My 16 yr old son is about to become an Eagle Scout in a few months. One of his friends moms who is a hardcore christian conservative pulled my son aside to tell him he may have some trouble getting his Eagle due to his being Agnostic. I assured him its all semantics and as long as he identifies his good moral character and his "beliefs" that help guide him that this should be good enough without lying or conforming.
Im quite honestly very upset w this woman but my son, who is an old soul and can handle issues like that way better than I can, reasurred me that its people like her are the exact reason he wants nothing to do with religion.
He absolutely gets it that he cannot say he does or does not believe as it is a christian organization that he has worked on most of his life. He only recently became interested in politics and was able to name his beliefs and in red state Indiana he is the minority for those alone
Any advice for my son on how he should handle the religious aspect of his becoming and Eagle Scout?
I have the same issue with my son who loves Boy Scouts and I love him participating in it. His name is Christian and he is a Christian, but he knows that I am vehemently opposed to religion, so I have issues with all of the God stuff in Scouts. I generally fake it when I am at meetings, etc., and I would never be a Scout leader as I know I could or would not want to pretend a belief in God. It's bad enough that the religious effectively lie to their children so I would feel an utter hypocrite if I lied knowing there is no God. It is a shame that Scouts is so religious but I do know it depends on which Pack and Troop you are with. There are quite a few around here in SoCal that are not as religious as others. You just have to cherry pick, just like Christians do with the bible in the first place. I dream of a secular society! Can't we have our own state? Just a little one?
It seems like he's already doing a good job handling them. I achieved Chief Scout (Canadian equivalent) when I was 16. I've never been religious, but not as well informed then as I am now. As long as he keeps looking for the truth, he'll be fine.
my grandson Michael is a junior at Cathedral, a life Scout with only his Eagle project awaiting. He is on the Rugby team, defending national Champs. Good for your son. I am more in line with you on issues like that. Good Christians are way too busy being good Christians to pull young people aside and try to maliciously hurt them. Tell him to fall back on a doctors creed---first do no harm. That all the major religions all have but one god. They can't all be wrong can they? In America we cannot put one ahead of the other without infringing on rights, so we much respect all the beliefs and the best way is to keep our personal relationship with divinity personal---within ourselves and sharing only with the higher poser we believe in an dit is infringing upon that right to have to answer questions about who what how we believe our freedom of religion absolves us of the necessity of answering such questions unless you want to sign a statement saying that I have to answer. and get it notarized as a legal document that I can take to court. That should solidify his position...don't you think?
Wait a few years and get him to join the Masons--become a Shriner---then the two of you can have some real fun. Shriners clowns, Shrine circus, etc. base upon Soloman's temple. so odd that Christians need all these reasons to do good--that doing good itself is not enough reason for them? I can
s explain it.......
the best advice I can give, I have a son too. is teach him all you can about religion, and the slimy ways of there believers, that they will twist reality to serve there brain washed thinking.all while pretending that they are a good person.
Just last night, I went to the Boy Scouts web site after the announcement that they would allow girls to join. Their charter was an act of the US congress (verified this, http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:36%20chapter:309%20edition:prelim)%20OR%20(granuleid:USC-prelim-title36-chapter309)&f=treesort&num=0&edition=prelim ). All the religious stuff is in their bylaws. It seems to me that this makes it part of the US Federal government, and as such, these religious requirements are in violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Maybe this has already been settled in the US Supreme Court. I'm still doing research on this.
On the face of it, I'm opposed to the religious requirements. The apparent constitutional issue makes this an even bigger issue for me.
It sounds like your son has his head screwed on right - congratulations! He may need to prevaricate at bit (not lie!), as it would seem from some of the earlier posts that an Eagle Scout is supposed to recognize a higher power, but I don't think he needs to belong to an organized religion.
More to the point, I don't think his friend's Mom had any business what-so-ever in injecting her views and questioning your son's eligibility. I would have hoped (futilely, I suppose) that people would take a live-and-let-live approach and assess other people on their actions and behavior.
There's no rule in Scouts that decrees that a scout has to be religious. I'm an Agnostic-Atheist, and I made Eagle. It's not only unfair for her to say that, it's also patently untrue. There are badges about religion, but no rule in Scouts decrees that you must be religious. Only "morally straight", and anyone who thinks that only people with faith can be moral is clearly misguided.
I spent many years as a cub scout and boy scout and was a Jr. Asst. Scoutmaster. At the time I was struggling internally with the dark secret that I was a homosexual though at 16 I barely knew what that word meant and certainly had not acted on any of my impulses. I was called to a meeting with the scoutmaster and three fathers and told I was "queer," which I thought meant "odd" and was kicked out of the troop. I had achieved "Life" status and was working on becoming an "Eagle." I joined another troop. Today, I think that was a big mistake but at the time I did not have the social or political understanding I do now. I know your son has invested a great deal to achieve this rank and I understand his desire to follow through. But I think his rationalizing his way through his current dilemma will be something he will regret one day. It is an act of ratifying the legitimacy of a group that does not honor the diversity of our society. Accepting the rank of "Eagle" given his own beliefs condones their continued bigotry and a furthering of their conservative social agenda. I would propose two option. First, just quit and move on without them being allowed to add his name to a roster that will follow him all his life and which will strengthen their influence. Or, two, go out in a blaze of glory at the presentation ceremony and "Sock it to the Harper Valley PTA" with a speech clearly defining his own beliefs and making known the dissonance that the Scouts have caused in his own head considering the difference between their beliefs and his own. Neither is an easy path to follow. But to stick by his guns and proclaim his identity would be an important exercise on his road to becoming a man.
The Boy Scouts started in England, "Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement as a youth organization (with boys as 'Scouts' and girls as 'Guides', which was independent of any single faith or religion..." If it were me, I would do some research on the subject. Then I would just say, "Judge me by the content of my character and I will do the same for you."
I hit the wrong goddamned button before I was finished. If your son allows them to manipulate him in this way then he will open himself up the criticism that he is 'soft' in his conviction. He sounds quite level-headed & able to make the decision of what's best for him & can he live with that decision. Don't be intimidated, but be prudent.
I wouldn't let the religious worry you go much much at this stage but when he goes to work or becomes a self employed bussiness man like myself he may have to mute his religious criticisms as the religious have an enormous amount of power in this country and can make it rough on you. I hate that its this way but not much I can do about it.
Btw, here is the references part of the Eagle requirements- "As a Life Scout, demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God, how you have lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your everyday life, and how your understanding of the Scout Oath and Scout Law will guide your life in the future. List on your Eagle Scout Rank Application the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious (if not affiliated with an organized religion, then the parent or guardian provides this reference), educational, employer (if employed), and two other references."
The duty to God part is annoying, but can be worked around, and the parents provide the 'religious' reference if the scout is not in a religion. I would probably just, for the sake of the requirements assume that if God existed, God would want kids to be trustworthy, loyal, friendly, etc., follow the Golden rule and help people. From there it's all semantics.
Well, a few of my friends and I put down Buddhism as our religion when we worked at a Boy Scouts camp (a job which requires concurrent registration in Boy Scouts), since there is a form of Buddhism that considers the traditional gods to be simply tools for visualization. Essentially you can be atheist and that form of Buddhist at the same time without contradiction. Boy Scouts is a private organization, quasi-military from the start, and has always had 'reverence' and God in their ceremonies and oaths. They are still not really organized to welcome true non-conformists. That said, that woman was awfully rude and unscoutlike to harrass your son for his beliefs. Reverence is just one part of the Scout Law, and no greater than any of the other parts, and no one who cannot be courteous and kind has no place as an adult leader for Boy Scouts, in my opinion. And, of course, it is just as important for atheists and agnostics to learn the value of reverence, basically respect for the ceremonies and values of people around you. Good Christians don't push atheists to say prayer for a group, and good, respectful atheists stay silent and still during group prayer out of respect for the other people in the group, not to respect the religion or its beliefs. What you say out loud while going through the process of getting Eagle may be a bit different, of course, but this is how I made sense of the religious bits of scouting, and I was an adult leader in Boy Scouts for ~10yrs and a Venturing scout and president of my unit for ~2 years.
Both my nephews were Eagle Scouts. Neither one took the religious part seriously. I don't know too many kids who do. They just go with the flow, but I really don't know if a religious badge is a requirement to become an EG, and if it is, what that entails. Taking a quick look at the applicant requirements, it states:
"List on your Eagle Scout Rank Application the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious (if not affiliated with an organized religion, then the parent or guardian provides this reference), educational, employer (if employed), and two other references."
Did you have to provide a religious reference? About the conservative Christian, that seemed quite insensitive for her to say that to your son. I'm impress that your son is taking it all in stride. A hardy congratulations to him for a great achievement.
I grew up in Indiana. It was a blue state for a long, long time. I remember those days. Sigh.
I am sorry he's facing those who have been so indoctrinated that they don't have room for anyone else at their table. This is, though, good practice for adulthood. He will encounter this sort of prejudices.
Maybe he's there to be a friend to others who may believe as he does. Some may feign the religiousness to belong. Maybe he can bring others a safe place to be their authentic selves.