By Annaliese Parker
(Editor’s Note: Annaliese Parker provided this FAQ at the Towpath District Boy Scout Roundtable on April 7, 2011. This material is based on 2006 training materials and is an expanded explanation of information from PRAY (Programs for Religious Activities with Youth) training publications from 2006. PRAY gave Annaliese permission to duplicate this information as part of any promotional script. Annaliese originally expanded on this previously published information for her 2007 Wood Badge ticket. She has since updated some of the material as part of the presentation at the April 2011 Towpath District Boy Scout Roundtable. She has graciously allowed us to reprint them here.)
What are the religious emblems programs?
The religious emblems programs are programs created by the various religious groups to encourage youth to grow stronger in their faith. All religious emblems programs have been created by the religious groups themselves, not by the Boy Scouts of America. The Religious Emblems Quick Reference Chart (publication No. 5-206) lists all the different religious programs currently available and who to contact for more information. The Boy Scouts of America has approved of these programs and allows the recognitions to be worn on the official uniform, but each religious organization develops and administers its own program.
I have a unit with children of all different faiths. How can I include the religious emblems programs for my unit?
The religious emblems programs should be presented to youth members and their families as an optional program for them to complete through their religious organization. Religious instruction should always come from the religious organization, not from the unit leader. Parents need to be informed of these programs and told where to get the information for their particular faith.
Do boys and girls participate in 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 separate youth agencies (i.e., Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and Camp Fire Boys and Girls). Please check the specific eligibility requirements for each religious emblems program.
Do the youth have to belong to a religious institution?
It depends on the religion. Please check the eligibility requirements for your particular religious program.
How long does it take to complete a program?
It depends on the program. Some programs may take three or four months, others longer.
Who may serve as counselor?
It depends on the program. Some programs require clergy to serve as counselor; others allow a parent or family member. Please check the specific guidelines for your religious organization.
Why doesn’t my religious institution know about the religious emblems programs?
Although the religious emblems programs were created by the religious bodies at the national level, the local religious institution 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 religious leader.
If the religious emblems program for my faith has more than one level (for the different grade levels), may my child earn all of these recognitions?
Yes. Members can earn all levels of their religious emblems program. However, they must be in the appropriate program guidelines when they start and complete each level (they may not go backwards and earn younger programs).
How is the emblem presented?
The emblem should be presented in a meaningful ceremony, preferably in the youth member’s religious institution. Some emblems come with a sample presentation ceremony.
Where is the emblem worn on the uniform?
The universal religious square knot is worn over the left shirt pocket of the Scout uniform. The medallion is pinned over the square knot for full uniform occasions.
How do I order the recognition items?
Each religious program has its own emblem. Follow the instructions in your recognition guidelines because the emblems come from different places and require submission of different information. These emblems will not be available in your local council!