Re: religious responsibilities (*long posting*)
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Sat, 8 Nov 1997 18:08:16 -0600
*****This is a LONG POSTING.*****
Hi Alan and everyone! It's been almost a *week* since I've last posted,
and in going through all of the email I've received, this one screamed out
"please answer me so that we can go FORWARD!", so I'm answering it.
Please note, Alan, this is one of those *few issues* that collectively all
of us here don't have very much input on or can come to a "mutually
sastifactory conclusion" with; therefore, we (those of us that first started
this forum out many, many moons ago) decided that we wouldn't discuss this
matter here on Scouts-L. So why I am answering this (and possibly making
this string go longer)???
First, to remind everyone of what was stated in the WELCOME posting about
this matter (and it's siblings, those related discussions dealing with girls
in Boy Scouting and gaybiles (gay men, bisexual men and women, and lesbians)
serving as registered Scouting leaders). We simply have very little
"agreement" on those issues, they "burn" and most Scouters have their own
point-of-perspective which can basically turn Scouts-L into "ethics-l" or
"court-challenges-L" which isn't the idea of our list.
Second, to reaffirm to those that feel that such discussions belong here
that our "ban" on such discussions was made by *our listowner* (Jon Eidson,
whom has the last and final say on whether or not those discussions are
allowed, no matter *whom* starts them!!) . He says that they don't, and so
we don't talk much about it. This is NOT a "slam" against anyone's freedom
of speech....because there IS a USENET Newsgroup devoted to discussion of
this topic (and related ones)...it's called "rec.scouting.issues". Take it
there, where you'll find Scouters of *all sides* ready to discuss and
support their points-of -view.
Finally, to answer Alan's specific questions, which are:
>How is it that an aethist can progress to even the Tenderfoot Scout, much
less >Eagle Scout rank given the written definitions of the requirements above?
Alan, the BSA basically has stated through the Declaration of Religious
Principles, that "every Scout or Scouter, in order to be the best person and
the best Scout or Scouter possible, must believe in *something higher than
themselves* ". This is a paraphase of the big 'o paragragh that appears on
the adult application. Their mistake, if you want to call it that, is in
mentioning "God" specifically. However, the history of the BSA has been one
of tolerance for a lot of different kids and different faiths (or in this
case, a lack of a specific faith). This is what the BSA has been "hanging
it's hat on" for the last 80 years or so, and in looking closely at what
this specific court case revealed, that's what the BSA -- and the Court
--agreed upon in deciding that those two Scouts can indeed continue their
trek toward Eagle.
It doesn't matter, Alan, as I've wrote in response to someone else many
years ago, if that "god" that the Scout or Scouter deems "higher than him or
herself" is a Protestant God, a Catholic God, a Buddist God, or the tree
god. Nor does it matter that this faith has an "established church", a
storefront, or if the Scout considers Jim Jones "god". What matters to the
BSA, is that the Scout finds a religious element to his or her life through
the upbringings of his or her family, his or her community and peers. The
BSA started out in a part, Alan, as part of a religious group (many of the
first BSA units were chartered to the Young Mens' Christian Association, and
those first YMCAs' boards formed many of the first local Councils), so the
connection between "established churches" and "God" was formed early. It's
not going away.
>An aethist does not have a love toward God. An aethist does not worship
>God. An aethist does not serve God. An aethist fails three out of the
four >written religious responsibilities needed to earn any rank.
I don't follow here, Alan, at all. The BSA has *never stated* that a Scout
must *serve* God; the Scout Oath states "...I will do my best to do my duty
to God and my country..." "Duty to God" can be defined in many ways and in
different forms, depending on the faith (or lack thereof) involved. I will
submit to you, however, that the better Scouts "perform their duties" to
their faith and leans upon their faith several times during the Scouting
process....it is integrated into such simple things as saying grace before
meals, in treating others the way you wish to be treated, in performing
services and helping others. It is ingrained in such deeper things as
citizenship (being part of a religious group is a subset of belonging to a
community and a nation), character (letting your concious, which in a large
part comes from those religious and family "lessons" and teachings) and
personal fitness (keeping your body strong takes aviodance from legal and
illegal substances, chemicals, and in some faiths, foods, which while may be
"good to consume", can be dangerous to the soul and personal health of the
The Scout Law, Alan, states that "a Scout is faithful in his religious
duties and respects those with religions or beliefs different from his own"
under the Reverant point. As I've stated before here and on a website
under this point of the Scout Law, the BSA wants to remind Scouts that
there are some things that cannot be easily explained by physical law or
"science". That those things come from *somewhere* or *someone* and that
*body* should be respected and admired and held up as "Creator" or "Starter"
of what we see around us. My faith in my God is different from my
Godsister's, different from my wife's. Each Scout and Scouter comes to our
units and to the program with a wide background in how they came to their
faith, how they have used their faith, and what elements of that faith is
important to them. In those two Scouts' cases, none of the elements of
their "faith" is important to them....but they must "believe in something or
someone higher or more important than themselves" or else the BSA -- the
local Council -- would have never taken them as Scouts.
>If the court allows the aethists to earn rank despite the clearly written
>religious responsibilities, does it open the door for aethists to earn
>other awards that also have religious requirements, such as the God and
No, it doesn't. In order to earn, to take your example, the God and Country
Award, a Scout *must profess* to believing in the Trinity, in how God
created the Earth and Universe, to his Son Jesus Christ, whom was born to a
virgin, lived among us, was betrayed, tried, crucified, and died on a cross
for our sins, whom now sits at God's right-hand side and whom if others
believed in Him, will have everlasting life. (I've left out some here, but
you get the idea, right?) A athest must either confess and become a
Christian in this process, something we hope would happen; or abandon
working on such an award because he would not be able to meet the religious
experience part of earning it!!
(sorry to sound like a religious tract, gang! *smiling*)
>I personally know many aethists. They are good people that you would not
>know were aethists by their social behavior, though they would not join the
>BSA for the same reasons they do not join a church... religious
associations >and implications.)
I know a few, and stay in touch with several over my years online, Alan. I
agree with you on the characterization....but I would go a little farther.
In my dealings, I've found that many want to be parts of established
organizations and groups like Scouting and local churches because that's
where "communities" exist...and they want to be inclusive with everyone
else. There's a couple that I stay in touch with, have known them for
several years when we lived in Greenwood, Kentucky (Bowling Green for you,
Jessi *grinning*). They are great to be around, super people. But they
*chose* not to have any faith because "faith has let us down and we don't
want to go down that road again". They revel in the fact that although our
lives hasn't been "on the upward trail" over the years, that we first and
formost accept them as individuals, with their own lives to live. Of
course, we do pray for them too, and we do constantly invite them to be a
part of our religious lives. We don't "shut them out" nor should we, for if
we are supposed to "practice what we believe", we let our faith do the
"convincing" for them and anyone else.
That's the same thing that the BSA is teaching boys that join Scouting by
their association with adults from different backgrounds and faiths. The
BSA is saying "hey, look at these people and see how they live. They
believe in different things, go to different churches, but they all believe
in something or someone higher or more important than themselves."
>The spiritual responsibilities of a Boy Scout is very clearly defined in
the Boy >Scout Handbook, and the aethists were extremely dishonest and
technically >never did the religious requirements for their ranks despite
the "rubber >stamping" of their troop leaders and committee. The National
Board rightfully >did their job in maintaining the standard of the Eagle
Scout rank in the denial of >the rank.
And *my opinion* is the same as the BSA's, Alan. However, the *court's
opinion* is that if you're going to use the same standards for everyone
else, the "belief in something or someone higher than yourself" standard,
then you have to apply it *equally* to those that choose to believe in
*something else* other than the standard "God".
>....the handbook I had as a Scout said "A Scout's honor is to be trusted.
If he >was to violate his honor by telling a lie or by cheating or by not
doing exactly a >given task when trusted on his honor, he may be directed to
hand over his >Scout badge" and I was told that could happen even though he
may be an >Eagle Scout. Imagine that... a Boy Scout having to turn over his
Eagle Scout >badge because he was caught not being Trustworthy!!!
The only problem with that line, Alan, and the reason why it doesn't appear
in more current Boy Scout Handbooks, is the *application* of that rule. To
whom does he hand over his Eagle Scout badge to today?? The Scoutmaster,
whom lies about his or her inability to wear the Scouter's uniform? The
Troop Committee Chair, whom misleads others on the Committee in thinking
that his son is ready for Eagle by "passing him" off on several merit badges
merely by "we've done that before"?? To the local Council, who may have
*other motivations* for the decisions that they make??
Back when we had more control over whom were Scouters and when our
communities held them up to a higher standard (similar to teachers and
religious leaders), we did that. Today, when even our national magazines
state that many of us cheat on our taxes, take home office supplies and
"fudge" on our expense accounts....we can't expect a 14 year-old Eagle Scout
to hand over his badge to us when we can't even keep our own obligations!
>the "New Age" philosophy of living seems to not fit either. How would you
>handle a boy wanting to join the BSA who is into the New Age philosophy
that >everyone is a God that obtains powers through the crystal-power
mysticism >and numerology worship? They as a group are good people socailly
like the >aethists, their idol worship is not Satanic, and they have a
belief in God (they >are their individual own God).
Does the Scout "believe in something or someone higher or more important
than himself"??? Yes.
Does the Scout "practices his beliefs and integrates them into the Scout
Oath and Law??? Yes, he may.
Then, the BSA shouldn't have any problems with that at all..... and neither
should we as Scouters. (As believers in our own faiths, that's *another
story* and something for *another forum other than this one*)
No person is perfect.....we all try and do the very best we can, ask our
Saviors for forgiveness and pray that we do better in the future. No Scout
is perfect. Scouting is a game about prepardness for life itself...a life
in which Scouts will have to deal with those with religious beliefs and
feelings different than his own. A life in which he will have to *draw
upon* some form of faith or religious upbringing or thought or something
when he finds himself on a cold, dark trail without a flashlight or match.
That's where those priniciples of "believing in something or someone higher
or more important than ones self" comes into play. You won't find it in a
BSA manual, Alan. You won't find it in a memo from the National BSA
professional leadership. It's one of those simple things that I refer to
as "common Scouters' Sense" that each Scout, each Scouter should follow in
order to be the best example to his or her peers and the best example to
those outside of the BSA.
With that, I will entertain any and all comments *privately* to me at one of
the email addresses below and because I was one of those that agreed that
such conversations be limited, I won't post a followup here on Scouts-L.
Sorry for the long posting and long reply....and my personal apologies to
those that I've slighted by what some may call "preaching". I didn't intend
to do so, but I don't hide my faith either...
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 email@example.com
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City