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How much religion is there in Scouting?

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So, how much religion is there really in Scouting?


In the 8 years I've been a scout parent & 5 as a leader, I haven't seen much religion in any scout activity - short of grace before meals, an occasional blessing before a trip or event & some half-hearted "Scout's Own" services. I admit my familiarity is limited to one pack & one troop; but they have different COs, one Presbyterian, one Methodist.


Other than an offhand complaint about having a "Holiday Party" instead of a Christmas Party - I've never heard any parent or scout express the slightest interest or concern about religious issues in scouting. We're in the suburbs of the Bible Belt, which makes this even more surprising. For the last couple of years, I have tried to get some interest going in my pack on the religious awards, but have only had 1 boy earn one.


I know for some of us adults, the DRP and religion in Scouting are important - either pro or con. But I do have to wonder, do the boys give it a moments notice? And would you be a different scouter & put on a different program if the rules changed?


Would love to hear from y'all.

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I share your observations. In my unit, CO Methodist, not one scout has earned or is working on their religious award since we joined (at least that I am aware of). We say grace and close meetings with a prayer from the chaplain's aid. That's about the extent of how much religion has permeated our unit.


Some will say religion is the cornerstone to the scouting experience. Yet it is absent in all advancement, merit badges, motto, slogan and the eight methods. There is a mention in the oath. Its the last item in the law.


LDS units have integrated their religion deeply into the program. Other don't. Consider it a local option.

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Faith plays a big role in my units program (both Pack and Troop) We are chartered by a Catholic Church and I would estimate that 75% of the boys in my pack have earned thier religious emblem (Those of the Catholic faith as well as others)


Further, faith plays a large role in our entire council. We had a Council wide Catholic Cub Scouting event about a month ago at a Local Council camp that had close to 1,000 participants.


I would disagree that Faith is absent from advancement requirements - Example Req. # 8 for the Webelos Badge


Explain and agree to follow the Outdoor Code.


After completing the rest of requirement 8, do these (a, b, and c):

Know: Tell what you have learned about faith.


Commit: Tell how these faith experiences help you live your duty to God. Name one faith practice that you will continue to do in the future.


Practice: After doing these requirements, tell what you have learned about your beliefs.


And do one of these (d OR e):


Earn the religious emblem of your faith*

Do two of these:

*Attend the mosque, church, synagogue, temple, or other religious organization of your choice, talk with your religious leader about your beliefs. Tell your family and your Webelos den leader what you learned.

*Discuss with your family and Webelos den leader how your religious beliefs fit in with the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and what character-building traits your religious beliefs have in common with the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

*With your religious leader, discuss and make a plan to do two things you think will help you draw nearer to God. Do these things for a month.

*For at least a month, pray or meditate reverently each day as taught by your family, and by your church, temple, mosque, synagogue, or religious group.

*Under the direction of your religious leader, do an act of service for someone else. Talk about your service with your family and Webelos den leader. Tell them how it made you feel.

*List at least two ways you believe you have lived according to your religious beliefs.


As for Reverent being the last of the Scout Laws, I have never heard anyone promote the idea that are listed in order of priority. (An interesting sidebar - An Eagle BOR question I have heard given is to ask the boy which Laws is least important and why?)



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This unit only has one boy from the CO. The flavor doesn't matter. We have minimal presence of religion during meetings and outings. I can't remember a prayer at a recent COH.

At the same time keep in mind that the SM is deeply religious. He just seems to understand the highly diverse nature of the unit.


To me, religious faith is something that is deeply personal. I am uncomfortable with public displays by other people of their religious faith and I tend not to participate if given the option. I never discuss my own current beliefs and I don't respond if someone asks.

I guess this is a bad character trait but I suppose it kept me out of gangs as well. ;)

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The funny thing about some of the belly-aching about the BSA being "intolerant" for excluding atheists in principle is that the reality, as reflected by the comments on this thread, is that the BSA is an extremely flexible, locally-adaptable organization. If a unit chartered by Fred's Garage wants to focus only minimally on religion, that can very practically happen: the only express reference will be recitation of the oath and law. Even these, it is clear, invoke only the most ambiguous and undefined "deity."


On the other hand, a unit chartered by a church or synagogue or mosque can be as religious as it wants, with the Troop assisting at religious ceremonies, praying at meetings and campouts, encouraging the earning of religious awards, and so forth.


But if you believe some folks, the BSA is all about forcing a particular brand of religion down scouts' throats. We all know that's baloney. Which leads one to wonder what the real agenda is of those who are constantly agitating against the BSA's tepid endorsement of belief in a Supreme Being... could it be they're IMPOSE allowance of atheism on scouting under the guise of "tolerance" and "non-discrimination"?

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Or Onehouraweekmy you make my case for the local option.


Because BSA doesn't push religious requirements on units through advancement or any method, why cause the legal/funding/PR problems scouting faces by explicitly excluding non-thiests. As you stated, its a local option on how religious each unit wants to be. Drop the DRP and all the issues go away without impacting a single existing unit and how they deliver the program.

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Gern would we then need to change our Oath and Law to be flexible to ones particular religious belief (or lack there of?) Much like the milquetoast approach the girlscouts took.


Why is it that me freely wanting to express my religious beliefs and belong to a group that will promote a belief system with elements of faith ingrained in it that I must somehow be subject to legal attack (not to mention personal attacks of being labeled an invidious discriminator etc.)


Cant an orginization stand for anything? Should we change the Scout Law to make the duty to Country optional as well?

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You can join a group that excludes Jews if you like, but you might catch some social flak for that, too. A lot of people consider the BSA's discrimination to be morally wrong, and in cases where it involves the government, legally wrong. Of course there will be public criticism and a few lawsuits.

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Meryln, first lets keep, if only for this thread, the issue of governmental involvement/support out of this.


The discussion in this thread is about what level of importance in scouting does religion play and what level should it play.


I am promoting the notion that a belief in a higher power is an important element for my son to learn and embrace. What your saying,if I understand you correctly, is that its ok for me to be "criticized", "ostricized", and "harassed" because I want him in a program that supports that notion. That it is impossible to have a group that supports such a bleif system to be anything but "immoral" because, by the very nature of the beliefs it is promoting, it will exlude others not of that belief. Its never been about keeping anyone else out, its about participating in a program that supports the ideals I want conveyed to my child.(This message has been edited by erickelly65)(This message has been edited by erickelly65)(This message has been edited by erickelly65)

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What do you consider a lot of people?

IMO it probably just a few people.

But that in my opinion and a lot is yours, I do not think there is a way to know the exact numbers.

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Gad, mention the "R" word and Merlyn is sure to appear. :p


Back to da topic for Novice_Cubmaster (Merlyn arguments can go to another thread).


I think it depends on the unit... primarily on the adults, but also on the sponsor. Around here, da Mormons and the Catholics tend to have the most faith-based units. You'll find real "duty to God" discussions on BOR's, real practiced faith in the troops. Mormons mostly keep to themselves, Catholic units have a lot of non-Catholic boys but it doesn't seem to be an issue.


Others are all over da place, but it's safe to say that there's some religious expression in all of 'em. For a lot of kids, it's the first place in their life as a citizen (outside their church) where religious expression, even as a token, is welcome and normal. The first place where they get to see (and sometimes talk about) others expressing faith. I think there was even a BSA poll statistic that something like 20% of the boys got their first experience with organized religion through Scouting. How can you be a knowledgeable citizen in the U.S. and have no experience with organized religion?


In short, Scouting is da first environment for kids that's really like what their adult life as a citizen will be. Where people care about religion, where people attend weddings and funerals and baptisms and memorial services for friends of different faiths. Where they see adults and fellow youth express ethics and decision-making that is sometimes grounded in religion.


I think dat's a great gift to the kids and the country, to provide probably the only place where they get to live like real citizens in a faith-filled world. Public schools won't do it, religion is taboo. Soccer won't do it. Only in Scouting do they learn that religion and religious values are a normal part of citizenship in da U.S., and that it's OK to participate respectfully with each other.


I'd hate to see us lose that. Even a little is a good thing.




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