‘Duty to God’ principle reaffirmed in new Boy Scouts application guidelines

Posted at 11:51 AM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 20:54:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Boy Scouts of America National Council has updated its guidelines for new unit applications, reaffirming the organization's "Duty to God" principle as a fundamental aspect of the organization.

A new section of the unit application form now requires Boy Scouts of America unit applicants to agree to the organization's "Declaration of Religious Principle" or "duty to God."

The Boy Scouts of America requires that all chartered organizations, adult leaders, adult program participants, and youth members subscribe to the Declaration of Religious Principle, or "duty to God," as set forth in the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America as follows.

Clause 1. The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen with recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath 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 acknowledgement 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, "Reverant. A Scout is reverant toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others."

Boy Scouts of America has also implemented some policy changes to keep Scouts safe and to prohibit chartered organizations from engaging in political or social advocacy.

The "Scouter Code of Conduct" document provides Scouting leaders with guidelines for ensuring the safety of scouts and upholding the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

An update to the organization's Charter Agreement reiterates that a chartered organization cannot use the Scouting program to pursue any objectives related to political or social advocacy.

Mark Lawrence, founder of the BSA group “Restore Our Humanity," believes these guidelines are meant to continue to make it difficult for their charter to be approved. The group has submitted an application to the BSA four times but each time it has been rejected.

“It sounds like a no brainer. And that's why I feel like the BSA is really reaching hard to find a reason or an excuse to reject our application. And I can tell you, if they do, they have not seen the last of us,” Lawrence said. “It might be OK for the BSA to turn their backs on tens of thousands of young men here in Utah but we will not.”

Rick Barnes, executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, said chartered organizations must not use the scouting program to pursue any objectives to related political or social advocacy.

Use these links to view the new documents:

New-Unit Application [PDF]

Scouter Code of Conduct [PDF]

Annual Unit Charter Agreement [PDF]