  It may be only one sentence, but it states clearly that he is not in a position at this point to do that.  His needs are more important than those who he will be serving.

Edited by Stosh

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Calico:   Good to see/hear you again.  I like your comparison, it is appropriate.  Prayer can come in many guises.  We may not even recognize our wish as a prayer, but there it is:  an expressed desire that somebody, someone , something  greater than ourselves can make things different if not better.   Good topic for the Faith and Chaplaincy forum.   Issues and Politics?  Nah....   Open Program ?  Too general.  F&C , yep.   

And the realization that, in effect, some may pray FOR rain, some for it to stop. 

 

We can categorize prayer, same as any subject of consideration:  desire, thanks, admission-recognition,  suggestion.....  

 

But we were talking about a CA Scout in a Troop.   How can he be "reverent" and help in the group's  "duty to God".

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I'm in the non-issue camp.  Let the young man pray the way he's been taught, use it as a conversation starter and make sure the unit knows other options are also acceptable.  Hand out a bunch of those coexist bumper stickers and celebrate the diversity.  I'd much rather listen to a person pray earnestly in their own tradition than suffer through some bland beige politically correct mush.  Tolerance and acceptance are not the same as agreement and compliance; disagreement does not equal hate; me being me doesn't diminish you being you.

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http://www.scouting.org/filestore/membership/pdf/522-036_web.pdf

 

Handbook for Chaplains and Chaplain Aides in Boy Scout Troops and Venturing Crews

 

 

 

Group Prayers. When present, members of the clergy, other religious leaders, or the chaplain aide may be asked to lead the unit, or other Scouting units, in prayer at courts of honor and other gatherings. If the group consists of members with mixed beliefs, or if the beliefs of the group are unknown, then prayers should be of an interfaith content. However, if the group is of like belief or the unit is chartered to a religious organization, then it is entirely appropriate to offer beliefspecific prayer. Invocations, benedictions, and devotions with interfaith content are available in the pamphlet A Scout Is Reverent: A Resource for Interfaith, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Worship at Scouting Events, No. 34248.
Edited by TAHAWK

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Yeah, @@TAHAWK are those publications directly from God or did you just pick them off of some random stone tablet someplace?

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