How would you handle a Scout who refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance?

Scouts take an oath to do their duty to country, but how would you handle a Scout who refuses to participate in one component of being an American citizen: the Pledge of Allegiance?

That’s the question posed by S.W., a committee chairperson who contacted me last week. S.W. writes:


I am the committee chair of a large troop, and my Scoutmaster recently approached me about an issue with a Scout. We have a Life Scout who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (part of our regular opening). He contends that it is not a requirement of Scouting and is arbitrary and meaningless. We are having a Scoutmaster conference with him soon, and I was curious if BSA had a policy or statement on this or if others have run into similar situations.

Yours In Scouting,


Now, I’d like to open this question up for discussion within the Scouting community, but first I wanted the perspective of some BSA experts.

So I spoke with Chris Hunt and Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team.

Here’s what Lo Vecchio found by scouring the BSA’s rank requirements:

Joining requirement No. 4: Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance (page 19 of the Boy Scout Handbook states the Pledge and what it means).

Second Class Requirement No. 4: Participate in a flag ceremony for your school, religious institution, chartered organization, community, or troop activity. Explain to your leader what respect is due to the flag of the United States. (It refers to pages 72 – 76 of the Boy Scout Handbook, which cover the American Flag.)

First Class Requirement No. 5: Visit and discuss with a selected individual approved by your leader your constitutional rights and obligations as a U.S. citizen. (Refers to page 72 of the Boy Scout Handbook.)

There are also the Citizenship in the Community and Citizenship in the Nation merit badges, required to earn the Eagle Scout rank.

Although not explicitly stated, respect to the U.S. flag and pledging our allegiance to the U.S. is part of being a good citizen. Only the fourth Joining Requirement explicitly states to recite the Pledge.

What do you think?

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, please offer your advice to S.W. Have you ever faced a similar situation? What would you do if you were S.W.?

Photo: A Venturer salutes during the National Anthem during the opening stadium show at the AT&T Summit Stadium at the National Scout Jamboree. BSA photo by Ron Kuenstler.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.