Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: Re: Reference to Questions about Wicca
Re: Reference to Questions about Wicca
Tue, 7 Sep 1999 11:00:34 CDT
More discussion here than there were over at rec.scouting.usa about this issue!
It's a good question, one in which I've been fielding for the past three
months (and the reason why I didn't immediately respond to the question
posted was because I've somehow lost and am in the process of having it all
"reforwarded" mail which I brought back with me from Honduras on a ZIP
disk....I feared that I had lost it all!!)
The basic question is "What religious or religious societies do the BSA
But even that's the not REAL question. The REAL question is "Can Wiccans be
Scouts and still adhere to the BSA's principles dealing with religion?"
Okay. First, let's look at what the BSA "requires" as far as "religious
education" is concerned. Without retyping the entire Declaration of
Religious Principles, here's what the BSA basically says:
*In order to be the best kind of Scout or Scouter, one must believe in
SOMETHING or SOMEONE greater or higher than themselves, their family or
mankind. This can be a organized "faith", a personal set of beliefs, a
specific "deity" or any combination of the above. The key is that it (they)
must be GREATER or HIGHER than themselves, and that they as an individual
holds this belief as a religious rather than social belief.
*The BSA will NOT dictate WHICH beliefs, religions or faiths that Scouts
should or must believe in. Those things are left best to the PARENTS or
GUARDIANS of that Scouts and to the RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND OBSERVERS of that
Scouter and/or his family. The BSA WILL however, exercise it's option to
authorize certain badges, medals and insignia upon their uniforms in
accordance with the wishes of the BSA's National Executive Board and
*The BSA mandates that ALL chartering organizations using the BSA's
programming be OPEN to all youth regardless of faith, religion or belief and
requests that chartering bodies be aware of the need for all youth and adult
members to worship and attend services or ceremonies appropriate to their
faith and belief during Scouting activities and events.
That's what the Declaration of Religious Principles says and that's what the
BSA over the years has supported and stood by. It is embodied in the BSA's
Scout Law point of Reverence: "A Scout is faithful to his religious duties
and recognizes and respect the beliefs of others."
Is Wicca a "recognized religion" by the BSA?? No, there are no Wiccans
serving on the BSA's Religious Relationships Committee, if that what is
meant by "recognized." The BSA has not permitted the Hart and Crescent
religious emblem to be worn by Boy Scouts of the Wiccan faith on their
uniforms, although those Scouts earning the award MAY wear the universal
religious emblem square knot emblem (since it represents ANY youth religious
emblem and not just those "approved for wear" by the BSA). But the BSA
isn't in the business of "recognizing" ANY religious organization, faith or
belief; they are in the business of developing practical citizenship,
enhancing and developing personal character and enhancing and developing
personal fitness. That's it.
(for the record, the Cross and Shield Award given by the Church of the
Creator to youth members isn't recognized either!)
So will the BSA "refuse to award" an Eagle Scout badge because a Scout has a
belief which is "outside the norm?" Let's look back at the basic
Does the Scout believe in SOMETHING or SOMEONE higher or more important them
himself; and further, does he provide some degree of reverence to that faith
If so, then there's no question about it: the Scout is holding up to the
ideals of Scouting as embodied in the Scout Law Point of Reverent and should
be awarded the Eagle (or any other advancement award).
If the Scout does NOT profess a faith or belief in ANYTHING or ANYONE, then
"he cannot be the best kind of citizen he can" and therefore the BSA says
that they cannot approve advancement based on that "failure to adhearing the
Questions at the Eagle Scout Board of Review level should center on "How has
you used your faith to support your Scouting activities" and "Why do you
feel it's important that Scouting asks of its youth to have a religious
belief?" No comment or discussion on a specific religion is
appropriate...its his SCOUTING actions that the Board members are
evaluating, NOT his RELIGIOUS actions!
"Is Wicca consistant with the ideals of Scouting?" I don't know for a fact.
Everything I've read, that others have sent to me, and from other religious
leaders I've contacted all says that it's a religion. It has a set of moral
standards, a basis for religious beliefs, and ceremonies and rites which
meet the basic definition of a religion. Charismatic Christian churches and
assemblies also meet those basic definitions as well, and we "look to them"
as "consistant with the ideals of Scouting," so TO ME, Wicca should be
looked at in the same vein as other "liberal church organizations and
Unlike, for instance, the Church of the Creator, which espouses religious
and racial separation and purity, which while may be surrounded in religious
statement, do not support the BSA's "membership and equality for all"
principles and policies.
"What about what I've heard about Wicca?" What have *I* heard about some
"faith-based ministeries" based upon the personal philosophy of it's
leadership? They are still faith-based, and they are considered religious
organizations, no matter who's the "leader" or "head" of the organization or
their views. So, if we establish that the Church of the Creator, the "Black
Muslims", and the Reverent Robert Schuller's church are all "religions,"
then we MUST consider Wicca as such as well.
No matter what WE feel about it, what WE have heard about it, and what has
been TOLD us, the fact remains that there are some people whom are devoted
and faithful followers of those groups, and it's up to THEM and THEIR
CREATOR, MAKER or DEITY to pass judgement upon them or us or anyone else.
"I wouldn't want one of those in MY Troop or Pack!" Why not? Tolerance for
all is a cornerstone of what Scouting is all about. If you are truly
faithful to your religious duties, most all faiths require you to be
tolerant of others and at the same time to let your personal behavior shine
as a beacon toward your beliefs and feelings toward your faith. So
what...some kid believes in something you're not confortable with. You can
refuse to be around that person, or you can confront that person (hopefully
his parents instead of the kid, please!) and let them know of your PERSONAL
concerns. At the same time, you and I have a job to do: to (once again)
develop practical citizenship, enhance and develop personal character and
enhance and develop personal fitness. That's it. We don't pass judgements
but we allow ourselves to be used as personal examples of those three Aims
Remember: A Scout is Reverent. "A Scout is faithful to his religious duties
and recognizes and respect the beliefs of others." It doesn't mean that you
have to APPROVE or OBSERVE or even AGREE WITH the other's faith.
It simply means that as you wish for others to respect your view and beliefs
when you pray or do the Sign of the Cross or kneel in the direction of
Mecca....you respect their wishes to go into nature and worship the Goddess
Hope this helps in the conversation; a copy of the BSA's Declaration of
Religious Principles has been on my Leaders' Online (tm) site for some time;
the URL is
For clarification on how YOUR Council will view Wiccan membership as part of
the BSA, I urge you to make an appointment to meet with your Council Scout
Executive and get his or her views.
(standard disclaimer applies here, gang...and it's GREAT to be back with all
of you here at Scouts-L! and at Embers!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
personal inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org,
blackeagle@SCOUTER.net or email@example.com
professional inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org
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