I Believe

Yesterday I received an email from a fellow named Thom in PA.  I won’t post his email here, but the jest of it was that he challenged the idea that the Boy Scouts of America should be inclusive of all religion.  His argument is that the Boy Scouts started as a Christian organization sighting the writings of Baden Powell on the subject.  He said that what I talked about in Show # 83 about accepting all is not accurate and that Christianity is the only “True” religion.
While I do not want to engage in a debate on religion, I did think it necessary to state where I stand in this issue.. and possibly reinforce the BSA’s stand on religion.
BSA first.
“The Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America maintain that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God. Scouting is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. The Boy Scouts of America does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion. Membership in a religious organization is not required.
Scouting respects the convictions of those who exercise their constitutional freedom to practice religion as individuals without formal membership in organized religious groups. In all cases religious instruction is the responsibility of the parents or guardians of the Scout and the religious institution to which a Scout belongs. It is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America that the religious organization or institution with which a Scout is connected shall give definitive attention to his religious life.”
We as Scout leaders are to encourage a Scout to explore their faith and recognize their duty to God.  The Scout pledges a “Duty to God” in the Oath, but does not define who or what that God is.  That is up to the individual Scout and his family.
OK, now here is my take.
First of all.. I believe in One God, I believe in his son Jesus Christ who was born of the virgin Mary.  I believe that he was delivered by the Father to take away the sins of the world.  I believe that he was crucified, he died, he was buried, and that he rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge us.  I believe that a church house is not the only place to find and talk to God.  I believe that God has many names, but he is still God.  You may call him God, or Allah,Yahweh, Brahman, Bhagavan, Waheguru, you can call him Tian Zhu, or Shangdi, I don’t care.. he is still God and will answer (in his time) when you call.
I believe that God gave us free will and what we do with that will determine our final destiny.  I do believe in heaven and hell and that when you do whats right you end up in heaven.  I believe in forgiveness and Karma and that both are healthy and both can hurt.  I believe that the Boy Scouts teach young men (and women) to always do whats right.
I believe that no matter what church you call your own, that they all teach basically the same thing and that is the Golden Rule.   “Do unto others as you would have done to you”.  Treat others with compassion, respect, dignity, and love.  I think that the twelve points of the Scout law lead you to the Golden Rule.  Is it a wonder that Reverent is last then?
I don’t think you need religion to teach you that, but since it is there, why not learn from it.
I believe that there are bad people in the world that do bad things, some of them are preachers, teachers, and youth leaders.  Some are politicians and businessmen, all of them excercise that free will that we have been given and all of them will be introduced to karma and will be judged in the end.
I believe that a mans character is precious and should be safeguarded.  It can be given away and never gotten back, but the way to maintain that character is by doing the right thing.. always.  That is what I believe.
I believe that getting out in the wilderness brings me closer to my God.  I know that I have had better talks with him there than in any church.  I am Catholic, and believe what I have learned in the church, but I know that the Church is governed by man.. and that can be a problem sometimes.  I think the church as an institution try to do good things and bring people closer to God, some times it does not seem that way, but the true test is that she has remained for over 2000 years, so something must be right.
I believe that God is who YOU want him, her, or what ever to be.  It is many trails that lead to the same location.
The bottom line Thom in PA… Who are you to judge?  Who are you to tell a young boy that he can not be a Boy Scout because he calls God Allah?  Who are you to exclude a young man because he does not go to your church or he does not prescribe to Christianity?  Who are you to say that the Bible is the only Holy Book?  The Torah had been around long before the Bible.  And what about that Golden Rule?  They have found documentation referring to it dating 1600 years before Christ in Ancient Egypt.
I guess what I am saying is that we are not the ones that need to be defining who God is and what God is.  We all believe, and it is up to the individual to decide what that is.
The BSA does not define God, nor should they.  We have the Oath and the Law and the free will to practice what we preach in that regard.. and you know what.  It all leads to GOOD, and in God’s eyes.. that’s ok.
He told me so.

Have a Blessed Easter everyone.. and a Great Scouting Day!

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Categories: blog, Character, Ideals, Oath and Law, respect, Scout Law, Values | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “I Believe

  1. The World Organization of the Scouting Movement has thought long and hard about including the spiritual traditions of all member Scout organizations, including those from the former Soviet Union, where atheism is the norm.

    I really like their consensus statement of what Duty to God means:

    “Acquiring a deeper knowledge and understanding of the spiritual heritage of one’s own community, discovering the Spiritual Reality which gives meaning to life and drawing conclusions for one’s daily life, whilst respecting the spiritual choices of others.”

    And, happy Easter! Alleluia!

  2. Andy Mullaly

    I’ve commented on this before on other blogs, but think its important enough to touch on again. I think that the BSA should be more inclusive. I like the WOSM approach and think that requiring scouts to investigate faith and religion (whether their own or one that interests them) should be the true meaning of “A Scout is reverent.”

    Being reverent should mean that you acknowledge and appreciate your own religion and any others you come in contact with. This doesn’t mean you have to follow them, but acknowledge the other person’s faith and appreciate their efforts to commune with a higher power.

    There are to many members of BSA who feel that Christianity is the only way a scout can be reverent and try to impose their beliefs on a greater whole. When those opinions are given airplay to the greater community it makes appear to be less inclusive and I think does a disservice to the organization as a whole.

    I feel that scouting has a lot to offer America’s youth and will continue to encourage inclusion at all levels of scouting.

    Andy Mullaly
    ACM, Webelos I den leader Pack 391
    ASM, Troop 362
    El Cajon, CA

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