Recently did the diversity training and I am uncertain if Duty to God is now optional? The requirement was never sectarian and allowed for a very broad interpretation which always seemed appropriate. Now with the way diversity and inclusion is presented along with the recent changes in leadership standards and without any recent statement from the Leadership of the BSA it would appear that much as the leadership standard is left up to the chartered partners that the manner that we would approach the Duty to God aspect would go that route too? Any clarification?
I’m not sure what you’re seeing that gave you that impression. I took the new DEI training shortly after it came out, and don’t recall anything that gave me the impression that there were any changes that impacted advancement or the scope of the Scout Oath or Law.
Can you be more specific as to what stimulated your question?
I didn’t get that impression. In fact, I got the opposite in that we need to make sure that people of all faiths need to be respected and supported.
I seriously doubt that BSA has connected those dots.
riddle me this Batman - how does the BSA claim Diversity and Inclusion when by design it excludes a large swath of the population. That is hardly diverse and inclusive
@Bill_W - if only we could get rid of that singular bit of stupidity and move on past magical thinking. This is 2021 after all.
Mr. Hornak’s anti-religious stance comes up frequently on threads that have religious context. Disparaging those of faith seems to violate some principles our organization espouses. The belief that the BSA should be welcoming to those of polytheistic or non-Abrahamic beliefs does not require belittling those those beliefs.
Whether the BSA should remove the religious declaration and allow atheistic or agnostic membership is an interesting topic. The big unknown is how that will affect the continued support of the long time supporting organizations. However, in the current environment, those relationships are ending. It may be that those organizations are not as important as they once were.
Are the individual families that join scouting aware that it exists? Are there families that join because of it? Or that don’t because of it? Would dropping it result in a significant change in membership or support either way? I don’t know.
However, dropping the religious faith requirement and adopting religiously hostile language are two very different things. Surely it is possible for those who wish to see this requirement end to not offend those those who prefer it continue.
@DavidFreeborn - I would agree that my stance takes on a hostile tone. But when one examines the Declaration of Religious principle in its wording alone it really is muddy. Then look at the religious awards that are allow for faith practices that have no or non-specific deity then it is even more confusing. I do appreciate and understand your concerns and desire for it to continue. But when you bring all of that together and claim diversity and inclusion they really do not seem to equate at least in my understanding. It is my hope that scouting can indeed be for all, not just some.
So i apologize but if it prompts people to at least discuss the topic then all the better.
@DavidFreeborn - here is something that I can work with from out neighbors to the north:
Personally I’m not married to having the declaration. I think the BSA can and should open the definition of God to be widely interpreted to allow for all flavors of belief, and that is frankly what we (small we as in my unit) do and we (again just my group) on the council religious relationships committee did when I was the chair. We made contact with the local Covenant of the Goddess (Wiccan) group to identify a local counselor for their awards. We encourage those of non-traditional faiths to earn their awards as per the guidance here: Devices on Awards and their "Square knots"
I think that for the most part most scouts, leaders, and families don’t worry too much about the declaration in their daily lives. As long as we aren’t hostile to those of faith and encourage the scouts to be reverent and respectful most are probably fine.
The big unknown for me is how big an issue is the declaration for some. Is it a deal breaker either way for large numbers of people? How would it’s removal affect the membership? I just don’t know.
However, all that said, if there ever was a time to make big changes (including a few others I can think of) the emergence from bankruptcy is the time.
@DavidFreeborn - I agree that this is most likely the time to revisit the DRP and other things. I have had people raise their concerns about it. But yes there are most likely many who never even noticed it. The biggest issue that I have experienced was a den leader that made it uncomfortable with a firm stance in a particular faith practice that felt forced upon the scouts. That should never be the intent.
They do not define God.
Here is the definitions by Mirriam Webster
So therefore there is a broad stance that can be taken by many people and all of those are included in “God”. It is the individuals beliefs and not those of the organization that define this term. All scouting is saying is that they do not believe that an individual can be a good citizen without believing in something bigger than themselves. How that individual defines this “entity” is up to them, and all should be respected for their beliefs.
Individuals overstepping is always an issue. I don’t believe the organization does. I choose to understep to allow the scouts to work things out for themselves. @JohnGeiser said that scouting wants the scouts to believe in something larger than themselves and leaves the defining of that up to the individual. If the declaration needs to be reworded to make that clearer, I can certainly support that.
@DavidFreeborn - could not agree more. I too would agree that making the DRP clearer would be a great step forward and thank you very much for the discussion. I truly do appreciate it.
Hi Charley, Duty to God seems to be being replaced with something more akin to humanism without a deity. It seems that in todays society standards are constantly modified (watered down) to try to please everyone. The definition of ‘Duty To God’ and ‘A Scout is Reverent’ seemed much clearer and well defined in my youth than it is today.
They do put God in a pretty tight box.
Many of my fellow UUs would object to the personification, personal nature, and male designation of God. This does not fit the nature of God for many. It is very classic Christian vs other more complex views of God.
From the DRP “ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”
Hi Matt, All faiths have, as a rule, been respected and welcome in Scouting. I know of a wiccan who was a very active adult leader. I just wonder what the status of agnostic or atheist individuals is in todays BSA.
Again God is not defined there. God has a different meaning to many people. For some God is mother earth, or science, or a singular deity. They do not say “God is the one true God as portrayed in the holy bible”.
You may infer that from the words, but that is not what they say.
@JohnGeiser - it might be better stated that it is a very abrahamic view of the term. The use of His favors and blessings along with ruling and leading power are what would lead in the direction Matt was stating. Words have meaning and in this case the exact reading of the words point that way.