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Religious Services at Events

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Here is the Relationships Division at the National Council:



Here is the Chaplain's Aide book:



To me, the important thing is having an idea of the mix of faith communities in your District or Council. Your Professionals, who have access to area demographic data, should be able to help. I know some areas which are homogenous to a single faith group, I know others which are really, really diverse.


Diversity is where the rub hits: What you say to the Christian may well (almost certainly is) anathema to the Jew or the Muslim. Ditto the other way.


If your event can arrange for faith-groupings of worship, you're going to be miles ahead over trying "one size fits all Scouts" worship. By groupings, I mean Christian-Protestant, Christian Catholic, Jewish... according to your local area population mix.


A Note: This is my $0.02 on this, vice a BSA position. BTW, here is a rather lengthy thread we did on this topic a year or so back:



HTH.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Policy? Probably not.


Encouragement within the program materials? Certainly.


What form it takes? To paraphrase any number of British Prime Ministers at Question Time on C-SPAN (one of my favorite TV shows!), "I refer the honorable gentleman to the replies I gave one year ago."

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John - thanks for the link to the previous thread. When I ran a search on the forums it never came up.


After reading that thread I like the idea of individual time but can see the purpose of an interfaith as well. Here is what prompted my question.... A district event has schedules an Interfaith service for their event. Now we have a member of one of units that is insisting that we provide a location and time on our schedule for them to hold their own religious service for anyone at the event who wishes to come. They have been told that they are welcome to hold their service at their campsite, invite whomever they wish but that we will not be adding a special time on the schedule (which is very tight as it is) that it would have to be fit in. This is not good enough. They insist that we MUST do this and if we do not we must inform the parents of all youth that we are not doing this. Never mind that it was in the event guide and leaders were contacted about this before the event was finalized and not one had a problem with it.


Any suggestions?

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I am not sure I understand their objections.


There is already an interfaith service scheduled for a district event. One of the participants of the event does not want to attend the group interfaith service. He/she wishes instead to have their own service, and invite everyone.


Here is where I get confused - This person does not want to hold their alternate service at the same time as the event service? They want an entirely separate slot on the schedule, so, presumably, people can go to both if they wish?




There is nothing in any BSA publication that states that your district is required to have a different time slot for each and every possible faith service at an event. That is just silly. You could end up with the entire day being spent going from one service to another.


I think it is an entirely fair compromise to allow multiple faith services in the same time slot, and have people choose the ONE service they wish to attend (if any).



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I'm with Lisa on this, and this is another example of the kind of things that accumulate and burn leaders out.....Un reasonable adults who insist on silly requests and try to foist the burden on th you. This one is easy to eliminate from your burnout-stress items. Tell them they can either do their service at the same time as th interfaith service OR do thiers at any time but you are not required, and will not, schedule any time during the event for just thier requesat. A council or distict evenbt is a complex thing to put together, with individual units coming up with special requests to manipulate the schedule and then Insist on it and Insist you accomdate it boarders on insanity. After making the position clear, if they continue to try and make contact and INSIST what you MUST do, make use of the delete key. The only one getting hot under the collar will be them whichh is as it should be, they are the one creating the issue so they can live with the stress not you.

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We have this dust-up every year or so. It usually involves someone volunteering to run the Scouts' Own service and then turning it into a tent revival. Of course, when someone points out that as a district function, the event should be inter-faith, the guy takes offense.


Tell this guy he has three options:


1. Attend the Scout's Own service along with everyone else.

2. Conduct their own service according to their own faith elsewhere in camp. They can invite whomever they wish.

3. Attend the house of worship of their choice when they return home.

4. Not to attend the event at all.

5. Pound sand.


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Having spent a lot of time, as did Narraticong, talking this issue at PTC last summer...


If a faith-based Chartered Partner desires to run a denomination-specific service during "church hour" of your event, help them to make it happen. Talking with Pastors who are no less than District Commish in their Scouting lives, folks with MDivs if not Doctorates, the order of desirable options is always from the specific (better) to the general (not as good).


Generic interfaith is the least desirable form of worship service, because the theology is watered down to the point it's just not acceptable across the bright lines of faith groupings.


In your specific case, may I suggest your DC and DE have a quiet talk with the one groups' COR, to find out the objections? It seems to me by offering them up as an alternative to the generic service, you can kill this monkey easily.


Another alternative is to simply make units responsible for their own worship.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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I'm with Lisa on this. There is nothing stating any religious services must be held.


Inter-faith services can be limited to just Christian providing there is another service available for non-Christians. I've been to many camporees where there was a Catholic, non denominational & Jewish services available. What kind you have, if any, depends on who is available to run the service.

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Yes, John and I are in agreement on this. More specific to a particular faith is always more meaningful. I have been to many watered down generic Scout's Own services that left me feeling totally unfullfilled.


Perhaps it is best at a District event to provide a slot of time during which various faiths may hold a religious service. Members of the various faiths will be responsible for organizing and running their individual service. If members of several denominations feel comfortable worshipping together, then they can work on the service together.


If the given time slot does not work for a particular faith, the event committee can do their best to accomodate them. Perhaps this should be part of the pre-event planning. But each faith also needs to try to accomodate the event, also.


I really don't see a need for their to be a grand "Scout's Own" get together for the entire event. By nature the really don't meet the beliefs of many faiths and in the end probably offend the beliefs of many Scouts who are devout in their beliefs.


If your Council has a Religious Relations Committee (I serve as Lutheran representative to ours), contact them for help and advice. We really are nice folks who have learned a little about various faiths through working together. We can help you avoid a few pitfalls and perhaps help provide a more meaningful worship experience for your Scouts.



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