Boy Scouts’ Compromise Happened Long Ago. (LINK)
Repost of an article (from a year ago) by another thoughtful blogger that was pivotal in changing the way I looked at BSA. It’s not about membership issues for me — now or a year ago. It’s much deeper than that.
From that post:
…the root cause is much deeper. At some point in their history the Scouts decided to make who God is a local decision. When my sons and I were involved in Scouts several years back, I attended leadership training on the religious achievements portion of the Cub Scout handbook. Though held at an ostensibly Christian church, the training made it clear god could be whoever the boys and their families thought he, she or it was. The god of Scouting is much like the god of Alcoholics Anonymous, a “higher power” that is whatever one wants it to be. Sure, you have to believe in god to be a Scout, you just don’t have to be too specific about it.
This brings us to the basis for morals. How can an organization that will not take a stand on the identity of God be expected to take a stand on specific moral issues? There is a direct connection between the law and the Law Giver. If you’re not really sure who the Law Giver is, how can you be sure whether [any] specific behavior is “morally straight” or not?
Further accentuating this point is a posting on http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/html/bsa-god_policy.html which includes a BSA memo dated June 7, 1991 which states:
Q. Some people maintain that God is a tree, a rock or a stream. Would a person believing such be eligible to be a member of Scouting?
The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion. The Scout Oath states a requirement for a Scout to observe a duty to God, and the Scout Law requires a Scout to be reverent. Again, interpretation is the responsibility of the Scout, his parents and religious leaders. [So as far as BSA cares, “god” can be a rock, tree, or stream]
Knowing this about BSA, why did I think I had the right to dictate to a ‘National Organization’ my solitary view of who God is? Well, my duty to God (as defined in my Bible) says that I have an obligation to evangelize. On the other hand, BSA clearly (by their own “declaration of religious principles” document) doesn’t care about my opinion being more or less “right” than any other scouter (everyone’s dues money spends the same way), and they don’t want to be convinced one way or the other (i.e. rock, tree, stream, creator of the universe, what’s the difference?).
As a Christian father of sons, called by many verses in scripture to raise them in the Word of God (Dt 4:10, Dt 6:1-9, Dt 11:19, Ps 78:4-6, Ps 127:3-5, Pr 22:6, Eph 6:4, Col. 3:21, Heb 12:9-10, et.al.), how can I reconcile BSA’s worldview and a genuine Christian worldview? Short answer = “I can’t.”
BSA’s objective to build men of “moral” character falls short of my Lord’s stated goal to raise men who’ve been redeemed (Romans 10:9-10), walk in sanctification, imitate Christ and obey the Word. Some would argue that it was never BSA’s job to fulfill my faith obligation, and I’d agree, but if that’s true, why align myself with BSA instead of an organization who’s goals and objectives are closer to (and distinctively support) my own?
Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (KJV) — Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord [there is only one true God]: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
This realization that BSA’s and my own goals were divergent and incompatible got me off my “BSA-is-wonderful” center and got me to look much more closely at organizations which offer BSA methods and processes for leadership development, self-reliance, etc but with a distinctively Christian worldview.
There are MANY very vibrant and enthusiastic outdoor youth programs which have strong parallels to scouting (in terms of the good methods of imparting responsibility, organizational skills, communication, self-direction, leadership, etc.) which also celebrate your family’s faith practice without compromise or inappropriate pluralism (or “indifferentism” as a new term I’ve learned)
If you’ve landed at this page looking for alternatives, there are many. For my family, we had leaned towards Christian Service Brigade, but then swerved towards Trail Life USA for various reasons. Is one better than the other? No, they’re simply different. Is there one that’s best? Yes, but only from your family’s perspective — not because they topped out a “list” or got more positive reviews than any other. You must find your best fit for your faith practice.
- Trail Life USA,
- Christian Service Brigade,
- Catholic Troops of St. George,
- Federation of North American Explorers,
- National Conference of Synagogue Youth
- Pioneer Clubs,
- TBE Youth Programs,
- Royal Rangers,
- B’nai B’rith Youth Organization,
- Calvinist Cadet Corps,
- Royal Ambassadors,
- Pathfinders USA, et.al.
Verses about choosing carefully how you align your goals with organizational goals:
- 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV — “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”
- 1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV — “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” (sounds harsh, but it’s really just an old way of saying “garbage in = garbage out”, right? Do you want another set of adults or teens “reprogramming” your child to think like the world when you’re investing your time teaching him to think eternally?)
- 2 John 1:7-11 ESV — “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (see comment above — if your son isn’t learning the truth about God, what’s he learning about when it comes to understanding faith, duty to God, reverence, etc.?)
- 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 ESV — “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
- Matthew 6:21 ESV — “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Please note, these verses do not say “hunker down in a bomb shelter and withdraw from all contact with non-Christians” and that’s not the point of the article.
See https://troop113.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/holy-huddles-batman/ if you think this is a one sided argument — it’s not.
We adults have a responsibility to our own children, and to mentor, witness, etc. to others as well. That mission can be accomplished in a faith-specific organization more effectively than within scouting, too. While scouting explicitly PROHIBITS proselytizing/evangelistic outreach, faith-specific organizations (much like your neighborhood Vacation Bible School/Vacation Bible Club programs) are focused on reaching out to families!