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What is the Declaration of Religious Principles (DRP)?

Date: 12 Sept 2000

The BSA owns two organizations: Learning for Life/Exploring and the traditional BSA Scouting programs. The following policy pertains only to leaders in the BSA Scouting programs (not Learning for Life/Exploring), that is the leaders within the BSA Scouting organization: Cubs, Scouts, Sea Scouts, Varsity & Venturing.

The Declaration of Religious Principles (DRP) is a term used to describe the BSA policies and definitions surrounding religion. It is a definite position on religious principles. When an adult leader signs the adult leader application they declare that they subscribe to the DRP. The DRP is printed prominently on the top of the instruction page in the adult leader application. The DRP can also be found in the BSA Advancement Policies and Procedures Committee Guide and the Cub Scout Leader Book. The DRP section of the bylaws date back to the founding days of the BSA.

Youth members of the organization are not asked to understand or subscribe to the DRP. Parents are advised on the Youth application that the leadership is restricted to qualified adults who subscribe to the Declaration of Religious Principle, the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. The BSA recognizes the importance of religious faith and duty: it leaves religious instruction to the member's religious leaders and family. Members who do not belong to a unit's religious chartered organization shall not be required to participate in its religious activities.

Note the following while reading the DRP:

  • The DRP does not require nor forbid a belief in a Supreme Being.
  • The DRP does not talk about being a 1st class or 2nd class citizen, it talks about the quality of citizenship a member can obtain.
  • The BSA does not define what constitutes belief in God or the practice of religion.*
  • The BSA does not require membership in a religious organization or association for enrollment in the movement but does prefer, and strongly encourages, membership and participation in the religious programs and activities of a church, synagogue, or other religious association.*
  • The BSA respects the convictions of those who exercise their constitutional freedom to practice religion as individuals without formal membership in organized religious organizations. Scouting believes in the right of all to worship God in their own way.*
  • Throughout life Scouts are associated with people of different faiths. Scouts believe in religious freedom, respecting others whose religion may differ from theirs.*
  • (*indicates this is taken from further notes on the DRP in the BSA Advancement Policies and Procedures Committee Guide)

The following version of the DRP is taken from the Adult Application The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. The Boy Scouts of America's policy is that home and the organization or group with wich the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principles and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of leadership.

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