Archive for July, 2007

A letter to the author (and response)

July 2, 2007

Regarding “Scout Troop Blessings” 

From: Martin Foster Scoutmaster 9th Irene Air Scout Troop.

Here in South Africa Scouting is interdenominational and no one has to demonstrate their allegiance to any particular religion.

In my view each person has three categories of belief.
1. Personal individual beliefs in God, angels, heaven, devils, baptism, or whatever.
2. Social belief – how one interacts socially with others of the same or different religious beliefs or culture.
3. One’s life script – How you live your life. How you treat others. How you react to those with a different view of life then yourself.

It seems you have come to a realization in your life that means much to you. Let others, also, in their time attain their own realizations. 

In Response:

Dear Martin,

In the US, scouting requirements are broader than interdenominational.  Having a denomination assumes that you are Christian.  I know of no other mode in which the term is used.  Scouting, in the US, is open to any person who believes in a “god”.  There are many however who believe this to be too restrictive.  In recent years, our organization was challenged by atheists who wished it to be free of religion.  It was also challenged by homosexuals who wished to be unrestricted morally (actually, I suppose that they would say less restricted).  In both cases, scouting was forced to defend itself in court.  Our defense was, as I understand it, that we were a private organization and as such had a right to determine who our members would be.  You see there must be a line.  There must be rules.  For your organization, you are welcome to place the line and the rules where you will. 

This is how we have set our rules.  Anyone who doesn’t like them is welcome to create their own organization.  Strangely, I don’t see them doing this.  In the US, people that felt that scouting wasn’t conservative enough, started their own organizations.  Girl Scouts now has a more conservative form called American Heritage Girls.  Boy Scouts has a variant called Contenders for the Faith.  (Why do liberals feel that they must hijack our organizations rather than start their own?  Just a rhetorical question.)

But you see this is not where it ends.  When the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said “we have a right to associate as we please they had to admit that every organization had a right to do the same.  You see, the BSA can’t sponsor the thousands of scout troops needed in America.  Other organizations with like goals have to sponsor them.  For that reason, the sponsoring organization has the right to adjust the line and the rules. 

Instead of a line,  lets think of the line and the rules making up two circles.  There is an outer most circle that you may not cross with out breaking out of scouting.  There is an inner most circle that the BSA requires as minimums.  The sponsoring organization must then draw their circle so that it is completely inside the outer one and completely contains the inner one. 

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, To obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

“A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

“As a citizen of the world, I will do my best to – Be clean in my outdoor manners.  Be careful with fire.  Be considerate in the outdoors, and Be conservation-minded.”

These are the basics of BSA scouting.  We won’t go into full detail here of what the minimums are, but you should be able to get the idea!

As a final note, I would like to say the following.  No mater who you are or what you believe, your life influences others.  You can’t help it.  Even attempting to prevent the influence, influences them.  Additionally, youth are sponges.  You can pour almost anything into them.  If you prevented anything from being poured into them, they would be hollow, fragile, and pretty much useless.  In America, we’ve forgotten this.  We’ve been trying to prevent them from receiving direct influence, to quote, “so that they could make up their own minds”.  In the mean time, our youth have become either hollow or dark with ill influences.  Witness the state of our culture.  Today we have children massacring their fellows in school so that they can feel significant. 

I intend to pour in as much light as I can!

Neal Wilhite
Who admires you for supporting Scouting!