I grew up in Scouting in an LDS troop, and I attended their church most of the time. I, myself, was not a member of their faith when I joined the troop. However, I did have several LDS friends and acquaintances. Being somewhat new to the culture, I felt slightly out of place, but I soon found friends in the troop.
While Scouting is not tied to one specific denomination or faith, it also isn’t nonreligious. Scouting was founded on developing moral character and decision making in our youth. Any religion that furthers the moral and ethical principles taught in the BSA should therefore have a place in Scouting.
It is important that Scouts also have an understanding of other faiths to maintain camaraderie between troops. This leads to one of the points of the Scout Law–reverence. When we say a scout is reverent, we don’t just mean in his own faith. We also mean that he is reverent toward all religious beliefs; he respects and understands differences.
Scoutmasters and adult leaders can foster an understanding of religious differences in their troop by making visits to other churches. Troops do not necessarily have to attend an organized sermon, mass, or church service. Rather, the troop can choose to meet with a church representative in the representative’s building of worship, to learn about the religion’s main beliefs, and tour the building.
If you do choose to attend a church service, your Scouts should not draw unnecessary attention to themselves. Always be respectful and have reverence for other faiths’ worship services. It would be wise to attend in smaller groups without official BSA uniform.
If making a visit in-person with members of another faith is not possible, there are other options. Try dedicating 10-20 minutes of a campout, troop meeting, or patrol activity to learning about another faith. You could make a short presentation to highlight core beliefs of a faith, and how they gather to worship. This could also be a great opportunity for a Scout in the troop or patrol to learn how to make a Powerpoint and give a presentation.
Ultimately, we can all rally together in Scouting with our belief in something greater than ourselves. Whether that be God, Mother Nature, or whatever else, we can all bond together in appreciating Scouting. Having an understanding and reverence for each other’s faiths will bring us closer together as fellow Scouts, and make the BSA stronger.