scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: To Do My Duty - long
Robert Riley (Robert_Riley@TAX.STATE.NY.US
Wed Nov 24 1999 - 11:45:47 CST
Hi Ed and the rest of the list,
At the risk of getting into one of the G's issues....
Ed said, "The Scout Law requires that a Scout shall truly
and sincerely practice his religion."
---> I've read alot of books and manuals and do not find that
"requirement" anywhere. I have never heard that "requirement"
mentioned in any training that I have attended. All I can
find mentioned is a scout's "Duty to God". That is, a "Scout's "
duty to God. Not his leader's idea of what the scout's duty to
God should be. Can you point me to the book or manual where
this requirement is?
I have not heard of ANY training that BSA offers in which we
are trained how to judge a scout's sincerity or the manner in
which he "practices" his religion. Which training class is
While I appreciate and respect where Ed's heart is with his post
I disagree with the flavor of it. A scout's "Duty to God" is indeed
very important to his development. You will get no arguement
from me on that. However, WE should NOT be teaching/preaching
religion. We are not trained for that. Once you get into that
quagmire you invite (and give permission to) adults who wish
to force their own religious agenda on these innocent boys. Parents
and families are responsible for the particulars of their family's
religious practices. Not us.
That is not what Scouting is all about.
I, personally, feel that a child's academic education is extremely
important to his success in life and development into an adult.
I encourage our Cub Scouts to participate in various literacy book
report contests to try to give their interest in reading a boost.
I do not dictate to them "what" to read. While I am a trained
adult volunteer for Literacy Volunteers of America it is not
my place to teach reading in our cub scouting program. And,
although I think that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for
young people in reaching their potential can be traced back to
a disinterest in reading and consequently to a lower level
of reading skills, I do not think we should be teaching reading
or math or grammar or trigonometry in Scouting.
That is what schools are for. That is what teachers are trained to do.
Similarly, while religion too is very important to a boy's development
Scouting, by definition, is not in the business of "teaching or
That is what churches and synogogues and temples and the like are for.
That is what priests and deacons and rabbis and the like are trained for.
Baden-Powell did not come up with the dream of Scouting because attendance
at his local church was down.
<<"Is the Good Turn ...undertaken from a
religious motive or a secular one?">>
---> Why does it matter? It's not enough to help an old lady across
the street because you he doesn't want her to be killed? It's not
enough to return a found wallet, with its contents intact, because it
belongs to someone else? Is it necessary that these good deeds be done
with a little black book in his hands too?
<<Try to bring boys into contact with the best that is in life, and at
the same time, protect the boys from unnecessary temptation and contact
---> I have never seen the word "evil" in any BSA syllabus. It's
interesting how this word is always followed by a sermon. Could it
be that this word is used to incite our emotions?
<<Use camping, woodcraft, and nature - and the out of doors generally -
as a lead to an understanding of the wonders of the Creator.>>
---> Whose Creator? Yours or the boy's? This is Scouting. This is not
a church sponsored outdoor field trip. These boys do not need to be
"bombarded" with proverbs everytime they appreciate a bird or tree or
river. Does this mean that I should find a sermon for the correct
use of a hammer? For the correct knots to use when erecting a tarp?
<<Be prepared and willing to discuss with Scouts their attitude and
problems in relation to God.>>
---> This is our job? Why, have you been trained to do this? Why turn
everything into a sermon? Can't we instruct the boy that he shouldn't
make fun of another because it hurts their feelings? Do you recite
passages from the Bible (which, by the way, is NOT every religion's
instruction manual) everytime you talk to a young scout?
I see adults dragging young children (cub scout age) with them going
door to door trying to recruit new members by telling people that
they won't be saved if they don't join their cult. If you give leaders
permission to preach religion to scouts these cults could be scaring
my children under the guise of being scout leader. If I ever heard
of that happening in my unit there would be one conversation only.
A second occurrance would start procedures to relieve that leader
of his or her responsibilities and priviledges in our unit.
I have seen the term "non denominational" mentioned more than once
in various manuals. I'm curious what this means to other leaders.
We are not in the business of teaching religion. We are in the business
of teaching what BSA instructs us to teach. If there is a training class
for it then we can teach it. To date I have heard of no BSA approved
training class on religion. If there is one I would love to be informed
of how I may educate myself to be a better leader by taking it.
<<Where it is appropriate to use prayers at troop meetings and in camp,
carefully chose prayers that are capable of being understood by boys.>>
---> I would add, " and would be acceptable by all religions."
<<Bring into the life of the troop such men (Scouters and others) who are
genuinely religious and who, by their actions and presence, will draw a
response from the boys.>>
---> Who will judge their "genuiness"?
<<"... show a boy how to enjoy his religion".
---> This too is in one of our manuals?
<<"Tolerance does not mean weakness or weakening of your own faith,
for it says in affect "This is what I believe, but I respect your right to
believe something different." That is not the same as tolerating the right
to be spiritually lazy or to believe in nothing."
---> Being spiritual is not enough? Now he has to be so high on your
active-scale? We teach our Webelos how to make a fire. Is one fire better
than another because it's builder took half an hour to make it while his
neighbor took only 5 minutes?
I mean no offense here. I do mean to direct my annoyance at those who think
that being a leader in Scouting gives them carte blanche to preach to
my children and all the others their interpretation of what "being
That has never been what Scouting is all about.
In Cub Scouts we teach the boys that they have a Duty to God. It is 100%
up to them how they fulfill that duty.