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Religious reference letter for Eagle


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#1 CharityAK

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 12:28 PM

I was checking at our district office on the status of our current Eagle-to-be. Seems the only thing hanging up his BOR is that his religious reference letter hasn't yet come in. I then talked to the young man about it. Seems this was a church that he rarely (read holidays, maybe) attended in Texas quite a few years ago. He's not even sure this pastor is still at this church. His family does not attend church anywhere here in Alaska. I know that a scout swears to do "duty to God" and "to be reverent", but does he have to have a home church and be in regular enough attendance to be known by a spiritual leader? What do I do with a scout who is not attending church? Where do they get a religious reference? What should this young man do if no reference letter returns from this church in Texas? He says he went to a youth group a handful of times on a military base but doesn't even know the youth leader's name to use him for a reference. What do I do to assist this young man? Or is this simply between the young man and the district office at this point? Charity Advancement Chair(This message has been edited by CharityAK)
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#2 Eamonn

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:20 PM

This is a Hot Potato. I'm not sure what you mean by District Office. You need to talk with your District Advancement Chair. IMOHO I do not see church membership as part of the reqirements. Everyone of us has our own idea of what duty to God is. I belong to a church where the rules say that I ought to be at mass every week. The LDS have very strict rules. As for the letter. My thinking is that if there is someone who knows the Scout and can write a letter that states that he(The Scout) does believe in a God and is doing his best to live up to the rules of how he sees that God wants him to live. That would be ok by me. Eamonn
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#3 evmori

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:53 PM

Being a member of a church isn't a requirement. He needs a letter of reference from a religious leader. He could set up an appointment with a pastor in a local church to discuss this. After they talk this pastor might be willing to write a letter of recommendation. Ed Mori Scoutmaster Troop 1 1 Peter 4:10
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#4 NWScouter

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 04:12 PM

No is requirement in Scouting to have membership in a religious body. If he is not active in the church he should have not given the reference. He should not be made to go a religious leader to get a reference. The list of references is suggested. If he doesnt have a job there is no one get a letter from an employer, the same with a religious leader. Our council has set a limit on the time they will wait for letters. If they are not in, the Eagle Board goes on with out them.
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#5 Bob White

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 04:44 PM

Hi Charity, This might help, Make sure that the scout is using the actual BSA Eagle application and not a locally doctored version. The actual requirement is Requirement #2 Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in your daily life. List the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf. Parents/Guardians......... Religious................. Educational............... Employer (if any)......... Two others references..... Take note of a few things. >This is a requirement not an option. The references must be provided with only one allowed exception. A scout is not required to provide an employer IF he does not have one. >The candidate is only required to provide the names, contact info, and speak to the people ahead of time to insure they are willing to participate. The scout IS NOT to request or collect the reference information. (see page 31 of the Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures manual, item #5) >No where does it require a religious leader to be the reference, only someone who can speak of the candidate's example of being reverent and his actions to fulfill his duty to God. I hope this helps, Bob White
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#6 CharityAK

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 05:08 PM

Thank you all for your input. This helps tremendously. I know this young man is not the only young man in our troop who does not have a regular church home. This is only our second Eagle and the other young man was quite religious and a regular church attender so this is the first time we've faced this issue. I think I know how to best help him now should the reference letter not show up here soon. Thanks! Charity
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#7 NeilLup

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 10:05 PM

I believe that I agree completely with Bob White. However, you should know that in some parts of the country, you may need to push and possibly appeal to have that interpretation accepted. In other words, absent a reference from the Scout's personal religious leader, the board will not happen. I have heard of parents and possibly Scout leaders providing the religious reference. I also know of cases where the Scout chooses not to provide a religious reference and simply states "not provided" on the form. In these cases, of course, the Scout can expect the Board to pay particular attention to the "A Scout is Reverent" and to ensuring that the Scout has met that requirement. It is, of course, much, much simpler and more straightforward to provide the reference.
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#8 NWScouter

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 11:42 PM

I went to look at the Eagle application ( at BSA site: http://www.scouting....cation&x=32&y=6 ), and Im a bit confused. The application seems to add to the published requirements for Eagle. Requirement 1 is the same time requirement. Requirement 2 expands on the published requirement Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life. It seems to quantify how to show Scout spirit and wants proof from others to the Scouts actions. Requirement 3 follows the published requirement for merit badges. Requirement 4, the leadership requirement. Number 5, the Eagle service project. Requirement 6 replaces the Scoutmaster conference with a letter written by the candidate given his goals and a leadership resume. Eagle requirement 7 is fulfilled by the signatures on the application. I believe in requirement 2 on the application it is just a method of giving the board an idea of the candidates Scouting Spirit. The list there I believe is aid not a hard and fast requirement for it adds to the published requirements and the completion of them are out of the control of the Scout. Requirement 6 is meant to give the board a feeling of mind and activities of the Scout outside Scouting, for a starting point for the board. I know our council sets a time limit on the letters, to not hold up the Scout from his award. That is why I also feel that requirement 2's list is a suggested one. (This message has been edited by NWScouter)
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#9 packsaddle

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Posted 27 September 2003 - 05:47 PM

I think Bob White is completely correct in his explanation of the requirement. It states that the scout must supply the names of persons who "...would be willing to provide a recommendation...". This implies that no such letter is required up front, only that they "would be willing" if asked, presumably by the board or the boy. This leaves the disposition of the requirement up to the board. It works for us. This does not contradict NWScouter's observation that the religious reference need not be a religious leader. It merely needs to be a person who can provide said support.
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#10 Bob White

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 01:23 AM

I appreciate your opinion NWScouter, however the word you seem to be overlooking in Requirement #2 is "Requirement". It is not step #2, or option #2, or suggestion #2. The application specifically refers to it as a requirement, and it only allows for one reference to be left out, that of an employer and only if one does not exist. Bob White
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#11 Twocubdad

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 10:30 AM

Bob I thought your first answer was a good one, in keeping with the spirit and letter of the Statement on Religious Principles. The key is that the application asks for a "religious reference" not necessarily a reference from a "religious leader." Hypothetical question, though: if a Scout and his family practiced a non-traditional faith, unaffiliated with any organized religion, would you accept a religious reference from a parent? Similarly, would a letter from a family friend be acceptable if it said something like, "Although I don't fully understand this Scout's religious beliefs, he demonstrates his duty to God by being a person of high moral character and serving others." I don't have a point to make, I'm just trying to understand the limits.
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#12 NeilLup

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 11:32 AM

Twocubdad, The answer to both of your questions is yes. However, it isn't a simple black/white question. The "religious reference" is intended to help the Eagle Scout Board of Review assess the Scout's suitability to become an Eagle Scout. The Board really doesn't have (or at least shouldn't have) a choice whether to accept a reference. What they can do is make a decision that the Scout has not met the "Duty to God" requirement and so is not qualified to become an Eagle Scout. If they do turn the boy down, they are required to state in writing why the decision was made and what the boy needs to do to address the matter. The Scout can then appeal the decision if he finds it inappropriate. If a Board would turn down a boy because they judged his reference unsuitable, he again could appeal, first to the local council, then to National. I am exceedingly confident that in the first case you mention, that appeal would be upheld. In the second case, it likely would be upheld. If the District or Council refused to hold a Board because they found the reference unsuitable, again the Scout can appeal and, if necessary, the local council, area or region would take necessary action to be sure that the Scout was treated fairly.
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#13 LovetoCamp

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 09:03 AM

This kind of hits home. I had a Scoutmaster who had an outing every month, almost religiously. He wasn't strong on the advancement program or anything else in the books. I made it to Life, had 36 merit badges, served as SPL for 2 years, had a great idea for a leadership project, had letter from Scoutmaster, letter from School Principal, but not from my religious leader. I didn't go to church. My folks didn't go. My dad said pick one and start going. My thoughts at the time were that to go to church with the ulterior motive of getting a letter for Eagle Scout would be so phoney, fake, and bogus, that I couldn't do it. I resigned myself to the fact, that because of church, I couldn't finish. So, being a new leader 25 years later, and knowing where to get a message sent, if necessary, to all these "smart guys" on this forum, I won't let this happen to any of my Life Scouts.
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#14 Bob White

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 05:15 PM

In all due respect Trail Pounder you cannot blame your lack of achieving Eagle on any church you did not attend. You did not complete the Eagle rank because you did not complete the Eagle rank requirements, isn't that correct? As a scout you took two oaths where you promised on "your" honor to do your duty to God and to be reverent. Your inability to to provide evidence that you fullfilled that promise was a requirement you left unfinished not a church. I hope what you meant (when you said that you won't let that happen to a scout you serve) is that you will help give him opportunities and guidance to keep the oath he swore to. Bob White
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#15 LovetoCamp

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 08:46 PM

Bob, is that what you read into that, that I was blaming a church for not completing the last requirement? I'm not blaming any church, heck Bob, I'm not blaming anybody. I'm just saying this happened to me and with all the resources I have, it sure doesn't happen to any other motivated dedicated young scout. All I have to do is ask a question on this forum, throw it out there to you and the Smart Fat Guy, let you two battle it out for two weeks and I'll sure have enough info to form an answer on any subject in the scouting world! Trail Pounder
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#16 Bob White

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 09:22 PM

WHOA Trail Pounder These were your words not mine "I resigned myself to the fact, that because of church, I couldn't finish. Then when I point out that no church was involved you said "I'm not blaming any church" Which is it? You said you are not blaming the church? I did not read where you held anyone else responsible? Bob White
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#17 LovetoCamp

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 09:30 PM

What I was trying to say was Because "I" didn't go to church, and that "I" thought a minister had to sign the letter of recommendation, that "I" resigned myself to the fact that "I" wasn't going to finish the Eagle, because of my interpretation of the requirements. Jeeeesh!
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#18 dsteele

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 11:36 PM

Daggone it! I've gone and extended the nozzle of my Indian Pump. Going to have to shoot some water at something. I hope it's not you guys. I'll be at the Chanticleer on October 9th at about 9:00 PM. DS
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#19 evmori

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 09:48 AM

"In all due respect Trail Pounder you cannot blame your lack of achieving Eagle on any church you did not attend. You did not complete the Eagle rank because you did not complete the Eagle rank requirements, isn't that correct?" Reading between the lines again, I see!! The way I read it was because he didn't go to church he coulsn't finish. Nowhere in his post did he blame the church. That's where the reading between the lines came in. Ed Mori Scoutmaster Troop 1 1 Peter 4:10
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#20 Bob White

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 02:20 PM

Give it a rest Ed, as Trail Pounder said "What I was trying to say was Because "I" didn't go to church, and that "I" thought a minister had to sign the letter of recommendation, that "I" resigned myself to the fact that "I" wasn't going to finish the Eagle, because of my interpretation of the requirements." Now that I can agree with, but that is not the explanation he gave at first. The problem was not the church. In fact the problem was never the church or Trail's attendance or lack of attendance at a church. The problem was that Trail "resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't going to finish". He could have completed the requirements if he had chosen to. He could have pursued the question of how to establish his obedience to the Oath and Law. He chose not to. Trail Pounder was a boy at the time and had a boy's perspective of the problem. Had there been someone there who understood the advancement requirements and who had helped him earlier on to establish measuarable evidence of his activities in relation to his duty to God, then he might be an Eagle today. But it wasn't the scouting program or organized religion that kept him from Eagle. It was people not communicating that created his problems. Bob White
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