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Avery

Atheist / Agnostic Scout?

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"Not coming from a church-going family, your only brush with religion might be the likes of what we see in the media: Osama, the LDS cult in Texas, televangelists, praying nuns on cable TV, the Pope, suicide bombers acting in God's name."

-BDPT00

 

BDPT00, thank you for trying to understand what I may think of religion. But the media is definitely not my only source of information. I have many friends with many different beliefs and religions. Most religious people I know are very nice, good people. And that is probably true with the majority of people in the world.

 

 

Scouting may be the place for you to learn more about yourself and about religion.

 

Scouting does provide a good learning environment for lots of people, but I do not think it is right for me. I do not feel safe or comfortable with lots of the people I am around in scouting (not because of their religion). I would be more comfortable learning about religion by talking to various religious leaders in my area, learning through school, and having discussions with my religious friends.

 

 

You need two years to allow yourself sort things out before making such a conclusion.

-Eagledad

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bisexual [see definition 1b] - of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward both sexes

 

For about a year, I have had a tendency to direct sexual desire toward both sexes. Even if this is the result of raging hormones and changing body chemistry I am still, by definition, bisexual.

 

 

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No one in the troop knows this, but I am bisexual.

 

LOL. Yah, well you're right about that, eh? No one in the troop does know, includin' you. ;) Relax and stop worryin' about that stuff. You're over-thinkin' it at this point, probably because you're gettin' such a range of messages from da adult world and have a bit of a rebellious, avante-garde streak in yeh, eh?

 

Go out and have fun and be a normal 8th/9th grader. Hang with friends of both genders. Your sexual orientation will resolve in due course over the next half dozen years or so. Until then, relax.

 

Now, that doesn't mean yeh can't challenge attitudes that you think might be mean or bigoted, eh? Yeh don't have to be gay to step up and stop gay-bashing, verbal or physical. Yeh can tell your scout friends to tone it down, and that would be a good turn. Just be careful about prejudicial terms like "homophobia" which are bigoted in their own way. Very few people are "afraid" of homosexuality, and some folks have legitimate ethical/moral positions which should be respected and considered thoughtfully. Slappin' a label on people so you can dismiss 'em is wrong whether the label is "homo" or "homophobe".

 

Stay in Scoutin', mate. It will broaden your worldview. Or, if yeh absolutely can't stand gettin' out in the wilderness and carin' for the environment, find some other youth program that does something similar - that gives you contact with youth and adults with different perspectives, and where you get to do fun, challenging, interesting, cool things while providing service to others. In a college town like Ft. Collins, I bet there are quite a few opportunities.

 

Very best,

 

Beavah

 

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Getting to experience Nature is probably the part of scouts I enjoy the most. Although with my troop, I only get the opportunity once a month. And as I have mentioned earlier, I think my lack of religion and sexual orientation may cause some problems. On almost every outing, there is a chapel service for the scouts. The adult leaders say it is mandatory. I think from now on, I will no longer be a part of the religious aspects of scouting. But I am not sure what that would result in. I know that various adult leaders have specifically stated that one must be either religious and/or have a belief in a deity ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deity ) to be a member of the troop.

 

I suppose I will just let things play out, and see what happens.

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Avery,

 

Beavah's is probably the best advice posted here so far. I'd read it, keep an open eye and mind, and keep growing up.

 

Second, different Troops have different emphases. You may find a unit in your area that's a bit less strong on chapel. Look around and see.

 

Third, I'll bet you some of your friends go to church youth groups Sunday afternoons or some time during the week. You might ask to go with them. Much of youth groups are hanging out and having fun. If you tell the adult you're not sure at all about faith, but aren't ready to discuss it, most will hang back. When they've earned your trust and you want to have a heart to heart talk, they'll be there.

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On almost every outing, there is a chapel service for the scouts. The adult leaders say it is mandatory. I think from now on, I will no longer be a part of the religious aspects of scouting.

 

I'm never an advocate of "mandatory" religious services, eh? I think yeh have a good point in feelin' that's a bit off. Sometimes it just happens in Scoutin' because it's hard to supervise kids if all (or all but one) of da adults are goin' to the service.

 

At the same time, as a guy who's grown up in a flavor of protestant Christianity, I attend da annual Catholic religious awards ceremony in our council, just to be supportive of da units I work with. I go to friends' kids' weddings even though they might be a different flavor of protestant, or atheist, or Jewish. Been to funerals of different denominations, too. Heck, I've even been to rock concerts when friends of mine or their kids have been playin', and I'm not a hard rock fan at all. And goodness knows, Mrs. Beavah makes me attend a lot of things I wouldn't choose to do on my own, eh? :)

 

Lots of times, we show up to things and participate in order to show our friendship and support for other people. I reckon it would be a sad and lonely world if we only attended things that each of us personally "believed in." And consider KC's suggestion, eh? He's right on about youth groups, they're mostly a lot of fun. You can attend those just to be a friend, and have a good time discussin' issues from a different perspective.

 

Stay open-minded and friendly. It makes life, and da world, a lot more fun.

 

Beavah

 

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Hello Avery,

 

Excellent, thoughtful discussion. Thank you.

 

Most of us who are posting have a bit of an advantage over you. We have all, at one time or another, been 14 and have seen the other side. You have not (yet,) That doesn't make your thoughts and concerns any less valid or any less significant to you or us, it just gives us a bit of perspective that you don't yet have.

 

I would say that, at one time or another, almost all of us have questioned religion and have felt agnostic. (You know that you are agnostic, not that you are atheist.) You have not said that you are certain that there is no deity or higher power (that would be an atheist) you have said you are uncertain. In my life which now is in its 7th decade, I have met precisely one person I would call an atheist.

 

So in addressing an agnostic, I say that either there is a deity or there is not. If not, then the discussion is irrelevant. But if there is a deity, presumably that deity has made you what he or she wishes you to be and has made you at this time agnostic. This is for a reason. I would argue this deity wishes you, at this time in your life, to explore religions, consider yourself and your beliefs, By doing that, and clearly you are, in my opinion you are doing your "Duty to God." If you came before me in a Board of Review, I would have no problems.

 

As far as bisexual feelings, I understand that those are extremely common for persons who are 14. As time proceeds, your sexuality and sexual orientation will become more clear. However, I would respectfully suggest that, at age 14, you should not be involved in sexual activity, be it with males or females. You absolutely should not be involved in sexual activity in the context of Scouting, nor should anybody else. Your feelings can be whatever they are and that is something you cannot control. However, you can control your actions. You have plenty of time in your life to be sexually active. There really is no hurry.

 

As far as whether you should stay in Scouting, that is your business. If it isn't fun and isn't rewarding, then I would consider very carefully if you want to continue. However, if I may make a suggestion, I would simply tell my parents, etc. that I do not enjoy it. Your religions beliefs and your sexual orientation are your business and, particularly at the age of 14, I would not go on record as to either. In that way, you maintain your option to return to Scouting at some time in the future if you so choose. Keep your personal things personal and your private things private. That, by the way, is all that Scouting asks.

 

As far as a "mandatory" church service, please allow me to quote from a very recently published Unit of Supplemental Training on the BSA National Web Site

www.scouting.org

 

"Attendance at an Interfaith Service

 

Participation at an interfaith service should be a voluntary, uplifting experience for Scouts and leaders. It should be a friendly, welcoming experience for all. There should never be coercion or criticism concerning participation or nonparticipation in an interfaith service.

 

 

Some religions do not support the participation of their members in Interfaith Services. Some religions obligate their members to participation in a specific religious service; consequently, participation in an interfaith service may not meet this obligation. Some individuals may choose to participate in the interfaith service and also in a service of their own faith"

 

Needless to say, not all religions are welcoming to persons of all faiths. I know Trevorum personally and his religion, Unitarian Universalism, is particularly open and welcoming. You might consider it.

 

If you choose to stay in Scouting, and obviously we hope you do, we hope that your personal journey goes well and is rewarding. But if you choose to leave, we hope that your time in Scouting has been enjoyable. We would like to think that Scouting has helped make you the kind of person who can ask the type of questions that you are asking. Either way, we wish you well and hope that we have treated you with respect and in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

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I love this! Avery & BDPT00 are very possible the same person! And yet ya'll are taking the troll bait!

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Hello Evmori,

 

I truly find it sad that you are such a believer in conspiracy that you regard Avery and BDPT00 to be the same person.

 

Perhaps you are right. If so, I have wasted a little time. No big thing.

 

But I believe that you very likely are wrong. I can tell you that I have been asked the exact questions Avery asking by a several extremely sincere Scouts personally. And I know that in some parts of the country and some units, even asking those questions would have the Scout branded an "atheist" and summarily removed from Scouting.

 

I choose to believe that Avery is sincere. I believe that giving such a poster a very large benefit of the doubt is in line with "courteous, kind and friendly."

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Please disregard evmori's very rude comments. I have no idea why he feels the need to invalidate a perfectly honest discussion.

 

 

 

Thank you NeilLup , for taking the time to consider my problems and write a (very long) response to them. And the same to everyone, I really appreciate your concern.

 

I would very much like to learn more about various religions, especially Christianity and other similar religions. But I am not exactly who I can get honest and unbiased answers from. Anybody got any suggestions?

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Hello Avery,

 

You ask an interesting question.

 

I would suggest that you talk to friends of yours about their religions and particularly about their clergypeople. Your friends probably have a pretty well developed BS detector. But I would say that most good clergypeople would be honest and sincere with you if you went to them and said that you were considering religion and religions and wanted to know both about their religion and about their observations of other religions.

 

Before you consider a particularly religion, you might go to its website and read up about it. At this stage, you probably want to avoid those religions which are particularly missionary and are particularly vigorous about conversions. They can come later when your thoughts are a bit better formed.

 

If my memory is correct, Colorado State University is in Fort Collins and University of Colorado is in Boulder. You might check out their faculties and see if there is someone who is a professor of comparative religions. They might have a course available to you or be willing to talk to you.

 

We wish you well.

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Thank you for the ideas. Although I think you may have gotten my intentions wrong. I am not looking for a religion, I just want to learn more about them. I figure, if I am presented with enough evidence, I will probably convert. But for now, it is about learning.

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I think you could remain in scouting. But as one reply said it may depend on how much the troop you are in includes religous activities in its activities. Also I think it depends on how much you want to make it an issue. If you feel it is necessary to bring it up and make an issue out of it it will be one. Then again if you can accept what the troop does and do not see a need to make an issue of it it probably won't be one.

 

If you are good and moral person respectful of others I do not see what a belief in a good or religion has to do with it. There are enough instances in history that atrocities were done in the name of god and religion to know that just saying that you believe in god isn't all there is. If you are a good person then you should stay in.

 

I am old enough to have seen enough people who say they believe in god and a religion they are affilitated with that do things that are opposite of the teachings. And I also know people who belong to religions who are very good people but do not necessarily believe or follow all of the religions teachings. It is noble to believe that if you join an organization you should adhere to all its beliefs but sometimes that is just not the case, We are not perfect.

 

If you beleive you can become a better person by being in the scouts and you can have fun doing it, stay in. If you believe you can help others to be come better than you should stay in.

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I know this isnt the answer you were looking for but I need to ask this. If you were raised without religion in your life how have you determined that you dont believe in God? How many different religions have you looked into? Are there definite reasons that you decided that you dont believe in God? Any "non-believer" that I have known has a very definite reason why they dont believe in God. To make an informed decision about any subject you need to investigate both sides.

I hope you find the answer you are searching for and you feel good about the decision you make about Scouts. It is a wonderful program and I am sure that you will be missed if you quit.

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When I was a youngsters, about Avery's age, I was a dyed-in-the-wool Orthodox Christian. I knew doctrine, prayers, services, went to church and communion on a regular basis, didn't eat meat on Friday . . . the whole Magilla.

 

The idea of studying other religions never occurred to me because . . it probably would have been prohibited by my father. He didn't even like me having Protestant friends. He may have been worried that they'd try to get me to eat a burger on a Friday.

 

Off I went to college and I started looking at other things. Mostly because I had friends from other churches but quite a bit because I lived in a really cool all men's dorm at an engineering school and we'd sit around in the wee hours of the morning and discuss strange things including religion and philosophy. I had bible thumping friends, friends who were Mormons, Hindus, Jews, Buddists, B'hai, Wiccans, and many other things including atheists.

 

One of the most religious fellows went on to get a Ph.D. in Physics. He figured that he was just unraveling God's mysteries. He's now a professor at a fairly prestigious school.

 

What happened is my view of doctrine and dogma changed and my views on religion changed. I guess you could say that I'm now a poly-theistic Christian now.

 

The moral of all of this is that you have to keep an open mind about everything related to beliefs because you might change your mind. I'm even open to the idea that Harley may someday make a bike that I'd want. :-)

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evmori writes: "I love this! Avery & BDPT00 are very possible the same person! And yet ya'll are taking the troll bait!"

 

I didn't know what a troll is until this afternoon (I asked a friend). evmori is giving us/me/him/(her?) a lot of credit. Too bad he(?) is missing the meat of the topic (has yet to offer advice or opinion).

 

I'm happy to see Neil step in. His advice regarding "missionary" or "vigorous" religions is very sound. Young people are vulnerable to crafty "missionaries," and by young, I'm referring to people several years older than you, Avery. Be careful. Move slowly.

BDPT00

 

 

 

 

 

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