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Applications open for National Duty to God Award, a new honor from the BSA

A Scout is reverent, and some adult volunteers go above and beyond to help Scouts on their spiritual journey.

The National Duty to God Award, first presented in 2016, recognizes adults who help young people better connect with their faith.

The award is presented to up to four individuals each year. Recipients receive a handsome blue, white and yellow medal.

Applications for the 2017 award are due March 30.

Find the application, which contains additional eligibility and submission info, at this link (PDF).

Why a National Duty to God Award?

Three primary reasons:

  • It fits with Scouting. The BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principles says no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. Approximately 75 percent of all Scouting units are chartered to faith-based organizations.
  • It embodies the principle “a Scout is reverent.” The BSA doesn’t define “duty to God” in religion-specific terms, and Scouting does not promote one religion over another. The award, also independent of any one faith, simply honors the principles of the Scout Law’s 12th point.
  • It fits in with other national awards. The BSA has awards for meritorious or lifesaving service. There are awards for service to youth on a district, council, regional and national level. The National Duty to God Award is a logical addition to this impressive lineup.

Who selects the recipients?

The BSA’s National Religious Relationships Support Committee. The award is presented during the Duty to God breakfast at the National Annual Meeting in May.

Who has received this award?

The two — and, to date, only — recipients of the National Duty to God Award are the Rev. R. Chip Turner and Rabbi Peter E. Hyman.

Turner, a Distinguished Eagle Scout, has been chairman of the National Religious Relationships Support Committee for more than 30 years. He has also served with the jamboree chaplains since 1981.

Hyman, also an Eagle Scout and part of the jamboree chaplain team since 1981, is the National Jewish Chaplain. He has been on the National Religious Relationships Support Committee since 1998.

Who can earn the award?

  • Nominees must be currently enrolled as an active, participating adult member of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Nominees must have 10 or more years of leadership and service to Scouting and to his or her faith.
  • Nominees must have received the Boy Scouts of America’s faith-appropriate adult religious emblem at the time of nomination, or a comparable recognition from the candidate’s religious organization.
  • Nominees must have a demonstrative, exemplary history of transformational, spiritual, moral and ethical leadership, and edifying service in the advancement and promotion of a Scout’s duty to God.

How does one nominate someone for the award?

Assuming the person meets the requirements in the previous section, you’ll need to fill out this application form (PDF).

The nominator must provide and attach to the application at least three letters of recommendation for the nominee from the following:

  • Local council Scout executive or chief executive officer (or designee).
  • Nominee’s spiritual leader at the local, regional, and/or national level.
  • A current, active member in a leadership role from nominee’s faith congregation.

The nominator should include a summary of the nominee’s character and his or her service to faith and youth.

Do not notify candidates of their nomination.

To whom are nominations submitted?

All nominating materials and supporting documentation must be submitted in one electronic file to Gene Butler, Religious Relationships Support Committee staff advisor, at gene.butler@scouting.orgThe deadline is March 30, 2017.

There is no restriction on the number of applications submitted. Completed candidate applications will remain on file for two years. Afterward, if the nominee has not been selected, a new application must be submitted for future consideration.

Successful candidates will be notified on or before April 15, 2017, and bestowed the National Duty to God Award at the Duty to God breakfast at the National Annual Meeting in May.

Still have questions?

Contact Gene Butler at

19 Comments on Applications open for National Duty to God Award, a new honor from the BSA

  1. Cool. Is there a knot for it?

  2. Just to clarify this is awarded to people nation wide and not by council?

    • Bryan Wendell // February 10, 2017 at 9:36 am // Reply

      Correct. This is a national award.

  3. “National Duty to God Award”

    How ironic for a—sadly so—morally bankrupt organization that defies God by accepting homosexuality and transgender-ing. What a disgrace. 🙁

    • Cubmaster Jess // February 10, 2017 at 10:56 am // Reply

      John 13:34

      • Yesterday's Scout // February 10, 2017 at 10:14 pm // Reply

        Romans 1:26-27
        1 Corinthians 6:9-10
        1 Timothy 1:9-10
        Jude 1:7

  4. So, any person or organization who accepts sinful behavior is automatically “morally bankrupt?” Does that mean that if I ever meet Mr. Stephen G. Agnew, his lack of compassion and rejection of Christ-like charity will indicate to me that he too is “morally bankrupt?” That would be irony indeed, but that’s the next logical step. Are you then casting the first stone?

    I do not approve of such things either, but I would not be so quick to brush off an organization that has built a century of morality and reverence as “morally bankrupt” unless I was ready to be judged just as harshly myself. You don’t seem to catch the beams in your eye as you go trashing other people’s motes. 😉

    • Don’t you get it? Brother Agnew is clarifying that homosexuals and transgender individuals are not our neighbors. He follows a higher, higher law, one where we don’t associate with “them”. He is highlighting that the boundaries of boundless grace exclude certain people and organizations. In other words, Brother Agnew, has fixed Jesus. Or at least the parts of Jesus that were broken. All hail Brother Agnew!

      • John 8, especially 2-18, keeps ringing in my head.

      • Yesterday's Scout // February 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm // Reply

        “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11.

        Note well: “…leave your life of sin.”

        • I find it interesting how often we get caught up in the false dichotomy of “neither do I condemn thee” and “go thy way and sin no more”. Conversations like this miss the mark. We are not Jesus. Individually we are the adulterous woman. Collectively we are the scribes and Pharisees.

          John 8:11 is a private conversation between a sinner and her Lord. We don’t get to apply that verse to others, only to ourselves.

          No, it’s John 8:7-9 that is relevant here. The attitude of wanting to drag others before Jesus, to try and compel Him to judge them, trying to force our will on Him and them, that’s the part of the story that applies to this behavior. Inevitably, once our own bloodlust and mob mentality have subsided, we are convicted by our own guilty conscience and wander away, ashamed.

          As I get older, as I grow increasingly aware that my judgement of others only causes harm to myself and others, as I reflect on how the kindness of others has blessed my life more than their judgement, I begin to understand why it was the oldest of the scribes and Pharisees who walked away first. We have no business being part of that mob. But it takes most of us a while to realize it.

        • Responding to Ray… Wow.
          Thank you for that.

        • Yesterday's Scout // March 5, 2017 at 8:24 am //

          Deuteronomy 22:5.

  5. I’d like to see a similar council level award. Only awarding 4 of these nationally is going to limit the recognition of a lot of people that deserve it. There are a lot of people in districts and councils that help their Scouts on their spiritual journey. These people are on the front lines with these Scouts daily and not just a very high placed religious leader. I’m thankful though for all that remember the Duty to God element of Scouting.

    • Joe Harrington // February 10, 2017 at 8:58 pm // Reply

      And that’s 4 times as many as the BSA’s Wood’s Services Award, of which only one is presented each year.

  6. Ronald Murphy // February 12, 2017 at 1:51 am // Reply

    I wonder how long this medal ends up on Ebay?
    It seems that all the “new” awards (example 2010 items) end up being sold before they are awarded! Sad.

  7. Robert Elliott // February 15, 2017 at 5:27 pm // Reply

    This award is on top of the denominational adult religious emblems, each of which come with some sort of medal and which entitle the recipient to wear the religious emblem square knot. A national or council level award does not (IMHO) increase one’s worthiness and the lack of such an award does not in any way diminish the adult religious emblems already earned and received.

  8. Bruce McCrea // February 16, 2017 at 5:26 pm // Reply

    Some Protestant denominations have different adult religious awards for service at different levels. For example, the United Methodist Church has the Cross and Flame Award for service on the local church level, the Torch Award for service at the annual conference level, and the Silver Torch Award for service beyond the annual conference level (national or international). All are authorized by BSA. There are three different medals and ribbons but all recipients wear the same square knot.

  9. Nathaniel Lim // April 3, 2017 at 4:52 pm // Reply

    Since the recipient must already have the square knot representing the Boy Scouts of America’s faith-appropriate adult religious emblem, I would like to see a device affixed to that knot for the National Duty to God award. This would be similar to the gold eagle device and the silver flying eagle device already used for the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the National Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, respectively.

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