Re: Unitarian Universalist Association
Douglas Flewelling (dougf@SPATIAL.MAINE.EDU)
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 13:22:24 -0400
I haven't posted in some time but this issue sucked me back in. ;) I am a
Webelos Leader, Troop Committee member, Eagle Scout, and God and Country
Awards coordinator for my Episcopal Church. It pained me to read the BSA
letter and the UUA response because I foresee this type of conflict
increasing rather than going away.
Anthony Mako said:
>I don't think the intent of the letter was to force the church to stop the
>award. More likely, it was probably intended to inform the church that the
>award would no longer be an AUTHORIZED Scouting award. Yes, the individual
>religious organizations determine the requirements for the awards, and who
>earns it is determined by the organizations local representatives, but the
>BSA decides which awards are authorized to be worn on the uniform.
I also believe that the intent was simply "unauthorize the award for
uniform purposes". However, this intent has possible consequences. Does
this mean that a Webelos Scout can't use the award to satisfy his religious
requirements for the Webelos Badge? Does an Eagle Scout Candidate get to
use his earning of the award as a demonstration of adherence to his
religious beliefs? Does the Universalist or Unitarian Eagle Candidate get
questioned about his beliefs regarding "GOD", "God", or god, and
homosexuals? And if so, what is the right answer in his case? BSA or church.
Which gets us to crux of the problem that brewing here:
><Quote from BSA letter>
>This version of Religion in Life contains several statements which are
>inconsistent with Scouting s values. Boy Scouts is not a secular
>organization as stated in Religion in Life; Boy Scouts is an ecumenical
>organization which requires belief in God and acknowledgement of duty to God
>by its members. The reference to the trouble some Unitarians Universalists
>may have regarding the duty to God inappropriately incorporates doubt in an
>award process that is designed to forge a stronger link between a youth s
>Scouting values and religious life.
It incorporates doubt because doubt exists, but the committee doesn't have
the conviction on the BSA's foolish/brave (you choose) position on God to
state that because of this difference the UUA is an invalid church for good
little scouts to belong. Such a statement would point out the BSA's
inconsistent position on belief in God and would precipitate a PR nightmare
for the BSA. BSA's position on GOD/God/god can't remain at once undefined
and require belief at every level of advancement. Belief in what?
>What the discussion on the list fails to understand is that the purpose of
>the religious award program of the BSA is to help Scouts understand their
>spiritual beliefs in the context of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. "How do my
>religious beliefs fit in with my belief in the Scout Oath and Scout Law."
Some of the beliefs of the National leadership of the BSA and many of its
volunteers are in direct conflict with some of the central beliefs of the
Unitarian Universalist Association. In matters of belief it is often
impossible to compromise and just play nice. Is a scout doing his Duty to
God and being reverent if he can't reconcile the differences between what
his Church teaches and what the BSA policies state?
I believe it is very appropriate for a religious body to call attention to
differences between its beliefs and those of other organizations, otherwise
the church is perpetuating a hypocrisy.
I don't want to get into a 3Gs debate over this issue, but as a scout
leader with several non-Christian scouts and even a few non-mainstream
church members how am I supposed to judge their piety? Should I even be
placed in that position?
Must each Eagle Scout candidate show perfect performance in each of the 12
points of the Scout Law? How do we define Clean? Do we check the
candidate's toenails and underwear? Do we require the boy to run around the
examination room endlessly to test his obedience? Why to we test his
bravery and reverence by asking him whether he believes in God? I seriously
doubt that any teenager has examined his faith in his religion in light of
all challenges and contradictions to undoubtedly BELIEVE in God. He is
instead on a path to believing in god that will take many years if not a
lifetime. This true belief in god can be reached through the teachings of
the Unitarian Universalist Association as easily as any other religious
It is not the place of the BSA to stand judge of any faith and it should do
what is need to mend the breach between BSA and UUA.
WL Pack 301, MC Troop 301, Bangor, Maine
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City