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walk in the woods

And so it begins

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On 12/16/2018 at 3:41 PM, ParkMan said:

In my current troop we are chartered to a very strong local church in a pretty religious part of the country.  We have a very active Chartered Organization Representative who is very active in the church.  In our troop, religion is really only manifested by the occasional prayer before meals and the offering of the religious emblems program by some interested adults.  The troop has members from all kinds of faiths around town.  We don't focus on the faith component, but do let prospective members know the BSA rules on faith.  The four packs that feed our troop all appear to operate much the same way. 

We've never consciously tried to tone down faith - it's just the way it's been.  I think it reflects more about our community than our troop.  Despite being in the US southeast where religion is an important part of life, people don't really seem to bring it to Scouting.

From my casual observation, this description seems to accurately reflect what I generally encounter across Scouting. The topic of Duty to God is routinely raised during our Eagle Scout Boards of Review (at least the ones I attend). The responses from most Scouts are unusually brief and sometimes even uncomfortable. Some adult Scouters bristle that such a personal topic would be raised at all. Without doubt, there are some units that do a great job with integrating Duty To God in their Scouting programs, but even in those cases folks hesitate to engage in any meaningful discussion. I find this to be a very sad reflection on Scouting and our society at large.

The founder was certainly not hushed in his intent.

“There is no religious side to the Movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.” Lord Robert Baden-Powell, November 1920

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According to the Boy Scout Handbook, "A Scout is helpful. . . . Scouts want the best for everyone and act to make that happen."  How can we justify excluding anyone from the Scouting program if it would be good for them?  If we want the best for everyone, doesn't that naturally include membership in Scouting?  Isn't the point of being helpful to focus on the needs of others rather than just our own comfort?

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, "A Scout is friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. . . . He offers his friendship to people of all races, religions, and nations, and he respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own. . . . Friends are also able to celebrate their differences, realizing that real friends can respect the ideas, interests, and talents that make each person special."  When we turn people away from our program because their beliefs are different from our own, are we living up to this point of the Scout Law?

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, doing my duty to my country, as stated in the Scout Oath, means:  "Help the United States continue to be a strong and fair nation by learning about our system of government and your responsibilities as a citizen."  When we systematically exclude people from our program because of their religious beliefs, are we helping the United States to be "a strong and fair nation"?  Is isolating ourselves from people with different opinions one of our responsibilities as a citizen of the United States?

Even if we have the right, as a private organization, to exclude people who don't share one of our ideals, is voluntarily exercising that right consistent with the other ideals, purposes, goals, and duties we profess as members of the Scouting program? 

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17 hours ago, Treflienne said:

How do you handle the case of boys that are not U.S. citizens?    Hardly seems appropiate to compel them to pledge allegience to the U.S.  

(The scout oath in BSA is no problem since the wording is "my country".   I found @Cambridgeskip's link interesting about the alternative Scout Promise in the UK for kids who are not British subjects are don't have a duty to the Queen)

While that exists I would add that in practice very few scouts actually use it. And mine have more opportunity than most! After Christmas I will have 43 scouts at full strength. As well as the UK I have scouts where they or their parents were born in France, Italy, Ireland, USA, Canada, Hungary, Germany, Poland, China, Netherlands, Columbia, Norway, New Zealand, Israel, Sweden, Egypt, Spain. In the recent past I've had Ghana, Chili, Estonia, Australia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Zimbabwae, Bosnia, Argentina, Denmark. There are probably others that I've forgotten!

Basically most are quite happy to make a standatrd promise and not stand out and that reflects. i think, that the most important thing to most teenagers is the sense of belonging and the scout troop provdes them with that. Whether it refers to their country or their religion most are quite happy with a wording that brings them all together and will, frankly, say words for the sak of words.

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5 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, "A Scout is helpful. . . . Scouts want the best for everyone and act to make that happen."  How can we justify excluding anyone from the Scouting program if it would be good for them?  If we want the best for everyone, doesn't that naturally include membership in Scouting?  Isn't the point of being helpful to focus on the needs of others rather than just our own comfort?

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, "A Scout is friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. . . . He offers his friendship to people of all races, religions, and nations, and he respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own. . . . Friends are also able to celebrate their differences, realizing that real friends can respect the ideas, interests, and talents that make each person special."  When we turn people away from our program because their beliefs are different from our own, are we living up to this point of the Scout Law?

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, doing my duty to my country, as stated in the Scout Oath, means:  "Help the United States continue to be a strong and fair nation by learning about our system of government and your responsibilities as a citizen."  When we systematically exclude people from our program because of their religious beliefs, are we helping the United States to be "a strong and fair nation"?  Is isolating ourselves from people with different opinions one of our responsibilities as a citizen of the United States?

Even if we have the right, as a private organization, to exclude people who don't share one of our ideals, is voluntarily exercising that right consistent with the other ideals, purposes, goals, and duties we profess as members of the Scouting program? 

Unfortunately, this post above all else is the issue for me.  We cannot preach it is OK to only follow 7 points, 8 points, or 11 points of the Scout Law.  It is all.  Do we give an automatic boot? I would say no, but that does not mean advancement to the highest levels are possible for that youth.  From Life, requirement #2:  As a Star Scout, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life.

Edited by HashTagScouts

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25 minutes ago, HashTagScouts said:

Unfortunately, this post above all else is the issue for me.  We cannot preach it is OK to only follow 7 points, 8 points, or 11 points of the Scout Law.  It is all.  Do we give an automatic boot? I would say no, but that does not mean advancement to the highest levels are possible for that youth.  From Life, requirement #2:  As a Star Scout, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life.

I'm talking about admission of atheists to the existing program.  What they choose to do in the program once they are in the door is up to them -- but at least we would be giving them the chance to learn and follow the Scout Oath and all 12 points of the Scout Law.  That is something we are denying them now. 

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5 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, "A Scout is helpful. . . . Scouts want the best for everyone and act to make that happen."  How can we justify excluding anyone from the Scouting program if it would be good for them?  If we want the best for everyone, doesn't that naturally include membership in Scouting?  Isn't the point of being helpful to focus on the needs of others rather than just our own comfort?

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, "A Scout is friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. . . . He offers his friendship to people of all races, religions, and nations, and he respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own. . . . Friends are also able to celebrate their differences, realizing that real friends can respect the ideas, interests, and talents that make each person special."  When we turn people away from our program because their beliefs are different from our own, are we living up to this point of the Scout Law?

According to the Boy Scout Handbook, doing my duty to my country, as stated in the Scout Oath, means:  "Help the United States continue to be a strong and fair nation by learning about our system of government and your responsibilities as a citizen."  When we systematically exclude people from our program because of their religious beliefs, are we helping the United States to be "a strong and fair nation"?  Is isolating ourselves from people with different opinions one of our responsibilities as a citizen of the United States?

Even if we have the right, as a private organization, to exclude people who don't share one of our ideals, is voluntarily exercising that right consistent with the other ideals, purposes, goals, and duties we profess as members of the Scouting program? 

Sadly, many folks miss the point of learning by doing. Difference isn't always good, and experience isn't always growth. Scouting in an environment of practicing human values for a lifetime. I'm tired of defending a 100 year old program that takes a boy in his most influential years and turns him into the best kind of man who lives the oath and law to all people, for all people. So, I'm only going to say you are flat out wrong. Just because I don't accept your way of life doesn't mean I have less respect for the Oath and Law. The scouting program diluting into an after school outdoor program will only carry the respect of such. And that is fine, the YMCA switched from a character development program into a family fitness program and it survives. But it can't be said the boys whose lives were changed forever by a program designed to develop the most caring men of the world today's family soccer players.

Barry

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1 minute ago, dkurtenbach said:

I'm talking about admission of atheists to the existing program.  What they choose to do in the program once they are in the door is up to them -- but at least we would be giving them the chance to learn and follow the Scout Oath and all 12 points of the Scout Law.  That is something we are denying them now. 

If you want atheist, then you need to find support a movement to remove god from this scouting program. It's that easy, or hard. Either god is part of developing ethical and moral role modeling, or it's not.

Barry

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"By their fruits shall ye know them".   Very often, folks do things, act as if they were consciously following the Sermon on the Mount, or the Ten Commandments, or the Bagavad Gita or the Q'ran,  but will tell you, no, that's not why I act the way I do. I act this way because it is the "right" thing to do,  it is good for humanity, etc.  

I do not judge the source of the action, only if it accomplishes something I can agree with.  

Some folks will say that war can be righteous, that a Christian CAN fight to protect the nation and not be in disagreement with Christ Jesus' teaching. Us Quakers might have disagreement with that.  When I point out the truth verses (John 5:34, etc.) to folks, they hem and haw and often say that doesn't apply here or some such. But it is what Jesus instructed. It is either what he said or it isn't.  We either have a faith or we don't.  ?For a Scout to declare that his/her "duty to God" includes not believing in him/her/it I find refreshingly honest (a Scout is Trustworthy).  What do they DO ?

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48 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Sadly, many folks miss the point of learning by doing. Difference isn't always good, and experience isn't always growth. Scouting in an environment of practicing human values for a lifetime. I'm tired of defending a 100 year old program that takes a boy in his most influential years and turns him into the best kind of man who lives the oath and law to all people, for all people. So, I'm only going to say you are flat out wrong. Just because I don't accept your way of life doesn't mean I have less respect for the Oath and Law. The scouting program diluting into an after school outdoor program will only carry the respect of such. And that is fine, the YMCA switched from a character development program into a family fitness program and it survives. But it can't be said the boys whose lives were changed forever by a program designed to develop the most caring men of the world today's family soccer players.

Barry

Gotcha.

What I think hangs up many, and to be honest myself included, is why we presume the program needs to stop being a character development program and turn into an after school outdoor program if we provide a path for youth who don't believe in God?

From replies in this topic, it seems that for many units, faith and religion is already limited to grace before meals and a handful of requirements along the way.  So, say we allow some Scouts into the program who don't believe in god.  Does that really have to mean we stop being a character development program?  

Maybe put a little different.  For some scouts we go from "develop good character because it's was God wants" to "develop good character because it's the right thing to do."  Does that really mean our program is now radically different?

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This is an opinion piece from authors with an agenda.  Their agenda is not to advance the interests of BSA, but to advance atheism. 

Consider that when deciding if BSA should change to meet the terms of their agenda.

 

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2 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Maybe put a little different.  For some scouts we go from "develop good character because it's was God wants" to "develop good character because it's the right thing to do."  Does that really mean our program is now radically different?

Excellent question. Consider my example of the YMCA. Do families today attend YMCA activities for character development, or for entertainment? Ironically, the discussion last week about making the Eagle more attractive with outdoor activity requirements shows how entertainment is already becoming the greater vision for the scouting program.

A godless program for adults would certainly be easier because the definition of "the right thing to do", will be a reaction based from emotions in that moment. That is a lot easier because acceptable behavior will be defined by the member with the strongest pride. The proactive values of god (law and oath) encourage the actions from the strongest humility. A "the right thing to do" program will not be boy run because the scouts will have to wait for the adults to tell them the right or wrong behavior. Kind of scary since every adult likely has some different definition of "the right thing to do". 

Barry

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15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:15-17.

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This issue comes down to just issue. as I see it, Is there a higher power or is there no high power.  A true atheism belief is that there is no higher power.   The Scouting program is based on the belief that there is a higher power since  "to God" is included in the scout oath and "Reverent" in the scout law.  

For the scout program to remove the belief that there is a higher power would be a complete change in the core values of the scouting program.

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22 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:15-17.

"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you,"Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

John 8:11.

Jesus associated with sinners in an attempt to change them, not become one of them. Do you want to allow atheists into BSA for the express purpose of helping them find God? Sounds like a great idea.

Edited by Saltface

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3 minutes ago, Saltface said:

esus associated with sinners in an attempt to change them, not become one of them. Do you want to allow atheists into BSA for the express purpose of helping them find God? Sounds like a great idea

No, I would include them that they may be Scouts. 

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