scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Legislation Against Boy Scout Charter
Rick Seymour (Rick@KUDU.NET
Fri Jul 21 2000 - 22:26:52 CDT
> this came across Scouts-LDS, and I thought
> it might be a good idea to pass it along to the
> members of Scouts-L *snip*
Contrary to what you may hear from Scouts-LDS, legislation to repeal the
Federal Charter is GOOD NEWS for Scouting!
The policies of the BSA reflect the values of the organization's two
largest denominations, the LDS church and (the official Vatican policies
of) the Catholic Church, as well as many different conservative Protestant
religions. I think it is only right that they do!
For too long opponents of the BSA's policies have chased their tails,
wasting valuable time and precious energy trying to CHANGE the BSA rather
than focusing on the obvious problem: the Federal Charter. The Federal
Charter is legislation which grants the BSA a monopoly within the United
States on the words "Scout," "Scouts," and "Scouting," (among other
things). Think of the Federal Charter as a license granting Microsoft the
exclusive right to trademark terms such as "Computer," "Computers" and
"Computing." Other operating systems would be free to compete with
Microsoft but by law it would not be real Computing!
In England, the birthplace of Scouting, there are SIX (count them: 6!)
different Scouting organizations. Each of these groups has its own
interpretation of what constitutes true Scouting.
In the United States we are limited to ONE Scouting organization for boys.
Big Government decides who has the exclusive right to dictate what Scouts
are to believe, as well as who may be a Scout, and who may be excluded from
Scouting because of their beliefs or their lack of belief.
Rather than organizing the general population to support this monopoly, the
LDS church should encourage people to write in FAVOR of doing AWAY with the
Federal Charter so that the awful thorn in their side, that small minority
of us with religious views that will be forever and always incompatible
with those of Salt Lake City, the Vatican, and the 700 Club can simply
leave you in peace to form a union conceived in the religious values of
Unitarians, other liberal denominations, and those like Baden-Powell who's
form of religious worship is simply to CAMP on Sundays!
Most people do not realize that Unitarian children and members of other
liberal groups are not allowed to wear their own religious emblem (the
Religion in Life Award), on their BSA Scout Uniform, despite the fact that
we changed our youth program to meet the demands that the BSA imposed upon
us. Rather than living up to their end of the bargain, the BSA just moved
the goal line again! The BSA's reason is not just the civil rights issue
already stated. The BSA SPECIFICALLY FORBIDS RELIGIOUS DOUBT! (See the
BSA's letter to the UUA and the UUA's reply):
To Unitarians, this attack upon our children is religious intolerance in
its most brutal and ugly form.
For this reason a better analogy to understand the Federal Charter is to
think of the BSA as a "sect" of Scouting. Just as different religions
interpret different testaments in different ways, so do different sects of
Scouting interpret Baden-Powell's writings differently. Indeed,
Baden-Powell saw Scouting itself as a form of religious practice (not the
BSA, but B-P's Scouting). B-P also wrote that camping was a form of
religious worship long before he invented Boy Scouting. Like the more
famous and progressive religious writings of his father, Baden-Powell's
religious views were denounced by the clergy of his day, but they offer an
exciting spiritual opportunity to Unitarians and parents who are highly
distrustful of the methods of traditional religions.
Pseudo-conservatives take great pleasure in reminding us that Baden-Powell
did not start Scouting in the United States, nor was he ever a member of
the BSA. This is certainly true! If you read the first edition of the
Scoutmaster's Handbook, you will see that BSA Scouting was NOT founded on
the Patrol Method (also known as "the ONLY Method") and was outright
hostile to the idea of a Boy-Lead Troop. Before joining a Troop at this
time, each Scout was required to meet with the "Scout Master" (yes, that is
two words) and openly concede that it was the job of the "Scout Master" to
dream up his Troop's game and the rules by which his Troop's game was to be
Baden-Powell's Patrol Method was eventually introduced in a supplement to
the later printings of the 2nd Edition, but Baden-Powell's Spiritual
Methods were NEVER adopted by the BSA and never will be.
In addition, terms which alienate many Unitarian children such as "Morally
Straight" and "Reverent" were imposed upon Scouting in the United States by
the BSA. These controversial terms were never a part of Baden-Powell's
Scout Oath or Scout Law.
Moreover, Baden-Powell's notion of "God" in the Scout Oath was inclusive,
not exclusive as is practiced in America today. B-P had a four-step
program for leading god-less children to a belief in a God, but this was
through indirect means: a GAME, like EVERY aspect of Scouting was designed
The media in this country have it all wrong. Repeal of the Charter is a
conservative issue. True conservatives don't need Big Government to defend
their values in a free marketplace of ideas. True conservatives don't need
Big Government to pick the winners and the losers in the Game of Scouting!
I will be leaving for summer camp tomorrow, so I regret that I will not be
able to participate in what offers to be an interesting debate in this
forum which was founded to discuss ALL youth groups, not just to provide
helpful hints for implementing the BSA Program. I will be interested in
differing viewpoints as I hope to expand these ideas into an article for
the Unitarian WORLD magazine in pursuit of my adult BSA religious award.
I regret that I cannot reply to anyone via Scouts-L.
In the meantime, I invite all Scouts, Scouters and people who care, to send
a letter or email of support to Lynn Woolsey! Her email address is:
I also urge everyone to write or email their Representative or Senator to
voice their pleasure and support for the to repeal the BSA's Federal
Charter. You can contact The U.S. House Of Representatives Member Office
Web Services at:
You can contact Senators of the 106th Congress at
Yours in Scouting,