Baden Powell, why religion in Scouting
Gino Lucrezi, email@example.com 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.
"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
(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
(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"
"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"
"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"
"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".
"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
(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
(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
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