Scout Oath Debate Questions Faith in God, First Amendment

Michael and William Randall have been brought up, like most American children, it seems, to regard God as "sort of . . . a make-believe figure." Now, in order to advance in rank through the Cub Scouts, they must lie about believing in the old man with the white beard who molded our vast universe with his bare hands.

I believe that I can help Michael and William to make it through the scouting program without feeling like hypocrites and save some scarce tax money to boot by offering up an alternative view of "God," which even these hardened cynics might find believable.

"God" is a complex icon, which to me represents the intangible factors of life that lend grace, beauty and meaning to existence, to generic living/dying. "Religion" asks us to identify higher aspects present in our imperfect lives and to work toward goals promoting greater grace, beauty, meaning, etc. in our lives and the lives of others. Some are capable of more than others, but we each have a "duty" to live up to our own, inwardly sensed ("God-given") potential.

For example, I am capable of reading the story of the Randall case, feeling upset and going on with my business. I am also capable of producing a very cutting letter about this subject, which would probably be more fun to write and read, but which would not do this serious topic justice. These actions were not taken because each would have contributed less toward a meaningful dialogue, and I would have felt predictably less at peace "in my soul."

It's an admittedly simple philosophy, which leaves out a lot of details about the afterlife and supernatural powers, but I believe that if the Randall boys adopted it, they could achieve a lot in scouting and beyond without contributing to the nightmarish situation faced by our courts and any group wishing to continue, without compromise, traditions dating back to when more people understood the intended meaning of a "duty to God."


Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World