Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

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This forum is for discussing any of the many Religious Awards requirements, including tips and techniques. Do NOT use this forum for preaching, proselytizing, questioning or criticizing any religion(s).

Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:42 am

I am wondering how Cubs who believe in God but do not belong to a specific religion meet the Bear requirement to earn a religious emblem. In this particular situation, the grandparents on one side are Jewish, but the father and his son are not, because the grandmother converted to Judaism after Dad was born, and he never converted. So it is doubtful if the Cub would be able to earn an emblem thru the Jewish community, even though he does know and participate in some home rituals with his Jewish grandparents (such as the Sabbath table and the Passover Seder), because he is not Jewish by Jewish law. (I have not yet asked the people at jewishscouting.org about this possibility, because I want to check out all other possibilities first, to have a backup plan if they say no.)

The mother's side is Native American and the boy has also participated in that spirituality, but there is no Native emblem at this time. :( However, there is a strong Native component to his spirituality. When I asked him about serving God, he answered that he respects God's creation, does not litter or destroy things, likes to sit and listen to the sounds of nature, is kind to animals, etc. And he has been to some Native ceremonies with the tribe. So there is no question that he meets the requirement to "serve God" in the promise.

Nobody in the immediate family is Christian or interested in that (although they do celebrate Christmas in the cultural way, with Santa and a tree, etc.) so if he just went to some church to do it, that would be rather artificial and, I think, give the wrong message about what this badge is about. He might feel he was faking it just to get a badge -- not very honorable.

So I am wondering: Is there an interfaith or nondenominational emblem for boys who are serving God in a universal way?
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:14 am

Welcome to the forum.

I've never seen a non-demoninational award. The below BSA publication has a FAQ section that may help.


http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-879_WB.pdf
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby WeeWillie » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:54 am

Religious Awards are established by the various denominations. By definition non-denominational means there is not organizing body to create a non-denominational award.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:23 pm

Thank you for your fast reply, Suntroop. Yes, that is very helpful, I am looking at that doc now. I see the Baha'is have an emblem program called "Oneness of Mankind" and they are pretty universal, so that might be an option, assuming his parents agree. I am looking at their Level 1 (Bear, Webelos) program http://www.pack042.com/graphics/faith/documents/Baha'i-Level1.pdf and they do not require particvipants to be Baha'is, so he could regard Baha'u'llah as a wise teacher. Since Baha'is teach that all religions come from God, there shouldn't be a conflict among the various backgrounds in his family.

The main problem would be finding a Baha'i counsellor out here in rural Minnesota, although they do address this problem and make exceptions and say that an isolated Scout's parent(s) can be his counsellor. So they might also let me do it (I am an ordained rabbi and have taught comparative religion.) Or who knows, there might be a Baha'i around here once I start looking.

But first I am going to query the Jewish program, it might be that he could do it there and this won't even be an issue. Whatever the boy chooses to do, it is going to be a comparative religion experience, I guess. He is still working on Bobcat at this point but I see this question coming down the road, so I want to Be Prepared.
Last edited by rooster613 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:30 pm

Thank you for replying, Mike. I realize that a separate nondenominational emblem would need some org to sponsor it, which would be sort of a contradiction in terms. I was looking more for a way to complete Bear without him having to join a specific religion. As said above, the Baha'i option might work, since they do not require membership and the focus is repsctful of all religions.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby WeeWillie » Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:45 pm

Rooster

This is not a short term solution, but perhaps various tribal councils could unite and create a American Indian religious award. I realize that each American Indian nation have unique religious beliefs but perhaps there are common foundations. For example:

Describe the creation origins of your people.

As for a Baha'i counsellor. Use the Internet. Why can't he communicate with a counsellor anywhere in the USA via IRC, Chat, IM, facebook....
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:01 pm

Well yes, Weewillie, that would be the ideal solution. In my googling I did run across this article about a Navajo Scout group working on doing just that with the Native American Church and BSA is supportive. http://www.navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp?SectionID=35&SubSectionID=47&ArticleID=6039 This article is from 2007 so I don't know how far the process has gotten, but it shows somebody is working on it. It does seem somewhat ironic that with all the Native symbolism used in Scouting, there is no Native emblem yet. Part of the prob is that there need to be 25 Scout units sponsored by the org to be recognized -- but it would seem, with hundreds of tribes in the USA, that would happen once the materials are developed, etc.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby VenturingL » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:19 pm

Earning an Emblem of Faith is one of the ways to meet the requirement. The other lists several discussions, lists, a little research. Maybe this is the way to proceed with this boy.

It sounds, from the discussions you've had with the youth, that he is very grounded and has a clear understanding and respect for a higher being, regardless of how any specific religion refers to that being.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:35 pm

Yes indeed, he has a firm belief in God. My understanding is that Bear specifically requires an emblem, but looking at the Webelos requirements, there would be options for doing it with general discussions. But I would hate to see him have to wait for Webelos to advance. As I said, I'm exploring all options and I do appreciate all the good input i'm getting on this thread.

I must log off now to do farm chores, but will check back later for any further replies.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:19 pm

rooster613 wrote:My understanding is that Bear specifically requires an emblem,

I suggest you take another look at the Bear Handbook.

For the Bear "God" section it specifically states that you only need to do 1 of the 2 achievements listed.

Earning the religious emblem of your faith is one of the achievements. The other is the "Ways We Worship" achievement.

Since this Scout does not belong to any specific religious organization, he would complete the Bear "God" requirement by doing the "Ways We Worship" achievement.

The requirements to complete "Ways We Worship" are -


WAYS WE WORSHIP (Page 26)
Complete both requirements.

a) Complete the Character Connection for Faith
Know. Name some people in history who have shown great faith. Discuss with an adult how faith has been important at a particular point in his or her life.
Commit. Discuss with an adult how having faith and hope will help you in your life, and also discuss some ways that you can strengthen your faith.
Practice. Practice your faith as you are taught in your home, church, synagogue, mosque, or religious fellowship.
b) Make a list of things you can do this week to practice your religion as you are taught in your home, church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious community. Check them off your list as you complete them.


Nowhere does BSA require boys to earn the religious emblem of their faith without also giving them an alternative requirement. There are just to many families who do not belong to any organized religious group.

I strongly suggest leaving all of the religious requirements strictly to the family.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:44 pm

Thank you, nuts4scouts, for this informative reply. I did indeed misread the handbook. I somehow missed the first line under "God" that says "do ONE of the following." Now that I look again, I see that the emblem is not required if he does "Ways we Worship," as you point out. I feel a bit silly now for all this, but I guess if I misread it, others can, too, so hopefully this conversation will help others sort it out.

But let me be absolutely sure: Are you saying, then, that "Practice your faith as you are taught in your home, church, synagogue, mosque, or religious fellowship" can be an entirely home-based practice without going to a specific house of worship or clergy? (Now that I look closer, it does say "or" and not "and.") If that is the case, then there would be no problem at all, since there are home religious practices in this family.

I should also clarify that I was not intending to prescribe any particular religion, just looking for various options in advance to avoid dealing with issues of rejection. Of course it will be up to the family. In fact, that is what started this quest because we live in a rural area where all the organized faiths are Christian, and they are not Christians, which is one reason their faith is home-based. Now that I see the home-based option will work, I can tell the family that and they can take it from there.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:45 pm

Yes and "Parents sign for requirements that, according to meeting plans and instructions in the handbooks, take place at home."
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:20 pm

For families with no organized religion, their "religious community", and "religious fellowship" would be their own family.

There is no requirement by the BSA that a BSA member must be a member of any specific religious organization(s).

There is also no requirement that they must attend some kind of brick-and-mortar place of worship.
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Re: Is there a nondenominational way to earn Bear badge?

Postby rooster613 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:59 pm

OK, thank you, nuts4scouts -- I get it now. So the answer to my original question -- "Is there a nondenominational way to earn a Bear badge?" -- is yes, if it is done at home in the family. I am glad to hear this, and will pass the info on.

Thank you also to everyone who participated in this thread --you were all very helpful:)
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