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The Brotherhood of St Andrew agrees to increase Episcopalian participation in the Boy Scouts of America

The Brotherhood of St Andrew agrees to increase Episcopalian participation in the Boy Scouts of America


Currently, there are 1173 scout troops sponsored by Episcopal congregations in the US. 93,860 boys are involved in those troops. The Brotherhood of St Andrew was mandated by the 78th General Convention held in Salt Lake City UT in 2015 to “raise up the next generation of young men throughout the Episcopal Church.” One way that the Brotherhood intends to live the mandate is through increased Episcopal Church participation in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

The main photo above shows BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, on the left, and Brotherhood of St. Andrew President Jeff Butcher, shaking hands after signing a Memorandum of Understanding between their respective organizations on 17 OCT 2016. The men were meeting at the DFW Airport Marriot Hotel, which is near the BSA’s national headquarters in Irving TX. The signing of the memorandum followed the meeting of the BSA Religious Relations Support Committee. The meeting brought together leaders from Christian and Jewish groups which sponsor Scout units. The groups shared their individual plans for their commitment to scouting for 2017.

Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, on the left, and Brotherhood of St. Andrew President Jeff Butcher sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

The Brotherhood’s Jeff Butcher was quoted as remarking, “This document pledges the Brotherhood to take several steps to strengthen our support of Scouting. We now have a formal seat at the table, along with other denominations.” Through the memorandum, the Brotherhood has committed to the following;

  • promote and increase its support further for Scouting units in Episcopal churches
  • offer annual training sessions in churches wishing to sponsor Scout troops
  • mentor young men undertaking the BSA’s God and Country program
  • offer Brotherhood chapter involvement in every Scout troop

Other religious groups which sponsor BSA units in local congregations are Jews, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Latter-day Saints, Lutherans and churches of Christ. A new initiative that various Christian groups came together on was the publication of a New Testament & Psalms for scouts to use at future mass scouting events.

The BSA has dropped the regulation barring sexual minority youth* & adults. Individual sponsoring organizations are now free to select adult leaders which the organization believes best represents it ideals. Gay men and lesbians would be able to serve in the local scout units sponsored by their parishes as scout troop leaders and cub scout den mothers.

*There appears to still be a ban on transgender boys from participating in boy scouts and cub scouts.

Information and the photos for this article were gathered from the Episcopal News Service.


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BTW the BSA has dropped the ban on a non-straight adult members (leaving it up to the units). It has not, as far as I know, dropped the ban on trans boys (except presumably for Venturing).

So will the Episcopal scouts be working to modify the Declaration of Religious Principle that all members must agree to that:

“The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. … The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them.”

It requires teaching that non-theists must be lesser citizens. I note that the world organization to which the Boy Scouts of America belongs states:

“Under the title “Duty to God”, the first of the above-mentioned principles of the Scout Movement is defined as “adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom”. Note that, by contrast to the title, the body of the text omits the word “God” to make clear that the clause also covers non-monotheistic religions, such as Hinduism, and those that do not recognize a personal God, such as Buddhism.”

Many other scouting organizations (including the Girl Scouts of the USA) have variations on the promise to allow for variation in members’ beliefs. Others have reworded. For instance Australian Girl Guides (Girl Scouts in many countries are called Girl Guides)

I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve my community and Australia
And live by the Guide Law

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