In 1897, a young British officer stationed in India, Robert Baden-Powell, developed methods for training new soldiers. Those who became proficient in these methods, he called "Scouts". Baden-Powell published these methods in a handbook called "Aids to Scouting".
Recognizing the opportunity it presented, several leaders concerned with the proper development of England's youth, approached now Major-General Baden-Powell, asking him to assume leadership for a new youth organization they were forming, the Youth Brigade. Baden-Powell accepted this responsibility readily, and wrote a new "Handbook for Boy Scouts". He included within it, a nine-point emphasis on moral conduct in a "Scout Law". He included "Duty to God" in the new Scout Oath he prepared.
In 1908, William Boyce visited England and was introduced to Scouting through the famous good deed we all now know (or should!). He returned to America, where, with the aid of James E. West and others, he set up a parallel youth organization, the Boy Scouts of America, the following year. On February 8th, 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was formally incorporated, and in 1918, it was chartered by an act of Congress. In developing this new Scout organization, James E. West insisted on adding three more Scout Laws, including the twelfth Scout Law, "A Scout Is Reverent".
As an organization with broad appeal to adolescent boys that encouraged good citizenship and moral virtue, Scouting appealed to youth leaders and organized religion from the very founding. The Roman Catholic Church first began their study in 1910, the year Scouting was founded. The first two churches to sponsor troops were St. Marks in Minnesota and Our Lady of Angels in New York, both in 1912. In 1919, Pope Benedict XV gave formal endorsement of Scouting, and in 1923, Cardinal Hayes chaired the first Catholic Committee on Scouting.
In 1911, the LDS or Mormon Church began a formal study of Scouting under the leadership of Joseph F. Smith, grandson of their first prophet. In 1913 they adopted the Boy Scouts of America as the official boy program of the church.
The Jewish organizations began their formal review in 1915, and in 1926 the National Jewish Committee on Scouting was formed, embracing all four branches of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstruction.
By 1915, of 7,375 Scout troops, over 4,000 were sponsored by Protestant churches. Fully 1,645 Scoutmasters were also ministers. In 1922, the first National Protestant Committee was chaired by Dr. Ray Wyland.
Eastern Orthodox Catholics soon made scouting a part of their youth program.
The Buddhist Committee on Scouting required instruction to all youth on the Noble 8- Fold Path.
American Muslims made Scouting their official youth program in 1955.
Today, most of the world's religious organizations provide religious emblem programs to the Boy Scouts. Training is done within the individual's religious body. The emblems are purchased from BSA and may be worn on the uniform.
It has been said, that of every 100 Scouts, 12 of the hundred will receive their first church contact through Scouting, 5 of the hundred will receive church awards, and one will enter the clergy.
Religious Committees and Awards