Re: It's a religious thing.
(no name) ((no email))
Mon, 9 Dec 1991 14:07:00 EDT
Thanks for your inquiry about the religious emblems program. That is the
official name for a set of medals and pendant awards recognized by the BSA
as well as nine other youth-serving agencies in the United States.
You are no doubt familiar with the God and Country "protestant" award and the
Ad Altare Dei award for the Roman Catholic faith. There are eighteeen other
awards which may be earned by Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and adults. The adult
awards are not *earned per se, Chuck, but rather are presented to him or her
by a church body for service to Scouting and the youth of that faith over a
period of time (normally about ten years or so, some more, some less).
One of the biggest deals with these awards is what you are thinking. THESE
ARE NOT BSA AWARDS!!!! As I mentioned in the first paragragh, these awards
are also the same ones that are earned and presented to GSUSA members, FFA
members, members of the Salvation Army youth ministry, YMCA, etc. etc.
For us to call them "Boy Scouting religious awards" is a gross misnomer. The
BSA, since 1947 when these two first awards were established by church groups
outside of Scouting, allows them to be worn in the same manner that Scout trail
medals or event medals are worn. In 1958 and again in 1966, the BSA affirmed
that the program was inportant to its program content and established a
protestant and catholic religious relationships committee (the Jewish one was
eshablished in 1968) with responsibilities to explain the program TO RELIGIOUS
LEADERS for implementation with Scouts in the local areas. In 1973, the BSA
made a special square knot award available nationwide (it was previously
available from religious bodies) for those who earned the youth award. In 1975,
the adlut knot was made available for adults that have recieved on of then
four adlut recognitions (the Saint George Catholic; the Saint George Episcopal;
the Shofar Jewish and the Lamb Lutheran.). The following year, the Association
of Baptists in Scouting made available the Good Shepard Award and in 1983,
the God and Service Award was made available for protestants to receive.
Again, for emphasis, Chuck: These are NOT BSA awards. That is why the
requirements are available in separate booklets paid for with monies from
the sales of the awards, lapel pins, etc. as well as from funding and special
collections in many churches during Scout Sunday.
As I stated, there are 20 faiths that have at least one religious award
available for youth to earn and wear: Armenian, Baptists, Buddhist, Eastern
Rite Catholic, Episcopal, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Moravian,
the "traditional" and the Reorganized Churches of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, Polish National Catholic, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army,
the Association of Unity Churches, Unitarian Universalists, and Zorostrians.
Information on how a Scout would go about earning their faith's award is
available from the youth minister or pastor/priest/rabbi/similiar titled
person of the church, or from Religious Relationships Service at the National
(for those of you that wanted to know my sources, I attended the first Scout
Chaplain course of the BSA when they were playing around with the idea of
having a Troop Chaplain. The DuPage Area Council's Handbook for Leaders have
this same information less the history lesson on pages 6-7 in a nice, easy-to
read format (that they got from National).
Chuck, again so that there are no misunderstandings here. The BSA states that
as policy, that "no person can grow into the best kind of citizen without
recognition an obligation to God and, therefore, acknowledges the religious
element in development of youth members, but it is absolutely NONSECTARIAN in
its attitude toward that religious development. Its policy is that the
organization or institution with which youth members are connected shall
give definate attention to their religious life. Only adults willing to
suscribe to this declaration of principle and the Bylaws of the BSA shall
be entitled to certificates of leadership." <Declaration of Religious Principle,
Nowhere in there did it state that the BSA recognized ONE faith over all others.
My interpretation (and yes, interpretations are freely given....) of this is
twofold: One, as a BSA leader, I cannot "force" you to believe as I believe.
I cannot "tell you" that this is the faith of this Troop. Two, as a adult,
I can ENCOURAGE you to seek your own meaning of that word "God". Your god and
mine may be or not the same person. You may not have a "god" yet. But you have
to be seeking and finding SOMETHING or SOMEONE to believe in, because the BSA
says (and I agree with them on that) the best citizens are those that have
something or someone to cling onto when things get rough...on the trail or on
I am sorry that this upsets you, but while religion belongs in the home with
so many other things back in our days, today we MUST share those things with
our youth or they will be lost. And somehow, we must have a open enough policy
to allow those with NO beliefs or beliefs that "countermans" traditional
thinking to become full participating members. How else are we going to convince
them that "the answers are NOT all cut and dried....and YOU, not me, have to go
out and seek those answers for yourself!"
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City