The religious emblems programs are key spiritual components of the Scouting movement. These programs, which have been created by national religious organizations and committees, help young people to become more active members of their own faith group and encourage spiritual development by providing specific religious instruction. These programs are overseen and/or taught by religious leaders and administered by religious organizations, not by the Boy Scouts of America.
Religious emblems can play a vital role in the overall development of young people. Besides providing specific religious instruction, the religious emblems programs share many of the values that are integral to the Scouting program, such as service to the community, intergenerational relationships, friendship-making skills, and positive self-esteem. The religious emblems programs provide opportunities for young people to reinforce and internalize the values they have learned in Scouting and to relate them to their faith.
Research has shown that when young people are involved in both a religious organization and a civic youth organization, the number of positive assets increases while their at-risk behaviors decrease. Search Institute of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has identified 40 developmental assets that are essential for a child’s healthy development. One of these assets is involvement in the religious community. Local Scout councils can turn to the religious emblems programs to help develop this asset for youth. The religious emblems programs will involve multiple sectors of the community: the religious institution, the family, and the local council. The more places that deliver the same message and teach the same values to youth, the stronger the youth will be.
In recognition of the value of religious emblems to participants, the fact that 70 percent of all Scouting units are faith-based, and involvement in religious emblems studies contributes to youth staying in Scouting longer, the BSA authorized the positions of council and district religious emblems coordinator more than a year ago.
The first “Religious Emblems Coordinator Basics” webinars have been set for Monday, July 30, at 4 p.m. CDT and Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. CDT. “Best Practices for REC’s” will be offered Thursday, Sept. 6, at 1 p.m. CDT and Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. CDT. The sessions are targeted to professionals and volunteers. More details and registration links may be found at: www.praypub.org/learningcenter.
To learn more about starting a religious emblems program on the unit level and the implementation of religious emblems coordinators, please consult the resources listed below.
Religious Emblems Resources: