Scouting Forums

Chaplin and religious emblems

I have several questions in regards to the chaplain position as well as earning religious emblems.

1st question is can someone better define the role of the Chaplin and what they would do as part of a Cub scout pack? How do you handle different religions? Just trying to decide if I want to go theough the training for it.

2nd question is on religious emblems. How do you earn them, I cant find info on it?

Also my family is non denominational Christian. What category of emblems should we be looking at?

Can adult leaders earn religious emblems?

What ages in cub scouts can earn the emblems?

Thanks in advance.

  1. The training covers it - it is basically supporting the Duty to God aspect of Scouting
  2. - has many of the generic religious awards - many religions have their own

Thanks, I wanted to know more before doing the training.

The second link is not bsa does it meet bsa requirements

Yes - the Pray Pub is used by a number of faiths

There are religious emblems for adults, but you have to be nominated for it.

All of the religious awards are given by the religious institutions … not the BSA. The nice thing about that is that some of them are designed to be awarded to youth who participate in organizations besides BSA. So, say you have a cub who is the only scout in their house of worship, it might be possible for him/her to earn the award along with the other youth he/she attends worship with.

Needless to say, one of the key jobs of a Pack chaplain is informing youth and their parents of the age-appropriate awards available through their respective houses of worship.

Your district might have someone who has displays of the actual awards. Get in touch with your district commissioner for more ideas that may have worked in your community in the past.

The thing with the religious awards is that it’s a bit of a fine line with BSA, the individual faiths, and how the Cub Scout approaches faith issues. A generic aspect of “faith” is part is every Cub Scout level, but it’s up to the Scout to decide how deep past the surface they want to go.

It’s also important to recognize that,
as far as I understand, BSA doesn’t actually award any religious awards to the Cub Scouts. The religious knot is not awarded as a religious award, rather it is awarded because BSA acknowledges that the scout earned a religious award by a faith organization outside of being a Scout.

I am preparing to teach the PRAY curriculum at our church this winter, and since it’s a church sponsored activity rather than a BSA sponsored activity we will be inviting members of our Pack as well as Girl Scouts and non-scouting members of our church. PRAY, and I think most of the awards, are programs ran by faith organizations and can be earned by anyone within the age range who participates. PRAY presents the award, then BSA gives you a purple know saying “yup, PRAY gave you an award”.

It’s a good double outreach opportunity though, it can expose non-churches kids to a faith if they are interested, and also exposes kids to scouting through Scout Sunday and incorporating the award presentation into the service at church. But it’s important to remember that earning the award is an optional step for all Cub Scout grades and kids shouldn’t feel forced to earn it.

For age ranges: there is a Lion-age program, but for PRAY the God & Me program covers Tiger/Wolf/Bear ages. Kids can only count the award towards the requirements in the year they earn the award though.

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The “Unit Chaplain” (212) is registered position. The “Unit Chaplain” (115) is a functional role. The Unit Religious Emblems Coordinator (REU) is a registered position. They can be different people. If the same person has both roles I assume that person would need to be registered as REU.

The training for Unit Chaplains is online at the my.Scouting Tools website. I do not remember what training is available for the REU. (Lately I have been focusing my research on the district level position.)

Here is what I have found so far. In the Scouts BSA program the chaplain and religious emblem coordinator have separate responsibilities listed in the Troop Committee Guidebook, 34505, copyright 2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 printing, SKU 647783 (available for purchase from BSA Scout Stores). I have not found where duties in Cub Scouting program are published.

See Legacy Cub Scouts forum discussion thread “Pack Chaplain?” (2016-2018).
Here is a summary of my research:

REU Unit Religious Emblem Coordinator (registered position)

  • TLG p. 27 “Unit Religious Emblem Coordinator”
    • member of unit committee

115 Unit Chaplain (unit functional role)

  • TLG . p 24 “Chaplain”
  • may be added to REU position, or other unit committee member.
  • if not the REU, might be registered as a unit committee member (MC)

43 Religious Emblem Counselor (District Scouter position)

  • appears to be a counselor (instructor?) for a specific religion/denomination
  • c.f. 42 merit badge counselor
  • not sure if this position is currently in use

From the Scouts BSA chapter of the Guide to Awards and insignia:


I do know what the source of the “must be” statement is and if it is completely true for non-religious organizations sponsoring units…



Position / function code reference:

BSA does not set religious emblem requirements. I understand they have partnership agreements with various religious organizations representing different faiths and denominations.

The BSA Scout Shops may be getting out of the business of selling guides and workbooks for a particular religion. Last week I was told by a local Scout Shop employee that the shop would not be selling them after the current stock is sold out.

This appears to be a Unit Religious Emblem Coordinator’s role and is not a Chaplain’s role unless the Unit Religious Emblems Coordinator is also a Unit Chaplin.

Thanks for all of your input bill

So the one thing that I see is that the chaplain is appointed by the sponsoring religious organization provided the pack is sponsored by a religious organization.

If the pack is not sponsored by a religious organization then any member of the clergy can be appointed by the committee. Does it have to be a clergy member we have people in our area that are strong in their faith and teach our bible studies etc but are not ordained etc. Can they become chaplain if the committee approves it.

File this under “any ship in a storm.”
The chaplain does not have to be ordained clergy. My troop appointed me chaplain for a while, and although I am an elder in my church, I am not a “teaching elder” (i.e., an ordained minister).
But, most ordained clergy who I’ve met have a pretty good understanding of ecumenical and inter-faith services. (It’s a big country. Your mileage may vary.) A volunteer who is not trained in such things will need a little guidance … especially if parents want you to offer a “scouts own” service if you are at an event. This stuff is not hard to learn, and I found it helped me grow in my faith. But a little bit of training in the matter goes a long way.
Chances are there’s a scouter in your district or your own clergy who can help with that.

I think the key issue from my perspective is to make sure that whomever it is that serves as chaplain understands that the BSA is absolutely non-denominational and non-sectarian in regards to religious practice. I have seen some well-meaning members of both clergy and laity turn off scouts and/or their families due to the perception that a particular faith or group of faiths was being “emphasized” and/or others were being excluded.

That’s not to suggest that the chaplain, scouts or leaders should be muzzled regarding their own faith practices. Rather, it’s to emphasize that it sometimes can become a fine line to walk serving one’s own faith while not appearing to discourage or disparage another. I think that trying to find ways to make religious observances more generally accessible has been a fascinating way to explore my own faith, and, I hope, has encouraged scouts and leaders with whom I have spoken to explore and experience their own beliefs in a more active manner.

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As far as the Adult Religious Emblem, this site has information about it (as well as all other adult awards):
The silver & purple Adult Religious Emblem patch is not an award that is awarded by the BSA but rather shows that you have received a qualifying award from either a religious institution or program like PRAY.
Another great resource is On there, you can type in your faith practice (from your post it sounds like you’d use “Protestant, Independent Christian and Non-Denominational”) and it will show you all of the awards (youth and adult) that are possible for that faith practice.

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