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Col. Baden-Powel Baden Powell, why religion in Scouting
Gino Lucrezi, lucrezi@dsiaq1.ing.univaq.it Italy

I have collected the following quotes from Baden Powell's books. Be alerted that I am translating them back in English from their Italian editions, so there may be some minor differences in form or word choice.


Col. Baden-Powel
Baden-Powell

"No man can be really good, if he doesn't believe in God and he doesn't follow His laws. This is why all Scouts must have a religion".
(Scouting for Boys, 1908)

"Scouting has been described as "a new religion". It's not, of course, a new religion: it's just the application to religious formation of the principle now accepted in non-religious formation, i.e. to point out a precise aim to the boy and give him the way to learn and practice by himself" [Quoted in Taccuino, a collection of B-P's writings and essays published in Italy. Dated January 1912]

"There is no religious side to the [Scout] Movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is on becoming aware of God and His Service"
(Headquarter's Gazette - November 1920)

"By Religion I mean not just a formal homage tributed to a Divinity, but a deeper akcnowledgment of God as a Being perpetually inside and around us, and the consequent higher level of thought and action in His service"
(ibidem)

"Scout Activities are the means by which you can lead the most accomplished street urchin to nobler feelings, and have the faith in God start in him"
(Aids to Scoutmastership, 1919)

"Love of God, love of your neighbour and respect of oneself as God's servant are the basis for any form of religion"
(ibidem)

"Many difficulties may arise while defining religious formation in a Movement such as ours, where many religions coexist; so, the details of the various forms of expressing the duty to God must be left to thoses responsibles of each single association. We insist however on observance and practice of that form of religion the boys profess"
(ibidem)

"Nowadays the actions of a large part of youths are guided just in a small part by religious convinctions. That can be attribued for the most to the fact that in the boy's religious formation the worry was on teaching instead of educating".
(ibidem)

"If you really wish to find the way towards success, i.e. your happiness, you must give a religious base to your life. It's not simply attending church or knowing history or comprehend theology. Many men are sincerely religious almost without knowing it or having studied these things. Religion, briefly explained, means: First: know who God is Second: use to the best the life He gave us, and do what He expects from us. This means mostly doing something for the others."
(Rovering to Success, 1922)

"I have been asked to describe in more detail what I had in my mind regarding religion when I founded Scouting and Guiding. I have been asked `Why must religion enter in it?'. My answer has been that religion needn't enter, because it's already inside. It is already the fundamental factor pervading Scouting and Guiding."
(from a speech to Scout and Guide commissaries, July 2, 1926)


The method of expression of revernece to God varies with every sect and denomination. What sect or demonination a boy belongs to depends, as a rule, on his parents' wishes. It is they who decide. It is our business to respect their wishes and to second their efforts to inculcate reverence, whatever form of religion the boy professes.

(Aids To Scoutmastership pg.36)


B.-P's Outlook on Religion

Very closely allied with education comes the important matter of religion. Though we hold no brief fro any one form of belief over another, we see a way to helping all by carrying the same principle into practice as is now being employed in other branches of educaiton, namely, to put the boys in touch with their objective, which in this case is to do their duty to God through doing their duty to their neighbour. In helping others in doing daily good turns, and in rescuing those in danger, pluck, self-discipline, unselfishness, chivalry, become acquired, and quickly form part of their character. These attributies of character, coupled with the right study of Nature, must of necessity help to bring the young soul in closer touch spiritually with God.

Personally, I have my own views as to the relative value of the instruction of children in Scripture history within the walls of Sunday-school, and the value of Nature study and the practice of religion in the open air, but I will not impose my personal views upon others.

I prefer to be guided by collective opinions of experienced men, and here a remarkable promise stands before us. Scouting has been described by barious men and women of thought and standing as "a new religion" - three times I have read it this week. It is not, of course, a "new religion," it is merely the application to religious training of the principle now approved for secular training - that of giving a definite objective and setting the child to learn and practise for himself - and that, I think everybody's experiences will tell him, is the only training which really sticks by a man for good and ultimately forms part of his character

January, 1912

Col. Baden-Powel

Col. Baden-Powel


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