Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Scout is Reverent

The twelfth point of The Scout Law states simply "A Scout is Reverent."

It does not specify what religion a scout must have, nor does it specify how one expresses one's faith. It is assumed that a scout will do his duty to God with due reverence.

The Boy Scouts of America National Council has a fact sheet on the Scout Oath and Law which states that "A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others." (emphasis mine)

Toward the end of September 2005, some cartoons were published in a Danish paper. The received little notice until a few weeks ago (although bloggers were aware of them), but now they are a major topic of news reports. This controversy has not brought out the best in people. Many bloggers found it necessary to repost and continue reposting these cartoons, in some cases making it clear that it is intended to ensure that as many people as possible see them. People have been killed over these cartoons. Property damage has been substantial. Forgeries have been diseminated across the Middle East, as if the genuine cartoons weren't insulting enough.

Many harsh words have been spoken about this issue, yet ridicule has all too often been a part of discussions about religion.

The same people who are calling for violence in retaliation for the cartoons think nothing about hateful caricatures of Jews and Christians that are prevalent in the Muslim world. Christians have ridiculed the beliefs of others for many years. Some of the artwork of the Reformation era shows the contempt in which Protestants and Catholics held each other, not to mention their joint contempt for Jews. Many people find it amusing to take the fish symbol and give it legs, and if that is too subtle, to write the word "Darwin" inside the outline.

When did it become acceptible to ridicule the symbols of another's faith? When did it become acceptible for Presbyterians to use ridicule as a weapon in our internal debates? When did it become acceptible to retaliate in kind for another's insults?

Maybe the Boy Scouts have a clearer concept of reverence and respect than most people.

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

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