The BSA is making a concerted effort to re-inforce “A Scout is . . . reverent” (Scout Law.) and “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God . . . .” (Scout Oath.) “A Scout is revent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.” Boy Scout Handbook, 13th ed., pg. 16 (BSA 2016).
Part of this commitment is to make Duty to God a more prominent part of rank advancement. For example, boy scouts have new Duty to God requirements from the January 1, 2016 revisions (required for all scouts’ advancement in 2017 since the 12-month grandfathering has expired). Each scout will have to explain how he has lived his Duty to God. For example, Tenderfoot Requirement No. 9 says, “Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived four different points of the Scout Law in your everyday life.” (Emphasis added.)
One of the biggest problems is defining the Duty to God. We are an ecumencial program. In my home troop, we have members of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Hindu houses of worship. We have had others in the past, too. Doing your Duty to God means something different for each faith.
Luckily, there is a sraightforward solution to this problem: the religious emblem program, sponsored by P.R.A.Y. This organization works with the BSA, Girl Scouts, 4-H, Camp Fire, and other youth community service organizations and non-affiliated youth to provide published, age-appropriate, denomination specific curricula. All faiths (other than the Church of Steve formerly known as the Church of the Holy George) participate. Each faith has a committee that has drafted and approved several curricula for youth to learn about their family’s faith. Each curriculum is focused on the level of detail appropriate to the child’s age.
Many of the protestant and independent churches have coordinated their curricula to have one set for all denominations.
This can be followed on an individual or a small group basis. PRAY has put together an introductory flyer that can be sent to parents introducing the program. The unit can offer a parent orientation, using their PowerPoint presentation, so that you have a live presentation. It includes a script. There are summary and detailed handouts. There are FAQ’s. And so much more.
Troop 56 and the new Crew 56 is beginning their new religious emblem program in the next few weeks. If your unit is interested in joining us, please contact Jeff Heck. We would delight in the opportunities to work together within faiths and inter-faith opportunities, too.
We are considering visiting different houses of worship as an optional supplement to the curriculum. It is hard to “respect the beliefs of others,” as suggested in the Scout Handbook, if you don’t understand those beliefs.
Talk to your unit committee about your religious emblem program. Talk to your chartered organization about how its pastoral staff or laymen can contribute. Watch the miracles occur.