Re: Religious Emblem and Merit Badges
George Costigan (GCostigan@AOL.COM)
Tue, 19 Mar 1996 11:14:47 -0500
In a message dated 96-03-19 05:44:21 EST, Peter Murphy writes:
>Should the rank requirements be changed so that a Scout may
>substitute his religious emblem in place of an optional merit badge
>in meeting the total of 21 for Eagle?
While I strongly support the religious awards porgrams that are a part of the
Boy Scout program, I cannot agree with the suggestion that we allow a
religious award to replace an optional merit badge on the Eagle trail.
First, the religious awards program is affiliated with the Scouting movement,
but not exclusive to it. This alone brings up a couple of factors. While many
religious groups have some program in place to provide an education and
recognition program for youth, not all of them do. Do we wish to be in a
situation where we are worried about religious discrimination in that
Do we for that matter want to be in a situation where we have other
organizations say that their requirements are tougher, more useful, or better
able to give the boy the skills he needs by earning this or that merit badge.
We have seen arguments similar to this reagrding whose certification we seek
on a number of items, such as First Aid, Lifesaving, or BSA Lifeguard. Who is
writing the requirements? Last time I checked, it was National.
Second, I think I can safely go out on this limb to say the Scouting movement
has stated that while we encourage our boys to grow and develop their
religious beliefs, we do not mandate how a boy believes in a supreme being.
Making a religious award a substitute requirement for the Eagle trail says
to me "Okay, maybe we are mandating it a little."
Third, I don't think the time or amount of work is a factor. From what I had
to do to earn my religious award, the work was fairly easy. It was time
consuming, but only in that I had to wait for my diocese and the Catholic
committee, rather than they wait for me. While working and waiting for it, I
kept moving and growing in Scouting.
It is in that sense that the value of my, or any religious award, comes into
importance. When I was first entering Boy Scouts, my Scoutmaster mentioned
that while he did not force people to earn their religious award, it made
things much easier come their Egale Board. I asked why, and he said that if
the Board could look at your shirt and see your purple knot, they knew that
you had already asked and answered yourself many of the character questions
that your Board would ask.
It is this development of character that makes a religious award worth
possibly *more* than a merit badge. It is the walking on the parallel path
that Peter mentioned that helped me more than the 24 badges I earned on the
George Costigan, CM, Pack 157
Herndon, VA - National Capital Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City