scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: Re: A Scout is Reverent
Paul S. Wolf (paul.s.wolf@ALUM.WPI.EDU
Fri Feb 11 2000 - 17:08:41 CST
Jim Peterson wrote:
> Well....the "bylaws of the troop" should not conflict with national
> policy OR the Scout Law....which says that we need to be both
> respectful and tolerant of other's beliefs.
That is true.
> >My own home troop (wearing my hat as SA) is chartered to the Knights
> >of Columbus, and housed at St. James [Catholic] Church. The Troop has
> >a brief communion service on Sundays, which is assuredly Catholic in
> And if a Jewish scout joins your troop?....or do you not "welcome" or
> encourage Jewish scouts to join your troop?
BSA promotes Scouting as a way to serve as a method to provide a "youth
ministry" to churches and synagogues. If the unit is chartered to a
church and a Jewish boy joins knowing that the troop will hold communion
every Sunday they camp, he goes in knowingly. He should not of course
be forced to attend, nor made to feel uncomfortable if he makes himself
"scarce" during that period, but the rest of the members of the troop
should be able to do their religious duties as they see fit.
> There should be nothing in any "religious observance" in your troop
> that any scout or scouter, whether a member of your unit or visiting,
> would find offensive or exclusive.
That's true, but it also doesn't mean that all religious activities MUST
I, as an observant Jew, probably wouldn't join a troop at a Catholic
church, since I would assume that my religious needs would not be met,
and I am uncomfortable when communal prayers are made in the name of
Jesus, who is NOT my God. But I also wouldn't demand that they change
their program to meet my needs. OTOH, I wouldn't expect a devout
Catholic to join the troop run by an Orthodox synagogue.
As it happens my troop is sponsored by a synagogue. We have had over the
years, and continue to have at this time, both Jews and non-Jews as
members. We do hold religious services when we camp. Those that wish
to skip them are free and encouraged to do so, but if they want to join
us to observe, they are made welcome. However, we don't change our
service to make it non-sectarian.
Paul S. Wolf, PE mailto:Paul.S.Wolf@alum.wpi.edu
Past President, Great Lakes Region, Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs