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May 7, 1998: Letter from Lawrence Ray Smith, Ph.D., to Jennifer Harrison Concerning the Religion in Life Award

Ms. Jennifer Harrison
Director, Youth Programs
Unitarian Universalist Association
25 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108-2800

Re: Religion in Life

Dear Ms. Harrison:

As you know, the Religious Relationships Committee is responsible for reviewing the content of the religious award manuals of the various religious organizations to ensure adherence to Boy Scouts policies. It has come to our attention that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) apparently has been recommending a version of the Religion in Life manual which was never submitted to or approved by the Committee for use in obtaining the Unitarian religious award in the Boy Scouting and Exploring programs.

This version of Religion in Life contains several statements which are inconsistent with Scouting’s values. Boy Scouts is not a “secular organization” as stated in Religion in Life; Boy Scouts is an ecumenical organization which requires belief in God and acknowledgement of duty to God by its members. The reference to the “trouble” some Unitarians Universalists may have regarding the duty to God inappropriately incorporates doubt in an award process that is designed to forge a stronger link between a youth’s Scouting values and religious life.

We note with considerable dismay that this version of Religion in Life also includes an official expression of disapproval of Boy Scouts’ membership policies relating to known or avowed homosexuals. The Committee believes that this expression of disapproval has no place in a Boy Scouting/Exploring youth religious award manual.

The current version of Religion in Life does not adhere to Scouting policies and is inappropriate for distribution to Scouting youth in connection with the administration of the Religion in Life religious award. Until such time as the UUA materials can be redrafted to a form acceptable to the Committee, youth may not be awarded a Unitarian Universalist religious emblems in Scouting or wear the emblem on a Scout uniform. This includes the Love and Help emblem as well.


Lawrence Ray Smith, Ph.D
Chair, Religious Relationships Committee
Boy Scouts of America

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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