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Alternate Activity 2: The UUA and the Boy Scouts of America

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story. Talk with your minister or religious educator about your congregation's relationship, if any, with the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Pre-arrange for two participants to read aloud the correspondence between the Rev. John Buehrens and Lawrence Ray Smith. The person who reads the Smith letter might also be asked to read the quote from Thomas Deimler. Give the volunteers the story "The UUA and the Boy Scouts of America" in advance.
  • Optional: Read material on the website of the Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization.

Description of Activity

Invite the two volunteers to read aloud the correspondence in the story, "The UUA and the Boy Scouts of America." Then, invite participants to share their experiences and/or reflections related to this controversy.


While the UUA still offers both the program and the emblem through the bookstore, "Religion in Life" is not sanctioned by the Boy Scouts of America. Individuals and congregations have responded differently to the controversy. Some ignore the stance of the national organization and complete the program as part of their scouting experience, while trying to change the position of the national organization. Some refuse to take part in or host Boy Scout troops. Some have formed a separate organization called the Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization.

Engage a discussion, using these questions:

  • What were/are the religious principles at stake in this controversy?
  • Were/are there conflicting principles or values?
  • Has your congregation had a discernment process regarding whether or not to host a Boy Scout troop? Have individual members of your congregation had to make decisions about whether or not to participate in Boy Scouts?
  • How might the UUA have responded differently to this controversy?
  • How does this controversy illuminate some of the different approaches to social justice work, including change from within, taking a prophetic stance, and setting up a parallel organization?

Join the Discussion

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