“A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.”
These are the beliefs on which the Boy Scouts of America were founded.
As the organization has struggled in the last 18 months with allowing openly gay youth to be members, Scouts and their leadership still have opportunities to earn religious awards through programs formed by religious groups. The Boy Scouts approved these programs and allows the emblems to be worn on the official uniform.
Troop 258 Scoutmaster James Leight earned his religious knot as an adult Scout leader and said the religious emblem program is a way to encourage members to grow stronger in faith.
“Almost every denomination is available. It is part of teaching a Scout to be reverent and grow in his own faith,” Leight said. “The (religious knot) program is a great avenue to approach religion with kids.”
Religious Emblems Coordinator Jerry Smith of Copperas Cove leads the Scouts through training with adult and student workbooks.
“It’s an opportunity to teach them more about God,” Smith said.
His son, Elijah, 10, has earned his religious knot as has his father.
“It’s cool and it’s awesome and it’s one of the badges I can wear my whole life,” the Clements-Parson Elementary student said.
Elijah earned the religious knot both as a Tiger Cub and a Bear Cub and can earn it two more times as a Boy Scout.
Dustin Jones, 11, said it was difficult to earn the prestigious honor.
“I had to understand certain things about being a Christian. It definitely made me stronger in my faith,” Dustin said.
Ryan Boucher, 11, said Smith really had to explain the process to him to help him earn the award.
“It was really hard and I kept trying and trying. Finally, I caught up in understanding it,” Ryan said.