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To be "reverant" is "to revere".  It need not necessarily refer to God or religion.  I know people who "revere" their favorite actor or football team.  

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French reverer, borrowed from Latin reverērī "to stand in awe of, treat with deference," from re- RE- + verērī "to show reverence for, fear"

I would submit that perhaps the wrong word is being used in the Scout Law and is not specific enough.

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Ah the old belief that only those who believe in a god can have values.  Pray tell, which values are exclusive to theists? And among theists is there universal agreement about these values? That

Correct.

In Western PA, we got around that by throwing Hail Mary's and catching Immaculate Receptions. 🤣

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1 hour ago, scoutldr said:

I would submit that perhaps the wrong word is being used in the Scout Law and is not specific enough.

It is specific enough.  For a hundred years, scouts have understood its meaning.  It is only recently that people have labored to distort its meaning.  When people are determined to distort the clear meaning of words, no words can be sufficient to convey the meaning of the scout law.

Edited by David CO
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7 hours ago, skeptic said:

I had been standing staring at the night sky, a stellar explosion looming out of the dark void, as the moon was not yet trespassing on the night.  They stood there a moment, then one asked me how I could believe in God, noting some of the common misunderstandings seekers have about the evil in the world and why it happens if God is in control.  So, I asked them what then they would attribute that immensity above us to.

Physics?

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

It is specific enough.  For a hundred years, scouts have understood its meaning.  It is only recently that people have labored to distort its meaning.  When people are determined to distort the clear meaning of words, no words can be sufficient to convey the meaning of the scout law.

100's of years?

There are many things that were understood 100 years ago that we know are wrong today.

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Aha, another Chaplaincy and Faith thread entry....

Well, one might consider the idea that IF (if)  God is responsible for the fact of our existence,  no matter how it actually occurred,  the idea leads to  EITHER we should admit to God(s)'s imminent pre-eminence, OR admit to the granting of humanity's "free will".  Or both.   We (us) can choose a lot of our possibilities, but not all.  As our children grow up, they MUST either keep on admitting to the parent's authority (reward, punishment, gratification, older experience) or get on with making their own decisions and living with the results.  About the same here, maybe, could be, yes? 

An avowed atheist, it seems to me,  accepts the "free will" part, but rejects the other, the idea that something else has a possible effect on our choices, our possibilities. It is the ultimate origin that is at risk here.

Reverent ?   Looking for understanding.   One gains personal understanding by answering respectful questions.   By your students one is taught.   A good pair of books:  How to be a Perfect Stranger   by Matlins and Magida  is recommended.  

I am a proponent of not "re-inventing the wheel", hence I offer the following from William Penn for your consideration::::

. """The Humble, Meek, Merciful, Just,  Pious and Devout Souls, are everywhere of one Religion; and when Death has taken off the Mask, they will know one another, tho' the divers Liveries they wear here make them Strangers. """

 """ It is a sad Reflection, that many Men hardly have any Religion at all; and most Men have none of their own: For that which is the Religion of their Education, and not of their Judgment, is the Religion of Another, and not Theirs. """

See thou on the trail . . .

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26 minutes ago, SSScout said:

Aha, another Chaplaincy and Faith thread entry....

Well, one might consider the idea that IF (if)  God is responsible for the fact of our existence,  no matter how it actually occurred,  the idea leads to  EITHER we should admit to God(s)'s imminent pre-eminence, OR admit to the granting of humanity's "free will".  Or both.   We (us) can choose a lot of our possibilities, but not all.  As our children grow up, they MUST either keep on admitting to the parent's authority (reward, punishment, gratification, older experience) or get on with making their own decisions and living with the results.  About the same here, maybe, could be, yes? 

An avowed atheist, it seems to me,  accepts the "free will" part, but rejects the other, the idea that something else has a possible effect on our choices, our possibilities. It is the ultimate origin that is at risk here.

Reverent ?   Looking for understanding.   One gains personal understanding by answering respectful questions.   By your students one is taught.   A good pair of books:  How to be a Perfect Stranger   by Matlins and Magida  is recommended.  

I am a proponent of not "re-inventing the wheel", hence I offer the following from William Penn for your consideration::::

. """The Humble, Meek, Merciful, Just,  Pious and Devout Souls, are everywhere of one Religion; and when Death has taken off the Mask, they will know one another, tho' the divers Liveries they wear here make them Strangers. """

 

 """ It is a sad Reflection, that many Men hardly have any Religion at all; and most Men have none of their own: For that which is the Religion of their Education, and not of their Judgment, is the Religion of Another, and not Theirs. """

 

See thou on the trail . . .

Hey, that is a pretty good post. Thanks.

Oh, "On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and......" 

Barry

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I think overmuch is made of religion in scouting. It certainly wasn't as big a deal in the original scouting books and was more along the lines of do your duty to God as you reflect on nature, do a good deed daily, etc. I am of the opinion that atheists who aspire to be of good moral character, evidenced by joining organizations like scouting, without any real belief in the final judgments of a higher being, are probably actually purer of heart than the rest of us lol.  

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39 minutes ago, yknot said:

I think overmuch is made of religion in scouting. It certainly wasn't as big a deal in the original scouting books and was more along the lines of do your duty to God as you reflect on nature, do a good deed daily, etc. I am of the opinion that atheists who aspire to be of good moral character, evidenced by joining organizations like scouting, without any real belief in the final judgments of a higher being, are probably actually purer of heart than the rest of us lol.  

My Master gave strict instructions to set aside the judging of hearts ... it's above my pay grade. But, as @mashmaster notes, that's quickly forgotten among practitioners.

There has been a lot of "digging heels in", and most of it traces back to the Cold War. That's why this issue seems like it's a hundred years old. It's been closer to fifty years old. Anti-Muscovite Christians pressed the issue, non-Christian patriots pushed back. Scouting become less an outlet for what Baden Powell coined "practical Christianity" and more an arm of the American religious. With every lawsuit BSA won, it lost a little heart.

If going far back in time matters, the very word "God" finds no origin in a particular religion. It's what missionaries (and, no doubt, merchants and others) found to be a close enough term used by Northern European people of the heath (from where we get "heathen").

Could the grander and greater thing in an atheist's world view fit the ancient notion of "God"? It's hard to say. Ancient Christians were stoned to death by Romans under the accusation of "atheist," but eventually gained respect as decent citizens. So, there's precedent ...

Edited by qwazse
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1 hour ago, yknot said:

I think overmuch is made of religion in scouting. It certainly wasn't as big a deal in the original scouting books and was more along the lines of do your duty to God as you reflect on nature, do a good deed daily, etc. I am of the opinion that atheists who aspire to be of good moral character, evidenced by joining organizations like scouting, without any real belief in the final judgments of a higher being, are probably actually purer of heart than the rest of us lol.  

The world today is more polarized than it once was.  We're more focused on pursuing what we believe is correct than on getting things done.  75 years ago we were focused simply on bringing the Scouting program to kids.  Today, we've got this dimension of arguing over what the right Scouting program is.  Again - this is true in lots of places and is not a Scouting phenomenon.  I suspect this comes from lots of things and we could fill pages upon pages discussing why.

The implication is that this is the new normal and so we have to figure out how to still have Scouting apply broadly while addressing the reality the different communities want a program structured in their image.

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45 minutes ago, qwazse said:

My Master gave strict instructions to set aside the judging of hearts ... it's above my pay grade. But, as @mashmaster notes, that's quickly forgotten among practitioners.

I believe the issue is way above judging of hearts. It's about whether the program will stay a values program. Can the present Scout Oath survive with atheist members? Scouting youth organizations around the world admitting atheist say no. I can't remember where, but the Oath has changed in several youth scouting organizations  to exclude god. Likely the BSA Oath will also have to change to appease the extremest. "I promise to do my best for Bob the SM and who ever he deems worthy". Hope Bob is in a good mood on the next campout.

The Oath sets god as the first to be honored by scouts to do their best. That isn't by accident. If one does their best for god first, everything that follows is theoretically down hill. If god is pleased, shouldn't everybody? If god is taken out of the oath, then who sets the standard to do their best? Without god, I'm pretty sure the Law will become flexible. After all, the reverence thing is a hassle.

Where will values come from? The BSA is respected for being a values program. If not god, then who? I believe the answer will have to be nobody so Bob isn't held totally responsible. The BSA will become a camping program. Which is fine if that's what the culture wants today. But, no more helping little old ladies across the street.

Sadly, I believe when the battle comes, you can tell it's coming by the small sample of this discussion, the driver for the godless side will be the trivial Eagle. Most adults (me included) could care less if a scout is atheist. Most are good folks and we don't mind atheist experiencing a theist program to learn all sides of life so they can make an educated choice when they mature. But that darn Eagle. Just like we heard during the girl membership debate, gotta have the Honored Boy Scout Eagle. The titillating excitement of who will be the first atheist Eagle. Who knows, there might even be new atheist troops going around beating the pants off theist troops at camporees. The winds of change are hash and the BSA landscape won't be the same.

It's not about judging of hearts. Of all the changes we've talked about over the years, this one is the scariest because in reality it's for all the marbles. The Oath and Law give the program noble purpose. With god, learning the virtues of the law is between the scout and his god. Without god, a scouts promise is tied to the mood of the adults that day.  

Barry

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@Eagledad I think your post reinforces my prior point.  We already had the first Atheist Eagle Scout - he earned it probably 90 years ago.

Rather than us being so caught up in the extremes on each side, how can we craft a program that permits both perspectives to coexist.  I don't want to see God driven from Scouting.  But, I also don't want to see the Atheists driven from Scouting either.  

I do understand the point that without some absolute moral guidance from God, morals and values are then infallible human concepts.  In a Scouting context, 98% of all value based decisions are obvious.  Treat each other with respect, don't lie, cheat, or steal.  Do your best, work hard.  Though it is conceivable that these basic concepts in our shared values could be changed - it's improbable that they would be. Further, we see that major faiths are open to a re-examination of their beliefs as times change.  Why?  Because even in these faiths, it is people who interpret the word of God.  

So, while I understand the concern, it strikes me that there has to be a path which preserves the faith based component in Scouting for some units and a more secular values derived from societal norms based component for others.  In others words - how do we enable us to all peacefully coexist side by side?

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45 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

 "I promise to do my best for Bob the SM and who ever he deems worthy". Hope Bob is in a good mood on the next campout.

Without god, a scouts promise is tied to the mood of the adults that day.  

 

Your argument would be much more persuasive if you didn't keep referring (intentionally incorrectly?) to morals being tied to someone's particular mood.  

Surely you don't imagine that atheists go around "Welp, I'm in a bad mood today, so it must be ok to steal that candy bar from the store..." or "gee, this week has been going terribly, I'm justified in pushing this little lady out of my way..."

 

Edited by Pale Horse
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@Eagledad Let's for a minute take your belief as fact that in order to have morals you must believe in god, since all morals are derived from god.

How do you reconcile when 2 opposing religions have differing moral beliefs?

Religion 1 says abortion is a sin, Religion 2 allows it.

Religion 3 says homosexuality is a sin, Religion 4 allows it.

Religion 5 says eating shellfish is a sin...or premarital sex is a sin...or being in a room alone with a member of the opposite sex...or allowing a non-relative to see your hair...

But it doesn't matter, for you right? As long as they believe in any god it's fine. 

But people like me who simply believe we shouldn't take actions to harm others and should treat others as we would want to be treated have no place in Scouts because our morals aren't derived from a believe in a god?

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26 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Rather than us being so caught up in the extremes on each side, how can we craft a program that permits both perspectives to coexist. 

We can't.  It will eventually have to be all of one thing or all of the other.  

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