Re: Scouts and Religion
Bjarne Steensgaard (rusa@DIKU.DK)
Tue, 20 Oct 1992 22:36:06 +0100
In reply to Peter Van Houten:
> In a partial quote of Jim Holmans message, he stated:
> >> If an atheist can pull that off, show respect for other's religious
> >> and show reverence to a higher power (Life, the Cosmos, or whatever they
> >> call it instead of God), and show good scout leadership, more power
> >> to them.
> IN MY OPINION, I have not met an Atheist who can
> honestly say they will let their child decide on his or her religion. We,
> as parents, have very strong ties with our children and it hurts when their
> believes to not mirror ours. Also, IN MY OPNION, I've not met an Atheist
> who can in their own way conform to your statement above. I'm not saying
> that it can't be done, its just that of the Atheists I know and have met
> they have been extremelly set in their non-belief or in even any reference
> to the word God.
I am a member of a scouting organization that does NOT require its
members to be of any faith. This should be read both as any specific
faith and as any faith at all. I am also what you would probably call
an atheist but only use that phrase about myself when discussing with
missionaries at my front door. I do not believe "in a supreme being"
as the requirement is often phrased. I do understand the value of
having a religion and in particular a spiritual life but have not
experienced this myself.
I do not have children, but I can honestly say, that if I had any, I
would let them decide for themselves.
I would also say that I have managed to conform to the statement you
give. I do not unencouraged or unprovoked tell people that I do not
believe in a supreme being. In the very rare case where a scout asks
me about my religion, I answer like an agnostic probably would.
If the asking scout is religious him/herself, then I also add that I
sometimes feel that something is missing in my life. This is also the
I fully subscribe to the part of the Scout Law of the Danish Guide and
Scout Association that requires the scouts to "find their own belief
and respect others'".
As to leadership, I have been an assistant cub scout leader for the
past 8 years; I have been leader for a small explorer/venturer like
unit for little more than half a year. I started in the last position
when 3 scouts stopped as scouts because they did not like the way
things were going in the troop. They told me, that they would start
again, if I would start something for them (and others).
I must admit that I feel that somebody is stepping on my toes when
they want to exclude all atheists from Scouting. I am moving to the
U.S. next week and hope to start scouting there, but I may find myself
excluded from that possibility.
I am not very surprised that you have not met an atheist that was not
extremely set in their (non-)belief. The way atheists are treated in
the American society provokes people to take that attitude. The way
BSA insists on excluding atheists does not make things better; on the
contrary, I would say. A more relaxed attitude on both sides will
probably encourage better mutual understanding in the future.
Kathie, please do not phrase your statement so you paint yourself into
a corner on this issue. You are forcing the atheists to do the same.
Harsh words and very square statements does not help anybody.
Yours in Scouting
email@example.com (Scouting since '75)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City