Re: Religious Toleration ?
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM)
Fri, 14 Jul 1995 22:22:56 -0400
On Fri, 14 Jul 1995 Kathie Cerveny <kathie@DELTA.EECS.NWU.EDU> said:
>Your COR is very much within his rights, the unit is OWNED by the
>organization (the hardware if you will) and the charter for your troop
>(the software if you will) is the property of BSA, on loan as "...part
>of the chartered organization's youth program...." BSA does NOT
>encourage it, but a protestant (I HATE that, I'd much rather say,
>Episcopal, or Methodist, etc.) church, or a catholic church, or a
>Jewish temple, or a Moslem center, upon becoming a chartered
>organization (signing on for a year's license to use our program), can
>and many do, state, the members of our unit will only be.....
The COR might be within his rights, and it might not really be an issue of
tolerance. I believe that Charles, in this situation, should just behave
reverently and be tolerant of the COR's religious beliefs and prayers, etc.
However, I do think that this is really a question of sensitivity, on the
part of the COR. While people have the right to do many things, they are
not always the right things to do. Personally, I react to the type of
invocation, grace, benediction, etc. that I hear at scouting functions,
even those, like Eagle C/Hs that are single unit events. No matter who the
sponsor is or what his membership restrictions are (and I agree, the
exclusionary policy might be allowed but I find it very distasteful.
Thankfully it is much less prevalent than it used to be) Scouting is a
non-sectarian organization and religious activity is inappropriate. (I'll
deal with that statement in a minute.) Thus, at a Scouting event, even for
the unit in their meeting place, I think it is inappropriate for anyone on
the program to engage in sectarian religious speech. Thus, it bothers me,
for example, when an invocation is ended in Jesus' name, rather than in the
name of God. Usually, I believe this type of conduct results from a lack
of awareness on the part of the speaker. Whoever from Scouting arranged
for him to speak should have set out some guidelines in advance.
Thus when an Eagle Scout asked his Catholic Priest to deliver the
invocation at his Eagle C/H (in a Lutheran Church) it sounded very much
like the beginning of Mass. My guess is that nobody on the planning
committee was specific enough about what would be appropriate. On the
other hand, we have a Catholic Priest in our Council (he is chaplain of the
NE Region Catholic Committee on Scouting) who is always very careful about
the audience and delivers exceptional, inoffensive prayers whenever asked.
Again, I think that we are talking about the speaker being sensitive to the
feelings of the audience, rather than him being intolerant.
Now as to my comment about the place of religious activity in Scouting. I
am fully aware that we have an obligation to provide the opportunity for
our scouts to fulfill their religious obligations while at scouting events
and that this can create the necessity for religious services during
campouts, etc. These, however, are specifically religious activities. If
the group is all one religion it would be appropriate to conduct services
for that faith. If they are of mixed faith then either the group should
split with separate, appropriate services, or there should be an
interfaith, inoffensive service performed for everyone. I do not feel that
a unit that is predominantly of one faith should force members of another
faith to attend services of the one faith.
Just one man's opinion.
Bruce E. Cobern
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City