Reverence & Duty to God
Some Questions and Resources
The Baden-Powell Council Duty to God Committee offers the following material highlighting some of the guidance provided by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the World Organization of Scouting Movements (WOSM). The links provided are current as of January 2015, however links can change and it may be necessary to use a Search Engine to locate some of this material.
Is a Scout's Duty to God still an important part of the BSA program?
In response to this question, the BSA affirmed that:
The duty to God is absolutely explicit and one of the fundamental principles of the BSA. It remains the position of the Boy Scouts of America that the ideals and principles of “duty to God” and “reverence” set forth in the Scout Oath and Law—as expressed by the different faith beliefs of our members—are central to teaching young people to make better choices over their lifetimes.
When should a Unit celebrate Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath?
Units may recognize Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath whenever it is convenient for them, however the BSA tradition is to select a Sunday or Saturday in February.
Suppose a Unit is Chartered by a secular organization and has no particular Religious affiliation?
A Unit is free to choose its own form of observance. A Court of Honor and/or brief service on Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath is appropriate as is a simple remark of the upcoming dates during a Unit Meeting and a closing Scout Vespers.
Can you suggest any online resources?
There are many online resources for model services and devotional programs. Some useful links include:
· Scout Sunday/Sabbath and the Scouts’ Own Service, Bringing Duty to God to Your Unit, an offering of the Baden-Powell Duty to God Committee <<http://www.badenpowellcouncildutytogod.org/Forms/scoutsundaydutytogod.pdf>>
· USSP, Reverent, a resource of the United States Scouting Service Project: <<http://usscouts.org/usscouts/reverent.asp>>
· Scouting and Spiritual Development, a publication of the World Organization of Scouting Movements: <<http://www.scout.org/node/6322>>
· Guidelines on Spiritual and Religious Development, a publication of the World Organization of Scouting Movements: <<http://scout.org/node/6317>>
What Dates/Times are of Religious Significance
The following material is taken from the BSA Website:
There are certain dates and religious observances that must be adhered to by the individual. Arrangements must be made for participation in special services.
The Islamic (Muslim) year begins with Muharram. All Islamic dates are subject to sighting of the moon; an event may be one day earlier or later than the date listed.
According to the Eastern Orthodox Church calendar, the day begins after evening vespers at sunset and concludes with vespers on the following day. For this reason, the observance of all Eastern Orthodox holy days begins at sunset on the evening before the holy day.
Jewish holidays begin at sundown prior to the first date listed.
A religious institution has the option of celebrating Scout Sunday/Scout Sabbath at its discretion. For example, the United Methodist Church always celebrates Scout Sunday on the second Sunday in February.
How do I square Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath with the fact that my Unit includes youth from diverse religious backgrounds?
This is a Unit decision, perhaps made in concert with the Charter Organization. Simplicity and Inclusiveness are probably the most important considerations as well as Respect for the individual Scout or Scouter's beliefs. We neither suggest or recommend a particular form of recognition or observance and any participation must be voluntary. The Boy Scouts of America Charter and Bylaws states:
Declaration of Religious Principle
Clause 1. The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.
Clause 2. The activities of the members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be carried on under conditions which show respect to the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion, as required by the twelfth point of the Scout Law, reading, “Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”
Clause 3. In no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denominations or faith be required, because of their membership in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly unique to that organization or church.