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BSA's Religious Principles

The BSA Declaration of Religious Principles

(Reprinted from the 1987 printing, 1976 copyright, of the Charters and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America. The "Declaration of Religious Principles" are found in Article IX, Section 1, of the BSA Bylaws.)

The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizenship 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  the members 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 toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

ACTIVITIES.   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."

FREEDOM.   In no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denomination 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.

LEADERS.   Only persons willing to subscribe to these declarations of principles shall be entitle to certificates of leadership in carrying out the Scouting program.

BSA Religious Principles
(Reprinted from the 1992 edition of BSA's Advancement Guidelines: Council and District Functions.)

The Boy Scouts of America has a definite position on religious principles. The following interpretative statement may help clarify this position. The Boy Scouts of America:

  1. Does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion.
  2. Does not require membership in a religious organization or association for enrollment in the movement but does prefer, and strongly encourages, membership and participation in the religious programs and activities of a church, synagogue, or other religious association.
  3. Respects the convictions of those who exercise their constitutional freedom to practice religion as individuals without formal membership in organized religious organizations. In a few cases, there are those who, by conviction, do not feel it necessary to formally belong to an organized form of religion and seek to practice religion in accordance with their own personal convictions. Every effort should be made to counsel with the boy and his parents to determine the true story  of the religious convictions and practices as related to advancement in Scouting. Religious organizations have commended the Boy Scouts of America for encouraging youth to participate in organized religious activities. However, these same organizations reject any form of compulsion to enforce conformity to establish religious practices.
  4. If a boy says he is a member of a religious body, the standards by which he should be evaluated are those of that group. This is why an advancement committee usually requests a reference from his religious leader to indicate whether he has  lived up to their expectations.

Throughout life, Scouts are associated with people of different faiths. Scouts believe in religious freedom, respecting others whose religion may differ from theirs. Scouting believes in the right of all to worship God in their own way.

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