Sunday, February 16, 2014

The More Things Change, the More Some Things Remain the Same.

A Scout is Reverent by Norman Rockwell
Scouting has a continuing commitment to encourage moral, ethical, and spiritual growth. In the Scout Oath, “duty to God” reminds everyone that a Scout is reverent. That will always remain a core value and an immutable tenet of the Boy Scouts of America.

The Scout Oath begins with “duty to God” and the Scout Law ends with a Scout's obligation to be Reverent. 

This has been and still is the foundation for Scouts to be “Reverent.”

Although the Boy Scouts of America is a nonsectarian organization advocating a devout belief in a deity through the Scout Oath and Law, Article IX, Section 1, Clause 1 in the Charter and Bylaws states in part, “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God,” in essence being “Reverent.”

The BSA expects its members to accept the religious principles as stated in the bylaws, the Scout Oath and Law, and the application for membership.

With that said, what does it really means for a Scout to be Reverent?

FOR THE SCOUT: Being Reverent means the Scout should faithfully follow the religious duties, and responsibilities instructed by his parents or guardian and/or his religious institution. Because Scouts are associated with people of different faiths, it is also imperative that Scouts recognize the religious beliefs of other Scouts and respect those beliefs. While the BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion, nor require membership in a religious organization or association for enrollment in the Scout movement it does prefer, and strongly encourages, membership and participation in the religious programs and activities of a church, synagogue, or other religious association. The BSA believes in religious freedom, and expects Scouts to respect others whose practicing religion may differ from theirs. Scouting embraces the right of all to worship God in their own way and encourages each individual Scout to be obligated to their faith.  

FOR THE SCOUT LEADER: Being Reverent means the Scout leaders, without being sectarian, should be accommodating in their religious influence, encouraging each Scout to be openly faithful with their own particular religious obligations. Leaders should model a standard where the Scout can, without distraction, live out their lives according to the ideas of their faith and work towards earning the duty to God religious emblem of their faith while in the Scout Program.

Scout outings and other activities that span weekends should include an up front announced opportunity for Scouts to meet their religious obligations. If services for members of each faith will not be available, the BSA recommends an interfaith service.

As you consider such a service, keep in mind that some religions have specific requirements that cannot be fulfilled through an interfaith service, and other arrangements might be necessary for Scouts of those faiths. Any scripture readings, prayers, hymns, and other parts of an interfaith service must be considerate of the beliefs of all those present.

No matter what the religious faith of the Scout may be, this fundamental need of the Scout should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude towards that religious training. Although the Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizenship without recognizing an obligation to God its policy is that the home and the religious organization with which the Scout is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

Statements by Lord Baden-Powell, Founder of Scouting:
"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." 

"Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don't let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose."

Pastor Scott Johnston
Camp Sinoquipe Chaplain