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evmori, the problem is that in common vernacular, "God" is assumed to mean the monothestic God of Abraham.


The BSA doesn't use that definition. They use "God" as "spritual higher power"; thus, their acceptance of Native American religeons, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.


So, the young man actively deny the existence of the Christian God and yet still perform his Duty to God and be Reverent toward God per the BSA's definition.

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I would not award any rank advancement to the young man based on his violating the scout law every time he took it.


How is this Scout violating the Scout Law by simply stating that there was no God?


Trustworthy - could be.

Loyal - why not.

Helpful - sure.

Friendly - yes.

Courteous - okay.

Kind - why not.

Obedient - yes.

Cheerful - sure.

Thrifty - yep.

Brave - sure is.

Clean - why not.

Reverent - I'm guessing this is where the hang-up resides.


Was does it mean to be reverent I ask the boys during my Scoutmaster Conference. I usually get answers like "go to church", "to pray" etc. I explain to them that in it's simplest form, to be reverent one needs to revere something. To revere is to honor, show respect or to worship. Now, one can revere God or Gods, or Nature or the girl next door. What is the context of the reverent in the Boy Scout Law? For most, it is to revere God. But is that too strict a definition?


When reciting the Boy Scout Oath, we promise to do our best to do our duty to God. This implies, in my book, a belief in God.


Now, I've had Scouts who did not believe in God - at least they've told me that. That should not come as a shock to anyone. What benefit does it create to exclude or remove a Scout from BSA membership for that reason alone. I understand if the Scout becomes a distraction to others but removing him?


Quiz time! Can anyone recognize the source (only one) of these quotes?


Where is my faith? Even deep down there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. If there be a God please forgive me.


I am told God lives in me and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. I want God with all the power of my soul and yet between us there is terrible separation. I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.





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acco: I googled and was surprised to some extent. Although, it seems that many notable men and women of great faith have intense struggles with the will and character of God.

I won't claim the quiz 'cuz I peeked at the answer :)

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You mean the patron saint of southern lawn grasses? No, but good guess.


Here's another hint. The person died after the person who made this famous quote, "God is a concept, by which we measure our pain."

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Speaking of applicationms...did any of you see where a youth signs te application?


Nah, neither did I . I did see where the parents filled it out, signed it and handed over the cash or checks, but I ususally do not see boys having anytjing to do with it other than asking mom or dad to fill it out.


Just saying... Don't try to bust a kid because of what it says on the application...his signature ( that isn't even there) wouldn't even be legal anyways since he is under 18 years old.


BEsides, scouting isn't a place where all things are required to be in place when joining...otherwise....what is the point of teaching and mentoring.(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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A youth application has a "Information to Parents" section. In that section, it states the the BSA "recognizes the importance of religious faith and duty" - nothing more, nothing less. It also contains an excerpt from the Declaration of Religious Principle (I wonder what the whole principle states?) which is up to interpretation on what it means.


So, a youth is not really expected to profess a belief in God to join the BSA.

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Some serious thought splitting going on... I don't envy the OP...


... I guess the answer is in how much gray area you want put around the Oath and Law.


On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.


But if you believe God does not exist, then you can have no duty towards Him.



A Scout is:


* Trustworthy,

* Loyal,

* Helpful,

* Friendly,

* Courteous,

* Kind,

* Obedient,

* Cheerful,

* Thrifty,

* Brave,

* Clean,

* and Reverent.


A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God.


But is one has no belief that God exists, then you cannot be reverent towards him.


I realize at 11 years old...this boy's belief system is not fully developed, so perhaps a little leeway is warranted. But I would expect only to the extent that such leeway would be given for any other element of the Oath or Law.


Let's say that the 11 yo said had no desire to ever help others, or that he was gay and confident and comfortable in that fact. What would the response be?



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It may be instructive to crack the dictionary. "Reverence," says Merriam-Webster, is honor or respect felt or shown; a gesture of respect (as a bow); the state of being revered. A Scout who follows Buddhism can revere the teachings and ethical precepts of his tradition, just as one example.


That may not be your definition of "God," but it works for the BSA. Or are you suggesting that Irving should ban all followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto and some types of Wicca from membership - because they cannot be reverent toward "God"?

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Too easy acco since Mother's Day is on the horizon! What's your point?


Well shortridge if the boy isn't a Buddhist, your argument is moot! And if he is just going to church to fulfill the requirement, I would say he is being the opposite of reverent.

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"But going to church to JUST fulfill the 12st point of the Scout Law isn't being reverent."


Strictly for the sake of argument, why not? If a Scout attends religious services because he benefits from the ethical and moral values they impart, but doesn't necessarily believe in the specific deity being worshipped at those services, why is that bad? If a Buddhist doesn't have to believe in God but can be a Scout, why can't Joe Smith The Non-Buddhist - who doesn't believe in a specific higher power but nevertheless reveres a faith's principles and teachings and follows certain ethical practices - also be a Reverent Scout?


Sauce for the goose, etc.

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Just like the issue of homosexuality, the God issue is a tough one simply because young adolescents are in a state of flux.


It's clear to them that Santa Claus doesn't exist. Most of the way the Bible has been presented to them was appropriate for a children's level of comprehension. . . but they're at an age with a bit more intellectual acumen. They don't necessarily get a more sophisticated treatment of religion from people around them. So it's easy to just jump on the "science explains everything" bandwagon.


I'd just reserve judgment on all this and stick it on the backburner.

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