The Boy Scouts of America says although many Christian-sponsored scout troops exist around the United States, the BSA is not specifically a Christian organization. In fact, one official notes, there are nearly 100 Muslim scouting troops around the country.
Florida's Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel newspaper recently reported that the Islamic Center of Boca Raton has formed a Cub Scout and Boy Scout troop to allow its members to take part in scouting. Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the BSA, says Boy Scout troops do not require that members adhere to a particular religious faith, so long as they profess belief in a higher power.
“We make no attempt to interpret God or the practice of religion,” Shields explains. “Really, that's the role of the scout's family and his religious leaders,” he says, “so we have Muslim leaders in Scouts, we have Jewish leaders in Scouts, and we have Christian leaders in Scouts. But a belief in a higher power, a God, that's essential to the Boy Scouts of America.”
Among the 107,000 Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops nationwide, the BSA spokesman notes, only some 95 are sponsored by Muslims. For that reason, he believes the actual influence of the Muslim community on scouting is miniscule; however, he says a troop can limit its membership to Muslims if it so chooses.
“That would be up to the sponsors of the troop,” Shields points out. “That's their choice as to who joins the troop, and it would also be the choice of the individuals joining the troop, of course, so there's a lot of choice involved there.”
The Boy Scouts of America's belief, Shields adds, “is that no one can reach their full potential without belief in a higher power.” However, he says the organization leaves the interpretation of that higher power and decisions about specific faith practices up to the individual Boy Scout's or Cub Scout's family and religious leaders.
(This article courtesy of Agape Press.)
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