Duty to God becoming larger part of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting

Scouts have always shown reverence for a higher power. It’s in our Scout Oath and Scout Law.

But soon, that Duty to God will be further incorporated into Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting.

Here’s the scoop from Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team:

Cub Scouting

By the beginning of the 2015-2016 Scouting year, each Cub Scout rank will include a new family-based Duty to God adventure.

These requirements will NOT include a requirement that a Cub Scout earn his respective religious award.

Boy Scouting

Beginning in 2016 in Boy Scouts, Duty to God will be incorporated in the requirement to show Scout Spirit.

During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty.

Again, there will be no requirement for the Scout to earn his respective religious award.

More on the changes to Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing

As always, let me direct you to the BSA’s Program Updates page for the latest materials on the exciting changes coming to Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting — and the changes already introduced in Venturing.


  1. “During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty”. I hope unit leaders receive thorough training on how to ask that question positively. Otherwise this risks becoming an inquisition.

    • I’ve never understood how the Boyscouts have continued to have “an Oath” when it clearly states in Matthew 5:34-46 against taking ANY type of oaths on earth ??? It’s suppose to be a Christian Values organization ???

      • Saying that Scouting is supposed to be a “Christian Values Organization” has no basis whatsoever in fact. This is a common myth that for some reason seems to almost exclusively exist in the United States. Why this myth still continues to be perpetuated to this day is beyond me. What I do know is this Robert Baden-Powell was raised in a Christian household but as an adult distanced himself from organized religion. In the Duty to God obligation in Scouting Baden-Powell left it open to a wide variety of belief systems.

      • Because the B.S.A. is NOT supposed to be a “Christian values organization.” Where did you get that idea? Did you get it from reading any BSA publications? Or have you been depending on what is presented in the mainstream media – which has consistently misrepresented the BSA in order to build their case against it’s membership policies in the guise of “objective” reporting?

  2. Asking scouts to explain the 12th point of the Scout Law has been a part of most SM Conferences for many years. I know I did it during my 7 years as a SM, and sitting on many EBoRs since 1976.

    • Good to hear, Ron, but I sense a difference between “asking scouts to explain” and “requiring scouts to explain”. Thanks for all those years.

      • It’s all in the wording. Scouting PREFERS one to be religious, but it is not a requirement. Therefore, asking one to explain what the 12th law means is far different thatn explaining what it means to THEM. They could easily answer what it means just like they would in a class asking what the civil rights movement was about, but their answer might be entirely different had they lived it and were asked what it meant to THEM. One is a personal view, the other a world view. Asking personal views if not religious could appear as an inquisition.

      • To be clear, the new Duty to God question does not REQUIRE scouts to explain anything, it only requires the question to be asked. While they should respond to the question, “I don’t know”, or “It’s personal” or good answers in my book. We have no idea what if any response we will get as a SM. This is basically no different than what Ron and many others have been doing for years.

      • Perhaps I’m to liberal but what I would look for in an explanation of reverence is that a Scout can look beyond himself and see that all people have worth and value and that he finds meaning in serving others. That is a reality of this life that all of our youth should discover and experience.

        We can revere many things. Many things are not worth of being revered. There is value in revering those who are good examples and I would not be a stickler that the object of reverence needs to be an acknowledged religious being. Fine if it is but service is about getting beyond that and acting selflessly.

        • Thank you for your input here. The definition of reverent or reverence is deep, profound respect. insisting that it only refers to a religious being is missing the boat IMHO.

    • In every SM Conference I’ve done in the past year, I’ve asked the Scout how he lives out his duty to God and/or what “Reverent” looks like in his daily life. It’s part of the Scout Spirit requirement: “Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life.” So to me, this new requirement seems redundant.

    • rev·er·ent
      feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.
      “a reverent silence”
      synonyms: respectful, reverential, admiring, devoted, devout, dutiful, awed, deferential
      “a reverent silence”

  3. In Cub Scouting, will there still be an option for earning the religious award to count towards rank as it currently does in Bear?

    • Yes… they can either earn their respective religious award (part 1) or do part 2a and two of either part 2b, c, or d.

      The parts are a bit different for each level of Cub Scouts, but build on each other.

    • Define “religious” We in the Scouting program, profess a Duty to God. That is in our Scout Oath and our Law..What “Duty to God” may mean to each scout, is probably going to be different. However, they are REQUIRED to have such duty, if they are going to be in the Scouting program.. Scouting was founded on Duty to God

      • If a scout repsonds “Duty to my God or your God? I don’t have a duty to your God”. “My duty to my God is to respect other people’s faiths and never judge or question the sincerity of their personal beliefs.” Is that acceptable?

        • Absolutely.

          From “What the Scout Oath or Promise Means” (Boy Scout Handbook, 11th edition, page 23)
          “Your family and religious leaders teach you about God and the ways you can serve. You can do your duty to God by following the wisdom of those teachings and by defending the rights of others to practice their own beliefs.”

          From “What the Scout Law Means” (Boy Scout Handbook, 11th edition, page 25)
          “A Scout is reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”

    • Little annoyed with this one, given the disparity in work required for religious emblems between the faiths. Protestant “God & Me” is ridiculously easy, could be done in an afternoon. Catholic emblems are serious work. Don’t know about the others. Earning the emblem shouldn’t be a sub for the Duty to God adventure.

      • I would have to disagree with you. I am a Christian but I do not belong to a particular religion (Denomination), so therefore which Religious Emblem would I work on? Do I do the PrayPub Duty to God Series or do I have to belong to a denomination and earn that Religious Emblem?

        This to me, is where the problem begins, which is the difference between religion and faith. I have faith in god but I do not attach myself to a particular religion because most people confuse religion and denomination. Also, I currently do not go to Church. And the question I get regularly is………..”Are you an Atheist?” No I am not an Atheist and yes I do not go to church. Does that make me immoral? No, it doesn’t. The next question I get is………….”Aren’t you not complying with the BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle?” And I say no, I am complying with the Declaration of Religious Principle. The Declaration of Religious Principle is as follows”

        “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God, and therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to these precepts from the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of leadership.”

        And just for reference on paperwork that asks for my “religious preference” I just put independent christian. And FYI, I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and was very active in the Church until I moved away for college and ever since then I haven’t gone to church very much. The only time I really go to church is:

        [A] As part of a Scouting Activity
        [B] When my parents go (They themselves go rarely)
        [C] If I am hanging with friends and they go to church

        • If you are talking about the four patch set from Pray Pub, that is designed for when you attend a presentation on the Religious Emblems program. It is not faith based. When I have talked about the religious emblems in my son’s den I do an overview of the program and what it is about. I also use the poster of all the medals from the faiths. I let the boys see my medal (LDS) and discuss the knot on my uniform. If the parents and boys want to work on their faith’s award I will help get them the information or where they can get the materials. I pick up the patch pieces and present them to the boys. So far they have two segments and want the other two.

          As far as how to get a religious award when one is not actually tied into a faith that provides an award is tricky. Depending upon the faith some will state you have to be a member whiles others don’t. Just speaking for the LDS adult award we had a SM who was Catholic. None of my contacts could get him the info on the Catholic award. So we approved our Bishop and after review determined there was no membership clause in the requirements. The SM met the stated requirements and received the award.

        • Robert, I am will aware and understand the Religious Emblems program. I earned both Ad Altare Dei and the Pope Pius XII awards, as during my youth I was involved in the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally when I said “Duty to God Series” I was referring to the four religious emblems that PrayPub offers for various different Christian denominations. The Poster and 2 page pamphlet about Religious Emblems is a great resource. One other thing I would based upon my experience with the SM being awarded the LDS as a Catholic is definitely a unique way to handle a unique decision.

        • Pray Pub appears to align with the non-denomination category. My church is ND. They say they have enough issues to deal with without also dealing with a denomination. This area has a lot of ND churches. The church is the body of believers-not a building.

        • I hear you on faith and religion, but too often we feel “religion” as a specific set of defined values belonging to a faith-group, church, etc. In fact, religion and ‘church’ and not the same. Faith and religion are closely aligned as ones faith is a definition of his/her religion, even if that person approaches deity independent of any “religious organization.” While a person’s faith may be structured around an organization, his faith ought to grow independent as it matures. In doing so, his faith may match an organization’s precepts, or may run independent as you’ve experienced in yours. In whatever condition you find yourself, not all youth or adult Scouting awards may hold the same value and not necessary for that individual. Or, he may choose from among those offered that closely resembles his own religious tenets. BSA can’t define every value other than to promote the founding principle of Duty to God, however one would approach Him.

      • Having gone through the Parvuli Dei as a youth, and led boys through the God and Me, and seen the God and Family programs, I must disagree. We put a series of about 4-6 weeks into each of them, meeting once in a sunday school format and each having homework over the week. If someone gets through it in an afternoon they’re skipping most of it.

        That said, the programs are produced for each faith, and approved by BSA. Some may require more than others, but that could be taken up with the approving authorities if it’s felt to be a real problem.

  4. A step backwards. We live in a society where religion is playing a smaller and smaller role in the lives of families. As Boy Scouting continues to cling to the “Duty to God” it will increasingly alienate potential new recruits. Boy Scouts needs to understand how society is changing around it and make itself relevant for todays boys otherwise what is best about scouting will be lost to history when it ceases to exist.

    • Sadly the above statement is true in so many parts of the country. I was just thinking about how many boys in our troop do not go to church and their families really have no inclination to be a part of church. This is a problem facing many of the churches today-how to go about increasing the attendance of young families. What do we do when the boy is asked about their fulfillment of the “Duty to God” part and they say the don’t know what we mean? It is one thing to be able to model Christ-like behavior to the boys but another entirely to require the boys, and thereby their families, to be a part of a church. I have seen Scouting struggling in our little rural community for years, if we were to exclude the boys who are not part of a church we would cut our number in half–and having 6 boys in a troop is not much fun 🙁

      • You don’t have to go to church to recognize the existence of God (or gods, or even a non-theistic concept of spirituality) and to recognize that you have a religious or spiritual duty.

        • Absolutely correct. Buddhists and Unitarian Universalists, for two examples, maintain faiths which are non-theistic, or at least open to the possibility of a non-theistic understanding of “God”. Both denomination families are recognized by the BSA, and both offer BSA religious awards for both Scouts and Scouters.

        • Thor, UUA’s award was revoked, but UU Scouters Organization (UUSO) – a separate UU organization – is recognized by BSA: It’s under UUSO’s aegis that the UU’s earn BSA religious awards.


        • Nice. Forcing a Scout to associate with an organization he does not feel represents his religious beliefs (UUSO) instead of his chosen organization UUA. Mighty reverent of you.

      • Oh we are very active in our church, thus the understanding of how difficult it is to get families into the church. It can be very depressing when you have tried time and time again to get Scouts and their families to participate in church services and they don’t participate. When you have the same few boys and girls who are in Scouting and belong to the same three families and the rest of their groups will not join, how can you not get sad? 🙁 I am just questioning this new requirement and am wondering the same as some others herein as to the possibility of negative consequences for Scouting.

        • Why is it depressing when people do not participate in church services? Who says they should? YOUR religion or THEIRS? My religion doesn’t have “churches”. Are you saying yours is better than mine? That is the problem with trying to coerce faith on people. For many faith is something unique and individual. Putting expectations and boundaries on them is what drives them away.

        • Dana, I agree with Thor, I am a Christian, a believer in GOD, the whole point in and I am referring to the Scout Law “A Scout is Reverent” what it mean is a scout should respect the faith beliefs of one another. So if you have a scout that is Mormon or Catholic or Baptist then you should respect the beliefs or others, not conform them to the way of your church or belief. Think about this way, why did we break ties from England and become our own country? One reason is so that we had the right to hold to our own beliefs as a nation.

        • I guess the point I was originally trying to make was that if we make this a requirement as state above “During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty” what if that boy and family don’t attend a church and have no clue what you mean with talking about duty to God and their demonstration of it since they have never set foot in a church. Yes, there are many different spiritual paths to walk, so since you both have said you are spiritual, you learned about it somewhere…your parents,your grandparents, your friends? So how do we get this new requirement to be universal? How do we enforce something that will narrow the scope of what is already a more limited field in just the years I have been a part of Scouting? Non-theistic, poly-theistic, mono-theistic all have an understanding but sheer ignorance of any type of theistic belief is just that sad. @ Thor-what kind of spiritual belief is it that has no church-is not a church a group of like minded people who share the similar viewpoint about a belief regardless of the building? I am trying to educated and give information to make choices but I am sad when people chose to remain closeted instead of educating themselves about all the options. So that returns to the original question I posted–“”What do we do when the boy is asked about their fulfillment of the “Duty to God” part and they say the don’t know what we mean?”” Don’t you think that is going to turn some off of Scouting?

        • Why does a Scout or a Scout’s family have to go to church. In the requirements as written, going to church isn’t mandatory. Church today to more and more people has drifted away from there original purpose and instead have become active in campaigning and politics. I do not believe in churches that mess around in politics because that to me isn’t when I feel most connected to god. In truth the place I feel most connected with God is in the back country or the wilderness or at Scout Camp.

      • I think this is a big reason why scouting doesn’t appeal to a growing majority of our families. The attitude that scouting is a religious organization turns off a lot of people. Had that sentiment been true in the 60’s and 70’s while I was scouting as a boy, my father definitely would not have allowed it. It hasn’t been until recently that Scouting has been co-opted by religious fundamentalism, which is directly associated with its decline in membership and appeal. It’s just the truth and nothing more.

        As a Scoutmaster I never attended church, I don’t belong to a ‘church’, but I have my own faith. My scouts attended their families churches if that is what they wanted, but there is no requirement to attend church in Scouting, nor should there be. We did, as a unit, attend services of the church that provides us with meeting space on Scout Sunday. We had our Scout’s Own on outings and understood what reverence was, what duty to God was, and we also solicited visits from every area religious group to expose the boys to different views. Our troop was very successful and still is because of this culture.

        Duty to God and Reverence is only a part of what Scouting is, not the only thing. Let’s not lose sight of that.

        • Thanks Matt, not all Scout Units are charter through churches, remember that. And Scouting is not religious based as Matt mentioned, there are other elements in scouting that keep it alive.

        • It may be the opposite Michael. The further away from its core roots it tries to go the fewer people want to be part of it. Look at Britten and Canada. As they tried to change to be more like what the non christian non religious societies were like the fewer and fewer troops and scouts they had. Groups like the Royal Rangers are growing in number because they are focusing on values that we should be embracing and not discounting as antiquated and out of date.

        • I for one wouldn’t mind seeing any shred if actual evidence of this fantasy to back up the claim. It should be science based, factual, and TRUSTWORTHY

        • The Ontario Council Annual Reports show that over the past 7 years with the changes to modernize scouting they have dropped in number by 26%. In an internal memo from our British Scout friends “The fact that there are problems within Scouting can be evidenced from two factors. One; a loss in numbers, and two; the growing number of independent organisations, often of a traditionalist nature in reaction to changes designed to modernise scouting in an attempt to hold numbers.” and finally the national office of the Royal Rangers has reported an upswing in new outpost being created all across the country that correlates with the decision of the Boy Scouts to allow Homosexual scouts in. This is not fantasy, its based in fact and it is TRUSTWORTHY regardless of whether you want to except it or not. This is happening all over the place but no one wants to talk about it. Look at the Girl Scouts. When they decided to allow Lesbian leaders they began to loose troops and scout all over the place. Its current interconnected problems include declining membership and revenues, a dearth of volunteers, rifts between leadership and grassroots members, a $347 million deficit, and an uproar over efforts by many local councils to sell summer camps so they can keep their doors open. The American Heritage Girls are taking their place because they focus on traditional values.

        • Those are the same baseless unfounded arguments that have been used in the past, promulgated by hate groups like the FRC and their ilk. They are not factual. They are a fabrication. These arguments were rejected at the May 2013 Annual meeting of the BSA. Just because the info is fantastical doesn’t make it fact.

        • These are not baseless. The 26% drop in troops in Canada is real and right from their annual reports. The quote from the British council is real. They are not from hate groups as you surmise they are from Scouters just like us. I saw multiple troops loose there sponsors in our area when the last ruling to update scouting’s policies came down. This was not fantasy and it had nothing to do with hate. So many people automatically jump to the conclusion that groups of people who hold on to traditional values and are willing to defend those values are haters. We almost lost our troop sponsor. The pastors of these churches had hard decisions to make. It was their opinion that if they let us stay they would be condoning something that the Bible calls an abomination to God yet they also knew the harts of the leaders were for the boys and what was best for them. They knew none of us agreed with the national office. Those pastors in our area who did let there troops go did not do it out of hate. It was a hard decision for them but they were setting an example for their congregations that politically correct is not always right and that you have to stand up for what you believe is right. THAT is what we need to be teaching the boys. The OATH you take and the LAW you live by are not just words and they are no just out of date thinking that no longer applies to the world. They are both just as true and relevant today as they were 100 years ago. They are worth fighting for. Hold true to your beliefs and don’t let someone try to belittle you or what you believe in.

        • Those membership numbers have nothing to do with God in scouting, gays in scouting, girls in scouting…. The 3 Gs are not responsible for that. It’s the lack of relevance and the competition on an order of magnitude for the youth overall. No matter how you try to attribute the membership losses to special interests the Scouts Canada and Scouts UK say it’s simply not the case.

        • Matt, I totally agree with you. For Scout events held on Sunday or during Scout Camp there is usually some sort of “church service”. Though to me it shouldn’t be called a “church service” because that implies it is only directed towards one religion, which it shouldn’t. A better name I use is either “Vespers” or “Scouts Own”.

          When I conduct some sort of “Scouts Own” service I talk about spirituality in the most general way possible, which usually is best taken from Indian folklore or practices.

        • Mike H

          I most certainly disagree with most of your comment. I think that if you were to actually look at the data for membership it shows quite a different picture.

          When you say:

          “The further away from its core roots it tries to go the fewer people want to be part of it.”

          BP was a Christian, whether he was a devote Christian or not has not been conclusively decided one way or the other. BP started Scouting not just for “religious purposes” but instead started Scouting for several reasons including: “fighting the grime state and nature of boys within the Britain” and “build a peace based movement”. This whole “religious only” view is a common view held by those within the United States that truly do not understand what Scouting is all about. Yes, BP talked about the importance of a belief in god but he never went as far to say that Scouting was primarily for Christianity. In face if you look at some of BP’s more personal memoirs or writings you will see that compared to his parents BP was almost not a religious man at all.

          One other thing to remember is that while most believe the BSA is a Christian only organization, the truth is just about as far removed from that idea as you can get. But again, looking at the history of the United States and prevailing myth that the founding fathers were Christians just further complicates these discussions.

          “Look at Britten”

          If by “Britten” you mean the United Kingdom you will be surprised to learn what “The Scout Association” has for at least the past 4 years has been growing bigger and bigger. “The Scout Association” is the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) recognized NSO (National Scout Organization). In fact growth of Scouting in The Scout Association is occurring so quickly that youth members are having to be put on waiting lists due to a lack of fully trained and vetted volunteers. While this may seem weird to the US, the truth is that in the UK it makes sense why it is occurring. This wait-list phenomena is occurring because the training standards and the amount of time required are significantly more than what is required in the United States.

          “and Canada.”

          Canada unlike the UK is a bit more complicated when it comes to membership stats. Canada, unlike all other WOSM NSO which are only allowed to have NSO, has been granted permission to have 2. This goes way back to the beginnings of Scouting in Canada. The two NSO include Scouts Canada (English Speaking) and Association des Scouts du Canada (French Speaking), this division is the first roadblock we come to as the membership stats available do not account for both groups in there entirety. For ease of reference when I say Scouts Canada, I am referring to both organizations, unless otherwise not. Scouts Canada implemented a controversial membership policy at least 8 years ago that allow for homosexual youth and adults to be eligible for membership within Canada. This did cause a decrease in membership due to this policy change. That is a fact that cannot be disputed, however one factor that wasn’t considered was the realignment of leadership of Scouts Canada that severely decreased local leadership (paid) and increased the number of people at the National level. This change, cut volunteers off from having access to Scouting resources and being involved in the decision making process. After years of this more centralized leadership system Scouts Canada embarked on the program review/revitalization program where it put more control back to the volunteers. Yes, in Canada they are still feeling the effects of these two concerns, the percent of loss has been slowly going down hill as time goes by.

          Membership in the BSA, however is going down and the rate at which it is going down has been increasing. However each year more and more councils are stemming the norm and moving to gaining membership. Many people blame the membership policy change as the primary factor for losing members, people must remember that this loss in membership pattern has been going on for a lot longer than people realize. Many older Scouters (traditional Scouting advocates) believe that the biggest problem that caused membership loss was in the 70’s and 80’s when focus changed from Scouting being an outdoors organization to Scouting for the 21st century. What I mean by Scouting for the 21st Century is that the BSA focused more on indoor and less aggressive outdoor activities. Basically, the introduction of STEM and its related programs.

          One thing I do know however is that STEM and related programs need to be a part of Scouting to keep it relevant but there also must be more outing to Scouting.

    • Changes in society are irrelevant. Society is less in touch with nature. Using your analogy scouting should be about video games and watching TV and never leaving the couch.

      Scouting needs to get back to its roots. Surprising how many scouts (and scouters!) never heard of BP or what the 8 methods of scouting are.

      • Changes in society are very relevant. That is why BSA is rolling out all their new flashy merit badges and marketing Summit so hard. The outdoor program is one of the methods of scouting and does help pull scouts from video games and TV. Few if any parents will see all the Video Game time and TV time as positive so they are supportive of Scouting’s aims of getting boys outside and engaged in other activities. However many of those same parents are non-religious and do not want their sons preached to by the BSA – there should be no forcing function within the BSA that makes non-religious families feel unwelcome. Measuring, reflecting on, or promoting religious values must remain private in the home and church.

        • The BSA is marketing the Summit hard because they can’t pay for it, fyi, but you are right, we do need to change with the times or we are doomed to die a slow and painful death as an organization.

    • Actually if you look at the statistics membership in traditional churches is growing, slower than in years past but it is increasing. Churches that embrace the current Political correctness and have female ministers and allow gay marriage are declining in membership. Just look at the split in the Anglican Church, many of whom have converted with the entire parish to Catholicism. Morality is morality no matter if the year is 1420 or 2014 Morals don’t change people do.

      Membership in scouting is declining for many reasons but having strong conservative values is not the reason. The plethora of outside activities, the increase in the amount of schoolwork (when I was in Kindergarten it was play outside, snack, nap story home) Now they are learning to read write and basic math. My 7th grader is doing more homework in a day than I did in a week of HS. I was involved in scouts and played one sport at a time. Now kids play 2 or 3 are in band, or other organized activities and scouting falls by the wayside.

      • I was sort of following you until you blamed gays and women for the decline. What a sexist, bigoted attitude.

        About gays…Understand just slightly on that one because many religions FEAR gays, so I could see a decline there. Not that I agree, just that I understand.

        About women….anybody who quits their religion based on WHO is teaching them or guiding then in their religion, has NO religion. You believe in a religion because of its teachings, NOT WHO IS TEACHING IT.

        • Agreed. Here on the West Coast, the regressive attitude toward gays and lesbian adults is keeping enthusiastic boys out of our Pack.

          In the last two months, I’ve had friends who are lesbian mothers of Cub Scout-aged boys tell me directly that they’d love for their boys to join Cub Scouts, but they can’t do it as long as they must stay in the closet, or “go to the back of the bus”.

          Doing so would require them to surrender their dignity as adults in front of their own children.

          Please, BSA, leave admission decisions of this nature up to the CO.

        • Liberal religions like the UU’s are growing hand over fist, because they are scooping up the NONES. The NONES are non affiliated Spiritual Pantheists/Atheists of every sort. They revere the Universe, steward the environment and celebrate life. They are at one with diversity and Baden Powell’s “Education in Love in Place of Fear”, which was his offering of a voluntary youth training ment to bring the incredibly diverse world together and prevent war by promoting a secular peace. Reverence for life between the artificial boundaries set up by faith in fear, which is to scared to be courageously reverent. Duty to God is an incredibly silly question to ask a Cub Scout, if he has not been trained in Religious Studies and epistemology. Besides, duty to others and life really cover the spiritual ecology of the god concept unless you are looking for the BSA to be a Religious organization. Then you have to decide which Religion or groups of religions. Might as well call them the RSA. Scouts are bigger than that. Scouts are nothing of reverence to reality if they are a religious organization. Indeed, Scouts will be worthless as a compass of reverence if they do not understand that the Great Spirit belongs to no denomination, religion or practice except cheerful service and celebration of life.

        • I’m guessing you are an American Indian. I am, too, partially, way back. But I was raised Baptist. And an OA member as well since several of your statements imply our OA oath, etc., as well as mentioning the Great Spirit (Indian).

          Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

          There are zealots in every faith, every political persuasion, etc. I don’t listen to zealots of any kind. But I do defend my religion when other religions are given preference, aka Islam. Irony is that in 1985 I nearly married a man from Iran. I am not prejudiced either in race or religion. I am glad that I did not given sharia law, which I was too blinded by love at that time to understand. It wasn’t until he wanted 12 kids that I said bye bye.

        • I know of religions that think that homosexual sexual activity is morally wrong, along with heterosexual activity outside of marriage. But I don’t know of any that *fear* gays. Which ones would those be?

        • Well, I was trying to put it nicely. Fear as in fearing that they would ‘catch’ homosexuality like a disease. And I do think they are born with it. What idiot would CHOOSE that lifestyle given their lives are in danger 24/7?

          Now, having said that, my faith does believe it’s wrong. I, on the other hand, even though I personally feel it is unnatural, do not judge them. I have gay friends. And the way I look at it is that #1 – what they do in their bedroom is not my business, and #2 – if, in fact, God does condemn it, then it is he that will do the condemning, not me. And if they don’t believe in God, then it won’t matter what my church or any other thinks of them. But most of my gay friends DO in fact believe in God. They just don’t believe God condemns them, and neither do I. But again, that’s between their God and them….not me.

          I treat and value people based on how they treat and value me. I am rather vengeful, however, – the old karma thing. Treat me well and you will be treated likewise. So if they don’t push their sexual orientation at me, I live and let live.

    • Have to agree with you here. This is part of the reason why I am having a hard time deciding if I will allow my son to join. He sees what a heavy influence Girl Scouts is in our lives and he wishes he could join but at this time, with such a huge reference to God in Boy Scouts (among 1 other thing) I just can’t see myself doing it.

      • What a selfish shame that you’d rob your son of the whole experience because of your personal hangups about a small part of the program.

      • Well, keep in mind Duty to God, closely followed by Duty to Country, is what Boy Scouting is all about. With those as a framework, that is how Scouting then engenders the principles of self-reliance and personal responsibility, they are built on the first two founding principles. Some units may have forgotten, others haven’t. Baden-Powell’s universal religious values (i.e. “unselfish goodwill and co-operation”) and a person’s belief in a God; that it can be built using nature lore as a mechanism and includes every “class of boy” wealthy or not, English, American, etc (Powell, Baden. [1929]. “Scouting and Youth Movements.” p 11, 22, 24). Duty to God has always (or should have) been a huge reference. Without it and Duty to Country, there couldn’t be Boy Scouting.

    • So, you’re saying, as an organization grounded in a spiritual belief and reverence to a higher God, that we should follow society into the gutter. Instead, how about putting our collective heads together to positively address how we inform Scouts about the history and beliefs and make a difference in a Scouts life to understand that we are accountable to a higher being. In the end, the scout will ultimately decide what they choose to believe, but not out of ignorance.

    • Sorry but we’ve been dealing with this ‘sensitive’ issue of religion for years and no reason for BSA to drop its Duty to God. For BSA leaders, there is so many religions in the equation too. It can be handle carefully that has a long lasting impression even when not directly spoken of. Many religions tie goodness/kindness into their preaching just like BSA can tie in its ‘Do a Good Turn Daily’. Being general using ‘Creator’ rather than ‘God’ helps touch this topic if one is outside a church sponsored unit and into any religion and to the non believer. Looking back myself, I was not much of a church goer nor practicing my religion yet years later the impact of the connection and understanding of BSA is deeply rooted in religion underlines much of BSA history and set up that I was able to realize exactly why I felt so comfortable here. BSA will never go away nor should it give up so much of it history for the world. People can and will make choices and those choices should be there for them. Either choose BSA ‘as is’ or ‘move on’.

    • A better idea would be to drop God from the Scout Oath. God is a personal thing, and has nothing to do with scout spirit.

      • If we drop “God” out of Scouting then we’re considering something completely different than Baden-Powell’s “Boy Scouting.” The simplest approach would be to organize something without God, just start over. One could do that locally and not bother about Boy Scouts of American or the English, Scouting. In the founders book, “Scouting and Youth Movements” Baden-Powell said the “main aim in the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Movements has been to give some form of positive training…since the boy or girl is always ready to do rather than digest. … The Promise that a Scout or Guide makes on joining has as its first point: ‘To do my duty to God.’ …to do something, which is the positive, active attitude.” He went on to say that outdoors and active mental involvement in nature allows an awareness of God and that “Religion cannot be taught, but it can be caught.” (1929, p 24)

    • I agree that religion is becoming less and less significant role in families, however I know that most families believe in some sort of higher power. For most this higher power is “God”. The word “God” is very hard to define and understand because there are so many different interpretations. If you need an example, look at the Bible. The Bible has many different versions and is many different languages and each language changes the word or context to fit language-cultural norms.

      Going to church and belonging to a certain denomination isn’t as popular but what people need to understand is that very few are actually Atheist and instead are spiritual with a belief in a higher power.

      • Scouting is a movement , and movements must move in order to survive, B.P. was great in his day. Read his biographies. Would you want that, wouild that be a choice for your sons?

        • I have his “Scouting and Youth Movements” (via Google) and his “Scouting For Boys, 1908” (copy of). If we don’t want Scouting, then we should create something else we think more updated. To me, BP’s Scouting religious and character building concepts, methods, and values are as current as they were in his day. Besides, his day doesn’t differ very much from our own – other than war making in and out of our national boundaries (as you read and see in the news) is far easier than thought of in his.

    • And you are right, “society is changing” but not all of it means a necessary exclusion of Baden-Powell’s founding principles of Duty to God, and Duty to Country. ‘Religion’ is the basis for the existence of Scouting, then Country. While I agree there is a growing separation between religious values and groups, or moral values and government, I don’t see wholesale separation of “God and Country” in most families in this country. Retired from military service we’ve lived in 25 locations in seven states, and yes, the separation exists and its growing, but for most people, regular, unleaded folks (young and old), there is a growing participation in ‘faith’ of some sort. So, BSA doesn’t need nor should it alter its basic reasons for existence. If it were to give up on Duty to God and Duty to Country, the Boy Scouting purposes would evaporate and the organization couldn’t exist, even if the name were kept on as a sort of “Octobers Youth” or other.

      • Wow I read that and wondered if you know there are 11 other points of the scout law and what the other 2/3 of the oath encompass. Religion is NOT THE core principal of scouting. It is ONE of many.

        • The Scout Oath and Law are founded in the first principles of Duty to God, secondly in Duty to Country. Take a read of BP’s “Scouting and Youth Movements” (1929) and “Scouting for Boys” (1908). Google provides a number of sources.

  5. As a new Scouter, I’m concerned about objectivity vs subjectivity in this requirement. How does a Scout with a different view of God and duty to God fair when discussing it with a leader who is of a different faith?

    • We know exactly how he will fair if the leader believes he will not make it to the Kingdom of God because the Scouts beliefs. It is incredible the Content Management Team is allowing a Den Leader so much religious control over a Scout.

      • this will end up like many of the rules handed down from on high. Many Packs/Troops will basically ignore it and others will use it as one more road block to advancement.

      • That’s my concern. The Scout is to be reverent… religion, according to Baden-Powell himself, is to be taught at home. This seems to be going well above and beyond being reverent and making Scouting into a religious organization.

        If there were more objective requirements, I could certainly get behind it a bit more… as of now, I’ll see how it goes and work with the other Scouters to ensure we aren’t pushing a Scouters religious beliefs on Scouts who do not share it.

      • It really pisses me off when I want to agree with a poster and then they just have to throw in the digs against Christianity. Which of course gets me defensive.

        No SM or CM should be allowed to do what this one is doing….but FOR GOD’S SAKE…there, I put in there…..leave the digs at Christianity out of the discussion. You could have said the same thing by saying they should not coerce any scout to any religion.

        • Many Christians of different flavors have explained to me the MUST Evangelize. It is required of the religion. The same holds for many other religions as well.

    • Mike in all my 40 some old years, A Scouter (leader, den leader or higher) is to respect the beliefs of scouts of other faith back grounds, Reverent 12 law for Boy Scouts and soon as I read it right as well for Cubs, Ventures, Explores. In my troop I have Mormon Families, a Buddhist family, as one of two troops in our valley, we get a mixture. Each of my Scout age scouts one of the first things is the scout law, and Reverent is always brought to their attention because our mixture in faith. Their are manuals and other supplies that you can get on line or through your council on working with Scouts with in Churches.

    • The requirement seems to be clear to my as a Scoutmaster, and it is in 2 parts:
      scout is
      1 asked what Duty to God means to him
      2 how he demonstrates that duty.

      I do not see anywhere that I have to grade the scout, have to agree with the scout, nor do I have to give him MY views. Scouts cover the range from in church every week and active with their church to scouts who don’t do anything at any religious institution at all. So the Scout’s Own service on a weekend camp out gives all of them the experience of prayer and meditation and for some, that is all they get. I find that comforting.

      Overall, I think MANY adults read WAY too much into this. The idea behind the Duty To God is what we teach – chain of command. The scout answers to his patrol leader, who answers to his SPL, who answers to the Scoutmaster(s). Finally ALL of us answer to a higher power no matter what. It teaches that we all must be humble and to respect authority. None of us is the master of the universe (likely here I am in opposition to several religious organizations). Any family who thinks otherwise should reconsider BSA.

      It is simple. The SM conference is a time to get your scout to think about himself and express to you his views. The SM Handbook talks all about asking open ended questions so that the Scout and SM get to know each other better. It is NOT a pass/fail situation where the scout is then in/out of scouting. Not at all

      If a boy is NEVER asked about his views on what Duty To God means, then why is he saying it as part of the Scout Oath??? Teenagers can see right through any Oath that is empty and recited as merely words.
      I tell my Troop that Scouting is a thinking game. You don’t get to coast through.

        • “Visit and discuss with a selected individual approved by your leader (elected official, judge, attorney, civil servant, principal, teacher) your constitutional rights and obligations as a U. S. citizen.” – First Class Rank req. # 5

        • Yes, why is it in the Scout Oath? And why do you think Scouts won ‘t feel pressure? And why do you think SM’s can handle this question with the sensitivity it requires, when most of them have 0 religious studies background, no cultural sensitivity training and haven’t even looked at the wife variety of religious badges let alone done one. Your idea of clear is not thoughtful and very likely dangerous. Like playing with snakes.

    • Fairs fine if he follows the scout law. Conversation goes like this: SM-“Provide examples of how your are reverent in your daily living”. Scout: “I XYZ”. SM-“ok”.

      If XYZ includes “I don’t believe in a god” then the SM will need to mention it is a requirement for Eagle. He would then mention it to the parents and they can follow up on their end. If they are atheist too then you can explain the requirement for eagle and set their goals accordingly.

    • That would depend on whether or not the leader in question understands the Scouting program and has been properly trained. The concept is not to define for the Scout what his duty to God is. It’s to draw out from the Scout the concept that there is a such thing and that he has such a duty. What that Scout thinks that such a duty is would be for that Scout to articulate – however imperfectly – and for the Scouter to sit and listen. If the Scouter thinks their job is to deliver any opinion or direction regarding the fitness or validity of that belief, he or she needs to re-evaluate their role in Scouting.

    • Find a unit that does not place any emphasis on religion. Now I know that may or may not be difficult based on where you live. As a Cub Scout leader, when it comes to this requirement, it gets assigned to be handled as a family since that is where it should be addressed.

    • The adult leader would genuinely and actively encourage and congratulate that youth’s faith. The embrace doesn’t lie in similarity, but in the universal context that one’s belief in God doesn’t discount or diminishes another’s. A christian prayer may be offered in the morning, a jewish may offer the evening prayer, a faith-neutral may offer thanks for a meal. The same could be done for the weekday activity, one faith may open the night in prayer of thanks, another faith close the evening in his manner. It works. Better still, when we do this, we get the ‘flavor’ of the Founding Fathers as they wrestled over the Declaration of Independence, Franklin’s idea of opening with a prayer, in a mix group of faith, was turned down but later done – and still done in Congress. We can do the same at home. I think the Smile of Heaven would bless us all if we do.

  6. Most of it looks fine except they still have not fixed one big problem with Webelos.

    a. Help plan and participate in an interfaith worship service with your den leader. Show reverence during the service.

    That is just unacceptable to many Christian and non-Christians. I am astonished these zealots are now requiring “participation” in religious services with members of other faiths. This goes way, way beyond reverent. It seems like some sort of compromise between the extreme right and extreme left that ends up discriminating against another group. If your religion does not have an approved emblem this is the only other option and we know Texas has put HUGE barriers in place to prevent minority and non-mainstream religions in establishing a religious emblem program. Those barriers include the requirement that a religion charter some huge number of units to be considered.

      • Correct both of which may not be possible for some Scouts. BSA decides what an “acceptable” religion is and is not and denies smaller religions access to the emblem program. So it is impossible for some scouts to earn the emblem. It is also against the religious beliefs of some faiths to participate in an interfaith worship service.

        BSA is therefor forcing its vision of faith upon Scouts. Not very reverent in my book.

        • Thor, how does a Scouts Own service fit in with your understanding? It does not have to be deity-based. Also, is non-denominational the same as interfaith in your book?

        • Seth, first of all “Scouts Own” is no longer officially endorsed by the BSA. Please provide current evidence from National this it is. Non-denominational and interfaith fall into the same category in my book. Never been to one where a member to did not quote for some religious text or say something that was questionable to my faith beliefs. I would never consider requiring another to listen to, participate in or have any involvement in my religious beliefs.

      • I will try but it is extremely difficult. Both push freedom for the majority at the expense of freedom for the minority.

      • Trying not to get political here, but Thor sounds like someone who thinks we should open the borders – even more than they are now and is inputting those feelings subliminally. Why else would he reference Texas instead of just BSA in Irving.

        • You draw incorrect conclusions. The political leaders have expressed their desire to secede from the Union. I am all for that and building a Huge wall around Texas to keep THEM out.

        • AT last! We find something we can agree on…only I would want to change one thing. We need a wall on the Mexican border….all the way across, and maybe even Canada….with just a few entry points that could actually be policed.

          Don’t get me wrong…and many do. I am NOT anti-immigration. I am absolutely unequivocably anti- ILLEGAL, repeat, ILLEGAL immigration. Major difference.

          Read about that farm (large one) that is going to start arming their employees because the criminals threatened their lives. Yes, I said criminal. 1. if you cross illegally that makes you a criminal; and 2. if you threaten someone’s life that makes you a criminal.

          Texas is a powderkeg.

    • I need more specifics, what religion is so small it is not listed. I found some I never even heard of on the list: Moravian, Salvation Army, Quakers, Independents. Unless you are referring to what I, PERSONALLY, do not consider religions… I consider them anti-religions….Satanism and Atheism. Please note I said PERSONAL feelings. And like everyone else on here, I have a right to those feelings.

      I encouraged my strictly raised step-kids (strict as in Cathlics) to visit other churches. I’m Baptist, but I have friends from a multitude of religions probably due to my exposure of 7 years of employment at the first historically black college. Those not traditional faiths such as Ba’Hai, Islam, many atheists or agnostics, Wicca, etc.

      Two of my best friends married: a male Iranian and a black female Baptist. That wedding ceremony will be forever in my mind. First the Baptist ceremony at her church, then the Islamic ceremony at the VFW. I do wonder if they are still together due to the very extreme differences in raising children, views on women and the mess in the middle east. I lost track of them.

      My stepkids left the Catholic church and went to Church of Christ. Personally I do not like that church…..way too strict and anti-woman. But that’s what they chose. I did get harassed by my in-laws for encouraging it. I didn’t encourage it. I told them to visit other religions.

      • You have never heard of Quakers? Never served oatmeal as a kid? Salvation Army? Do you not shop in December? Lol

        Do you know what the BSA requirements are for a religion to establish a recognized emblem? You will have a hard time finding anything published. Why? Because they want to keep certain religions out and so they have established a moving target. One of the most recent roadblocks they have put up is an organization must charter at minimum 25 units with the BSA.

        Why must a religion have a minimum size to have a emblem? Why can’t a family have their own religious beliefs that are different than anyone else? Is that somehow less legitimate? Doesn’t sound very Reverent to me.

        You mentioned Wicca. I know for a fact BSA has denied their application. How about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. No you must be of the RIGHT kind of religion.

        • Now I have a problem. Are you seriously saying that a FAMILY can suddenly decide they are a church or a faith? You are kidding, right! God forbid!

          I just took part in the picket lines against the WACKO Westboro Church who had the nerve to picket at my grandson’s school.

          Yes, they claim Baptist. NO THEY ARE NOT. They are POS’s. Do not ever associate me with them.

          What does that have to do with this conversation? That group (mostly all related and probably inbred) would most certainly jump at the chance to do that. That is scary.

          And the stupid religion you named – spaghetti….what a farce.

          These religions are only doing that to get the tax exempt statuses.

          Of course I’d heard of Quakers, I live in an area where Mennonites and Amish are everywhere. But I have never ever heard of anything having a scout troop….ever.

          We don’t have any Salvation Army troops either.

          Sure, there should be reachable guidlines. 25 units, if you are talking nationwide, does not seem unreachable…unless it is your spaghetti religion you mentioned.

          And never, in no way, shape or form would I want a FAMILY to be able to become a recognized religion getting tax benefits. NEVER.

          Is that what you are wanting to do?

          About Wicca; I have friends who are. I do not doubt it was denied because most people confuse Wicca with Satanism. Wicca worships he elements, mother earth, etc…..Satanism worships just that, Satan. Big difference.

          You keep saying academic learning. I’m find with that. But what is the difference between academic learning and experiencing firsthand that religion ONCE as a rank requirement.

        • What??? Where on earth are you pulling the Westboro stuff from? Do you have me confused with someone else? Taxes, who brought up taxes? I am no Tea Partier.

          Tell me this. How do religions start? Is there some “Big Bang” and they all of a sudden have 3 million followers across the globe? Do they start with an idea and grow or fail on their merits? Is LDS legitimate religion? On what date did it become so? April 1, 1902? 1903? Until they meet some critical mass are they not legitimate?

          Stupid religions? Now that’s Reverent. If you want to talk stupid, try the Earth is 6,000 years old.

          What I want is for myself and my family to have religious freedom. To believe what we want and express that belief how we want and not be forced to participate in interfaith religious services and the new Webelos program requires because my only other choice is a Religious emblem that the BSA denies me.

        • Stupid was in reference to the spaghetti religion, not one that is truly a belief in something. Sorry, a belief in pasta is not a belief. And if that makes me irreverent, then I guess I am.

          Look it up. Many religions claim to be so in order to be exempt from taxes. That’s where that came from. Has nothing – zero – to do with tea party. My point was that the psycho Westboro group would become one if that was allowed.

        • The LDS Church was officially organized on April 6, 1830 and recognized under New York State laws of the time. Since then it has grown worldwide.

          I find it interesting in your original comment that you singled out the one organization that has been a Chartered Organization partner with the BSA for over 100 years. And the same organization which it’s current President Thomas S. Monson has served on the BSA National Executive Board for over 40 plus years. So for you to single out the LDS Church and question it’s legitimacy with it’s support of BSA plus the fact that a Mormon is the Majority leader in the US Senate and another one was a Presidential candidate in 2012 seems a bit religious bigotry.

        • Try reading my post again. I am reverent towards the LDS and I expect the same from them. I really don’t care when the Church achieved legitimacy in the world. It was founded by one person. Had I been around back the I would have been reverent towards it immediately.

          Others posting here are not reverent towards other religions. They have some sort of litmus test the religion must pass, but of course it is a moving target.

          I assume by your comment the LDS will now put its full weight behind opening up the BSA’s religious emblem program to all religions with no litmus tests? Anything short of that is religious bigotry.

      • Druidry, Wicca, Asatru, Native American religions (not the peyote one, I dont’ think they have kids participate in that), and I’m sure a lot of others that don’t come to mind.

        One issue with some of these religions or religious belief systems, is the lack of a central governing authority that connects individual groups with each other.

        Wiccan groups for instance, while they communicate with others, aren’t part of a “Wiccan Church” – so if they (and it would be one or just a few individual groups working on developing it) develop a Religious Emblem program for their youth, they will never have enough separate Wiccan youth units to meet the BSA minimum threshold. Even if everything else was put together nicely and had compatible levels that worked in tandem with the levels in Scouting.

        There was a group that actually did try to get a program approved in BSA, but there weren’t enough participating Circles & Covens. They’ve since focused on developing an alternate youth program entirely separate from BSA due to that as well as other issues they felt weren’t compatible with the Wiccan faith.

        And when it comes to religions such as the Native American faiths, the people who embrace those faiths often face persecution even from their own extended families. We’ve had a couple of boys over the years in our group whose families follow ‘the Old Ways’ as they self-described it.

        • I don’t have a problem with smaller religions being religions, I do have a prolem with Thor’s assertion that a FAMILY can claim to be a religion. If we could do that, I want to do that. I have lots of friends who would be happy to begin the ‘survivalist off grid’ church. But that would not be a church, sorry. I guess I could form one if I believed in the tooth fairy or tinkerbell. There has to be some logic come into play somewhere.

          About Wicca. I know people who are Wiccan. They DO belong to a church.

          The problem with religions like Wicca is that even though there are hundreds of thousands of Wiccans…..not sure a ‘troop’ would want to associate with them, even if they understood that they don’t believe in Satan….it’s all in perception. Would be hard to get people to donate to or buy from a Wiccan troop. So, no, I don’t see that happening.

          About Indians. I’m part Indian. I have mixed emotions. I also have friends who do worship the old way. One was married to a Christian. He got ALS. I offered to set up a Caring Bridge site for him. At first she said no because she was not a Christian, and the site is basically a Christian site…but it is not exclusive, and that’s what I told her. Then it dawned on her that it wasnt about HER, it was about HIM and what he would want.

          I would think there would be enough Indians – across all tribes that could come together as one tribe for the sake of BSA’s rules, and form their own units and emblem that would honor all the tribes. I know lots of parents/kids that would join if that was the case. But they would have to come to an agreement, and history shows us that tribes fight. That was their downfall to the ‘white’ man. What’s that saying ‘divide and conquer’?

        • So what is your litmus test for a religion to be a Religion? At exactly what point did the LDS become a Religion and not just a family? You seem to be implying some critical mass requirement.

          I never considered that there would not be a Native American religious emblem. I will have to look that up. Are you in OA? If the BSA denies an emblem I may have to turn in my sash.

        • Well, I don’t see anything relating to Indians in the list. Here it is. There’s Hindu, Islam, Buddhism among a few that aren’t ‘mainstream’ here, but nothing Indian. And I would assume it is because of the multitudes of trides. My great grandmother was Indian. I’m also Brotherhood OA. and an advisor in our chapter. Sad that you feel that way about OA, but you do what you have to do. There were many who turned in their sashes and/or their Eagle awards during the upheavel last year, too. Some because we changed to allow gays, and some because we didn’t allow adults.

          I guess I’m selfish. I earned that sash. I’m secure in my faith. I don’t need BSA’s approval on my faith.


        • Well I won’t have my sash for few weeks, so really don’t have anything to turn in. I would find it ridiculous if the BSA refused native Americans an emblem for one of their litmus tests. For all I know the NA are not interested in one. I don’t need some medal from the BSA to enhance my relationship with my “god”, nor do I feel the need to wear my religion on my clothes. “Look, look, look at me! I believe in God!” I have never applied for any knots as well.

          You did not answer my question? What is the test for a religion to be legitimate? Westboro may be psychos but I always assumed they have a religion, Baptists as they claim. My step grandfather was Southern Baptist Minister and was pretty far out there but I never saw him harass people. I have no authority to judge their beliefs. Do you? They can hate on people all day and night for all I care. If that wins favor with their god more power to them. Although if I were President I would harness the power of my drones on a few occasions for their actions. Would probably do the same to certain protesters harassing women.

        • Do you know what Westboro does? Are you a vet? Hell, they are even going to picket Robin Williams funeral.

          And to picket war heroes funerals is beyond disgusting. To say I hate them, makes me UNChristian. But I was in the service, so anyone disrespecting my fellow servicemen for any reason makes me angry beyond belief.

          They are so wacko they actually say that because America is accepting of gays is why Ebola is on its way here. Actually a case just discovered – other than the 2 doctors.

          They walked up to a young girl standing next to me and told her that when she had kids she was going to eat her babies! WTH!?

          They say that’s why Ferguson is happening. They are just wacko.

          They came to my grandson’s school on Tuesday and you better believe I was right there drowning them out.

          These people do not represent Christianity. Like I told the others that were there….do not connect me or mine with this slime.

        • Regardless of what a particular group uses for terminology, small groups lack the ability to charter a bunch of units. They might be able to pull off chartering one unit, but not more; so they’d have to loosely affiliate/network with others of the same faith in other cities who also chose to charter a unit. The BSA set a minimum of a religion holding 25 charters of Scout units as part of the Religious Emblems requirements for BSA approval/admittance.

          And then they’d have to put together a religious program they could all agree to for their youth. Envision if you will, a bunch of small Christian congregations, of various denominations, coming to an agreement on how to develop a religious youth program – included in the mix would be Catholic, Mormon, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist and a couple non-denominational churches and Jehovahs Witness. It won’t work because the point of the Religious Emblems is to familiarize a scout with their actual faith and how people of that faith interrelate with the divine, the world, their community and their self, and includes practices specific to their religious beliefs. The church I grew up in not only would never have agreed to using holy water, they actively spoke from the pulpit about people who do going straight to hell. While they have a Religious Emblem program for youth who belong to that denomination, they definitely wouldn’t permit their youth to take part in one of the other Christian emblem programs.

          Anyway, the relevance of this in conjunction with this article is just that there are going to be Scouts who aren’t going to get to choose the “Earn your religious emblem” option for the religious requirements. They will be stuck with the BSA alternate. Therefore, it would be the right thing for BSA to do, to make sure they use non-sectarian language, and that there are a variety of options in the list of “how to complete this requirement” which do not put a Scout & their family in a position of compromising a religious belief in order to comply with a Scouting requirement. Heck, the one about attending an interfaith service could be expanded out to “a service such as church, temple, grove, mosque, synagogue or as your faith practices”.

          It’s not a joke that some groups are very much against any interfaith participation. My own parents refused to let me attend an interfaith youth assembly as a teen because I’d be “mixing with” teens of other Christian denominations. So it isn’t even going to necessarily be someone non-mainstream in religious belief that is going to run into an issue with the requirements.

    • Thor, this appears to be a valid criticism to me. I agree with you that there are a number of Christian sects – and, I suspect, some Muslim and jewish ones – that would find this unacceptable. I think that National has overstepped the bounds of Scouting on this one.

  7. A Scout should have the ability to keep his religious beliefs private if he so chooses. I don’t think we should require a conversation. If a Scout wants to share, great. If he doesn’t, that should be fine too.

    What about those Scouts that are still unsure about their religious beliefs? These conversations are best left between a religious official and the Scout — it’s not a Scoutmaster’s place.

    This rank addition is a mistake.

    • This is all a big Lie. The headline is “Family Based”, but the details bring it all out to the Den level. Forcing conformity appears to be the goal.

    • As BP said, it’s best left between the Scout and his Family. Faith is a strange bedfellow, and a young boy or girl should be encouraged to understand the faith and religion of the family above all other influences. A Scout Troop is not a church.

  8. Why, why, why do these requirements keep focusing the BSA program onto “God”?

    I am an Eagle Scout. I am a Scoutmaster. I am a father… and I do not believe in God. However I am a man of faith. I believe in a god. I am theistic. I am religious. I am reverent towards a higher power and I do my duty to the deity of my faith.

    But why does the BSA feel the need to force the “capital-G” god as the one, and the only, acceptable faith in their wording of such requirements? My god is not the Jewish/Christian/Muslim god. My god is not the “capital-Gee”-oh-dee, god. Does my faith, and thus my duty to my god, not fulfill the requirements that require a “duty to God”? Is my faith lesser because I don’t follow the BSA’s god?

    It doesn’t seem very reverent (i.e. “respecting the beliefs of others”) for the BSA to have such a narrow view of god and faith and to continue to reinforce it with their language.

    • If you’re a Scoutmaster, you’ve read the BSA’s stand on this and know that they’ve never pushed a particular faith. Nor are they now.

      Perhaps you lost your faith after earning your Eagle, and didn’t lie about it to get the award. Frankly, you’re lying now by serving as a Scoutmaster in defiance of the program’s requirements. If you had any integrity, you’d step down. Your faith is your business, but attempting to deliver a program you don’t believe in is a lack on integrity.

      • He quite clearly said he has a faith and a belief in a god, just not the Abrahamic God. He’s not “lying by serving as a Scoutmaster…..” he has every right to be a Scoutmaster and -not- be Christian.

        The agreement is that a person HAS a belief in God. BSA does not define which God that is.

        Not only that, but of the religions whose organizing bodies have taken the time to develop a religious emblem program for their youth to earn in tandem with BSA, the list includes Hindu (many gods) and Buddhist (creator god that isn’t the Abrahamic God).

    • I agree with Marcus. I am also an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster, and even I don’t exactly know what my religious beliefs are. I believe in a higher being, but I’m not sure what that means. I don’t believe my god requires continual worship to be rewarded in the afterlife; he is content that I live my life in a positive way. I don’t got to church, I don’t pray, I don’t seek god’s approval, and I don’t talk to god, because my beliefs don’t require those things. Am I reverent? Yes. If I were a Scout, is this a conversation I would want to have face-to-face with an adult? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Heck, I wouldn’t even want to have the conversation now with another adult. Why? Because it’s a private matter between me and my god, and its no ones business but my own.

      As Concerned Scouter said above, this rank requirement is a mistake. Scouting has no place to ask Scouts about their religious beliefs — those matters are private.

      For the first time in my life, this is one rank requirement addition that I have no intention of implementing in my Troop. Scouting is wrong this time, and I have an obligation to my Scouts to ensure their private matters are kept private. I will not blindly comply and obey orders.

    • I think you are putting too much emphasis on the fact that the style of the phrase “Duty to God” used a capital G. It is the name of the program so following accepted Style Guides, the G would be capitalized. Maybe “Duty To Your God” would be a better title? See my further comments below.

      • Summit Scouter is correct, I have A Duty to My GOD, not yours or his or my friends, but to the God that I have decided to follow and the God the My Family brought me up to believe in, Again it is the family who teaches the scout about their God, not Boys Scout of an nations. To go against any family beliefs is going to end you up with the lose of a Good Scout and maybe even another Good Leader.

      • Devotional time should never be force on any one, should they not want to participate, do not force them to, cause then you are force religion on to them, maybe not your but the never fact his is being told he has to go…..is force it upon him

        • There’s nothing wrong with silent prayer….and yes, I believe that should be in schools. That isn’t forcing anything on anyone other than to shut up and bow your head. If you are atheist or a satanist, then bow your head to your deity, and silently say whatever you would say in your home.

          Nothing wrong with that. Everyone believes in SOMEONE, even if that someone is himself and he wants to bow his head to himself.

          I do not see how anyone could disagree with this, but they do.

          NOW, having said that, we start and end all scouting events with prayer, but then our CO is the Catholic church. Most of the members come from that church, but not all. Those of us who do not, still bow our heads and say the Catholic mantra. We CHOSE to join that troop knowing it was based on religion.

          I do not have a problem with units specifying their expectations of a scout….openly. That way the boy chooses what he wants to follow.

          Remember, too, that no boy is forced to remain in any troop. If they are uncomfortable with the religious expectations of a troop…SIMPLE….MOVE ON.

          But no, I don’t think religion should be forced, it should be chosen.

        • No one has ever in the history of the earth been prevented from praying silently in school or anywhere else.

        • This is to Thor. I was referring to an ORGANIZED moment of silent prayer. Instead of the prayers we used to say to start off school, have about 2 minutes of ORGANIZED STANDING UP silent prayer time. No words, just quiet with everyone standing and bowing heads. Pray to who you want.

          They DO try to stop Christianity students from meeting and having bible studies or prayer time. It happens in several schools around here so don’t dare tell me it doesn’t happen.

          I’m not talking about disrupting classes, I’m talking about not allowing shirts with Christian symbols, meeting together between, before or after school or at lunch time. Yet Islam gets all that and more.

        • There is everything wrong with organized silent prayer, standing up and bowing my head. See you are still stuck in Christian thinking. My religion does none of those things. I would be praying with others of different faiths. It is coercive to those that do not subscribe to that method of worship.

          Bless you for keep trying. Lol.

        • I’m not trying anything. I sure would like to know what your faith is because you are thoroughly confusing me!

          Silent prayer is just that. So what if you stand and bow? What does that have to do with what you say to your God during that time?

          I’m trying to compromise, but I guess that’s not in your religion either.

        • You want me to bow my head. Why should I? My “god” has never instructed my to do that. “He” doesn’t require me to worship him, go through an agent to be closer to him and he has never frightened me. I do not live in fear of him.

          My religion is a personal relationship. He has never delivered texts to me to read. I have never met him in a physical sense, but I feel him everywhere. You seem to want a label or a name or some sort of category. Why is that important? My faith does not allow me to participate in worshiping God with other people because that is their God not mine.

          I have never been able to figure out why people feel to need to judge or approve of another persons religious beliefs. What is your goal? Get everyone on the planet to believe the exact same thing? A lot of religions are like that, not mine.

          Compromise? Compromise how? You are going to go a little bit against your beliefs if I go a little bit against mine? Why should we do that?

      • Yes, “Summit Scouter,” when the phrase “Duty to God” is used as a proper-noun title of a program they should use a capital G for “God” (along with a capital D for “Duty”).

        However the BSA writes the Oath as “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.” That’s a capital G “God” being used as the indirect object noun in that line of the Oath; that’s not a capital G because it’s the proper noun title of a BSA program (or else “duty” would also be capitalized). The Oath does not say “…to do my duty to god…” or “…to do my duty to a god…” or “…to do my duty to a higher power…”. It specifically says “…do my duty to God…” That’s the capital G god. That’s a very specific god. That the god of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths.

        The BSA can claim to have a declaration of religious principles that does not favor one religion over another but it clearly does. Just read the Oath.

        The BSA says they don’t define the higher power or dictate the practice of a particular religion on Scouts. But they are and they do. They are saying the only acceptable religions are one that believe in God – not religions that believe in any deity or higher power. A Scout needs to believe in God. That’s the God, whatever you like to call him: God the creator, the one “true Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe,” “He Who Is,” “I Am that I Am”, Yahweh, Jehovah Elohim, Adonai, Allah, Brahman Baha, Waheguru, Ahura Mazda. the god of Amraham, capital-gee-oh-dee, God.

        There are many who don’t believe in God but are religious, have faith, believe in a higher power, believe in a god, and are Scouts. The BSA needs to update to the 21st century and be more reverent of their beliefs with their language and wording.

        The BSA is specific with what God is okay here. Saying “all Scouts must do their duty to God” rather than saying “all Scouts must do their duty to a god” is like the BSA saying “Scouts should talk with Mr. Smith before starting work on a merit badge” rather than saying “Scouts should talk with their Scoutmaster before starting work a merit badge” (the former is only applicable to Scouts in Mr. Smith’s troop, while the latter sentence applies to all Scouts). Why be specific about what god a Scout must do their duty to if Scouting is truly open to Scouts of all faiths and all gods?

        Additionally the BSA should respect the convictions of those who exercise their constitutional freedom to practice religion as individuals without formal membership in organized religious organizations. In a few cases, there are those who, by conviction, do not feel it necessary to formally belong to an organized form of religion and seek to practice religion in accordance with their own personal convictions. These beliefs and views often get pushed to the sidelines simply because their beliefs or customs are not the “norm.”

    • You could’ve taken the very words from my mouth.

      When I earned my Eagle, I was fairly devout- but not to God as the church who lent us space for meetings understood it. As a JASM and ASM, I encountered a few situations where the other boys were interested in religious iconography for purposes of meetings and events, and as an adult leader, I handled it with an open-ended approach that suggested they take into account the feelings of everyone else; if they could find a common ground that everyone was okay with, then it was alright with me. (It didn’t matter whether *I* believed it, it was more important to me that they consider the impact of their choices upon the feelings of others, and acted accordingly.)

      The BSA has come a long way in the last several decades towards the ideals of “tolerance” and a sense of openness, but in many ways it remains pretty closed towards those who don’t share the At-Large faith.. this addition simply seems another step backwards to me. As a father, I’m almost glad I have girls- we may end up selling cookies when they’re young, but other options remain open to them when they’re older. If I get a chance to rejoin the ASM ranks, I’ll be sure to find a group equally open-minded (perhaps a tough call here in the South, but I’ve got time.)

  9. I wonder how well BSA will handle all religions. It’s a very wide net to cast, and the vague-ness of the “old” model facilitated people of many beliefs nicely.. As a cubmaster with Muslim, Greek Orthodox, long house and other “Non-Traditional” beliefs in his pack, If the presentation is christian centered it’s going to cause me some serious headaches..

    • The way I read it, it isn’t asking what God as in Christian means, it is asking what does God (whatever God) means to you and how have you shown it.

      Please note that Sons of Daniel Boone…one of the questions we, as mentors are required to ask is ‘what does duty to God mean to you?’. REQUIRED question. Granted 99.9% of the answers I received were Chrisianity based. I did have one tell me he was an atheist, and I told him that was fine. To then tell me what atheism meant to him, then, instead of what God meant. It was an interesting discussion.

      Remember, these are not lengthy questions, and like we tell each candidate before we ask the questions…..there is no RIGHT OR WRONG to the questions. They are about their concepts, their feelings, and to allow them to loosen up a little before the ceremony, and to realize we are there to help.

    • I don’t know where you live but in my hometown we had Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, and Serbian Orthodox Churches. “Non-traditional”??? according to what authority?

  10. As a Scoutmaster, this is a conversation that I am simply not comfortable having with a Scout. As a previous commenter said, these conversations are best left to a religious official.

    • I never had a problem discussing religion or faith with my scouts, but what I would do is ask if they had discussed what the family / parents follow as a religion or faith. If they said no, I’d ask them to talk to mom, dad, or grandparents if they have guardianship. It is a matter they should understand within the family, and not in the troop. If they practiced something unfamiliar with me, I’d then had a conversation with the parents and learn more about the families beliefs to better understand them. A good approach.

  11. It concerns me to hear the negative comments. A scout is asked to respect others of faith, not to believe all faiths. Where in the bible, or any other religious text, are you forbidden to do that? (And if it is truly forbidden, BSA should respect even that…)
    Why wouldn’t you want your scout to demonstrate that he has a healthy balance of body, mind, and spirit? Isn’t that why we have our boys in this program?

    • The BSA is not asking a Scout to be reverent. It is demanding participation in religious services with other faiths. It is demanding a Scout discusses his own personal beliefs with others that may be of different faiths. How is that Reverent?

      • How is it irreverent to discuss faith with anyone? Is it that hard to sit through a service that is not religion specific? Why is this such a big deal? aren’t scouts supposed to be Courteous, Kind, and Reverent. Isn’t it courteous to learn about another scouts faith. I am not saying to Prostyetize (sp?), but learn about the faith. Knowledge is never a bad thing.

        • There is no such thing that is a service that is not religious specific at least in the broad sense. I have never seen one that does not go against my religious beliefs. Learning about other religions as an academic exercise is great. The BSA is not asking for that at all. It is DEMANDING PARTICIPATION in religious services with different faiths.

        • Thor, they are asking the boys to experience another religion ONE TIME! What the hell is wrong with that? Sorry, that pisses me off. Obviously, your religion, whatever it is, is less open-minded the constantly bashed Christian religion. Sure, parents expect their children to follow in their faiths the way they raised them and that includes anti or non-religions. But exposure to other religions is a plus, not a negative.

          I repeat, and repeat, again and again…. I do not endorse forcing religion on anyone, but asking them to do that as ONE single easy to do thing on the road to advancement….well, I just don’t see it.

          Let me throw this out there. For those of us that do not believe in the big bang….how angry do you think that makes parents who know their kids are being taught things they don’t believe in?

          Where is your anger toward the school system for FORCING those teachings on them? Where is your anger toward the school systems who are now supplying prayer rooms and prayer time to Muslims, but the word of God (Christian God) cannot be uttered in schools. Where is the anger toward the duplicity?

          Please, tell me.

        • Again. Experience as in stand against the wall and watch is one thing. PARTICIPATE is another. How can two people worship together when they can’t agree on what they are worshiping?

          I have no problem with teaching evidence based science in schools. I have a problem teaching faith (by definition cannot be proved). I know nothing about prayer rooms, but sounds better than public Christian prayers over the PA system.

        • WOW, so it’s ok for our tax dollars to pay for special rooms set aside for Muslims in public schools, plus allowing them time OUT OF CLASS to go these rooms given they are required to pray at certain times of day, thus requiring teachers to make special accommodations both in allowing them out and making sure they aren’t ‘left behind’ – making more work for the teachers.

          But it’s ok to teach science based stuff – and I use that term loosely – even if it’s against a religion. And if the kids don’t do it, they flunk. Talk about required participation. double standard any?

          BTW: They are finding more and more historical evidence of Christianity, but I won’t go into that here…too lengthy.

          Side note: if Christianity tried to literally blockade a NYC street to do prayers, we would all be locked up! But not Islam.

        • I didn’t say I was fine with it. I said it is better than what happens in public schools all over this country. Yes it does, read the news, not Fox News but real news.

          Public schools should teach evidence based facts, not faith based beliefs.

          As for anyone blocking the road. That’s why I drive a Jeep. 🙂

  12. Some Scouts aren’t sure about their beliefs but you don’t have to agree with someone to have a discussion. There are other points we must follow as Scouts and Scouters.
    A Scout is Trustworthy, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave. All of those points that we agree to follow would aid in discussion. Our pastor once said that if we all agreed about everything, he didn’t think he’d want to come to church with us. I don’t have to agree with all of my Cubs and Parents theologically but once we add all of the other points in, we can have an open, respectable discussion without agreeing if need be.

  13. I think it’s a good thing. It’s a way to encourage Scouts to think about how their religious beliefs affect their daily lives. Since “A Scout is Reverent” also means respecting other peoples’ beliefs, I think most Scout leaders will understand this and won’t try to proselytize. If a Scout’s not sure of his beliefs, then the leader should encourage him to talk to his parents or religious leader about them.

  14. This is a step backwards! God, faith and religion should be at home or at church , NOT in the scout program. My two units are chartered by public schools and are very diverse. Everytime the “God” issue comes up we put our Charter at risk.

    Why can’t a scout be a god person and be respectful to ALL religions and beliefs? Isn’t that what Reverant means?

    • BP said “There is no religious “side” of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God. How is any of this disrespectful to any religion?

    • You should develop a culture within your units the encourages the diversity of faiths, work to help the boys / girls understand what differences there are in the different religions in your community, and what the similarities are. They do not get this in their churches typically, and of course never in their schools. Reverence is to respect your own faith and the faith of others. this is a good way to do that.

      While I hate these new requirements, it’s a good time to figure out how to mitigate the fundamentalist attitude that pervades our organization and bring the ship back to center.

    • Your 2 units might -meet- at public schools, but it is not possible for them to be chartered to a public school. The ACLU sued HUD, Chicago schools, and the Pentagon over chartering BSA units because of the “duty to God” reference in the oath and membership exclusion of atheists, all three settled and BSA stopped issuing charters to gov’t institutions. Units chartered to military bases switched their charters to VFW and Legion posts, school-based units formed “Friends of XYZ” LLCs or switched charters to other community groups (like Moose lodge) while continuing to meet at the school, some units simply folded.

      • That’s what I thought but I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t comment. Our cub pack meets at the school but is chartered by the Lions Club. Our troop never met there. They wouldn’t let us because we had a belief in God, even though a few boys were inactive as far as relgion. they were afraid of the consequences. I guess they figured cubbies no one (ACLU) would really go after…but they would the BS. We met at a church.

  15. There has always been a religious aspect to Scouting. Scouting is actually very tolerant when it comes to this subject, ‘tho some of you may not agree. All religions are allowed. If you have a unit that isn’t tolerant, then deal with it at the pack or troop level. Or find another unit that is more compatible with your Scout. Even though this post says there’s a requirement, do you think the Scouting police are going to come and sit in on boards of review? Come on. Packs and troops are run by parent committees. I think you all can figure it out.

    • The concern is, Kelly, not that National will come and police BOR or SM conferences. The concern is that some (hopefully well-meaning but nonetheless misguided) Scoutmasters will use this as an opportunity to push their faith on youth or to put up barriers to youth who don’t meet their definition of Reverent. We all know they are out there. Just like the leaders who say the summer months don’t count towards advancement or the ones who retest every requirement or who have to approve merit badge requirements after the counselor signs off.

      If we are going to make this a requirement of every SM conference, why aren’t we making Duty to Country a required part as well? That is an equal part of the Oath. Why aren’t we requiring a conversation about Trustworthy in every conference (or Kind, or Thrifty…). Those are equally part of the Law.

      I have no problem with Reverent or Duty to God. I don’t think, however, that we need to elevate those ideals over the rest of the Oath and Law. Even more importantly, I don’t think that it is a topic that should be a required conversation at every SM conference. Our Declaration of Religious Principle is pretty clear – “Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.” This is a topic for home and faith organization. Not for Scoutmaster conferences!

      • The current rank requirements do require a discussion of different points of the Scout Law during Scoutmaster Conferences. It requires that you choose different points of the law to discuss from one conference to the next.

        • Brian, you state that, “The current rank requirements do require a discussion of different points of the Scout Law during Scoutmaster Conferences. It requires that you choose different points of the law to discuss from one conference to the next.” I’d love to see your citation for that assertion.

          When I read the rank requirements, I see them state, “Participate in a Scoutmaster conference.” I don’t see anything in the rank requirements that specify the content of that discussion.

      • And if any SM or CM IS forcing their religion on a scout, they should be immediately removed. Period. I do not see a problem with asking youth to visit one time another religious service. But forcing a specific religion on a scout or condemning a scout for their relgiion is never, ever acceptable and that leader should never be allowed as a leader.

        • What’s the big deal. There are faith requirements on the Eagle Ap. New req. added last year. Reverent is one of the 12 points.So why not mention it in the SM conference. Same with CBOR.

          I never saw Thor mention what his particular religious faith was in all his posts. Maybe I missed it. I read plan and participate meaning plan and attend. A scout can plan on paper. to activate it one must participate it (attend). I have been in a lot of services I didn’t particularly agree with on the content. Camped and shared a weekend with LDS members in including praying before meals with them. Doesn’t mean I agree with their particular beliefs. I prayed to my God.

          Regarding leaving it up to the parent. I have a scout with an atheist parent. The scout is getting basic exposure and that is fine with the parent who I believe is letting the scout make up his own mind.

          BTW, a devotion need not necessarily be a sermon unless the Unit happens to be 100% unified in a particular faith. Adjust accordingly depending on your Units membership’s beliefs.

        • He hasn’t said, even though I asked out of curiousity. Since almost everyone on here who says they believe in God has stated their faith (or even those that don’t believe have stated that), it makes me even more curious. What’s that old saying, about how rumors start? He doesn’t have to say, but I’m proud of my faith and have no problems admitting to it, and even admitting there are psychos who say they are the same but are not (Westboro).

          But it’s his choice.

        • Mike, have you ever heard the term “exactly as written” ? Check out the GTA. You don’t get to change the meaning of words. Attend and Participate are distinctly different words with distinct meanings. Do I need to get out the OED for you?

          Being reverent towards a religion is not the same as participating or even attending it for that matter.

          “Did you perform your duty to god?” A simple yes or no is all that should be required. Requiring anything more than that is disrespectful to ones private religious beliefs. Or do you feel one is not allowed to have private religious beliefs? Must one share them to be legitimate and respected?

        • Oh for crying out loud you two. Just can’t wrap your heads around someone having religious beliefs without some sort of label or name. Is it not clear to you I do not belong to an Organized religion. I have stated my beliefs on many other posts here, or more precisely stated what they are not. Quakers are the only religion that I have found that does not require you to have an agent and while intriguing they do not fit the bill for me.

          Is this a problem for you? Is it somehow less legitimate? I have a direct personal relationship with my “god”. Would you like me to make up thousands of pages of rules, creeds, dogma, cannon and loopholes for you to sift through? Why must religion be so complex? What purpose does that really serve other than to create a class of non productive theocrats leeching off of me? The going rate of which is about 10% of income on average. Big religion is about as useless as big government in my opinion.

      • That is not entirely correct. Please see the Guide to Advancement, section (Particulars for the Eagle Scout Rank).

        “The particulars below pertain only to the Eagle Scout rank.

        1. Council advancement committees must determine—and make known—method(s) for conducting Eagle Scout boards of review: whether unit committees or the council or district advancement committees administer them, and also how board chair persons are selected.

        2. If conducted at the unit level, at least one district or council representative must serve as a member. If the unit requests it, more than one may do so.”

        The council in which I am a member has the candidate’s Unit Committee responsible for conducting EBOR.

        • Sure, that district or council level representative is just there for show. They have no power, they are not there to make sure it is done correctly. Get real.

  16. Hmm. I agree with concerns surrounding the “objectivity vs subjectivity” of this requirement.

    Moreover, I am VERY confused as to why BSA would choose to implement this in this way.

    Consider the footnote BSA has in place supporting a similar issue in the new Venturing requirements:

    “*A Venturer is not required to share the personal reflection associated with “Adventures of Faith” with his or her Advisor, including the discussion that takes place at the Advisor
    conference, nor with members of a board of review.”

    Why, if this is in place for Venturers would they be making this a part of the unit leader conference for Boy Scouts?

  17. The requirement simply states “the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty.” It is NOT a test to see if the Scout passes. It does NOT ask the Scoutmaster for his/her opinion. It only asks the SCOUT. It is only meant to cause the boy to look introspectively into his own beliefs. I think a lot of people are reading more into this than what is really there. If a Scoutmaster cannot ask a boy for his OPINION without getting all over him about it then maybe he/she should go back for a refresher training course in how to deal with people in general. I know for a fact that BSA training at all levels teaches you how to be respectful of other people – especially the boys!

    • This is an important reminder: The Scoutmaster conference has never been — and still isn’t — a test. It’s a discussion. A chance for the adult to check in with the Scout. That’s straight from the Guide to Advancement.

      • If this Scoutmaster’s Conference is a discussion, why is BSA requiring a scripted dialog? and why on this issue only? Why not on the Duty to Self, and Duty to Country aspect of the Oath, and the other 11 points of the Law?

        My guess is this is an appeasement to the fundamentalists that have worked to change the organization for their own purpose.

        • I agree. Scoutmaster Conference discussions should be open-ended. There should be no requirements regarding WHAT is to be discussed. If a Scout is not comfortable talking about his religious upbringing then he should not be forced into a discussion on that topic.

          Scouting should be courteous to its youth members and respect their privacy on matters that have historically been private (between oneself, his family, and his church). A discussion about a youth’s duty to god with an adult Scouting volunteer is inappropriate.

  18. I am an Eagle Scout. Part of the reason for this requirement is to teach that everyone has different beliefs. Learning to respect others beliefs at a young age increases the tolerance and respect we show others as we get older. This is one of the reasons for scouting. My packs and troops were in several denominations that I was not. We also has Jews/Muslims/Hindus within our membership. Learning about all those religions did not interfere with my own beliefs but allowed me to understand and respect others who had faith in other powers. I believe this new requirement, if interpreted properly, will increase the tolerance and educate our youth on many faiths and learn to respect each others rights to believe as they choose. Many focus on the word God but this can apply to many different religions. One problem the Scouts face is the restrictions on meeting in public buildings (at least in my area). They now mainly only meet in churches, which in turn try to turn many into youth groups for that particular church and faith. This will only make the problems worse because inclusion is difficult when one feels like an outsider and create secular Packs/Troops. I wish Scouting did a better job getting the word out that they really are an inclusive organization because they have helped so many youth, including myself.

    • Then BSA should have an academic requirement to learn about other faiths. Not force Scouts to participate in worship services that include elements of other faiths. It is fortunate that your experience did not interfere with your faith. These new requirements interfere with mine.

      • Scout services should be non secretarian, which is they should not include anything of one particular faith. It should not be Christian or Jewish etc… it should be a very generic service. Look at the prayers in the Den and Pack Meeting guide book. They are more like Affirmations than prayers.

        • Tom Thanks again, as I mention in earlier posts, and Tom has just mentioned them again, there are guides and resources to assist you if you do not understand the aspect. Go to your council ask to borrow a copy or purchase a copy for your unit so that you have it in case the issue comes up again.

        • I think you are missing the point of this conversation topic. The issue is this: should a youth member be obligated to talk about his private religious beliefs with his Scoutmaster? My answer to this question is NO. Religious beliefs and upbringing can be — and oftentimes are — a very personal and private topic. No individual should ever be required to share his beliefs with someone he is not comfortable with. This is the reason I am opposed to the new requirement.

  19. This can be a sensitive issue and not just due to multiple faiths in an unit. I have had Scouts in our LDS unit whose parents were inactive or had specific issues with the Church. As always, the kids get caught in the midst of the parent’s issues.

    There were some Scouts that did not attend Church due to the parents not attending but we would have them on Scout night or activities. I had one divorced family where the mother continued bringing the kids but the father would not support the kids in advancing in the Church. (Baptisms, Priesthood ordinations, etc) As a leader I understood the family dynamics and the impact on the Scout. So when we have religious related advancement we are respectful of the family’s views.

    • Robert, understandable. Here is what goes on with our troop, it has worked and it has had it draw back. Our Troop is charter through a First Baptist Mens Fellowship, it is open to any young man that wants to join scouts. Yes, we do Scout Sunday, and because my troop does not care what church you belong too, most my scouts do Scout Sunday at their church. Most our Priests, Pastor, Minsters belong to a group in our valley. So Scout Sunday is always discussed. Now here is the Kicker, scouts that do not go to church (because of family matters) are always invited to do Scout Sunday at the Charter groups church. The parents are talked with saying that they can sit in the back pews and once the scout part of the service is done, they are welcome to leave. Now here is what even gets better, because of Scout Sunday, we have had two families in the past 10 years get back together, KIDS/Scouts can mend families. We have had 3 families join our church because their scout gets involved (we have a Harvest Fair each year that the scout help in) other activities the church has. The Church puts on car show twice a year, the scout work a pinewood derby track, the car show draws their parents which in turn turns on a small light. Like I said it does not work all the time, but even on family drawn back together or one family joining church, that is a blessing……

  20. “Duty to God”! This is not about a title of any religion but an Oath of Duty to God, as it is worded. I believe it should remain just that and in place. If anyone does not agree they should opt out of the Boy Scouts and start their own group without God. But in no way should they take this out. If any are offended they should not join. Our country and its leaders have taken politically correctness to a level that goes against the very beliefs that it and the Scouts was founded on. One Nation, Under God. Duty to God….. Why change.

    • Now that’s the real question isn’t it… Why Change.

      Duty to God has been a part of Scouting since its inception. However, Baden-Powell himself said that faith needs to be taught in the home and that Scouting is not a religious organization. What has been wrong with the way it has been done for the past century… Why change?

      This new method of an emphasis on public religious practice puts a Scout in a position that could open them up to scrutiny that wasn’t previously there, and is subjective in nature. If you have a good Den Leader, Cubmaster, Scout Master, who does this in a purely non-denominational and objective manner, who doesn’t impose his/her personal religious beliefs on the Scout… then your ok.

      However, I have seen the looks on people faces when either I or my son discuss our religious belief’s. Many of the extremely devout will not always be objective in their questioning and will snub-those who don’t conform to their views. I’ve been condemned by many of these people, and my son was kicked out of a friends house (at the age of 5) because our beliefs didn’t fit those with whom we spoke.

      Again, I ask… why change?

    • The Founding Fathers did not stand around pledging “One Nation, Under God…” The “Under God” part was not added until 1954. I suspect you would say the Nation has been on a downhill slide since that time. Why change?

  21. As a Unit Commissioner who has just dealt with a situation where a Cubmaster and his wife pretty forcefully questioned den leaders and parents about their religious beliefs and affiliations, with the purpose of bringing them to their own church, I am very concerned about this. This pack was at the point of losing all its leaders or removing the Cubmaster; I know they will not want to go back to that situation with the new requirements, nor do I wish to see this start up again.

    • I see the fingers of a large religious organization all over this “requirement”. One that has supported BSA for decades, and at least in my opinion, teaches a different style of Scouting than other Packs/Troops/Crews not affiliated with that religious organization.

      And no, our troop is not affiliated with that religious organization.

      The 12th point of the Scout Law is Reverent, and we do have discussions from time to time with our Scouts about what that point means to them. But it is usually during Scout’s Own on a Sunday camping outing, or during Scout Sunday. To put the Cub or Scout on the spot during a rank advancement discussion, doesn’t seem right to me. We should respect other religions and other beliefs. That is part of being an Adult, and more importantly, an Adult Leader in BSA.

      The boys learn by our examples and by discussions among themselves. Perhaps they should also learn what the term “zealot” means and how they should individually respond to a person or group that would try to convince them of changing their beliefs.

        • Yes, this is an attempt by BSA to compensate for allowing openly gay youth to become members. By raising the profile of Duty to God, BSA hopes to show churches and religious families that it hasn’t tossed morality out the window.

          But it is really too little, too late to address last year’s problem.

        • I’m assuming you mean LDS since the Baptists have NOT been silent, and officially they quit but only on paper. They allowed their churches to each decide to stay or go. In our area, we lost about 5 churches, the rest remained.

          The LDS, which everyone figured would be the largest exiter, did not. and they are much more strict than the Baptists.

    • Sounds like a problem with a cubmaster who don’t understand many of the 12 points of scouting. You have to ask. Is that the right person to run a pack if they acted that way?

  22. Part of my Wood Badge ticket was addressing diversity and creating inclusiveness for my pack. One aspect of this was religion. I used the October Pack meeting (Responsibility) to discuss duty to god. At the December Pack meeting (Respect), I had boys of different faiths speak about winter holidays and traditions, then played a bingo game using icons of the different holidays. At each of these meetings, I encouraged the boys to earn their religious emblems. In February, I encouraged participation at a Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath celebration. Finally, I brought it together at the April Pack meeting (Faith) by recognizing those boys that earned their emblems. With Jews, Hindus, and several denominations of Christian in the pack, I think that all the boys learned something about another religion and being respectful of others’ beliefs while cherishing their own.

  23. I have been a district advancement chair for 24 years and worked with over 800 Eagle Scouts. I am finding an increasing number of boys who start to get uncomfortable when we talk about their “religious” reference for Eagle. We have always been able to work out a solution, and it has never become an impediment to becoming an Eagle Scout. I hope none have given up at that point because they are uncomfortable, but as a younger Cub Scout or Boy Scout, it is very easy to loose a boy because they feel that they do not fit in.

    If BSA wants to be an organization for just the “right” people who fit some vision of what we want in our organization, then we need to face the fact that we will continue to shrink as we drive away others. If we want to grow and try to have a positive influence on as many young people as possible, we need to be as welcoming and accommodating as possible. All the statements of exceptions and work arounds in official policy do not help if we set up situations where young people do not feel comfortable or welcomed. They will chose to leave and we probably will never know why.

    In my 40 years in Scouting I have only been to one “Scout’s Own” service that I thought was truly welcoming and not offensive to anyone by assuming the participant’s religious beliefs. Even that one would probably have been offensive to some I could not identify.

    These new changes will clearly make more youth uncomfortable in Scouting, and make them feel less welcomed. As a result, we should expect to see an additional drop in membership.

    It is worth noting that the rest of the world Scouting movement is moving in the opposite direction. With the increasing diversity in many countries, Scouting in most of the world is working to increase tolerance and acceptance. Even the Scout Law B-P developed and used in the rest of the world (which has 10 points) does not include Reverent.

    • “Even the Scout Law B-P developed and used in the rest of the world (which has 10 points) does not include Reverent”.

      True, but to be fair here’s B-P’s original Scout “Promise”:

      Before he becomes a scout, a boy must take the scout’s oath, thus:
      On my honour I promise that—
      1.I will do my duty to God and the King.

      2.I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.

      3.I know the scout law, and will obey it.

        • I would argue “King” maps to “Country”, which as Liz points out above is required to be discussed for advancement to 1st Class.

      • Ah, ah, ah, … you quoted BP. I got some flak for doing the very same thing not so long ago. People want to join the movement BP started but they do not want to live up to his ideals. They say that Scouting is “progressing” … apparently meaning taking on a politically leftist, atheistic, pro-homosexual perspective.

        • That is the reason Scouting is in decline and why people are turning away from it and from churches. The further you turn away from values and try and be like the world the less people want to be part of your organization.

  24. So are we scripting the Scoutmaster’s Conference now? We don’t make training a requirement for the adults, but we make this sort of nonsense a requirement for the kids. I have to shake my head at some of the idiotic decisions made in Irving, but what do you expect from a group of middle aged men that make $500 – $750,000 a year from our membership money.

  25. Perhaps the goal is to avoid an EBOR where the scout,when asked, says he is an athiest. I have a troop of mixed religious beliefs, yet we are able to be tolerant of beliefs and still conduct brief meaningful devotional times at campouts.

    • How do you really know if they are all really find with your “meaningful devotional” time? Is there the possibility they are keeping quite so not to make waves?

      Perhaps gotcha religious questions should be prohibited at EBOR.

  26. “During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty.”

    I’ve been doing that for 20 years. I tell the Scout that different people of different religious view these things differently and I’m not going to judge him by what *I* think someone’s Duty to God is. I just want to know what he thinks.

    I’ve also had conversations with parents – especially non-Christian parents – to explain that my object in asking the question is to get the young man to think about it and about the phrases in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and that the only wrong answer is “I don’t have one, there’s no such thing.”

  27. I am a District Commissioner in a in a rural, Southern council where diversity (including religious) has to a large extent only received token support, with an established core of leadership at all levels (unit, district, and council) that actively sees Scouting as part of the larger us-them culture war.

    Seeing these requirements coming down the pike, I am absolutely convinced that within two years I will be getting weekly calls regarding parents who resent their Scoutmaster using the Duty to God requirement (“yes-it’s-singular-not-plural-and-see-it’s-Capitalized-it’s-right-there-in-big-letters”) to force participation in their chartering organization (over 90% of which are Christian churches in this council); and trying to assure those parents that Scouting was a good choice and to not withdraw and only focus on band or lacrosse.

    There is a large and growing disconnect between the ‘flavor’ of parents coming into the program (particularly at the Cub level) and the entrenched Scouting leadership, which I believe only acerbates the existing issue of Webelos retention and transition. The National Council pushing political issues (yes, I am convinced this is politics wrapped in religion) only makes it harder and harder for me to help pay forward all the fun and experiences that my son was able to enjoy…

  28. Many of the comments are missing the point here. Scouting has made a determination that duty to God is important to the program and to the development of boys. It has made no determination of how that duty is lived out by a Scout or his family; only that it is lived out. That decision having been made, we need to figure out how we can honor the broadest perspective of that that “duty” is. It is not Christian. It is not Jewish. It is not Muslim. It is not Hindu. It is not Native American or any other particular faith community, It is all of those and, probably some very personal alternatives as well. What the duty to God does not reach is antagonism toward a higher being or power, or the denial of same. That is why, as a United Methodist Clergy person and former Jamboree Chaplain, and present Camp Chaplain, I teach the open expression of faith. I have seen nothing in the new requirements that will change that; only emphasize the need to continue the openness.

    • It boggles my mind how you can say that when the requirement for Webelos clearly states a Scout must participate in an interfaith worship service.

      • I don’t see a conflict in the written text of the requirement with one’s own religious beliefs. An interfaith service means that you include the religious beliefs of all those present. Interfaith service is not code for forced conversion.

        There is a lot of potential for problems in the “interpretation” of the requirement. I know some leaders who would not know how to ask in a non-confrontational way, or would decide that a scout’s beliefs were inadequate or wrong in their view.

        • I don’t see how ANY Scout going to a weekend outing does not attend an interfaith worship.
          The events in our District [and I presume our Council] always have a Scout’sOwn service on Sunday morning… even if it’s brief.
          One of my CS Day Camps, was a weekend camp and we had a brief service on Sunday Morning… maybe 10 minutes, but it was still there.

        • Attending an interfaith worship service for educational purposes is not the requirement. The requirement explicitly states participate in.

  29. I’m very greatful for this blog and the issues it has raised. As a new den leader, with a very diverse group (faiths and national origins), I would not know how to handle this requirement. It’ s very important to me to respect others beliefs and where they come from. I don’t want to be put in a position to force my beliefs on them nor to be intrusive of their privacy. That said it would be nice if there was more of an academic component of understanding other religions to help with understanding and respecting other beliefs.

    Like one commenter said this will be ignored by some, handled well by others, and used by others as a barrier to advancement or to exclude some people that should be in the program… it will be all over the map. I personally will tell my families that I will not be quizzing the kids and that the intent is that they have a discussion about their beliefs with the kids and talk with them about respecting other beliefs.

  30. In no way is this program specific to any god. There are also no performance standards to how the question is answered. “I don’t know”, would be a fair answer as would, “I prefer to keep that personal.” Asking this question is no different than asking about Honesty or any other Character Connection or point of the Scout Law. As a matter of fact, the Wolf rank has a Duty to God requirement now and I assume it always has. Every Cub Scout rank has a requirement regarding faith. The Bear rank has a GOD section along with similar requirements already in place for Tigers and Webelos. Not a lot is changing (at first glance) regrading faith in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. I always ask how a scout’s faith life is during SM conferences. I might hear, “I don’t have a faith life” or “My faith life is great, I pray every day”. It doesn’t matter what the answer is. My stock response regardless of their answer is, “A Scout is Reverent.”.

    I’m shocked at the negative responses and fear mongering going on in these comments.

    • When Duty to God becomes a specific component of the Scout Spirit requirement, then “I don’t know,” “I prefer to keep that personal,” or “I don’t have a faith life” will not be acceptable answers. A Scout will have to _demonstrate_ Duty to God in order to be signed off on Scout Spirit.

      • I would like to see how the actual requirements read. Notice that two statements are made above including “Beginning in 2016 in Boy Scouts, Duty to God will be incorporated in the requirement to show Scout Spirit.” and “During the unit leader conference, the Scout will be asked what Duty to God means to him and how he demonstrates that duty.” These are two different things so I’m not sure what the actual requirements will be. If the requirements are strictly a question that is part of the SM Conference, then there is no wrong answer. If it is a separate requirement unto itself, as you suggest, then that is different. However you slice it, there will likely be a way of demonstrating your Duty to God in a personal and unique way. Maybe, “I have performed my duty to my god by reflecting on this question in a personal way and I demonstrate it in how I live my life and in my personal reflections.” The BSA is not going to force someone to do something against their religious beliefs; there’s always going to be an out.

    • Convenient how you skip the new Webelos Requirement demanding participation in interfaith worship services. That is very new and different.

      I am not shocked that the fundies are getting their way again.

  31. Bryan, the real problem is not the conference itself, it is this: “Beginning in 2016 in Boy Scouts, Duty to God will be incorporated in the requirement to show Scout Spirit.”

    Scout Spirit _is_ a test. For example, the current First Class requirement 12 states: “Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life. Discuss four specific examples (different from those used for Tenderfoot requirement 13 and Second Class requirement 11) of how you have lived the points of the Scout Law in your daily life.” As a practical matter, the Scout Spirit “test” takes place at a Scoutmaster conference, and so the practical effect of the “script” is that it becomes part of the Scout Spirit test. So now there will be a specific religious test that a Scout can only pass by discussing his religious life with his Scoutmaster.

  32. I like how this is being added more into the programs.

    On the concern of leaders of a different faith. I am involved in a couple differnt types of units, a couple being chartered by religious groups and one that is chartered by a non-profit organization. Most the units which I serve are non-denominational, meaning that there are many that are not of the faith of the chartered organization (including me). The others that are encourage others from other faiths from the community to participate in our activites and join.

    I have a great respect for those of other religions and through my life have realized that it’s not so much how religious you are but how spiritual you are. There is a big difference! You can be a very spritiual person and never attend church; what ever you believe in.

    These requirements CAN be filled WITHOUT being apart of ANY RELIGION.. Let me repeat that.. These requirements CAN be filled WITHOUT being apart of ANY RELIGION! I think that it’s important to have these requirements to re-enforce the morals of scouting.

    • No they can’t. My family does not participate in religious services with others of different faiths. The BSA is demanding I violate my religious principles.

  33. I think it is ironic that the Boy Scouts of America, a patriotic organization chartered by federal statute (United States Code Title 36, section 30901 and following), imposes restrictions on its members that would be considered unconstitutional and un-American if the government attempted to impose them on citizens.

  34. ” On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to GOD and my country” If the boys are saying this and are not taking it seriously then we are not doing our job as Scout leaders. I have been told by our local Eagle boards that one of the first questions they ask is about the boys relationship with God. If he says he is an atheist and doesn’t have a relationship with any god then unless he is over the top outstanding on everything else he will not pass the Eagle board. Even though many troops are not based in churches any more we are still an organization who’s roots were formed around God and doing the right thing. We still have prayer at our Courts of Honor and before we eat while camping. On Sunday morning we offer a devotional if anyone wants to participate and most of our boys do. We are in the south all the troops in my area are church based. Some of the finest men I know are leaders in their churches and some of the most despicable ones have never set foot in a church. I’m not saying this is the case all the time but a close relationship with the Lord does seam to have a huge positive effect on a person’s personality and outlook toward life and his fellow man. I hear that today’s society is moving away from the church as if the church is a bad thing. What’s bad about teaching our young boys to love your neighbor, Don’t steal or lie or cheat. Treat everyone as an equal regardless of what they look like or have done in their lives. As our society moves further away from the church and our scouting values we see more and more degradation of the family and our culture. I say lets not shy away from this part of scouting so as not to offend the world but embrace it and strengthen it and by doing so strengthen the character of our young men….just my thoughts.

  35. Baden-Powell on faith:
    “”Reverence to God and reverence for one’s neighbour and reverence for oneself as a servant of God, is the basis of every form of religion. The method of expression of reverence to God varies with every sect and denomination. What sect or denomination a boy belongs to depends, as a rule, on his parents’ wishes. It is they who decide. It is our business to respect their wishes and to second their efforts to inculcate reverence, whatever form of religion the boy professes.””
    Robert Baden-Powell, “Aids to Scoutmastership”

    William Penn on faith: (from Some Fruits of Solitude)
    522. It is a sad Reflection, that many Men hardly have any Religion at all; and most Men have none of their own: For that which is the Religion of their Education, and not of their Judgment, is the Religion of Another, and not Theirs.

    I do not agree that the descriptions of this so-called requirement are too specific. The question is very general. But the SM and CM may take this idea to be a pass-fail question, not merely a listening exercise.
    But then, I also decry the loss of the gradual nature of the Cub Scout Promise to the Boy Scout Promise (and it is just that, a promise, not a “:judicial ” oath) to the Venture Promise. I think the gradual increase in personal responsibility shown in the different promises is indicative of the age expectations of each group.

    As to the “Scout’s Own”, if it truly is left to the Scouts, such a campfire worship service is often more rewarding than any adult designed service. I trust the boys to be sensitive to their cohorts situation, more than many adults.

    As a Jamboree Chaplain, I have seen the possibility of a Scout coming to grips with his possible faith or lack there-of.

    It is the duty of every parent to give their progeny something to either accept or rebel against. More often than not, the parent doesn’t even know they are doing it, but they are and they will. This duty is not for the Scout Leader to take on.

  36. I think that the specific words in the Oath are historical legacy that is perhaps unfortunate but understandable; I think they should be reinterpreted in the context of one’s own beliefs.

    I don’t have a problem with asking a Scout about his beliefs and how he honors them. If he doesn’t want to talk about them, that’s fine; at least I’ve encouraged him to think about them. I’m also happy to discuss mine.

    I don’t have a problem with Scout prayers being denominational, as long as all are offered the opportunity to present their own in their own ways. I think a view into others’ religions is valuable. At summer camp once, each troop was asked to say Grace. One started off “Baruch atah Adonai …” (the start of basically every Jewish prayer). One of my Scouts asked “isn’t it supposed to be non-denominational?”. I noted that most of the other prayers had said “our father” somewhere in them, but that he hadn’t noticed it because it was what he was used to. If the prayer doesn’t match your religion, don’t sweat it. Accept that the other person is offering you a blessing in their own way; give them back a blessing in your own way.

    In fact, I would support a requirement that you respectfully attend religious services of several religions, specifically including religions very different from your own; I think it would help foster understanding. (Note: “attend” does not mean “participate in”.)

    I’m not entirely comfortable with the “no atheists” rule, though.

  37. NO ONE is asking you to violate your religious principles and to say that is very ignorant. Yes, there is an OPTION to attend religious services BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT!!

    It’s that kind of attitute that does NOT belong in the BSA. No one is forcing you to do anything, if you don’t want to do it then don’t. Though no one is going to force you to attend ANY services. Again.. You can earn the rank.. WITHOUT.. being apart of ANY religion or attending ANY service… What do you know understand about that?

    • Joe, I believe that is what Thor is objecting to – the new Webelos requirements do actually require individuals to participate in (not just attend) a worship service if there is not a religious emblem for their faith. Faith in Action 1 is required to earn Webelos.

      Webelos Adventure: Faith in Action (1)
      Do requirement 1 or requirement 2. If you choose requirement 2, complete 2a plus two more from 2b–2d.
      1. Earn the religious emblem of your faith for Webelos Scouts.
      2. Do the following:
      a. Help plan and participate in an interfaith worship service with your den leader. Show reverence during the service.

      • There’s a fine line between attending and participating. If you respond in any way during the service, you are participating. Such as saying the oath or law, standing, singing America the Beautiful, putting a nickel in the World Scouting Movement collection, et cetera. Similarly, there’s a fine line between worshiping at another church (which would violate some churches’ teachings) and attending or participating (standing, sitting, kneeling, whatever) in the service. I have attended many church services and even participated but I don’t worship as that would violate my faith’s teachings.

        Participating in an interfaith worship service would not violate any church’s teachings that I know of out of those that let you join scouts to begin with. Worshiping at an Interfaith Service may very well violate some churches’ teachings.

  38. It’s that kind of attitude is the reason why there is no peace in the middle east.. It is also that attitude that has no place in scouting

      • this is not related to BSA specifically, but I had a close friend (CAtholic) married a JW. It was a catastrophy. Ended in divorce and suicide. Several stories on court tv (I watched the trials) of a similar marriage ending in divorce. The mother lost her children because the courts said her insistence that her kids NOT TAKE PART in birthdays, holidays or celebrations of any kind – including patriotism was #1 taking away the rights of the father to do what he wished with his kids on his time; and #2 detrimental to the children setting them apart from their peers – and not in a good way by forcing her children to beg (ie: door to door stuff). He got sole custody. Just sayin’.

        • Another reason i choose not to live in NYC.

          Christians have this assumption that because they are the majority now they always will be. So the concept of a separation of church and state really bugs them and they fight against it with all their might. But what happens when they are not the majority? What happens when other religions start gaining steam in especially in local communities? Now all of a sudden since they fought so hard to allow religion and state to mix we start having problems. If they would fight for iron clad separation, they could guarantee their children and grandchildren were not subjected to sharia law and other religious beliefs they find objectionable.

          I can only “pray” they will wise up.

    • Try telling that to an ILC Lutheran. They have a freaking College in Eau Claire. My sister in law was required to resign from GSUSA because they worshiped together. GSUSA!!! In HS choir my wife had to sit out songs that had any religious tone.

      You clearly are not very well informed about the different Christian denominations in this country.

  39. What I would suggest is that Thor plan a interfaith/religious service that would not offend his religious beliefs. I would attend that service.

    • Exactly!!!!! ATTEND! Please do, you are invited! Please do not PARTICIPATE. I would love to attend yours, but don’t demand I participate.

    • ME, too. I enjoy visiting other religions. Been doing that since the late 80’s. Not to mention that some of my college classes were theology. Took them for fun – to learn – as electives.

      • When I was a Scout, lo these many years ago, the Troop went to hear a patriotic speech by a famous general. I had never heard of him, but , hey, the Troop’s going, my father drove. I was raised mostly Methodist (Troop chartered by a Methodist church, mom was Northern Baptist, dad from Episcopal family). , the speech was at a synagogue, there was a Jewish service before the speech (Jewish hymnals are backward! Wow!) and we stood and sat down with everyone else. Kept our hats on, too. I learned a little there, that night. Don’t remember anything General Hershey said. I’m still Christian. I think.

  40. Duty to God is part of the Scout Oath and a point in the Scout Law, which a Scout is supposed to follow to the best of his ability on a daily basis. If Scout Spirit is based on a Scout’s adherence to the Oath and Law and a Scout states he has no duty to God, then how does he fulfill his Scout Spirit requirement for each rank?
    The previous comments state that Scouting is not a religious organization – agreed. Yet it DOES have a faith-based component. Faith of some sort helps to shape our Scouts into well-rounded and balanced young men. I read the new addition as simply asking the Scout HIS opinion on HIS duty to HIS God and what HE feels he does to fulfill that duty. If the answer is nothing – then how can the Scout Spirit requirement be completed?

    • Kim, sorry to say, the BSA IS a “religious organization” As an adult leader, you sign an application with a “Declaration of Religious Principle” and the Scout makes a promise to do duty (however he may see it) to God, AND SPECIFICALLY be Reverent to other faiths.
      The BSA is NOT a religion (contrary to my wife’s opinion of my activity!), but it is most certainly a “religious organization”.
      As a Commisher, I have spoken to folks that wanted their kid to be a Scout, right up to when they read the back of the Adult Application. Youth application makes no overt mention, only to repeat the Scout Promise/Oath and the Scout Law. And what do they say? I believe the GSUSA have changed their Promise to allow the Scout to choose NOT to mention God per se, but BSA still has it there.
      There are other Scout Associations around the world with no “Reverent” point in the Scout Law (each is different), and the Brits have also adapted their Oath and Law, but that still does not excuse/explain the new stance of the BSA toward faith/religion.

      “”Duty to God becoming larger part of Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting”” declares the heading of this blog. I would say that it is not a larger part, but the folks in Irving are trying to make it a much more visible and unfortunately contentious part. This is not necessary.

      • James you are absolutely wrong. TGs Boy Scouts are NOT a religious organization. Many units are chartered to religious organization however the BSA is a youth based organization that has a declaration of religious principle. You’ll notice Bryan won’t correct you so as to keep these lines as blurred as possible but the facts are; centrally we serve the youth in our communities and teach reverence as ONE of our tennents (not the only tennent).

        There is still a huge gap in the knowledge of the program and the organization. This new requirement will only continue that confusion.

  41. I still don’t understand why so many people joined BSA if they disagreed with the fundamental principles of the movement. But they did and they are agitating to change the organization to suit themselves. First they threw out “Morally Straight” and now just watch; in a few years “Duty to God” will be out, too. In a very few years Scouting will be unrecognizable.

    • I agree with the fundamental principle as stated by the BSA when I joined. Reverent. But that is a two way street.

      Last I checked Morally Straight is still there. You must have a more contemporary interpretation of the terms.

      • If morally straight is not there, then we’ve been saying it wrong as recently as 2 roundtables I attend….which were last week.

        run by the district of course, so I should hope they would know.

      • Since BSA turned from an organization devoted to developing men, into a group devoted to normalization of homosexuality, I’d say “Morally Straight” is out. And now we’ve got people getting up in arms over “Duty to God”.

        • Probably THE most uneducated view I’ve read here on this thread. Be comforted Jim that there are others on this board that unfortunately think wrongly such as you do.

  42. How about this as an answer, The Scout says… I participate in scout religious services at Scout functions like Summer camp, Camporees and by saying grace with my troop and Patrol before meals!

  43. For those that have been quoting from the adult application, here is how it reads on the Religious Principles ” The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and , therefore the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to these precepts from the Declaration of Religious Principles and to the Bylaws of The Boy Scouts of America Shall be entitles certification of Leadership” end of quote.

    Here are the Leadership Requirements as well ” The applicant must possess the moral, educational and emotional qualities that The Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The Applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principles, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise and the Scout Law”

    There it is, in print on form 524-501 Boy Scouts of America Adult Application. The most recent application available. Get a Copy Read what you pledged to up hold, Some of you have not told the truth or up held you end of the application GET TRAINED LEADERS GET TRAINED..take a coarse on Religious Principles it can not hurt.

    Here is something to think about Atheist hate God, how can they hate God if they do not Believe in God?

    • Ed this is why do many reasonable people leave the BSA. Judgemental idiotic statements like “some of you have not told the truth” .

      Who are you to say anyone has not been trustworthy.

      • Perhaps I should clarify, after reading through most of these response and read that Eagle Scout now Leaders, never during their time as Scout and become and Eagle Scout never believed in God or up held the Scout Oath/Promise. Basically not telling the Truth through out his scouting journey. Also an adult that does not believe in Religious Principles as well as well by signing the adult application has not filed his duties as a Scout Leader.

        • Thank you for clarifying. I believe that what we ‘knew’ as Duty to God in the 60’s, 70’s, is not what we ‘know’ today. While some religions are seemingly moving backwards into the 50’s or earlier, others are progressing and ‘evolving’ of all things into a relevant forum for the teaching of commong values and purpose. If a young man came to me and said something to that effect, that he didn’t believe in God, personally I may try to evoke a discussion from him to better understand his views. Young kids now seem to go to extremes when declaring their faith, politics, social privilege and responsibility. It’s what they’ve learned from Social media and popular culture,

        • Matt, I agree Social Media has killed us. The way I see it is back in the 60’s stores were closed on Sundays; Sundays were to be family time/church time, instead now its the might $$ that plays a roll in world today. In the 60’s Journalist became the major employment, of coarse most of us know where that has lead us to day. Late 70’s family values went to the wayside. In the 50/60 scouts wore their uniforms to school, even having their class pictures take in uniform through Jr. high school. Now days scouts pull their uniforms out of their backpacks before walking into their meeting. In the 50/60 a handshake mean your word. Something that a few of us in our valley still value today when dealing with livestock and other products; most these values came from home and organizations like BSA, Church, Elks Lodges, Moose, and other groups. You could tell back then by the way a person shock your hand and looked you in the face. Looking you in the face, something my scouts still do to day, it shows me that they understand and pay attention to what is being put out.

    • Living in the secular Pacific Northwest – and working in IT – I know dozens of atheists. I can’t say a single one of them “hates” God. To them, the notion of “hating God” makes no more sense than hating unicorns.

      What they do hate is the willingness of some theists to relentlessly, aggressively inject their faith into the public sphere, and the government in particular.

      • Most atheists I know are similar, but I also know many who follow the bitch, and yes, I said bitch, O’Hare to the letter. Associating atheism with her is like associating Baptists with Westboro. But then for any who never heard her speak, you might not understand. Actually she sounds like a female version of Westboro in the reverse.

        If they don’t tell me I can’t pray where I want, then I’m fine with it. But, unfortunately, they do, and they do it with the ACLU.

        We’ve had kids sent home from schools for wearing t-shirts with christian emblems or told to turn them inside out. How is that open-minded? They weren’t preaching or disrupting. Yet heavy metal t-shirts are allowed that depict violence. Double standard anyone?

        Marilyn Manson t-shirts allowed, wth? I’m sure you all know what he promotes, right? In a nutshell….hatred…against Christianity…burning Bibles and spitting in churches.

        A student in art class was reprimanded for drawing religious emblems in his artwork.

        Separation of church and state is actually separation of STATE FROM church, not the other way around. Look it up. It was intended to keep states from interfering with religion.

        And that is not even my issue. My issue is the DOUBLE STANDARD!

    • “Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.” If you are not a member of my home or a member of the organization or group with which I am connected, why do I have to answer questions about my religion from you? Where is your authority? Did God give it to you?

  44. Wolf Den, I am also in IT I only know one person who is an atheist and he doesn’t care about prayer in public functions. he just doesn’t participate. He understands that if a group of people want to pray in public and he is not forced to pray with them then he would be suppressing there rights to free speech if he told them to stop because he didn’t want to hear it. We have talked several times about news stories where atheist are trying to suppress the rights of the Christians to free speech. He normally takes the opinion that they are over reacting and and just need to shut up and get over it. You have the right to say you don’t believe in God but I also have the right to practice my faith and that includes thanking God for the blessings he has given me and asking him for guidance before I start a meeting. If you truly don’t believe then my prayer should have no more meaning to an atheist than if I were reciting Mary had a little lamb.

  45. Wow, I wish I had the time to read all the comments here….
    I think what is important in this is that:
    “A Scout is Reverant”
    The Law says nothing about a Scout being religous….
    A Scout who is a devout Catholic, may be less reverant than a Scout who has been to church once on Scout Sunday with his Pack / Troop.
    As with reading the Bible, every aspect of our lives depends on the perception we are given by thiose who teach us, AND by what we seek out on our own.
    Personally, I think this is going to be a GREAT learning experience for the Youth as well as the Adults.
    I’ve actually learned a great deal from my Scouts when I’ve sat SMCs and EBORs for my District and the question of Reverence comes up.
    Everyone has a different tazke on what it means to them and some of them have actually sat down and decided that the “organized religions” are simply not the right “fit” for them.
    Personally, I happen to agree with them; after all, who am I to tell them they are wrong about what’s right for them????
    I have my own beliefs, which is a mixture of Native American traditions with splatters of different organizational theologies.
    Its whats right for me, and I love to hear whats right for the Youth…
    But that’s JUST me…..

  46. Not much for debating this sort of thing. But, what I find most interesting in this is the “my God” “their God” phraseology — as if a divinity is something that can be owned. The reverse is the more logical way to think of it, God (or sometimes even a “lesser” god) would be the owner, and we’re all just trying to repay some debt to I’m the best way we know how.

    I know some people who fear they would offend God if they attended an interfaith service. (Why someone might think that their circle is the only one that God wants them in for any religious practice is a topic in of itself.) I suspect some of those people would be in sects who don’t dole out medals — even non-BSA recognized ones –for their faith. I think this is where many den leaders may be in a quandary. How do you recognize a family who dutifully honor God by refraining from interfaith service, but whose son has no youth award that would recognize fulfilling that duty?

    The Cub requirement seems more restrictive than the Boy Scout “requirement” which seems to be driving at a boy being mindful about belief.

    If I were den leader, I would grant the requirement if a parent told me his/her son fulfilled his religious obligations as their circle defined them. That’s better than any religious award in my book.

  47. My god can beat up your god. and my god told me i can harm you because you do not follow him. Even thhough my god has the ability to make everyone’s life happy and pain free, my god instead makes everyone suffer. My god has the power to help the sick, save starving children, cure all diseases, make this world paradise. but my god cjooses not to help anyone even though he can. My god says I will get my reward later.

    Hmm. I think my god migh be an A hole!

  48. Wow, how did your comment get approved/posted and mine was not? Not sure about the rules here for approving posts but mine obviously failed!

  49. There have been a lot of comments about the effect on BSA membership numbers of both (a) turning away from “traditional values,” as by the decision to allow openly gay youth to be members; and (b) remaining a highly conservative organization with membership restrictions on girls, gays, and the godless. Some folks assert that efforts to modernize Scouting (as seen in other countries, in the Girl Scouts of the USA, and in last year’s change in membership standards in BSA) show that such efforts result in more membership loss and the growth of more conservative organizations. Other folks assert that it is precisely BSA’s restrictive, conservative policies that have resulted in damage to BSA’s reputation over a long period of time and a continuing loss of membership as society moves in a different direction.

    Maybe somewhere in a vault in the bowels of BSA National Headquarters there is a report that shows what the real facts are.

    But I would point out just a few things to consider:

    – BSA membership has been declining steadily since its height in the early 1970s, at the same time that the population of the United States has been growing steadily.
    – BSA membership was showing significant decline well before last year’s membership standards decision.
    – In addition to new-ish conservative Scout-type organizations, there are also new-ish Scout-type organizations with inclusive policies, such as the Baden-Powell Service Association and Navigators USA.
    – Despite that, BSA remains a very large national youth organization.

    I could be wrong, but what that tells me is that it isn’t the membership policies themselves that are the problem. Aided by technology, the civil rights movement and other societal movements that have grown since the 1960s, and the growth of suburbia, American society has become much more diverse in almost every way. A wide variety of other activities for youth are available now that were rare, limited, or non-existent 50 years ago. The real problem is that BSA is still trying to run a monolithic program that is delivered the same way in every community everywhere in the United States and that is not greatly changed from the Scouting program of the 1950s. There continues to be a large (but shrinking) customer base for that all-or-nothing, no-deviation standard program. BSA is making almost no effort to experiment in or offer additional program delivery options (the Soccer and Scouting program being an exception) for its traditional, outdoor- and ideals-based program.

    Think about this possibility: The current BSA program remains as it is now (allowing openly gay youth but not gay adults) and as currently planned (with a greater emphasis on Duty to God). Suppose that there are some units that want to experiment with different uniform styles. Why not establish one or more experimental uniforms with special standards for how they are worn and authorize those units to give it a try? Suppose that there are some units and chartered organizations that want to allow openly gay adult leaders. Why not form a new Council (not geography-based) or even a new subsidiary corporation (like Learning for Life) for those COs and units to operate under, separate from our existing councils and units? Suppose that there are some units that want to use an advancement scheme that is much closer to the requirements of the early years of Scouting, and other units that want to drop the traditional ranks and just use merit badges, service projects, and leadership experience. Why not set standards and authorize those units to give those alternatives a (carefully monitored) try? Suppose there are some Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops that want to include girls as members. Why not set up a new, separate Council for them and see how it works? As long as those experiments don’t change the mainstream program but just run parallel to (and don’t mix with) it, what could possibly be the harm in experimenting? And if successful, what could be the harm in BSA running a variety of parallel Scouting programs, each with the same core ideals but each with unique delivery features that attract different audiences?

    Put another way, why doesn’t BSA take advantage of both its monopoly in Scouting in the United States and American diversity? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    • I have separated posted this comment in the Forums section of the blog, under General Scouting, with the topic title “The Need To Experiment.” Considering the number of comments here, it may be easier to respond there.

    • I like out of the box thinking. However a couple of points.

      1. The whole “separate but equal” thing is not likely to go over so well with either side on the gay issue.
      2. Every time someone brings up the whole girls issue I never get a response to this one very big problem: without the full endorsement of GSUSA it would be viewed as a major attack on the membership of GSUSA and all those cute girls selling the wonderful delicious boxes of cookies. You think the attacks on BSA are bad now, just wait until the media narrative becomes “anti-gay fundie bigots at BSA try to solve their membership problems by destroying Girl Scouts”.

      • Thanks, Thor.
        1. The gay membership issue is still a long way from being concluded. But inclusivists already have half a loaf; a few more bites pending final resolution is still progress. I note that BSA’s Learning for Life subsidiary — including its expanding Explorer program, is fully inclusive.
        2. This could be an area where BSA just says “No — we aren’t going there.” But note that we already have Venturing (girls as young as 13 — a five year overlap with the age range for Boy Scouts) and the new Explorer Clubs program (co-ed, of course) is going as low as 6th grade. Samoas are my favorite Girl Scout cookie.

        • That is what their ultimate goal is. Gay scouts was just to get their foot in the door. They will not stop till we except everyone. That will destroy the BSA as we know it. This is the ultimate goal, to do away with any group that teaches there is right and wrong and no such thing as a gray area between. Things are either right or wrong there is no in between.

        • Hi, Yesterday. Right or wrong, I think that is where this will end up. Maybe five years, maybe ten. Openly gay people can serve in the US military. More and more states are approving gay marriage. That is the way society is headed and BSA won’t be able to withstand the pressure to change — particularly because BSA already opened the door halfway and there is no way to close it again, and BSA currently has no way to relieve the pressure.

          Personally, I am in favor of opening the door all the way. BUT, I think BSA went about it the wrong way. I think that BSA’s anti-gay policy and the lengths that BSA went to in defending it (taking it all the way to the Supreme Court, and winning) was in effect a contract with its members and chartered organizations. I think BSA promised its COs and members that it would interpret “morally straight” in a particular way and would not bend to pressure. I think BSA was wrong to establish that policy and make that promise in the first place — but it was more wrong to break it, and to do it so suddenly, and to do it in a way that just drags out the controversy for several more years.

          What BSA should have done, in my view, was to leave the traditional programs alone, but do what I am suggesting here: develop parallel Scouting programs that are truly Scouting and have the full imprimatur of the Boy Scouts of America, but that allow variations and experimentation in policies and program delivery. BSA already has the working model in the fully inclusive Exploring program. Those folks looking for a program that didn’t discriminate against gays (or girls, or atheists) would have other places in BSA to go and earn Eagle Scout, without disturbing the mainstream programs. I suspect that over time what are now the mainstream programs would shrink and become more church-focused, while the parallel programs would grow and be more diverse, and would become the “mainstream” Scouting programs. And there would have been no broken promises.

  50. I, as an SM and as a committee chair spanninig about 41 years, would never asked these questions. I have told scouts that reverence is a state of mind having nothing to do with religion, just respect for it. I’ve dealt with many Eagle Scouts who are athiests or agnostics and are fine young people. I never considered their sexual orientation as a factor.

    • Wonderful to hear. Unfortunately there are many many SMs who have stated if a Scout declares himself a atheist he would march them in front of the Committee and have them booted out of the unit and forward the info to Council. There is something about that word that drives some people bonkers. Never mind that nearly everyone at some point in their life has struggled with issues of faith. So as a teenager is struggling with his changing life lets bring the hatchet down on him

  51. Well … When you plant both feet firmly in mid air as BSA has done in the area of Duty to God, every one creates their own myth as to what it means and then reacts strongly to anything that threatens their myth. Although it is much ado about nothing. I am sure the BSA is repackaging the Duty to God requirements into Adventures instead of Achievements for the various Cub levels and calling it new and improved. At the Boy Scout level, it is as the one Scoutmaster said. There is nothing new here because you always had to talk about the Scout Law and Oath and how they apply to your life. Perhaps it makes it more clear that you are supposed to talk about Duty to God and that threatens the secularist’s myth that Duty to God isn’t a real part of Scouting.

    When I was a youth, we were in a public school chartered troop with members of multiple faiths and probably including a few from atheism, scientism, etc. Predominately, we had Catholics, various Protestants, and Jews. When we had campouts, the Jewish Scouts had a brief Shabbat service on Friday night, the Catholics went to mass on Sunday morning or Saturday evening, and the Protestants held a nondenominational service in camp. Similarly, at District Camporee, we had separate services for the major faith groups represented and I think that included the above plus the Mormons. Where BSA has really stumbled is in pretending we can cover all that with a “Scout’s Own” interfaith service. Part of respecting faith of others is respecting the differences and the fact that those differences mean different services rather than singing Kum Ba Yah together and hearing about the Great Spirit of American Indian lore.

  52. Sounds to me as if it’s just the next step in removing religion from scouting. They just worded so they don’t have to admit it to the church’s that charter our troops & packs.

  53. This post has gone crazy.

    Bottom line. When you join an organization, at least most of us, investigate it before we join. We know what the rules are, what the exclusions, inclusions, etc. are.

    I, for one, would not join a group that I did not agree with, at least mostly. Especially if its about major points – aka religion, or if I was a sexist….gender.

    That’s my or your right to be a sexist, be any religion or anti-religion. But none of us should enter an organization with the goal of ‘changing’ it simply because it does not fit what we perceive it should be.

    All of this could snowball. Where will the desension (sp?) end. Religion now, what other parts of the oath or law will be changed?

    Look at all the badges we have. Several have to do with raising animals for meat (animal husbandry, etc.). Where’s PETA? I’m shocked they aren’t in there saying their kids can’t be part of a group that promotes meat eating. We have shooting badges. Next will be the libs saying we are promoting violence by having those badges.

    We CANNOT please everyone.

    DO I have the answer? I DO NOT.

    Do you?

    • We teach our youth, at least we’re supposed to teach our youth, to respect the order of things, accept change, and if you believe change is needed, work within your organization to make it happen in a respectful manner. That includes the BSA. The recent changes were borne from the inside. It was absolutely appropriate for if to happen that way. We as an organization should continue to foster a positive environment for change. If we don’t we’ll fade even further into irrelevance.

      • ok, I’ll give you that. But if there is something so abhorrent to a person within an organization, why would you join it? Unless you were joining for the sole purpose of disrupting it from the inside?

        I don’t care who worships what or what sex or sexual orientation a person is. My point is that if I was so anti-religion that it sickened me, I would never join an organization that has made no bones about it’s belief in a ‘god’, and yes, for the most part it is God.

        I would not join an organization that worshipped the devil. I would not join an atheist organization. And I would not join the with the purpose of ‘changing’ them from the inside out. There are two many other alternatives.

        But that’s just me. My time is too valuable to waste on trying to force an organization to change to what I believe they should be. I’ll find an organization that does fit my needs.

        I’m not dissing anyone who wants change, I’m just saying why let it give you a heart attack. IF you don’t like the organization, find one that suits your needs. There are plenty of them out there.

        If they ever take God completey out of it, meaning NO religious aspect at all, for anyone. Then I will find another group to devote my time to. That’s just how I feel.

        Personally I think some people join things for the purpose of disruption, for the appearance that it comes from within. HAving said that, knowing some are going to think I mean gay…I will say that I firmly believe sex or sexual orientation has zero to do with how good a leader you are. There, I said it. I don’t have a problem with gays

        • To be fair I’ve been involved in scouting since 1968. I didn’t give a rat’s potootie about religion when I was a Cub Scout. It wasn’t an issue when I was a scout AND it wasn’t the focus when I was a Scoutmaster in the early 80’s. The evangelical circus came to town somewhere between 1980 and 1990. That’s when the things really began to change. Not all changes were bad. For instance the youth protection guidelines were brought into play.

          The point is I have been involved for a very long time and in my view the BSA, via the religious chartered orgs, has tried to change it’s focus from youth leadership to a more faith based organization. I hate what we’ve morphed into. It’s what’s killing us. I want change. I want to help drive it from the inside. It’s ok when the members see the errors in our ways. It’s called evolution and it is glorious.

          Dealing at the council level with the horrible junk science and dishonest pronouncements so many outside organizations were making about gays in the run up to the vote of May 2013 gave me pause and made me wonder what turned my life long organization into the hate filled uber religious pseudo military organization I saw.

          Long live the BSA and what we can be some day.

      • What part of the Scout Oath and Scout law is no longer relevant? These are based on timeless values. Truth is always true. If it can be proven to no longer be true then it wasn’t true to begin with. If you believe that we no longer need to do our duty to God and no longer need to be morally straight then maybe we don’t need to be physically strong. Maybe that is discriminating against fat kids. They shouldn’t be forced to earn the Physical fitness merit badge. Lets just through out all our values, do away with the Oath and Law so we don’t offend any one and see if we still exist in a few years.

  54. There was indeed a fifth column within BSA that worked to change the fundamental principles upon which it was founded. Only a few short years ago we were told the Scout Oath and Scout Law were inviolable and now we have open homosexuality in the ranks (out with Morally Straight) and soon we will have atheism in the ranks as well (Duty to God pitched out as well). This organization needs to decide if it stands upon values or instead upon sheer numbers of members.

  55. It seems to me that Scouting needs to be more about making more knights, and less about making more bishops.

    • A few of our former scouts are evangelists of one sort or another. Another few are soldiers.
      Most are just decent citizens,
      I hope every troop sees similar results.

  56. Too many leaders do not understand the difference between “Duty to God” and “Duty to Organized Religion”.

  57. Are not the core tenants of the Scout Oath, Duty to God and Country and obeying the Scout Law? Why is there a concern that we are elevating Duty to God … if we indeed believe the tenants of the Scout Oath. In fact it is the first and foremost belief … On my Honor I will do my best to my duty to God. It is not merely ONE of the twelve points of the Scout Law (Reverent) it is the first and foremost duty of the Oath.

    My Cub Scout Adventure training at Philmont this summer stressed that the Duty to God Requirements should be home-based. I appreciate that each family will determine how they “do their best” to fulfill these requirements, AND I appreciate that as an organization we are not shrinking away from our Declaration of Religious Principle which states, “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.” ‘

    My Wood Badge patrol was comprised of 1 Catholic, 1 Non-Denominational Christian, 2 LDS, and one Non-religious married to an LDS Spouse. Our project consisted of showing how Duty to God was part of each of the scouting families. It was amazing for us to share what we had in common and begin to understand how the differences in our religious beliefs complemented each other. I believe one of the most important requirements is the Webelos alternative to earning the religious emblem of their faith. It would be amazing if every young man were to sit on an interfaith worship service and learn to appreciate the good in other religions.

    • It would be amazing if the requirement for Webelos said “sit on an interfaith worship service”. It does not. It demands participation.

      • “Duty to” is an awareness of responsibility. To do and fulfill something. Hence duty to God, and duty to Country. With the Scout Oath and Scout Law forming frameworks around the two basic premises. Sitting in an interfaith worship or observing a patriotic event don’t create a sense of ‘duty’, full participation does. So nothing has changed since 1910 – just resetting ourselves and remembering the ‘why’ behind Scouting.

  58. I am an atheist and we raise our children to believe in reason and scientific evidence. There is no conflict between this and the general goals of the “duty” statements in the pledges… my kids know they have a duty to themselves, to others, and to community… to obey laws and authority in balance with thinking for themselves about the rightness of those laws and authorities.

    My son is 9 and is now interested in Cub Scouts… we went to our first meeting today. We live in an uber-liberal community that is open to many faith traditions as well as the irreligious. But I am still worried about my son’s participation in scouting. What advice do you have?

    • I suggest you make an appointment with your Council Scout Executive and discuss the matter with him. How rigorous all of this is enforced varies by council. You can describe your beliefs and many will be OK with that but once you use the word “atheist” all hell breaks loose. My council has dedicated volunteers that try to work with parents to find some common ground, others do not. Tread carefully. Realize if you ever relocate to another council the situation may change and your son could be told to not let the door hit his a$$ on the way out.

    • Even though the Boy Scouts of America is a patriotic organization chartered by federal law, it is not open to all patriotic Americans. The youth application form contains the following:

      “Excerpt from the Declaration of Religious Principle
      “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing
      to subscribe to these precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws and codes of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.”

      Do you and your son subscribe to these principles? If not, you are not the kind of patriotic Americans that the BSA wants in its ranks. It is simply not good enough to understand your duty to yourselves, to others, to your community and your country. It is not good enough to love nature and seek to protect the environment. It is not good enough to seek adventure, self-discovery, and personal growth. It is not good enough to serve your fellow human beings, accept diversity, and respect the religious beliefs of others. It is not good enough to believe in liberty and freedom of speech, thought, and association. Because, you see, according to BSA you cannot “grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.”

      So, as atheists, according to the Boy Scouts of America, you and your son can never be the best kind of citizens. You are not alone in your second-class status; atheists who fight, suffer horrible injuries, and even die for this country can never be the best kind of citizens either, according to the Boy Scouts of America. Did you know that Article VI of the Constitution of the United States provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States?” Well, that may have been good enough for the Founders of this nation, but BSA has a higher standard, requiring a religious test to ensure that it only accepts as a member someone who “can grow into the best kind of citizen.”

      As a believer, I pray that BSA will come to its senses and realize that if it wants to continue being an American institution, it needs to offer multiple Scouting programs that reflect the diversity of heritage, culture, and belief that is modern American society. This isn’t the 1950s anymore, and a single, monolithic, white-majority, boys-only, religious program is the path to irrelevance for all but the ever-declining number of members who like that sort of thing. Ironically, BSA already operates a fully-inclusive program through its Learning for Life/Exploring subsidiary.

      Advice? Find a 4-H, Camp Fire USA, or Baden-Powell Service Association group in your area. When your son reaches middle school, there may be an Explorer Club available, and then an Explorer Post when he reaches high school.

  59. I’m an atheist. From what I can tell neither me nor my son (who is not old enough to identify with ANY faith or non-faith doctrine) are unwelcome. Is that the case? I’m not trolling for a fight, my 9 year old really wants to join Cub Scouts, but I have reservations. What advice do you have?

    • Baden-Powell’s purpose was to instill a sense of duty to God and duty to Country, with the Scout Law and Oath as charters toward the basic two principles. The law and oath are meant instill as sense of personal responsibility and self-reliance, and a sense of right and wrong. As most things there are ebbs and flows in Scouting as in most efforts and dreams.

      Growing up we had multiple faiths and one who did not proscribe to any one particularly. My boyhood Maryland troop had an opening and closing prayer, and religious reflections at the end of troop meetings, all universal to all faiths. We had them during campouts and 50-mile hikes. While there is a sense of something higher than ourselves for many of us, we don’t always follow Powell’s basic reasons for creating Scouting. The National BSA office has been trying to uniformally move units toward a consistent sense of duty to God; hence, the ‘re-emphasis’ of focusing on that first principle. So you’ll find units living the duty to God and Country more thoroughly than others. It “sticks out” now only because of the recent events surrounding BSA and its purposes.

      As you weigh your decision there are two things I’d suggest you consider: 1) one believing in a God or not often may ebb and flow, somewhat akin to love. To discover God is an individual thing. You, and your son, may believe in him later on but it takes an unforced approach by each of us, and equitable support from others. Scouting is re-emphasizing duty to God by asking whether one is trying to do so. That’s about it. He should answer truthfully, not pretend. 2) You’ll need to ask yourself the “why” you want your son to join Cub or Boy Scouting. The first principles were created by “BP” in order to not establish one form of worship or acknowledgement, but to universally acknowledge a Higher Being than ourselves, and that He is the framework for all that is Scouting. 3) Google “Baden-Powell” and “Baden Powell Duty To God” sometime. The lists will add some historical depth on the man and the reasons for his creating Scouting (along with his wife’s efforts to create “Girl Guides”).

      Scouting wasn’t meant to be a “fun or exciting activity” alone – there has been an underlying theme throughout all Scouting methods. We only forget the reasons for its existence for any number of reasons, we then must stop ourselves and reset our course. Hope these thoughts are somewhat useful.

  60. Thanks Dan… I appreciate the reply. It’s unfortunate that the BSA holds this view, of course… there is absolutely no logical basis for anyone to insist that morality is dependent on faith in some sort of supernatural creator, deity, whatever. Atheist can be and are moral people, if they are rational and compassionate, which most are. It’s really akin to holding the precept that that members of certain ethnic/racial groups cannot be moral, because they lack a soul, or a correct moral compass, or a sufficiently advanced brain, or they believe in the wrong gods.

    What is weird is that it seems that the BSA will accept ANY religious viewpoint so long as it is sufficiently reverent and the religious practice teaches common morality. So, I could say I believe in the Zeus and the pantheon of Gods and that would be okay, so long as my religion teaches me in a way consistent with the BSA pledge?

    That is ludicrous. I hope the BSA realizes how backwards it looks in the eyes of contemporary society. Not because those of us who are atheistic, or homosexual, or liberal believe that the BSA is too conservative… but because its policies are actually regressive. I guess that’s kind of the point, right? Scouting was founded as a reaction to modernization, urbanization, and multiculturalism in the early 1900s… it sought to teach boys “traditional values” and “traditional, frontier type skills” which is cool, but doesn’t really necessarily have to be bound up with “old thinking.”

    Too bad, BSA. You’re losing out.

    • I think Dan is misinformed and missed the point of BP’s Scouting. He also misses that most people “believers or not” can be moral and ethical, while others within the same category are not.

      For both Dan and Sam: Scouting was never meant to be a one-size fits all or a one-racial group. The conditions of today aren’t very far off from those of Baden-Powell’s day. When you have the time look up “Scouting and Youth Movements” and “Scouting for Boys; The Original 1908 Edition,” both by BP.

      He went into detail over the social environment of his day and the conditions throughout the world. He started out with a “Christian” emphasis in Scouting because of his personal history and he built the program to reflect his community. Within a year or so, as Scouting caught on globally, he traveled to support it throughout Europe and African nations, and the U.S. He altered ‘duty to God’ to be a “Believe in God despite the differences between our creeds” or nationalities, in order to assist bringing about “God’s purposes. That is the realization of God and peace among men.” Those same sources go into detail of why duty to Country within each nation is critical.

      Google is a remarkable device. As is Amazon, especially as I can order any number of sources for my personal use and reference.

      • Thanks… I appreciate the thoughtful replies by all. I will check out this literature. I sometimes wonder why, when the words are quite available, people who really mean “peace on earth” substitute “God’s purposes”… etc. I don’t think it’s by accident. It’s because of the belief that only through belief in a supernatural deity (and thus, not our own humanity), can peace be achieved. I find this a very disappointing ideology, especially for a self-reliant cause like BSA.

        Thanks again, truly.

  61. Just one more thought… if the BSA motto is “always be prepared” wouldn’t it actually seek to understand, accept, and deal with current realities rather than avoid them? Is there not a scientific thread in the BSA origin, which hopes to train young men to think for themselves, solve their own problems, and sometimes question accepted “wisdom?” This would seem to be very good training for a Scout, or a Marine, or a businessman, or scientist, or politician, or teacher… anyone that helps create a better world tomorrow by dealing with the present, instead of looking [exclusively] to the past.

    That is all… now to have a difficult, but real conversation with my son.

  62. Thought I would point out BSA has at least fixed some gross errors. Forced participation in a worship service has been removed from the latest Webelos requirements.

    Thanks for listening to reason

  63. And now a scene from a Scoutmaster conference….

    SCOUTMASTER: So tell me what does duty to God means to you and how do you demonstrates that duty?
    SCOUT: Well I don’t believe in God. God does not exist and so I have no duty or obligation to him.

    This Scout is an atheist, he does not believe in God and thusly he does not advance in rank. Scouting excludes these boys because of their lack of belief in God. An atheist can’t be an Eagle Scout.

    And now a scene from another Scoutmaster conference….

    SCOUTMASTER: So tell me what does duty to God means to you and how do you demonstrates that duty?
    SCOUT: Well I don’t believe in God. God does not exist and so I have no duty or obligation to him.

    This Scout is a Buddhist. There are over 1,600 Buddhist registered as members of the BSA. There are several religious emblems and awards for members the Buddhist faith and the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting works closely with the BSA. However Gautama Buddha rejected the existence of a creator deity, refused to endorse many views on creation and a supreme deity. Scouting accepts these Scouts despite the lack of belief in God. A Buddhist can be an Eagle Scout.

    This seems contradictory and hypocritical. How can one Scout who doesn’t believe in God be accepted and promoted and another Scout who doesn’t believe in God be discriminated against and held back?

    • Outstanding exposition of the hypocrisy. It survives only because

      1. The tenets of Buddhism are obscure to the BSA community, and
      2. Buddhism is “grandfathered in”, in a sense.

      With National cracking down on what it perceives to be religious heterodoxy, if BSA was founded today (like Trail Life) Buddhists would be excluded from membership.

      • Well…some Buddists believe in some forms of many gods, some don’t (http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/budgod.html). Many don’t believe in a god (http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda03.htm) but all practice a belief in a continuation or ongoing circle of life, and a focus on improving and respecting humanity and the world around them. A Buddist’s religion then is how to better the world through self-knowledge, the knowledge of the world and sciences around us, and improving the human condition through good will. Not true in every case atheism could be construed to be a religion – if a collection of such seek out means and attempted to improve humanity without ridicule, as the Buddist.

        In this case, the Buddist, in his or her religious approach to life is similar to Baden Powell’s concept to help bring about “the kingdom of God on earth” through the practice of establishing peace and good will among men. “Duty to God” may be absent for some Buddists, but not for all. It all depends.

        I get this about right, Kusala Bhikshu? (http://urbandharma.org/kusalainfo/index.html)

        • Funny how little refrench to Baden-Powell you see in BSA literature. You see a lot more in other Scouting movements’ publications.

        • RonF – I believe that the distancing you see between B-P and the BSA is due to the desire of some to see Scouting look less like what B-P envisioned and more like the vision embodied by Trail Life USA. My $0.02.

        • Sherman Peterson, I think you make a valid point: you never read or hear anything about BP in any BSA literature or media, except for his founding of the movement. All I knew about him was from the internet due to my own curiosity. And even at Wood Badge, they invoked his name more often, but offered precious little in addition to what is in the front section of the leaders’ handbooks.

          BP spoke about Duty to God in relation to a Scout’s moral character, as evidenced by that Scout’s willingness to ‘do a good turn’: Duty to God helps a child become a good Scout by helping him build and/or reinforce a good moral center, which in turn strengthens their Duty to God, and back around again… I am very much reminded of the apostle Paul writing about how doing good works comes from being a good Christian, not the other way around.

          I think the National Council would do well to remember a certain itinerant preacher’s admonition against praying long and loud on street corners…

  64. Given that “Scout Spirit” has always been defined as “living the Scout Oath and Law,” this is not a change at all. It is, instead, another perplexing statement from National Council.

    It’s a tough topic for BSA. Better resources might be consulted in an effort to get beyond internally contradictory statements.

  65. some of the best scouts that I have met have had “questionable” thoughts on belief in a deity….and by best, I mean that they have strong sense of right and wrong, helping others, etc…on the other hand, there are also a lot of them who earn their religious awards, attend religious services regularly: the adults are divorced, cheating, drinking, , and the boys are involved with drugs, alcohol, other inappropriate behavior (all outside of scouts)…we’ve had leaders who have insisted that the boys who participate in faiths that are “minority” are not true religions and do not count, so we’ve lost boys who were 7th day Adventests, Hindus, Muslims, etc. Bottom line there does not appear to be a correlation between the kind of individual a person is and the public profession of belief in some approved religious system.

  66. Is BSA ready to deal with Scouts whose rabbi is Jeffrey L. Falick, rabbi of The Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, Michigan, President of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and a member of the Executive Committee of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.?

    When you’re stuck in the snow, gunning the motor does not usually move you forward, It makes it worse.

    • To suggest BSA has the authority to challenge the tenets of ANY Scout’s faith is to abandon “Reverence”.

      Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism also have non-theistic and atheistic strains, and yet are recognized by BSA.

      • My mistakes, of which there have been many, are my responsibility, Your inferences, and where they come from, are yours. I made no such suggestion. I merely say, again, that BSA is very unclear – even contradictory – in its statements and practices regarding “reverent” and “duty to God.”

        Sometimes BSA has clearly said that being deistic is not required. Then they clearly say being deistic is absolutely required – without requiring it in practice. Best to stop making pronouncements.

    • BSA is dealing with Judaism, and all the other religions that have God (or a god) as the center of their religious focus – not with men and women (nor the ‘strains of faith’) who don’t live up their faith group’s principles. I only need look in a mirror to find one of those.

  67. This seems to be a very narrow view of faith. It doesn’t bother me that scouting uses fictional characters or representational items, like Akela or the flag, to convey concepts. However, for many reasons, I don’t appreciate it when we are asked to pledge to fictional characters that people seem to be confused about, like a god. Scouting may not be considered a religious organization, per se, by the courts, but it is a government-endorsed organization that is discriminatory towards some creeds: polytheists, atheists, and agnostics. I don’t think discrimination is a laudable value that should be taught to our boys. It frankly hurts my feelings that people equate an honest disbelief in their particular creed with some sort of immorality or unworthiness or lack of compassion. It’s like the scouts are saying that some people are subhuman, which doesn’t help anyone become more moral. If I am respectful of your faith, why can’t you be respectful of mine?

    • Could it be because you disrespect others rights of religious beliefs by making a ‘factual’ statement (in your own mind of course, not everyones) that our beliefs are fictional characters.

      That is YOUR belief, it is not a fact. When you say it’s a fact, you insult all religions that believe in a higher power. Can’t have it both ways. Can’t expect us to respect anti-religions if you don’t respect religions.

      And you used the word ‘fictional’ to describe every symbol scouting uses. Are you sure you want to be in scouting. Akela means leadership. Leadership is fictional? Really?

      How the hell can the flag be fictional! Last time I looked its flying over most government buildings and a ton of homes! Wow.

      • You obviously misunderstood me. I’m sorry you were offended. I was merely trying to convey my point of view so that you could attempt to gain some empathy with it. Please do not attack me for it.

  68. I respect the views of all on religion. Faith is a personal journey

    But you all are allowing your personal faith to complicate the matter.

    BP believed that the human race was connected by a common origin, and that if we believed that we had a social responsibility to all humans to treat people as we would want to be treated, it was important to acknowledge that we had this common point of origin or reference which is the foundation of morality as nobody is less than the next person.

    Believing that we are not superior, that we all share a common point of our very existence, is the foundation of seeing all humans as equal. This does not exclude evolution in my view as creation can take on many definitions of substance and timeline. BP saw us all as being linked, of common ancestry, with a responsibility to each other, with the grand mystery of it all subject to individual interpretation. The responsibility to each other piece is the place where he justifies the universal truths of the law, the oath and the slogan. The new good turn initiative of the OA, might have been authored by BP himself, it is so close to the mark

    The words atheist, agnostic are created by man. We seem to label people when they dont know if they believe or what they should believe. I think BP could relate to these folks. Through labels we marginalize and carve up that body that BP sought to unite

    BO steered clear of definitions or doctrine

    He allowed us all to bring our faith into scouting to improve scouting’s meaning to each of us individually

    The 12 th point then admonishes us to respect how all people feel about their faith

    I believe that all scouts should have a belief, to see the self as a component of a much bigger family with a point of origin, of epic proportions. It is ok to use the word God as long as we explain this wide angle view of what God might be.

    I think our use of the English language and how we explain the requirement creates 99 percent of the controversy

    Perhaps it is time to look at the words, to be sensitive to the very spirit of BP’s views and to preserve the requirement while not marginalizing people who are not prepared to be forced to falsely agree to state something them are uncomfortable with.

    Instead of this discussion dividing us, it should move our hearts and minds. The very thought that the human race has this mysterious connectivity and that after tens of thousands of years maintains this connection is amazing and reverent.

    This should unite us rather than divide us

  69. Ok, Bryan. I have a question. My son is working his religious emblem. Interestingly, a den leader from another den has been going through the Duty to God in their den. Now, my son’s den leader wants to put our den through it too for their Webelos requirement and have them earn their religious emblem. Our sponsor church is Methodist, however, that does not have much influence on our recruiting. Our den leader really does not have any clue as to the denominations of the youth in then den. This award she is trying to make them do is clearly not a BSA award, but a religious award created by churches for scouts of their denomination. Am I correct to state that they are clearly stepping out of their bounds here?

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