Our October 3rd service began with the usual (which varies a lot!) introductory remarks about the NTCOF and its vision and goals. It included this:
“Say what you want about religion. Everybody does after all! But go ahead and say that it's all a terrible delusion, the worse thing that ever happened to humanity, responsible for untold misery, needless conflict, senseless waste and futile or often even counterproductive effort. But some say that it's the opposite of these things and they make a good case for that. So maybe religion is both bad and good, or maybe it depends on the religion or how the religion is held. More importantly, it may depend on what religion is, or, to be more accurate, what people think it is or what they mean by the word or the idea or, yet again, what it means to them.
Some take their religion deadly serious, deadly especially for those who don't agree with them. Others, clearly, don't take religion, even the religion that they themselves 'believe in,' all that seriously. Indeed, I would say that many – maybe even the vast majority – of those who say they are Christian only pretend to take their 'God,' their 'Jesus,' and all of their dogmas and doctrines more seriously than Pastafarians do the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Whatever else you suppose religion is, whatever you mean by the word, whatever the idea of it may be to anyone or what it means to you, any sane person – which I think includes all of us here! – has to admit that religion is an interesting thing. How can any thinking person not be fascinated by it?
But inasmuch as religion is just one's weltanschauung, one's entire sense of the world of human experience and the puzzle of the human condition, of what it means to be human generally and what it is like, what it feels like and what it means to be the individual people we are, something that no one else has or can have any access to, I think – indeed, I am certain! – that we Freethinkers have the best of it. We are not burdened with doctrines and dogmas, answers to the great questions of existence that cannot be questioned. We are free to see things as we see them although that often means struggling with questions that may seem to have no answers, or to which there may only be partial or temporary or for-the-moment and for-the-context answers. We can believe what we want, knowing that belief is often a kind of trap, one that keeps us from 'believing what we want' – what we should want to believe – because beliefs get in the way of thinking. And thought is, for us, the essential and indispensable vehicle of discovery. Anyone who thinks that everything has already been found, that there are no new frontiers to be explored and then gone beyond, is someone who does not appreciate the life of the mind and, especially, its 'qualia,' the features of the human experience that are intrinsically personal, private, subjective and, in that sense, ineffable.”
Guest Speaker Randall Hoenig then addressed us for the bulk of the service on the subject of “The Four G's of the Boy Scouts,” namely, God Gays, Gender and Girls. Mr. Hoenig worked for the Boy Scouts beginning soon after he graduated from college in 1986 and from 2014-2015 was Executive/CEO of the Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in Wichita, TX after moving from his previous position with the BSA in Houston.
Mr. Hoenig is therefore uniquely qualified to explain and discuss this subject, which he did at length and in detail, answering many questions at the conclusion of his remarks. Mr. Hoenig, now transitioned to teaching geography in the Irving ISD after leaving the Boy Scouts, is also founder and president of the DFW chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Much of Mr. Hoenig's presentation elaborated on a timeline of enrolled members of the BSA from 1972 when the national organization began formally tracking of this until now.
The “take home message” was that changes in BSA'S policies and membership over the years have been driven by the BSA's efforts to maintain its membership – and therefore its income – given its dependence on a conservative donor base as well as companies and businesses that do not wish to be seen as intolerant or even controversial and the fact that most scout troops are sponsored by church groups including the Mormons who at one time made BSA its official partner in youth education. This is the crux of the Scouts' continued insistence on excluding atheists, the group that polls consistently show is the most feared and hated in the USA. This well explains why, even though the Scouts will now be changing its name and admitting girls, a move that was not welcomed by the separately-run Girl Scouts, the BSA's National Executive Board last year reiterated its stance in support of “God,” saying:
“The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath the member declares, ‘'On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’' 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. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.”
Here is the BSA literally defining “religion” to necessitate belief in a supernatural “ruling power in the universe” when even the government has declined to so limit what “religion” is or ought to be. [Also see the NTCOF October 2019 bulletin https://www.churchoffreethought.org/bul ... lletin.pdf]
Yet other social forces, Mr. Hoenig observed, are working against the Scouts besides the relaxation of intolerance towards gays and transgendered people. The rising popularity of video games and the internet has accompanied a loss of interest in the sort of outdoor activities promoted by the Scouts. Asked what he thinks will ultimately happen to the BSA, Mr. Hoenig said that he thought it would gradually die, citing cutbacks and layoffs in support of this view.
Postings about each monthly service includes topics discussed and an open forum to further discuss those topics.
1 post • Page 1 of 1