February 4, 2010

A Scout is Reverent

50+ Lifestyles has been exploring the code of ethics known as the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law

JGrahamBy James N. Graham

February of 2010, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) celebrates 100 years of preparing youth to become valuable citizens and leaders. In consideration of the 100th anniversary of the BSA, 50+ Lifestyles has been exploring the code of ethics known as the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law. A Scout is “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and … Reverent.”

The United States has long aspired toward religious tolerance, and we have developed into one of the most religiously diverse societies in the history of mankind. The BSA embraces this variety and invites both religious devotion and religious tolerance.

The Boy Scout Handbook explains the 12th and final point of the Scout law as follows:

“A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

“The wonders all around us remind us of our faith in God. We find it in the tiny secrets of creation and in the great mysteries of the universe. It exists in the kindness of people and in the teachings of our families and religious leaders. We show our reverence by living our lives according to the ideals of our beliefs.

“Throughout your life you will encounter people expressing their reverence in many different ways. The Constitution of the United States guarantees each of us the freedom to believe and worship as we wish without government interference. It is your duty to respect and defend others’ rights to their religious beliefs even when they differ from your own.” (pp. 47-55, Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Ed. BSA 1998).

There is an explicit link between ideals, beliefs, and democratic citizenship. It is no coincidence that the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution contains the establishment clause (prohibiting state mandated religion) as well as protecting the free exercise of religion and the freedom of assembly. Good citizens pursue standards of ethics which should not, and generally will not, be subject to the short-term whims of other people. Reverence involves reflection upon ethical aspirations which go beyond the “here-and-now.” The Scout law describes such ethical aspirations, and the duty of reverence requires respect for the foundation of such aspirations.

Scouting embraces a love of the natural world, a dedication to helping others, and an appreciation for the honor and duty of citizenship. Reverence reminds us that these ideals are worthy and should continue long after our own time on earth has expired.

The Boy Scouts of America designated February 8 as Scouting Anniversary Day and the Sunday prior as “Scout Sunday.” However, Scouting is not restricted or limited to any one particular faith or tradition. To the contrary, preparation for good citizenship, particularly in an increasingly diverse society, requires consideration of and appreciation for faiths and traditions which are different from one’s own. The Scout Law asks us to recognize, to remember, to honor and to embrace principles, purposes, and ideals which transcend immediate material considerations.