Many of you know that I’m involved in Boy Scouts of America and yesterday, the National Council voted to allow Scouts to participate if they are gay, but still denied membership for adult gay leaders. You already know how I feel about the homosexuality ban (it’s not right) but there was something else that caught my attention and made me think. In an email from my local council, the three executives wrote
“These changes are consistent with National’s long stated goal to serve as many youth as possible. The resolution also reaffirms our commitment to Duty to God and our belief as an organization that only through a Scout’s Duty to God can they reach their full potential.”
The new membership policy is as follows: “Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
And in case, like me, you weren’t TOTALLY sure what the “Declaration of Religious Principle” is, here’s the relevant portions.
” The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.”
and this: “Only persons willing to subscribe to these declarations of principles shall be entitled to certificates of leadership in carrying out the Scouting program.”
(Here’s the full policy: http://www.scouting.org/jamboree/sitecore/content/home/guidetoadvancement/appendix/charterandbylaws.aspx)
Alright. Your eyes are glassed over now, I’m sure, but bear with me.
I believe that if we look at “duty to God” in a similar manner that we look at duty to our parents we can notice a flaw in the demands by the BSA.
This is the Redneck’s analogy. If he has six kids, each kid is going to have his/her own special relationship with him. If I decide that each of those six kids should have the SAME relationship with the Redneck and begin to force them to be the same, treat him the same way and be the same with him, I am going to create problems with those kids. Because ultimately, each of those kids will be vastly different.
My two children are OPPOSITE with their father. Train Boy is the Redneck’s “mini me” often parroting (not as much since he’s gotten older) whatever his father says and conforming his opinions to fit. Though he does have a mind of his own, he seeks his father’s approval sometimes (I think) to the detriment of his own thinking. But he’s negotiated a good, close relationship that resembles hero worship. Demolition Boy on the other hand is determined to be his own person, have his own thoughts and feelings, and does his own thing. He is uninterested in the same things as his father and will NOT conform to his father’s thinking unless it makes sense to him. He is different, funny, at times rebellious. He still wants his father’s approval, but he doesn’t change his nature to get it.
From both we demand respect. But the relationships that each boy has with his dad is unique, special and PERSONAL.
Demolition Boy may very well grow up to call his father on occasion and keep the conversations short and sweet while Train Boy will probably remain close, call often and talk a lot with his father.
It doesn’t mean that one loves the Redneck more than the other.
So, let’s apply the analogy. In my opinion, Religion is trying to get all children to have the same relationship with one’s father. It’s not possible. And shouldn’t be. Some children may even, out of hurt and anguish, deny their father all together. It doesn’t mean that they’re “bad”. It means that they must find their “family” elsewhere. For the most part, even people who don’t believe in God have a belief in SOMETHING. There is a small percentage, of course, who reject the notion of any power greater than themselves, but the ones I’ve met rarely seem fulfilled.
I do NOT believe that “duty to God” is necessary for a Scout to reach his full potential any more than I believe that my son’s relationship with his father will determine his fate. Whether one believes or not, it’s WHAT WE DO WITH THAT IN OUR LIVES that determines our fate.
Consider this: There are MILLIONS of children growing up without a father. They are hurt by the absence, yes. But many have gone on to live productive and beautiful lives. Many have not. There are THOUSANDS of children who grow up in abusive homes. They are damaged by their family experience but THEY SURVIVE and many live healthy lives.
I break it down this way:
Duty to God, in my opinion, is finding a way to express one’s spiritual connection, to FIND a connection.
Because being connected is the highest calling.