As a Scouter, you are well-aware of the Scouting principle of Duty to God and the important role it has played in your adventures. However, as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ends its partnership with the BSA after 2019, will Duty to God in Scouting also meet its end?
This is an interesting question, and one that has come to many people’s minds. Because the majority of units in our Council are sponsored by the Church, it might seem like any faith or religion-based programs you have participated in while Scouting are a result of the partnership between the Church and the BSA.
However, this is not the case! Duty to God, the Scouting principle, has been one of the most important tenets of the BSA’s ideology since its very foundation. Although partnerships with religious organizations are a great way to ensure Duty to God remains valued in the Scouting program, the Church is not the reason it exists.
Note: The principle of Duty to God in Scouting is separate from the Church’s young men’s program, also named Duty to God.
When a young person joins the Boy Scouts of America, one of the first things he or she learns is the Scout Oath. Every Scout recites the first line of the Oath:
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God …”
“The wording was not created at random. Duty to God has been one of the most important principles of Scouting from the beginning. In fact, in 1916, James E. West, the BSA’s first Chief Scout Executive, helped install what is now known as the “Declaration of Religious Principle” into the original BSA constitution and by-laws, and it remains there today.” – Aaron Durr, Scouting Magazine.
The BSA Ensures Duty to God will Continue
Last year, during the 2018 National Annual Meeting, the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board reaffirmed Duty to God and the important part it plays in Scouting.
The resolution the Executive Board came up with ensures that Duty to God will continue on in all Scouting programs, even when the Church’s partnership ends this December.
The resolution reads as follows:
Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board Resolution Reaffirming Duty to God
WHEREAS the foundational values of the Boy Scouts of America are reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law;
WHEREAS the first part of the Scout Oath declares “On my honor I will do my best to do my Duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;”
WHEREAS the Declaration of Religious Principle in Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America states that:
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 of good citizenship should be kept before them.
WHEREAS the twelfth point of the Scout Law is Reverent and while the Boy Scouts of America is absolutely nonsectarian in its view of religious training, Reverent means that a Scout is faithful in his or her religious duties and respects the beliefs of others; and
WHEREAS these faith-based tenets have been a part of the Boy Scouts of America since it was founded and, notwithstanding any changes to Scouting programs, the commitment of the movement to Duty to God is unwavering;
Now therefore be it resolved that the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America hereby reaffirms its unequivocal commitment to the Declaration of Religious Principle as a fundamental component of the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.
The Future of Duty to God in the Utah National Parks Council
In our Council, we will continue to strive to meet the National Executive Board’s commitment to Duty to God. At camp, in meetings, and through every program, Duty to God will remain an important focus.
Our Council Duty to God award is an easy way in which units, leaders, and parents can further incorporate the principle into their Scouting experience.
This year’s award will support 2019’s celebration of Scouting between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America. The award will be a token to remember the strong friendship both parties have and will have.
Author: Madison Austin | Marketing Specialist, Utah National Parks Council