I gets mail!
I received this email, and I wanted to share “B”‘s story with everyone (he asked that I not include his name, since he works with the boy Scouts and would like to keep his job).
This past summer I staffed a Boy Scout summer camp. I just wanted to share some of my experiences.Before every meal shift, since a scout is “reverent,” we had a volunteer say a “non-denominational” grace. They usually were just speeches and went like this:
Thank you for letting us come to camp this week.
Thank you for the food which we are about to eat.
Please help us complete all of our merit badges.
Please help us have fun during free time.
Please keep everyone safe this week.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
All I got from grace was the impression that Christians are ungrateful. I doubt that anyone thanked their parents for working hard every day to earn enough money for them to come to camp, or thanked their adult leaders for taking a week off from work to spend it with them in the middle of the woods. Very few of them thanked the staff for getting up at 5 AM to unload a food truck, or the kitchen staff who worked all day to prepare it for them. I didn’t feel divinely inspired when I was teaching my class and probably wouldn’t mark off requirements just because God told me to. Most of the scouts took it for granted that we would show up and babysit them for the hour and a half of free time so they could break every possible rule just to have fun. I can’t imagine how many people would have gotten hurt during the week if the staff were godless atheists, except that most of us were. We spent a whole week learning CPR, first aid, and every safety precaution that needed to be taken; God didn’t have anything to do with it. I didn’t know that Hindus, Muslims, or Jews believed in Jesus; so much for non-denominational.
One night two staffers and myself were walking back from campsite visits on a dark trail. One of them remarked, “Aren’t you guys scared, there could be ghosts and stuff.” The other one called him stupid for believing in superstitions; I asked him, “Don’t you believe in God?” Neither of them could figure out what that had to do with anything…
One of my better friends while I was there happened to be a home-schooled Catholic. He is really intelligent, he’s writing a 5 act full orchestra musical while in college, and it made me sad to see such a great mind go to waste. Anyway, he had to fill in for the chaplain’s aid one week and give a chapel service. It was supposed to be non-denominational, but he decided it would be better if he became a preacher. At the end of the week, a group of Hindus complained that they didn’t receive a proper chapel service and that it reflected badly on the camp. The camp director, who I was pretty sure was an atheist, had a talk with him. Afterward, I tried to convince him that it was his fault for giving a denominational church service and he should take the punishment for his actions. He wouldn’t accept the fact that he was wrong and went on a tirade against all religions that weren’t Christianity, pointing out that they weren’t real because only his religion was real.
One week I had a student in my class who was slow. He came in during his free time to finish soldering on his electronics kit. While I was talking to him I learned that he was from a local town and considered eating at Whataburger [Jake’s note: I didn’t know what that was, but now I want one] a rare privilege. His favorite movie was Mary Poppins because that was one of the newest movies they had. Somehow we got onto the topic of religion and he mentioned that he didn’t see how anyone could be an atheist, and didn’t think they counted as people. I asked him why he thought that; the only reason he could come up with was that his pastor told him so. When I asked him if he liked me, he told me I was his favorite counselor. It’s really sad how the church is taking advantage of his disability and economic status by brainwashing him into thinking that his religion can do no wrong and that all the others were an unforgivable sin.
It’s sad, but I’m not entirely surprised. They are accustomed to making anyone who doesn’t believe in their theology the “bad guys”. It’s a shame the Boy Scouts are such a religiously motivated organization, because I actually think learning about survival skills, being in the woods with their peers, and sharing positive experiences with others is a great thing for kids. Considering you have to keep your identity secret, I’m sure you feel the same way.