PART 3: GRACES, PRAYERS, SONGS,
SERVICES, AND CLOSINGS
DEMONSTRATING "DUTY TO GOD" WITH SENSITIVITY
When we conduct Scouting activities, it is important that we call attention to a Scout's "Duty to God" through the saying of a grace at meal times, a prayer at appropriate times; e.g. the start of a banquet or awards meeting; or in the songs and closings we use. (One of the best resources in this area is Walter Dudley Cavert's Prayers for Scouts, published by the Abington Press, Nashville, Tennessee in 1964. If you can find an old copy in a unit library or some other Scout archive, it would be worth the time and trouble. We will try to obtain permission to reprint prayers related to the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan for a later edition. Another excellent source is The National Protestant Committee on Scouting's, When Scouts Worship, first published by the Bethany Press, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1968.) However, it is equally important that we as leaders act with extreme sensitivity to the content of the grace, prayer, or song. The grace, prayer or song should be selected because it expresses a powerful, universal expression of thanks, blessing, praise, joy or other value without reference to a single religion, its customs or the name of its deity.
We are concerned that we do not place a single Scout in the position of doubting the values of his own faith or feeling singled out and isolated because of his own faith. We should never create a climate were a Scout feels compelled to choose between Scouting and his religious beliefs.
Frequently, it is best if the prayers acknowledge a common maker, such as the Maker of All Things, God, the Great Scoutmaster of all Scouts, or the Great Spirit, because each Scout can relate the words to his own faith. A grace, prayer or song that singles out for adoration Jesus Christ, the Prophet Elias, the Prophet Mohammed, the teacher Sidhartha (Lord Buddha) or any other name sends conflicting messages to a Scout with a different faith. He may think that he is in the wrong place or he may get the idea he is not wanted. This can be prevented by reviewing all prayers, graces and songs in advance to make sure that they do not indicate a preference for a particular faith or set of beliefs.
The key thing is that while we as Scout leaders should try to encourage a Scout to understand and exercise his "Duty to God", we must at the same time be very careful that our actions are not misinterpreted by any Scout to mean that his faith is unacceptable or that he should be in a different faith. Remember that Scouting does not define what a religion is and does not require membership in any particular religious group. We are interested in promoting a Scout's better understanding of his "Duty to God" because it aids good character development and improves citizenship skills. By using graces, prayers, songs and closings, we can help Scouts to remember that duty and to begin thinking about that duty.