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    Religion.......

    Hello escouters,

    I wondered if you could share some wisdom or common sense orsomething, as honestly I’m a little stumped on this one!

    To cut a long story short- I am relatively new to scouting,currently ACSL and soon to finish the training. I have moved house recently andplan on using this an excuse to leave my current group and start a fresh, althoughI’m starting to think this may be harder than I thought, not necessarilyfinding a group, but finding a group that fits. There are lots of discrepanciesbetween what I have seen as ‘best practice’ I suppose you could say, from on here,facebook, the TSA website etc. and what actually happens in the few packs I haveseen. I’m getting a bit fed up with the whole ‘they will be bored by scouts ifyou let cubs do….’ attitude, the crazy health and safety, a lot of babying theYP, but then on the flip side, the bellowing and shouting at them! Not quitewhat I expected when I joined!

    Now I’m more than comfortable in my head that the YP willgain more if genuinely challenged, trusted and treated with respect, and I’msure if I keep looking I will find a group/ pack that agrees, and I certainlyhave no intention of compromising in that regard. The thing that I am not sosure about is the issue of religion. I am an atheist, and I know that atheistsare welcome and there is an alternative promise, but I am also aware that thereligious policy requires scouting to encourage everyone to consider taking upa religion (but not the other way, so rather one sided!). In practice, my grouphave never told anyone that there is an alternative to the god bit of thepromise, I have seen on several group webpages that it is required that everymember of that group attend church parades several times a year, our ST George’sday parade promise renewal only acknowledged the to god promise, we end ourmeetings with a prayer etc. etc. and so it seems that Christian worship is theone thing you cannot escape in scouting, at least in the area I am in!

    The thing is, maybe this is an area that I can compromiseon, to an extent? It seems rather petty, but it is playing on my mind, and so I wondered if there may be a few scouters that could help me make sense of where the line is (I'm all for exploring differing religions equally), when is I crossed, what is considered best practice in this regard, what does POR say, am I just blowing it out of proportion?

    Thanks for reading my ramblings, and thanks in advance forany advice offered J

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    Did you not cover this with your training advisory ?

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    AESL & AGSL shiftypete's Avatar
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    I would describe myself as agnostic rather than an atheist but our Scout Group is sponsored by a Methodist Church whose halls we meet in and I don't find it causes me too much problem. Mind uyou I was bought up a Methodist at the Church and I am still happy to attend Church when the occasion requires (Church parades, Christmas and Easter basically). We have Church Parades (about 4 a year these days) and do encourage the kids to attend but there is certainly no compulsion and actually most of our youth members do not attend. We do have the occasional prayer at the end of meetings and on some evenings in camp but no one is forced to join in saying them so long as they keep a respectful silence.

    We discuss Promise and Law with each person making their Promise before they make it and most seem happy to say the traditional Promise, probably as that is the one that others have said more than anything, however if anyone wanted to use any of the alternatives then they are more than welcome to.

    As to the rest of your post then I hope you find a Group to suit you. When you move I suggest you visit a few Groups near you before committing to one, I am sure their ethos will be fairly clear even after just one meeting.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 06-07-2017 at 02:30 PM.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Assistant Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    I'll chip in...

    What POR says (either way) isn't always necessarily what happens - so there's that wrinkle.

    Also, Scouts should be encouraged to explore 'spirituality', they shouldn't forced to do anything (including attending parades... Or anything else for that matter. But see my second sentence above...)

    Our group currently only does the God-included promise, mostly out of laziness. I don't think the current crop of leaders are aware they're supposed to offer the alternatives. We haven't done any investitures recently (again, laziness/absences/other things happening) so my section, it hasn't cropped up...)

    I dare say you'll find a group that fits, its been my experience that no two groups are exactly the same, so it may be necessary to shop around, as it were...

    You've also touched on several contentious topics. So good luck with that.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 19thBagheera View Post
    I’m getting a bit fed up with the whole ‘they will be bored by scouts ifyou let cubs do….’ attitude


    Don't get me started on that! I think that has to be the worst argument ever. If people find Scouts boring, it is the Scout Troop that needs to innovate, not try to make Cubs more boring to compensate!

    *Rant over*

    The thing is, maybe this is an area that I can compromiseon, to an extent? It seems rather petty, but it is playing on my mind, and so I wondered if there may be a few scouters that could help me make sense of where the line is (I'm all for exploring differing religions equally), when is I crossed, what is considered best practice in this regard, what does POR say, am I just blowing it out of proportion?

    Thanks for reading my ramblings, and thanks in advance forany advice offered J
    Interesting points. Scouts has clearly been on a slow transition from a Christian organisation to a non-religious organisation for some time. I think the rate of change is probably quite variable between groups.

    When we invest Cubs, I let parents know in advance of all the options available for the promise. However, I'm not sure Leaders of other sections in our group do.

    I've just checked what on the Scout Religion policy:

    • All members are encouraged to:
    • > make every effort to progress in the understanding and observance of the Promise to do their best to do their duty to God or to uphold Scouting’s values as appropriate;
    • > explore their faith, beliefs and attitudes;
    • > consider belonging to some faith or religious body;
    • > carry into daily practice what they profess.

    I can't say there's anything there which I feel I have to compromise on. "consider belonging to some faith or religious body" is the only one we may not fully adhere to. I don't really see it as my role to promote religion, but by finding out about other faiths I imagine our Cubs consider what it's like to belong to a particular faith or religion. Whether this is close enough to the policy to pass muster, I'm not sure.

    Interesting point about St George's Day promise renewal only using the religious version. Same happened in our District, although there's nothing to stop you using the alternative words at that point. In fact it probably makes sense for everyone to make the promise at the same time using different words for that line - the alternative of singling out those using the alternative promise might seem a little odd.

    Apart from that, we've never had prayers or church parades as part of our Group for as long as I've been part of it, so no issues there.

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    http://members.scouts.org.uk/fundamentals/?pageid=2944

    I'll preface this with, I'm an Atheist too, I waited until the alternative promise was introduced to make my promise.

    I see some of what you see, but not all. Have a look at the link. Note that the values say:

    On the challenge part, I doubt you'll find anyone here who argues with you

    On the religeons side:

    "my grouphave never told anyone that there is an alternative to the god bit of thepromise"

    My group is bad for this too, the GSL says we are sponsored by a church, so should offer the Christian one as a priority. No one argues when I use the atheist one though, or when my son chose that to be invested into scouts.

    "I have seen on several group webpages that it is required that everymember of that group attend church parades several times a year,"

    We are "encouraged" to join, I never have. I'd love to see someone try to force me.

    "ST Georgesday parade promise renewal only acknowledged the to god promise, we end ourmeetings with a prayer"


    Yep. This, our beaver and scout troops do the same. Cubs don't and haven't since before I started. I encourage my Children to be respectful of others making their prayer, but not to feel they have to join in. Standing silently while they do is fine.

    In short. I let those who want to drag religion in do so, but I don't push any agenda myself, or make too big a deal of it.

    Belief
    We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes.
    and

    Scouting takes place when young people, in partnership with adults, work together based on the values of Scouting and:


    • enjoy what they are doing and have fun;
    • take part in activities indoors and outdoors;
    • learn by doing;
    • share in spiritual reflection;
    • take responsibility and make choices;
    • undertake new and challenging activities; and
    • make and live by their Promise.
    I see these as being a good thing. My belief doesn't run to external spirits, energies or gods. But I find the act of meditation (very similar to prayer) and introspection are good for everyone.

    I hope that helps.

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Sounds like you need to find a section that fits your ethos a bit more. There's always compromise, and to my mind, I think I usually keep quiet about how other leaders run their sections if I'm not prepared to step in and sort it myself.

    That said, I don't really like shouty shouty leaders, or rather, shouty seems their go to option. I'm never happy to shout at my explorers, I do, but it feels like a failure. That is, if it's shouting in anger, or just shouting to get myself heard over the hubbub.

    As for religion, I considered it would be hypocritical of me to join a faith or religious body, but I'm happy for explorers to stop and think about "spirituality" and if that's religion then that's fine and I'm happy for them. I try to remember to offer both promises on investiture, but have only memorised the religious one (as it's what I grew up saying). They have a free choice.

    My one thought is...if you can't find a leader that's running a section how you'd want it run...run a section, and do it exactly how you want!

    Ian
    Ian Wilkins
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    nevynxxx (06-07-2017),shiftypete (06-07-2017)

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    Rant 1.

    IF I think my Cubs can do something (i.e. its not so hard they will get frustrated by failure etc) and we have an opportunity to do it - we will. Fortunately our Scout Leader is ambitious as well so won't have a problem with what we do.

    Rant 2.

    If there ever was a time when churches were likely to gain new recruits just by sitting in their buildings on Sundays and expecting people to come to their services (e.g. via compulsory parades, district or group) then it is long past. As a committed church going Christian I was glad to bin our group church parades when the opportunity arose during a leader crisis (told the church we couldn't staff the kids being there), because it made me cringe let alone the kids that were forced to sit there along with 8-10 elderly church members for an evening parade service.

    Rants over!

    Promise - regardless of my own beliefs the alternative it always offered, along with an explanation that whichever version, that part of the promise is about looking to the wider things of life - which could include religion but also the environment, community etc. When it comes to the part of the challenge badge about going to a religious building, I personally would prefer our next visit to be the mosque than another church - bearing in mind most of them are in church schools so probably see the inside of a church fairly regularly.

    I don't do shouting and bellowing unless it is an emergency - at which point hopefully the fact that Mang is screaming at them has enough shock factor to be very effective. If they are mucking about and chatting, I go quiet and wait for them - maybe picking off a last straggler or two by asking whether they think its appropriate to waste everyone else's time.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    nevynxxx (06-07-2017)

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    Quote Originally Posted by 19thBagheera View Post
    Hello escouters,
    hi.

    I wondered if you could share some wisdom or common sense or something, as honestly I’m a little stumped on this one!
    as long as it's not about maths. I only have 1 GCSE and it's not in maths.

    To cut a long story short- I am relatively new to scouting,currently ACSL and soon to finish the training. I have moved house recently andplan on using this an excuse to leave my current group and start a fresh, although I’m starting to think this may be harder than I thought, not necessarily finding a group, but finding a group that fits. There are lots of discrepancies between what I have seen as ‘best practice’ I suppose you could say, from on here, facebook, the TSA website etc. and what actually happens in the few packs I have seen. I’m getting a bit fed up with the whole ‘they will be bored by scouts if you let cubs do….’ attitude, the crazy health and safety, a lot of babying the YP, but then on the flip side, the bellowing and shouting at them! Not quite what I expected when I joined!
    keep going you'll get there. there are many ways to skin a rabbit...

    Now I’m more than comfortable in my head that the YP will gain more if genuinely challenged, trusted and treated with respect, and I’m sure if I keep looking I will find a group/ pack that agrees, and I certainly have no intention of compromising in that regard. The thing that I am not so sure about is the issue of religion.


    religion is not an issue. period. if someone (or you!) are making it an issue then you're out of order.

    I am an atheist,
    who cares!? I could be a fully confirmed member of the Mormons, why should you care? shall we move on?

    and I know that atheists are welcome and there is an alternative promise, but I am also aware that the religious policy requires scouting to encourage everyone to consider taking up a religion (but not the other way, so rather one sided!).
    the policy is what it is and I don't believe there are many in scouting who have an issue with it. so let's not make one eh?

    the policy says:
    All Members of the Movement are encouraged to:
     make every effort to progress in the understanding and observance of the Promise to do their best to do their duty to God or to uphold Scouting’s values as appropriate;
     explore their faith, beliefs and attitudes
     consider belonging to some faith or religious body;
     carry into daily practice what they profess.

    note: consider belonging to some faith or religious body. it is a personal consideration and a personal choice. it is not a choice that scouting will choose or make for you.

    In practice, my group have never told anyone that there is an alternative to the god bit of the promise,
    I never had to use the alternative promise but I would if I had to. I always discussed promise before anyone affirms and options were always available.

    I have seen on several group webpages that it is required that every member of that group attend church parades several times a year,
    that is against the policy. if such affected you then you should complain.

    our ST George’s day parade promise renewal only acknowledged the to god promise,
    did you ask why?

    maybe it was because the majority in attendance followed a particular faith? was it explained to you that you could affirm the alternative promise at the same time?

    we end our meetings with a prayer etc. etc. and so it seems that Christian worship is the one thing you cannot escape in scouting, at least in the area I am in!
    whoa there!

    a lot of people in this country follow the Christian faith, many follow other faiths, some follow none. it is a personal choice. some groups are faith sponsored and it is not unusual to find some aspect of the faith being practiced in the scouting. however, even in these groups they are not allowed to discriminate against those of other faiths or none. in such circumstances those who do not follow the faith will often leave such things to others and take a so-called back seat.

    if you feel aggrieved at the stance some in scouting have taken towards you and your absence of faith then you should complain but it is people who are doing this not scouting or the Christian or any other faith.

    The thing is, maybe this is an area that I can compromise on, to an extent?
    no compromise is necessary.

    everyone in scouting is required to respect the faith or no faith of others.

    It seems rather petty, but it is playing on my mind, and so I wondered if there may be a few scouters that could help me make sense of where the line is (I'm all for exploring differing religions equally), when is I crossed, what is considered best practice in this regard, what does POR say, am I just blowing it out of proportion?
    please don't make an issue out of it! if you feel you have a problem then please talk to someone, your GSL and/or DC. if they won't listen or are part of the problem then keep going up.

    there is no line in the sand!

    if you feel you are being discriminated against because of people failing to follow a key policy the complain. if there are particular circumstances then there are people who can help. (I would advise against going to someone who wants to campaign on this issue!)


    Thanks for reading my ramblings, and thanks in advance for any advice offered J
    PM me if there is anything in particular which you feel you can't openly discuss.

    btw. I am deeply religious and attend church nearly every day. so are these the ramblings of an anti-atheist?

    TM
    going...going...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mang21 View Post
    I don't do shouting and bellowing unless it is an emergency - at which point hopefully the fact that Mang is screaming at them has enough shock factor to be very effective. If they are mucking about and chatting, I go quiet and wait for them - maybe picking off a last straggler or two by asking whether they think its appropriate to waste everyone else's time.
    I find myself shouting far too much. usually to be heard over a couple of dozen Cubs. It's something I'm trying, and currently failing to work on.

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    Very Old Member BigBadBaloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    .....................My one thought is...if you can't find a leader that's running a section how you'd want it run...run a section, and do it exactly how you want!
    ^^^ This 100%. It very much sounds as if you were in the wrong group. Visit as many groups as you can (and on more than one occasion) until you find one that meets your requirements. They do exist as, when I was a leader, I was a CSL at one! I was very much able to run my pack as I wished with very little in the way of interference from the other leaders or the GSL or AGSL.

    Myself and the CSLs of our other two packs did not always see eye to eye about some things, but so long as we allowed each other to run the packs as we wished and, importantly, presented a united front to the Cubs all was well.
    Peter

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    A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Lao Tzu (600 BC - 531 BC)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    I find myself shouting far too much. usually to be heard over a couple of dozen Cubs. It's something I'm trying, and currently failing to work on.
    I don't do Cubs but don't regularly try shouting over a hall of kids (although I can if needs must and then they are quiet afterwards!) I wait for quiet before I start speaking, having indicated i want quiet either from hand in the air or by asking for quiet in a loud enough voice (without shouting) for enough people to hear to start the process. I wait however long it takes to get quiet (not silence I am not that ambitious) and I stop speaking if anyone else starts and I just stare at them until they stop again

    I just wish I could get our SL to do the same thing and not just shout at the top of her voice for everything and then wonder why everyone ignors her shouting (becuase they are used to it so it has no impact whereas if I shout the kids KNOW they are in trouble because its a once in a blue moon occurance)

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Assistant Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    I find myself shouting far too much. usually to be heard over a couple of dozen Cubs. It's something I'm trying, and currently failing to work on.
    to be fair its not easy - you think you are getting somewhere and then get a new load of Beavers in. I know who my consistent challenges are - so it helps to keep an eye on them and jump on them before they get too far off course. I have been known to throw in a random curve ball from time to time such as "So Smiffy, since what you have to say is clearly more interesting than what I have to say, I suggest you come out here and share it with the whole group". Mind you did that once and the little bleep had the nerve to come and do it - and do it fairly well. Just about recovered by saying "Well done - now do you think you could have done that if I'd been interrupting every few seconds" - honours just about even on that one. Most times they blush and decide its not a good offer. Sitting them out of a game also tends to focus the mind as well. In general they aren't bad kids and I don't expect school like discipline - we're all there to have fun together so its just about keeping the balance the right side of chaos!
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I don't do Cubs but don't regularly try shouting over a hall of kids (although I can if needs must and then they are quiet afterwards!) I wait for quiet before I start speaking, having indicated i want quiet either from hand in the air or by asking for quiet in a loud enough voice (without shouting) for enough people to hear to start the process. I wait however long it takes to get quiet (not silence I am not that ambitious) and I stop speaking if anyone else starts and I just stare at them until they stop again
    We have a decent number (my Son included) who would happily stand chatting for 30 minutes..... There's a limit to how long I feel I can keep the ones who are doing as I've asked waiting and effectivly being punished while the ones who aren't are oblivious!

    As I say, it's an on going thing. I've read lots of stuff on here, so best to to drail the thread right now

    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I just wish I could get our SL to do the same thing and not just shout at the top of her voice for everything and then wonder why everyone ignors her shouting (becuase they are used to it so it has no impact whereas if I shout the kids KNOW they are in trouble because its a once in a blue moon occurance)
    I have this problem too, hence trying to reduce how much I shout...

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    AESL & AGSL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    We have a decent number (my Son included) who would happily stand chatting for 30 minutes..... There's a limit to how long I feel I can keep the ones who are doing as I've asked waiting and effectivly being punished while the ones who aren't are oblivious!
    That is not what happens though, what happens is the ones that are being quiet and want to get on with the activity/game whatever tell those chatting to shut up, you hear the shushing go round until there is quiet and I will name people by name if needed to get them to be quiet. Even better if you can get lodge leaders/sixers/PLs to shut their lodges/sixes/patrol up for you . It can take a couple of minutes to get quiet but then the explaining the activity part goes much faster as you are not trying to talk over the kids.

    Initially you might need to actually have an explanation that you are no longer going to shout over them and will instead be waiting for them to be quiet before talking and that it is up to them to make sure they get quiet as quickly as possible so as not to waste their time and allow more time for games and activities.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 06-07-2017 at 03:23 PM.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Assistant Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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