This site is here to encourage parents who want to join Cub Scouts, but would like some guidance on how to navigate the "Duty to god" (DTG) requirements that were added in 2015. Don't let these requirements discourage you! Scouting has so much to offer children: Outdoor adventures, knowledge of the natural world, respect for others, leadership, and all kinds of fun activities! Scouting is one of my best memories from childhood. Scouting is about personal development; Scouts develop their physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual selves. These are represented in scouting through a "Duty to self" (physical and intellectual development), "Duty to others" (social development and civic responsibility), and "Duty to god" (spiritual or moral development). It is this spiritual or moral development that is an important part of scouting but unfortunately titled as "Duty to god". Using different language for this is a reasonable way to meet these requirements. Each Cub Scout level description below has suggestions for modifying the requirement language for the non-religious. (If you were in Scouting as a child, you'll be happy to know that the Scouts BSA (previously called Boy Scouts) DTG requirements are still the same and almost nonexistent!) Fear not! There's plenty of evidence of Atheists achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and receiving all the benefits of scouting. The BSA officially allows religions including Unitarian Universalists who don't believe in specific scriptures or gods but DO believe in science and equality.
DTG requirements and recommendations for each Scouting level
Overall Guidelines & Strategies
Find a Pack or Troop that won’t discriminate against Atheists
When looking for a Pack or Troop, pick one that is not sponsored by a religious organization, or one that doesn’t meet in a place of worship. You can also ask the leaders or parents in the pack if they are welcoming to Atheists, and see how they respond.
Cub Scout DTG requirements are done at home, not in den meetings
Since scout leaders don’t know what your beliefs are, all DTG requirements are recommended to be done at home and signed off by the parents/caregivers of the Cub Scout. This gives you a lot of flexibility in how you interpret and respond to the requirements.
Duty to god can be interpreted liberally
Rephrase this as “Duty to Good“, and discuss morality in general.
Belief in a guiding force is the general idea.
Know what you believe and do your best to follow it. This guiding force could be any of the following that you’re comfortable with:
- Your own moral code / Goodness
- The Earth / Nature
- Humanity (define god as an anthropomorphic representation of society/civilization)
- Civic responsibility / The United States laws
Associate with religious beliefs that are in line with your non-theistic beliefs.
- Unitarian Universalist. This non-theistic religion is approved by the BSA.
- The Satanic Temple (Has great tenets!)
- American Humanist Association
For a history of religion in scouting, start with this excellent wikipedia page
Scouts Canada, Scouts Australia, the United Kingdom Scout Association, and many more have removed the religious requirement or allowed a separate Scout Oath without expressing a belief in or duty to supernatural beings.
- What does scouting mean by “Duty to god”?
- BSA guidance when adding the new “Duty to god” requirements.
- Scouts for Equality. See FAQ on Religion
- Scouts BSA advancement requirements
- Can I be kicked out of Boy Scouts for being an atheist?
- Unitarian Universalist Cub Scout religious emblem entitled “Love and Help“
- Unitarian Universalist Scouts BSA religious emblem, “Religion in Life”
- Humanist Scouting Badge (not BSA recognized)
- Wicca “Over the Moon” religious award.
- Freethought Badge
BSA Inclusivity Timeline
- 1908: Scouting founded by Baden Powell
- 1967: Den leader role opened to women
- 1976: Cubmaster role opened to women
- 2013: Boy Scouts rescinds gay ban
- 2015: Duty to god requirements added[ref]
- 2016: Unitarian Universalist beliefs allowed
- 2017: Transgender boys ok to enroll as boys
- 2018: Girls allowed in Cub Scouts
- 2018: BSA reaffirms duty to god[ref]
- 2019: Girls allowed in Boy Scouts
- 2020: All Mormons leave BSA[ref]
- Today: Atheists still not officially allowed in BSA