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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

There are Gods, and There are Gods
There has been a huge flap over the following:

The U.S. Department of Defense has agreed to stop sponsoring the Boy Scouts, according to a legal agreement announced Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois sued the Pentagon and other government agencies in 1999, saying their funding of the Boy Scouts was unconstitutional because the organization excluded people who did not swear an oath to God....

The Pentagon litigation was an offshoot of a 1998 lawsuit against the city of Chicago, which had chartered almost 30 Scouting programs. The city agreed to stop sponsoring the Boy Scouts. The controversy arose when a University of Chicago law student wanted to lead the city's Legal Explorer Post, but balked at affirming his belief in God....

Articles like this naturally set off alarm bells for some Christians, who make the mistaken assumption that EVERYONE assumes that God is Trinitarian (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Therefore, an assault on the Boy Scouts appears to be an assault on Jesus Christ Himself.

Only one problem - the Boy Scouts as an organization don't believe in Jesus Christ at all. They believe in some other "God."

Start by looking at what today's Boy Scouts call their "Mission Statement" (but which in pre-Drucker/Rick Warren times was known as the Scout Oath and the Scout Law):

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law

A Scout is:

The twelfth point of the Scout Law is more fully explained here:

A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

So, who is this "God" that is honored by the Boy Scouts? Is this the sacrificial Savior who grants eternal life by His grace? Not exactly. This is a "God" who honors works above all, and this is a "God" who can be approached via multiple, equally valid paths. As far as the Boy Scouts are concerned, numerous paths are acceptable:

The wide range of religious denominations who support Scouts—many with chaplains at the jamboree—include African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baptist, Buddhist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Science, Community Churches, Community of Christ, Disciples of Christian Church, Eastern Orthodox Christian, Episcopal, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Pentecostal Church, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends, Unitarian, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist.

"The beauty of Scouting is seeing all the faiths working well together," said Father Donald K. Hummel, Chaplain of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.

So, as far as the Boy Scouts are concerned, you can be a Christian or a Mormon or a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Christian Scientist or a Unitarian or whatever. This view has been defined as "religious pluralism" (although the term has other meanings):

Religious pluralism means to accept other religions' beliefs as valid:
Another definition of religious pluralism involves accepting the beliefs taught by religions other that your own as valid. Some citations with slightly different meanings are listed below:

Religions are all legitimate and valid:
  • "The belief that multiple religions or secular world views are legitimate and valid. Each is true when viewed from within its own culture." Glossary of religious terms in this web site.

  • "...through a cynical intellectual sleight of hand, some critics have linked pluralism with a valueless relativism -- an undiscriminating twilight in which 'all cats are gray,' all perspectives equally viable, and as a result, equally uncompelling." Diana Eck

Religions teach multiple truths -- all valid:
  • "The theory that there are more than one...[kind]...of ultimate reality and/or truth - and that therefore more than one religion can be said to have the truth (way to God, salvation, etcetera)." Anton Hein, Webmaster of Apologetics Index, a counter-cult web site.

Religions are equally valid:
  • "Pluralism is an affirmation of the validity of every religion, and the refusal to choose between them, and the rejection of world evangelism...." John Stott, Anglican theologian.

  • "I think that the current notion of religious pluralism is stupid....The stupid concept is the idea that all religions are basically equally true. That is just flat out stupid." Gregory Koukl,

  • "Many people today confuse traditional Western religious tolerance with religious pluralism....the latter assumes all religions are equally valid, resulting in moral relativism and ethical chaos..." Robert E. Regier & Timothy J. Dailey

Religions converge on a single truth:
  • "...all spiritual paths are finally leading to the same sacred ground." Susan Laemmle, Rabbi and Dean of Religious Live at USC.

  • "By definition, religious pluralism is the notion that all religions constitute varying conceptions of the Ultimate Reality." Sukidi

  • "Religious Pluralism is the view that all religions are equally valid as ways to God. Pluralists often refer to the fact that, just as there are many paths up Mt. Fuji, so there are many paths to God. Differences among the religions are superficial; they all lead to the same goal. This is the epitome of tolerance and relativism." Rick Rood.

While some religions are comfortable with such ideas, Christianity is one faith that is diametrically opposed to this concept:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Islam shares a similar belief in the uniqueness of their interpretation of God:

"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Say (O Muhammad) Allah is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone."

Who DOES believe in this view? The Freemasons:

Our ancient learned brothers in Asia and the Near East understood that there were many conceptions of the Supreme Being. They knew that the name and nature of the Deity transcends cultures, languages and frankly, all human understanding....

To this day, Freemasons use "The Great Architect of the Universe" and other non-sectarian titles to address the Deity. In using non-sectarian references to that which transcends all knowing, persons of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on the Universal Spirit rather than on differences of culture and religion. Masonry has always championed religious freedom, and the idea that the relationship between the individual and one God is a personal, private and sacred matter....

So, if you believe that the Freemasons are anti-Christian, you might want to take a look at your beliefs about the Boy Scouts.

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