The Religious Emblems Program
RELIGIOUS EMBLEMS PROMOTION
As Scout leaders, one of our roles is to promote Religious Emblems to the Scouts in our units, and to promote all faiths equally. Unit leaders are NOT required to lead the religious education discussions at the heart of the Religious Emblems. Rather, you as unit leaders can satisfy your obligations just by promoting religious emblems to the Scouts in your units and encouraging ALL the Scouts to earn the appropriate Religious Emblems for their faith and age.
These pages are intended to give you some information that will assist you in your role of promoting the various Religious Emblems. Also, the University of Scouting offers courses on Religious Emblems designed to increase your familiarity with them and to enable you to make a unit presentation on Religious Emblems. Also, members of the various religious emblems committees would be happy to come to a meeting of your unit to help you make a presentation on Religious Emblems if you don't feel comfortable making the presentation or if you would prefer that someone help you.
The Religious Emblems Programs (also called God and Country) are programs created by various religious groups for their children and youth who are also members of national youth agencies (i.e. Boy Scouts of America). It is important to remember that although the BSA may have approved these programs and even allow the recognition items/awards to be worn on Scout uniforms, the BSA did not create them. All Religious Emblems Programs are created by the religious groups themselves.
Pray Pub, a national organization located in St. Louis, is a clearing house for information on the Religious Emblems programs of most religions. The Search By Faith tool, located under the "Recognitions/Emblems" tab on the praypub.org web site, lists different Religious Recognitions Programs available by denomination.
Catholic Religious Emblems programs are administered locally by the St. Paul and Minneapolis <Archdiocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting (ACCS).
Jewish Religious Emblems programs are administered by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.
Catholic Religious Emblems
CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS EMBLEMS
Please read and share the Catholic Religious Emblems document with the families in your unit. A copy of the document can be found by clicking here . This is a brief overview of the Catholic Religious Emblems.
Catholic families who would like more information about the Catholic Religious Emblems program are encouraged to visit the web site nccs-bsa.org which is the web page for the National Committee on Catholic Scouting, or to contact the chairman of the local Committee on Catholic Scouting, Jim Rice, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The first page of the attached summary on Catholic Religious Emblems lists the 4 Catholic Religious emblems by name of the award and gives a brief discussion of the rank/age eligibility requirements for the Scouts as well as a guideline on how long a family can expect to work on the award before it is completed. For more detailed information on the individual awards, the course content and the requirements for earning them, please refer your unit families to: nccs-bsa.org
Families can also browse the course books for any of the awards at the Scout Shop -- if they would like to see the actual course material their Scouts will cover while earning a Catholic Religious Emblem.
The second page of the attachment gives high level information about the Cub Scout Catholic Religious Emblems program -- for parents who are new to Scouting and may not understand what a Religious Emblem is or how to go about working on one. Since the primary method of earning Cub Scout Catholic Religious Emblems is faith discussions within the family, this page addresses some of the basic and frequently asked questions about Religious Emblems for Catholic Cub Scouts. Again, more detailed information is available at nccs-bsa.org
The third page of the attachment is a set of talking points prepared by the Twin Cities Archdiocese Committee on Catholic Scouting that families can give to their parish priest if the parish does not offer the Catholic Religious Emblems program. This is very important information because a priest or his delegate must sign the work book showing the Scout has completed the work to the priest's satisfaction. The talking points are for the benefit of priests who aren't familiar with the Catholic Religious Emblems program. The goal is to enable more Cub Scouts to earn Catholic Religious Emblems -- by encouraging more parishes to work with parents and their Scouts to earn the awards.
IMPORTANT RECENT CHANGES
- The Cub Scout parent is the primary counselor for Cub Scout Catholic Religious Emblems and the PARENT AND BOY MUST WORK TOGETHER AS A FAMILY on the emblems. However.......
In a significant recent departure from past practice involving Cub Scout Catholic Religious Emblems, a few weeks ago the ACCS revised its guidance to priests to permit parishes to conduct or allow group discussion sessions. For example, this will permit the Catholic boys AND parents in a Den to work on their Cub emblems together in a small group session for mutual support and encouragement. Parents should talk to their parish priest about this alternative if they sense they need or want the support of other parents while helping their Scout earn his Cub Scout Catholic Religious Emblem -- or if their boy is more likely to complete the work if he and some of his peers are working on an emblem at the same time.
However, note the "boys AND parents": the parent is still the primary counselor for Cub Scout Catholic Religious Emblems and the PARENT AND BOY MUST WORK TOGETHER AS A FAMILY on the emblems. Also, each Cub Scout must complete all the work in the work book and review it with the priest or his delegate. None of that has changed. But small groups are now allowed to discuss the program content if that will encourage more families to work on their Religious Emblems by getting together to discuss the course materials with their sons.
- Boy Scout and Venture Crew Catholic Religious Emblems (Ad Altare Dei and Pope Pius XII) are led by certified counselors and facilitators who are trained and approved by the ACCS.
In a recent step to increase the number of Boy Scouts and Venturers who earn Catholic religious emblems, the ACCS compiled a database of counselors and facilitators who are willing to counsel boys from outside the counselor's parish. Now any Catholic Boy Scout or Venturer can find a nearby Religious Emblems counselor by sending an email to the ACCS with the boy's name, unit number and contact information (including town) to email@example.com A list of nearby counselors will be provided by return email or by phone.
Some parents may want to know why they have to send an email to get the counselor information. The counselor/facilitator database will not be published on the internet because it contains private contact information that the counselors and the ACCS have decided not to publish in that manner. Keeping the database off the internet encouraged more counselors to add their names. The email process described above is a very reasonable alternative that will allow interested Boy Scouts, Venturers, and their parents to get the necessary information and at the same time protect the private contact information of the counselors on the list.
JEWISH RELIGIOUS EMBLEMS
Please read and share the Jewish Religious Emblems document with the families in your unit. A copy of the document can be found by clicking here. This is a brief overview of the Jewish Religious Emblems.
Families who would like more information about the Jewish Religious Emblems program are encouraged to visit the National Jewish Committee on Scouting web site at: http://www.jewishscouting.org/awards/religiousemblems.asp
The first page of the overview on Jewish Religious Emblems lists the 4 Jewish Religious emblems by name of the award and gives a brief discussion of the rank/age eligibility requirements for the Scouts.
For more detailed information on the individual awards, the course content, the requirements for earning them, and the applications for ordering them, please refer your unit families to the National Jewish Committee on Scouting web site at:
The second page of the overview gives high level information about the Jewish Religious Emblems program -- for parents who are new to Scouting and parents who may not understand what a Religious Emblem is or how to go about working on one.
One point that should be noted is that all Jewish Scouts, regardless of age, need to work with a Counselor to complete and earn their Jewish Religious Emblems. The Counselor can be the Rabbi of the Synagogue the Scout attends, or a teacher at the Scout's Jewish religious school. This is intended to strengthen the Scout's ties to his Synagogue and his religious school.
Rabbi Morris Allen at the Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights has graciously offered to be the Counselor for any Jewish Scouts in the Eastern Twin Cities Metro area who would like him to be their Counselor. Rabbi Allen has served as a Counselor in the past and is eager to help Jewish Scouts earn their Religious Emblems. His contact information is on page 2 of the attachment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Religious Recognitions Programs and who creates them?
The Religious Recognitions Programs (also called religious "emblems" or "awards" programs) are programs created by various religious groups for their children and youth who are also members of national youth agencies (i.e. Boy Scouts of America, Camp Fire USA, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and American Heritage Girls). It is important to remember that although BSA, CF, GSUSA and AHG may have approved of these programs and even allow the recognition items/awards to be worn on their uniforms, they did not create them. All Religious Recognitions Programs are created by the religious groups themselves, not the youth agencies.
How do I find out which religious groups have created Religious Recognitions Programs?
The Search By Faith tool lists all the different Religious Recognitions Programs available by denomination. In addition, the national youth agencies provide charts listing all the different religious recognitions programs available to their members. I have a troop with children of all different faiths. How can I include the religious recognitions programs for my troop? The religious recognitions programs should be presented to the children and their families as an optional program for them to complete in their churches or synagogues with their appropriate religious leaders. Religious instruction must always come from the religious institution, not from the troop leader. Parents need to be informed of these programs and told where to get the information for their faith group.
Do boys and girls do the same program?
It depends on the religion. Some religions have created programs that are used by both boys and girls. Other religions have created separate programs for members of each separate youth agency (BSA, CF, GSUSA, AHG).
Do the children have to belong to a youth agency?
It depends on the religion. Some religious programs are created specifically for members of a specific youth agency. For example, there is a Jewish Boy Scout program, a Jewish Girl Scout program, and a Jewish Camp Fire USA program. Other religious programs are open to all youth of that faith regardless of membership in a youth agency. For example, the God and Country program is open to all Protestant youth (whether or not they belong to BSA, CF, GSUSA or AHG), so that members of Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible Schools, Confirmation classes and other church groups are eligible to earn the God and Country award.
Do the children have to belong to a church or synagogue?
It depends on the religion. Some programs, like the Eastern Orthodox program, require that all recipients are communicant members in their church. Other programs, like the Protestant God and Country Program, do not require official membership in a congregation, but require that a pastor oversee the program and sign the application form. In the case where a family is not religiously oriented, it is best to secure the written permission of the parents or guardians of any child who wishes to participate in a religious recognitions program to make sure that the child is enrolled in the appropriate program. It needs to be understood that when one participates in a religious recognitions program, one must abide by their guidelines and curriculum requirements and wear their particular award.
Why doesn't my church or synagogue know about the Religious Recognitions Programs?
Although the Religious Recognitions Programs are created by the religious bodies at the national level, the local church or synagogue may not be aware of these programs. It may be helpful to write for more information or even obtain a copy of the curriculum to give to your pastor or rabbi.
If the religious growth program for my faith has more than one level (for the different grade levels), may I earn all of these levels?
Yes. Students can earn all levels of their religious growth series. However, students must be in the appropriate grade when they start each level, and they may not go backwards and earn younger programs.
How do I start my child on these programs?
First, buy the appropriate materials based on your religion and grade. (The child is required to have a Student Workbook. Some religious programs also offer a Counselor Manual for the pastor and a Mentor Workbook for the parent.) Then meet with your pastor or rabbi and set up a schedule to complete the program.
Where can I obtain the materials?
They are available at the local Scout Shop for some faiths. Or write directly to the address provided as the contact for your religious group.
How long does it take to complete a program?
It depends on the program and the grade level of the child. Some programs can be completed within two months. Other programs may take up to a year.
Who may serve as counselor?
It depends on the religious program, but most programs require the pastor to serve as counselor. Some programs may allow the pastor to designate a lay leader or other adult in the church to teach the course. The God and Country Program has a Mentor program.
What is the difference between a counselor and a mentor?
The counselor is the pastor (or someone appointed by the pastor). The counselor serves as an instructor who gives assignments to the young people, and it is the young people who do all the work. Mentors are active learning participants (adult students) with lessons and projects to complete in their own workbooks just like their children. Both mentors and children work under the supervision of the pastor or counselor.
How do I order the recognition items? Where do I get the award once I finish the program?
Each religious program has its own award. Follow the instructions in your curriculum workbook because the awards come from different places. Most of the awards will not be available locally. Be sure to allow enough time to order your award through the mail. (These awards will not be available in your local council store!)
How is the award presented?
The award should be presented in a religious ceremony in the child's church or synagogue. Some awards come with a sample presentation ceremony to help your pastor plan a meaningful service.
Where is the award worn on the uniform?
Boy Scouts of America - above the left shirt pocket (pinned over the Universal Religious Square Knot).
Camp Fire USA -
Girl Scouts of the USA - Either on the badge sash below the membership stars, or on the right side of the uniform level with the membership pin.
What are the Adult Awards? Can adults earn religious recognitions just like the children?
The Adult Recognition Awards are by nomination only (they are not work/study programs like the youth awards). These are honors given to worthy adults for their outstanding service to youth both through their church and one of the national youth agencies. Recipients of these awards are unaware that they are being nominated: an outside party must nominate them to receive an award by submitting the required application, letters of recommendation and resume. For information on specific eligibility requirements, see the Adult Award Brochures (with nomination forms).
Information in this page is courtesy of
God and Country Coordinator
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church