Memorandum of Understanding

On March 24, 2016, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Boy Scouts of America signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding designed to provide guidance to UU congregations who wish to charter Scouting units.The full text of the Memorandum of Understanding reads:

Whereas, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) desire to build a relationship for the benefit and development of Unitarian Universalist boys, young men, and their families within the context of Unitarian Universalist religious life; and

Whereas, all youth members and adult leaders of the BSA must subscribe to the Declaration of Religious Principle in the BSA’s Bylaws; and

Whereas, Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote sources for wisdom, reflection, and spiritual growth, including: direct experience of mystery and wonder; words of prophetic people; world's religions; Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves; Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science; spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature; and

Whereas, one of the seven Principles that Unitarian Universalists affirm and promote is “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning” and have many ways of naming what is sacred; some believe in a sacred force at work in the world, and call it “Love Eternal,” “Deepest Mystery,” “Wondrous Creation” or “Spirit of Life,” and the UUA respects the individual’s journey to finding and understanding their own meaning and existence of God and the sacred, and do not seek to define it for them; and

Whereas, the BSA Scout Law defines a Scout by qualities that Unitarian Universalists also lift up and aspire to, including: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent; and

Whereas, both Scouts and Unitarian Universalists strive to be good stewards of Earth as articulated in the BSA’s Outdoor Code, “Be conservation minded,” and the Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle is “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part;” and

Whereas, it is the mission and vision of the BSA to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law; and

Whereas, the BSA provides family-centered programs related to leadership and character development for youth where the programs are delivered through and according to the values, aims, and objectives of chartered organizations; and

Whereas, membership criteria for adults in BSA units appropriately includes certain background information reviews to protect the health and safety of the youth and adult members of the units; and

Whereas, the UUA promotes and provides resources to congregations to make them safe and welcoming places for all; and

Whereas, no youth may be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone; and

Whereas, the UUA has a long history of support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; and

Whereas, the BSA requires that chartered organizations be responsible for the selection of adult leaders according to the chartered organizations’ values, policies, and guidelines, and the BSA’s standards, with at least one adult leader for a unit being a member of the chartered organization for such unit; and

Whereas, the BSA requires that each chartered organization “Conduct the Scouting program according to its own policies and guidelines as well as those of the Boy Scouts of America;” and

Whereas, the BSA agrees “to respect the aims and objectives of the [chartered] organization” in the Annual Charter Agreement.

Therefore, Be It

Resolved, That the UUA and the BSA will work cooperatively with each other within the policies and regulations of each organization to establish and nurture Scouting units as an expression of the pastoral care and outreach of the youth ministry of the UUA and its member congregations so that boys, young men, and adults may nurture their religious life in a supportive and welcoming Unitarian Universalist community, develop into responsible citizens, serve the needs of others, and fulfill their greatest potential; and be it further

Resolved, That the UUA and the BSA will work cooperatively to establish and nurture safe environments for all those participating in units chartered by congregations of the UUA, consistent with the values of the UUA and the policies of the BSA, including the BSA’s eligibility requirements, BSA’s Youth Protection standards, the Guide to Safe Scouting, and other methods recommended by the BSA and in alignment with the UUA’s Safe Congregations Handbook to protect the health and safety of the members of the units; and be it further

Resolved, That the BSA will respect the spiritual and moral responsibility of UUA member congregations with the understanding that there is no Boy Scout or UUA authority which supersedes the authority of the leadership of the congregation in any phase of the program affecting the spiritual welfare of those who participate; and be it further

Resolved, That it is agreed all member congregations of the UUA may rely on the stipulations in this Memorandum of Understanding in operating under any charter they sign with the Boy Scouts of America.

Statement: UUA President Reflects on Signing of Understanding with Boy Scouts

"We believe that Scouting within Unitarian Universalist congregations can serve as a welcoming and inclusive model for all Scouting units. It is gratifying to have restored a relationship that was broken, and I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between the UUA and the BSA." -The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the UUA

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