Doing one’s duty to God is central to Scouting. The Scout Oath begins with duty to God; the Scout Law ends with reverence. As Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell said, “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.”
In implementing the 2011-2015 National Council Strategic Plan, the BSA incorporated duty-to-God adventures in the revised Cub Scout program and tweaked the Boy Scout requirements to reflect duty to God. These changes will give Scout leaders an avenue to help Scouts better understand and live out duty to God in their lives.
How does the new Cub Scout program reflect duty to God? The new program, which begins with the 2015-16 program year, is built around required and elective adventures. Each rank includes a required duty-to-God adventure.
What activities are involved in these adventures? Depending on rank, boys will participate in worship experiences and service projects, visit religious sites, learn about religious practices and study people in history who have shown great faith in God. You can find the complete requirements at scouting.org/programupdates.
Are interfaith activities included in the Cub Scout adventures? That’s up to the boy’s family. For example, one of the Tiger requirements has a boy participate in a worship experience or activity with his family. He could meet that requirement at his family’s place of worship or an interfaith service.
What is changing in Boy Scouting? The Scout Spirit requirement for each rank starting with Tenderfoot is expanding to have the Scout describe how he has done his duty to God. (The new requirements will be released at the National Annual Meeting in May.)
When will the new Boy Scout requirements take effect? Jan. 1, 2016. Find more information about the transition plan and requirements at scouting.org/programupdates.
How can I evaluate a Scout for duty to God, especially if he and I have different beliefs? Consider asking him how his family or faith group defines duty to God and how he is living up to that definition. Remember that the focus is on the Scout’s understanding of duty to God, not the leader’s. Also, keep in mind that duty to God will be only one part of the Scout Spirit requirement.
Do boys have to earn the religious emblem for their faith? No. Not every youth is a member of a faith group, and not all faith groups offer religious emblems. Earning one is not a requirement.
As the BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle states, “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, 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 organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.”