REAFFIRMATION OF THE POSITION OF
THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA ON "DUTY TO GOD"
Resolved, that the following reaffirmation of the position of the Boy Scouts
of America relating to "Duty to God" be, and hereby is, enacted and that the
Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, and literature of Corporation reflect this
In 1985, America celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
Since 1910, 80 million. Americans have subscribed to the Scout Oath and the
Scout Law which have stood the test of time.
The national Executive Board of the BSA proudly states, through its Mission
Statement, that the values which the organization strives to instill in young
people are those based upon the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. A Scout pledges:
"On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, and to
obey the Scout Law ..."
The first Boy Scouts of America Handbook for Boys, published in August 1911,
declares that "... no boy can grow into the best kind of citizenship without
recognizing his obligation to God." (Page 215)
The latest edition of The Official Boy Scout Handbook, published in 1990 reads:
"A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He
respects the beliefs of others." (Page 561)
While not intending to define what constitutes belief in God, the Boy Scouts of
America is proud to reaffirm the Scout Oath and its declaration of "Duty to
* The following statements are additional information on the BSA position:
The Boy Scouts of America has always been committed to the moral, ethical, and
spiritual development of our youth. Scouting is not a religion, but duty to God
is a basic tenet of the Scout Oath and Law.
Scouting does not seek to impose its beliefs upon others who do not share them.
Virtually every religion is represented in Scouting and the BSA does not define
or interpret God. That is the role of the Scout's family and religious
Scouting respects those who do not share its beliefs and it would not ask
others to alter their faith in any fashion in order to become Scouts. They too
are free to follow their own beliefs. Rather, the BSA membership believes that
the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law are central to the BSA goal
of teaching the values of self reliance, courage, integrity, and consideration
Scouting may not be for everyone, but for eight decades, Scouting has provided
meaningful programs and adventure to more than 80 million young people in the
Questions and Answers
June 7, 1991
Duty to God
Q. Can an individual who states that he does not believe in God be a
Volunteer Scout leader or member?
A. No. The Scout Oath, which documents the basic values of Scouting,
literally and figuratively addresses the issue of "duty to God"
before duty to country, others and self.
Q. Why is duty to God important to Scouting?
A. Since its founding in the United States in 1916, the Boy Scouts of
America has had an ongoing commitment to encouraging moral, ethical
and spiritual growth. The BSA believes that the principles set
forth in the Scout Oath and Law are central to the BSA's goals of
teaching the values of self-reliance, courage, integrity and consi-
deration of others.
Q. What harm would come of admitting young people who can not support
the BSA position on duty to God?
A. The Scout Oath and Law have served as the foundation of Scouting
for over 81 years. It would be a disservice to over five million
youth and adult members of Scouting to allow selective adherence
to one or more elements of the Oath or Law. To do so would result
in an organization that lacked the clear definition enjoyed by the
Q. How does the BSA define religion?
A. The BSA does not interpret God or religion. That is the role of the
Scout's family and religious leaders.
Q. What religions are involved with Scouting?
A. Virtually every religion is represented in the BSA.
Q. Some people maintain that God is a tree, a rock or a stream. Would
a person believing such be eligible to be a member of Scouting?
A. The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion. The Scout Oath
states a requirement for a Scout to observe a duty to God, and the
Scout Law requires a Scout to be reverent. Again, interpretation is
the responsibility of the Scout, his parents and religious leaders.
Q. What allows the BSA to exclude atheists from membership?
A. The BSA is a private membership group. As with any private organi-
zation, the BSA retains the Constitutional right to establish and
maintain standards for membership. Anyone who supports the values
of Scouting and meets these standards is welcome to join the organ-