I am thankful that it is Scout Sunday, the Sunday of the week commemorating the foundation of the Boy Scouts of America.
Scouting was founded with some basic assumptions about what constitutes good character–and for over a century, the program has proven that there’s something to those assumptions.
One of the most basic assumptions is that a Scout’s first duty is to God; that a Scout is Reverent. The BSA doesn’t go any farther than that in terms of “dictating policy” about one’s beliefs. A belief in a Creator/God of some sort is required but beyond that, spirituality is a personal pursuit that has group effects & consequences.Actually, just like every other personal belief out there: they all have public/interactive consequences. (Get off the bunny trail, save it for later…)
I admit to being biased. I am a theologian and an ordained Chaplain. OK, actually everyone is a theologian, I happen to have some training in that particular field. Without speeding off into the sunset on the bunny trail I avoided above, let me simply say that our spiritual beliefs have profound effects on our behavior, especially toward others.
I am thankful the BSA still considers spirituality to be important. It is, sadly, the weakest link in a chain of programs, philosophies, and policies that are otherwise very strong. Citizenship, for example, is a huge component of Scouting, as is physical, mental and emotional well being. And the programs are fairly tightly woven to promote those ideas. But in fear of stepping on toes, there’s a general “hands-off” kind of attitude when it comes to the spiritual side of things. Not so thankful about that in principle. In practice, however, it certainly does give me a drum to beat, a hobby horse to ride, etc. etc. Everyone has spiritual, existential questions; where are the leaders and mentors to guide that search for answers? To answer by asking other questions and setting forth a challenge to find answers? (OK, OK, I’m getting off the horse…)
In the spirit of full disclosure, it must be known that I am also an Eagle Scout, and have over 30 years with this fine organization. So, yeah, a little biased.