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Vicki writes:

Jrush, you need to study Buddhism a bit more thoroughly. Buddhists do not believe in a creator god. However, the Buddha is venerated as the embodiment of the supreme essence come to earth in at least one, if not more, strains of Buddhism. Not the Christian understanding, nor theist, per se, but definitely recognizing something beyond oneself.

 

Vicki, you might want to study Buddhism a bit more, too. Not ALL Buddhists regard Buddha that way. You can find atheist Buddhists (or maybe they're Buddhist atheists).

 

I agree that jrush's definition (not to mention spelling of) atheist is totally off-the-wall.

 

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Merlyn, even in the quote you pulled from my post, I say not all Buddhists view Buddha in the same way.

 

As a past student of the way, I believe I am conversant enough with it for these purposes.

 

Vicki

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You go and fat-finger "atheist" one time...

 

Merlyn, the BSA has to define "atheist" somehow.

 

They can't say "someone who believes God doesn't exist", because that could exclude Buddhists and other accepted non-theist faiths.

 

If my definition of atheist "one believes that nothing exists" may be "off the wall" according to you, but it really doesn't matter. I have a particular definition that I believe fits with BSA policy and the Scout Law by allowing me to be accepting of non-theist faiths. Your personal definition of "atheist" is up to you.

 

Whether your personal definition matches up with what the BSA policy implies is central to the discussion; it's why, as Old Ox said, national hasn't just handed this ball to CO's to handle as they see fit. For example, some people consider Buddhists and other non-theists to be atheists, and they could be supported by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

 

In short, the BSA didn't say "according to the Merriam Webster dictionary" or "according to the personal definition of the SM/CO/etc/etc". You and I don't get to decide who an atheist is in the BSA, no matter what your dictionary says...only the individual can indentify themselves as such, which brings us back to the young lad the OP told us about. Did the boy claim to be an atheist, or did he make a statement which fits in with someone's personal or dictionary-supplied definition?

 

 

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jrush, I can't speak for Merlyn but I wondered about your definition as well. A belief that nothing exists is for me an impossible belief because, for example, I believe our cat exists. But I have no sense of reverence toward it. I believe this keyboard exists but...well, ok, maybe. But you get the point. Your definition lacks...well...definition. "Nothing" is a very exclusive thing. It excludes everything and some things obviously do exist.

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Packsaddle, I should've been more specific, and said "nothing beyond yourself of a spritual or philosophical nature exists"...I made the assumption that since the discussion was in regards to faith, I wouldn't have to be specific. Oops.

 

 

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[The first time I submitted didn't take, so this is a hurried do-over ...]

V, while we're dithering with semantics, "the way" was what they used to call themselves before everyone else started calling them Christians.

 

BP, Except for insisting that a district representative moderate it (what our council does as well), I don't see how any of your EBOR rules (DAC who decides ... where ... who ..., NOT allowed to be organized by any of the unit leaders or held at the CO) do anything to insure that there was "impartiality, consistency, and fairness in the way they were conducted." Say you make three boys travel some variable distance for his review, how is that more fair than making the DAC travel to three locations in the same night?

 

To bring it back to topic, this was also to insure the reverent part of the law, the DRP, and the belief in "GOD" was determined accurately and fairly according to the policies of the BSA and not an individuals interpretation of those policies.

 

Do you really think you'll catch the "inquisitionally minded" with that strategy? They will have 5 unsupervised BOR's to your one. If they know you're going to force them to check the thumbscrews at the door on step number 6, you'd never see the "problem child". They'd make sure to do the job by step 3, 4, or 5.

 

It is clear from what I am seeing here that this is not being done consistently on a nationwide basis

 

Is our council being inconsistent if someone on our committee asks the kid how they apply the 12th point (or duty to God) in their own life? Without any micromanagement from the district, we have accepted all manner of responses from boys. Enough of us go to roundtable to know we're in no position to throw stones.

 

We are also kind enough to not twist a boy's words. If he says "I no longer believe in God, religious life is a waste of time, I'm done with church/mosque/temple/shrine/statue/tree, and - no offence to you lot - I'm putting my faith in natural forces that humans can measure, control, and eventually dominate." We're going to forthrightly tell him that his beliefs are in starck contrast with our DRP. It would be an insult to him to require an oath that he cannot keep in good conscience, and there is no medal worth the lie. (Never had to do this myself, but the DAC told us it has happened.)

 

A boy need not say the a- word to be shown the door. But, he does need our time and friendship to come to that conclusion in his own right.

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"V, while we're dithering with semantics, "the way" was what they used to call themselves before everyone else started calling them Christians."

 

Yep, so Christians weren't the only or the first. The choice of descriptor was intentional, other translations call it "the path" but that can start confusing Taoism and Buddhism which are historically related but not the same. You might say they are really close dance partners.

 

"A boy need not say the a- word to be shown the door. But, he does need our time and friendship to come to that conclusion in his own right."

 

Well stated. Nice and succinct.

 

Vicki

 

 

 

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qwasze

 

What a weird world you seem to live in. You are right at BOR's the boy is at the mercy of the troop leadership, that is why an EBOR is NOT supposed to ever be done, organized or controlled by the troop hierarchy but is under the direct control of the Dist. Advancement Chair and who he/she deems fit to determine if the boy has qualified for Eagle. The Eagle Award is approved by National and the EBOR is no place for personal prejudices or interpretations of the troop leaders or the CO of what is reverent or what the DRP really means especially when they violate or oppose the standards set by the BSA. When the rules are followed as set by the BSA the "inquisitionally minded" as you call them will not be able to interfer or influence the outcome of a boy getting his Eagle because they feel he does not meet the 12th point of the scout law.

 

Your post qwasze also reinforces my opinion that "hardcore" fundamentalist type churches make LOUSY CO's and should not be allowed to sponsor any scout units.

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Yah, BadenP, I'm afraid yeh got your policy and practice wrong there.

 

An Eagle BOR may be conducted by the council, by the district, or by the unit. The council decides which it will use. In the case of a council which does EBORs at the unit level, like qwazse's, the district or council send one voting representative to join the BOR. The unit selects the other board members. The district rep. may be invited to chair the board, or not at the unit's discretion.

 

Most smaller districts/councils use the district level EBOR that you describe, while most larger districts/councils use unit level EBORs for practical reasons. I can only guess that you must have worked in one of da former.

 

In my experience, district level EBORs can often be worse than those at the unit level. The unit level folks know the boy and have a long-term relationship with da boy and the family, while the district folks at times tend to see themselves more as external gatekeepers and inquisitors.

 

YMMV.

 

Beavah

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Well Beav

 

Your post didn't sound quite right so I went to three scout sites, including the BSA site and they all state that "At least on member of any EBOR must be a member of the District Advancement Committee and they are to serve as the Chair of the EBOR."

 

So I either have to believe what you state or the BSA and two other reputable scouting sites. This was always the way EBOR's were conducted in my council as a DE and how they are conducted in my current council, and the adjoining one as well. So I think you may be wrong this time, rare I know but still wrong.

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jrush writes:

Merlyn, the BSA has to define "atheist" somehow.

 

Either that or don't use the term to explain their membership requirements. In fact, in many cases, the BSA does NOT use the term "atheist" to describe their membership requirements.

 

They can't say "someone who believes God doesn't exist", because that could exclude Buddhists and other accepted non-theist faiths.

 

Well, that's the corner they've painted themselves into. If they're going to insist on belief in a god (or at least one god; it isn't clear if polytheists are considered to meet the requirements), then yes, that would eliminate some people, including some Buddhists.

 

If my definition of atheist "one believes that nothing exists" may be "off the wall" according to you, but it really doesn't matter. I have a particular definition that I believe fits with BSA policy and the Scout Law by allowing me to be accepting of non-theist faiths. Your personal definition of "atheist" is up to you.

 

I prefer a sane definition; "one believes that nothing exists" might describe a very extreme solipsist, but it doesn't have anything to do with atheism. If you just don't want to reject anyone for being an atheist, just use a definition like "a person who is over 18 miles tall" or something.

 

Whether your personal definition matches up with what the BSA policy implies is central to the discussion; it's why, as Old Ox said, national hasn't just handed this ball to CO's to handle as they see fit. For example, some people consider Buddhists and other non-theists to be atheists, and they could be supported by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

 

Some Buddhists are atheists, sure.

 

By the way, why is my personal definition of atheism central to the discussion, but your personal definition isn't? Using your definition, Richard Dawkins isn't an atheist.

 

You and I don't get to decide who an atheist is in the BSA, no matter what your dictionary says...only the individual can indentify themselves as such, which brings us back to the young lad the OP told us about. Did the boy claim to be an atheist, or did he make a statement which fits in with someone's personal or dictionary-supplied definition?

 

The DRP doesn't use the term "atheist," so why are you totally fixated on that one word?

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Schrodinger might have something to say about that cat existing, but of course that presumes that Schrodinger exists.

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So I think you may be wrong this time, rare I know but still wrong.

 

Mrs. Beavah would claim that I'm wrong all da time, at least when I disagree with her. ;)

 

Here's what ACP&P has to say on the matter:

 

Eagle Scout Boards of Review

 

The Boy Scouts of America has placed the Eagle Scout board of review in the hands of either the troop, team, crew or ship committee or the district or council committee responsible for advancement....

 

At least one district or council representative shall be a member of the Eagle board of review, when conducted at the unit level, and may serve as chairman if so requested by the unit. - Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures #33088

 

It's been that way for as far back as I remember, though as I get older I find I can't remember as well as I used to. :) So yeh see, in many councils, like qwazse's, EBORs are indeed organized, controlled, conducted by the troop committee, with a district rep. as guest.

 

I think lots of times folks get used to da way their particular unit/district/council does things, eh? Perfectly natural. Then they start to believe that their way is the way, rather than being just one of the possible approaches.

 

I've worked with both systems in this case. Of the two, I find the unit-level BORs generally provide a better experience for everybody.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Merlyn, I agree with much of what you said, that the BSA has painted itself into a corner by using proper-noun "God" in the Oath and Law, and then turning around and accepting faiths which are outright nontheistic, and certainly don't center around worship of God, with their statement that they are "absolutely nonsecular" regarding religeous requirements. For that matter, it's not even a requirement...as has been said, the Oath says "do my best", not "you will". It's not Yoda and the force. That's why I said we don't get to unilaterally label someone an atheist and boot them out until they essentially self-identify. A young man might not have faith, but is trying to. It's not "do the District Advancement Chair's best", it's "do MY best".

 

You also missed my clarification of what I consider an aethist, but that's okay. One can't be expected to read everything. It's just a few posts up from this one. That being said, I didn't say my definition was any more valid than anyone else's...I said it allowed me to accept nontheistic faiths. If someone wants to say "if you don't believe in God you're an atheist, because that's what the dictionary says", that's fine, but good luck kicking a practicing buddhist out of the program.

 

My point wasn't to get fixated on the term "atheist"...I'm certainly not fixated on it personally. I got wrapped around it because the BSA does use the word on their BSA Legal site, leading to 10 pages of "the boy said there is no God...he's an atheist!" It was merely an attempt to show some people they don't have to equate God with faith when it comes to the BSA.

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