Scouters Own Service How to Plan an Interfaith or Multi-faith Religious Service, According to BSA Guidelines
Planning and Carrying Out a Worship Service • “Duty to God” (Note some religions refer to the Supreme Being as GOD or G-d) • Specifically mentioned in the Cub Scout Promise, Boy Scout Oath and Law, and the Venturing Oath
Cub Scout Promise “I, (Your Name) promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the Law of the Pack.”
Scout Oath The Meaning of the Scout Oath: “To do my duty to God” Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and love God and the ways in which God can be served. As a Scout, you do your duty to God by following the wisdom of those teachings in your daily life, and by respecting the rights of others to have their own religious beliefs.
The Meaning of the SCOUT LAW:“A Scout is REVERENT” A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others. We show our reverence by living our lives according to the ideals of our beliefs. The Scout benediction is “May the Great Master of all Scouts be with us until we meet again.”
The United States Constitution • Gives each of us complete freedom to believe and worship as we wish without fear of punishment. • All your life, you will encounter people who hold different religious beliefs or even none at all. It is your duty to respect and defend the rights of others whose beliefs may differ from yours.
The Venturing Oath “As a Venturer, I promise to do my duty to God and help strengthen America, to help others and to seek truth, fairness, and adventure in our world.”
Lord Baden-Powell’s Thoughts “Very closely allied with education comes the important matter of religion. Though we hold no brief for any one form of belief over another, we see a a way to helping all by carrying the same principle into practice as is now being employed in other branches of education, namely, to put the boys in touch with their objective, which in this case is to do their duty to God through their duty to their neighbor.”
Baden-Powell Continues “In helping others in doing good turns, and in rescuing those in danger, pluck self-discipline, unselfishness, chivalry, become acquired and quickly form part of their character. These attributes of character, coupled with the right study of Nature, must of necessity bring the young soul in closer touch spiritually with God.”
Nature Study Viewed by Baden-Powell as offering a deeper reverence towards God “All of these have a fascination for boys, which appeals in an absorbing degree to their inquisitiveness and powers of observation, and leads them directly to recognize the hand of God in this world of wonders, if only someone introduces them to it.”
Declaration of Religious Principle • Recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe • Good citizenship works hand in hand with that acknowledgment • “The BSA recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely non-sectarian in its attitude toward that religious training.”
Activities 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…”
Freedom “In No Case Where a Unit Is Connected With a Church or Other Distinctively Religious Organization Shall Members of Other Denominations or Faith Be Required, Because of Their Membership in That Unit, to Take Part in or Observe a Religious Ceremony Distinctly Unique to That Organization or Church.”
Glossary of Terms • Nonsectarian • Ecumenical • Nondenominational • Interfaith or Multi-faith • Scout’s Own • Scouter’s Own Services
Nonsectarian Not limited to one faith, inclusive and considerate of all religions.
Ecumenical Pertaining to Christian religions that recognize Christ as the son of God.
Nondenominational Not associated or united with any particular religious denomination (is generally thought to be Christian or Protestant in nature)
Interfaith or Multi-faith Including all faith denominations, all persons or groups of different religions (This is what BSA guidelines state should be utilized for all religious services outside of those held at a unit’s specific church, synagogue, or mosque.)
Scout’s Own A prayer service planned and conducted by the Scouts themselves, on their own
Scouter’s Own A multi-faith or interfaith service that all Scouts and Scouters may attend Attention must be paid to recognize the universality of beliefs in God and reverence. Uses of the doxology and “the Lord’s Prayer” would not recognize this diversity
Planning and Carrying Out a Worship Service For which religious faiths is the service or services to be conducted? If separate services are conducted, then it is appropriate to organize and then support participants to plan and worship according to the dictates of their own faith
Truth in Advertising When you encourage your group to participate in religious services, accurately name and promote the services so that no one is offended by anticipating an experience for everyone and then attending one that is slanted to or espouses the beliefs of one particular faith, religion, or body of religion.
Basic Concepts Everything Scouts do must be in good taste It should be planned, timed, and rehearsed Consider people’s comfort Choose a location that lends itself to the occasion an promotes reverence Set up a focal point such as candles, a centerpiece of flowers, a grove of trees, or a view of a lake
More Basic Concepts A circle is very conducive for a small group Insure that all participants have an opportunity to participate through responsive readings, silent and group prayer, singing, etc. Have several people conduct the service If you have a planning group, they should welcome everyone
Lord Baden-Powell’s Thoughts “Take a negative instance. A Mahommedan Guider comes to England and addresses a lot of Girl Guides on religion, in the course of which she quotes Mahomet as the one divine teacher. This in spite of the fact that her audience are believers in Christ. How would you regard her action? As tactless, as insulting, as fanatical? At any rate it wouldn’t be exactly polite or in accordance with our laws of courtesy. Yet I have known Christian Guides as well as Scouters do exactly the same thing with Jews or Hindoos or people of other beliefs present, and these on their part have sat under it, too polite to raise objections but none the less made uncomfortable by it…”
Baden-Powell Continues “Once at a mixed gathering at a Scout’s Own, a speaker carefully avoided much reference to Christ and was accused by some there of ‘denying Him.’ His defence was theat he was rather following Christ in that he was showing Christian deference to the feelings of others who, equally with himself, were sons of one Father, under whatever form they rendered homage to God.”
Courtesy and Reverence A Scout is courteous and reverent. He respects the rights and feelings of others. Services should be consistent with the beliefs and practices of those that are expected to attend Only appropriate Bible references should be used
References to Jesus or Christ are inappropriate in an Interfaith or “Scouter’s Own” service.Some Protestant denominations do not believe in the concept of the Trinity.
Good Practices Get the Scouts of various religious backgrounds involved with planning the services by researching materials Use inspirational rather than particular religious materials Check with religious authorities if a question arises about appropriateness
Other Considerations Some faiths have particular dietary laws that are observed. Be conscious of this Asking that all participants remove their head coverings might be seen as a violation of some religions. An alternative suggestion: “Please remove your head coverings unless you are wearing them for religious purposes.”
Services Should Include Call to Worship Hymns Scripture(s) or readings from a variety of religious or inspirational sources Responsive reading Personal prayer Group prayer Inspirational reading or message Offering (World Friendship Fund) An act of friendship Benediction or closing
Final Thoughts from BP The founder of the Scouting movement stated that the highest point in a man’s aim should be “active goodwill for and cooperation with his fellow men about the world , as being all children of one Father. From this should ensue the reign of peace upon the earth.”
Be Courteous and Considerate Encourage Diversity Be Prepared