Silent Prayer

Faith Requirements for Cub Scouts and Agnostics

Amy sent in this question:

How do you complete the Wolf faith requirement if a family does not have a faith, and does not talk about God in their family? This family was hesitant to join Scouts because of the faith component.

And John asked a similar question:

I am a den leader and I have a scout who is being raised agnostic. What can I do to assist the scout in completing the “Duty to God” achievement?

In the new Cub Scout program, there are required faith adventures for every badge. While the requirements are broad and do not require adherence to any specific religion, they do require a Cub Scout to think about faith and discuss it.

You might find the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle from the Charter and Bylaws helpful when discussing this with parents:

Section 1. Declaration of Religious Principle, clause 1.The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen 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 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.

If you discuss the declaration of religious principle with them and you are still not sure what to do, I recommend you call your local council and seek advice from them. Your local Scouting professionals are there to help you sort through difficult questions like these. They are a valuable resource when you don’t know where else to turn.

10 Responses to Faith Requirements for Cub Scouts and Agnostics

  1. Jenny February 25, 2014 at 5:23 PM #

    I had my wolf den do this requirement at home. Some families attend church, some are believers but don’t attend, and some are agnostic. We have some problems with arguing about little things (we’re working on it) and I know 2 of our boys have had words over religion before.

    • Jason February 27, 2015 at 1:15 PM #

      I just wanted to encourage leaders to be sensitive to the agnostic perspective but be bold in the position of the organization. Clearly, we are faith-based (not religious based.) There is one Creator God that we are to acknowledge, give thanks to and understand our accountability to. Anyone who is part of the organization that does not support and promote this cornerstone principal is not leading BSA. Its ok to allow for requirements at home – but not talking about this topic at meetings does not help anyone. I would argue that it hurts the next generation of Scouts who need leadership examples of mature faith. I wish you all the best in striking this balance; respecting different faiths yet boldly teaching the position and honoring the culture of Boy Scouts of America.

  2. Amy March 20, 2014 at 2:26 PM #

    We have a pack whose members are from many different faiths, including many agnostic families who are in leadership roles. We ask everyone to complete the faith elements of each rank at home and we have several Scouts Own Service programs which are patriotic, Native American, multi-faith or nature-oriented. For our agnostic families, they are all active in service to our community and combine service projects with their children as part of their faith discussions.

  3. Liz H March 21, 2014 at 9:38 AM #

    I am a Wolf leader. I had the boys complete at home and took the parents at their word. I know that the boys come from different religious backgrounds and some that believe that God exists but don’t believe in an organized religion. That is between them and their God. A large portion of that requirement is to discuss with their family so that is where I left it. Part d is the only one that one not apply and I will not keep a child from advancing based on their family’s religious beliefs. Our leader is a deacon and he agreed.

  4. Marie May 3, 2014 at 2:27 PM #

    We ask our families to do this at home, but most do not or don’t know how. I have done the discussion in den meeting. I have the boys turn and talk to their parent (most have one who stays). They discuss it then and there. We then let each share. I share also and give several examples of different beliefs. Then I let the boys choose 2 things that they can do to demonstrate their faith and tell them to report back to me the following week.

  5. Ned September 12, 2014 at 8:20 PM #

    I think the answer summed up as “These kids are out of luck, but if they start to believe in a deity, they’ll be more than welcome.”

  6. Mama Grizzly October 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM #

    We need to get free from the compulsion to try to be all things to all people. Scouting has at its core faith in God and honoring and living true to that faith, as stated above in the basic Scout Charter, and as the boys repeat regularly in the Scout oath. Plain and simple. If someone has a problem with that, with God, they don’t belong in Scouts, and can find another outlet for their boys. If we continually apologize for our faith, and try to soft sell, backpedal and minimize it out of fear of offending people not of faith, we might as well pack up and go home.

    • Poppie December 2, 2014 at 7:48 AM #

      What she said…………

  7. Terry January 12, 2015 at 11:51 PM #

    I am not offended by others beliefs but the idea that to participate in scouts we have to believe in “God” saddens me. It seems rather narrow. Does it include Buddhists? Those who worship Allah? Or only a Christian/Catholic version of God? 95% of scouting has very little to do with religion, so to chase off those of us who aren’t believers but otherwise participate in a positive way. Perhaps that explains why the rolls are shrinking in our parts. I hope my family can continue to participate but I feel I am being backed into a corner by some of these requirements. I was just doing “don’t ask, don’t tell” but I won’t lie.

    • J March 9, 2015 at 12:34 PM #

      Terry, I believe the requirement is to believe and have faith in A God, not necessarily the Chrisian God only. I have been to Scout troops with Muslims. No big deal.

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