In this election season, we’re all immersed and bombarded with campaign activity. We see signs everywhere, hear and see ads on radio and television, get lots of mail, and the phone sometimes won’t stop ringing.
Often, Scouts participate as well. After all, what Duty to Country is more important than selecting those who lead and represent us?
But there’s a limit to what we can do as Scouts and Scouters. We are all about country – patriotism, respect for our flag, and citizenship. But we have an obligation to express no preference for a candidate or issue one way or the other when we are representing Scouting – and when we are in uniform or wearing any Scouting identification, we represent the Scouting movement.
So what’s ok and what isn’t?
- Present the colors – A unit can provide the flag ceremony, presenting the colors in uniform, for a political event such as a campaign appearance or rally, but must leave immediately after the “Two!” following the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Stay for the civics lesson – It’s ok to remain at the rally – but you must not wear anything identifying you as a Scout or Scouter, so you’ll need to change out of your uniform. Taking part in political events is an excellent way to learn about civics, the candidates’ opinions and proposals on the issues, and our process of electing our government officials.
- Encourage others to vote – Our Scouts aren’t old enough to vote (unless they’re Venturers over 18) but they can help get people out to the polls. They can help promote voter registration and encourage voting on election day. Our area’s fall food drive takes place at the same time, so when we distributed collection bags we’d attach a reminder to go vote. Again, totally non-partisan.
More information on the BSA’s official policy can be found in this post at Scouting Magazine’s website.
The two takeaways are that we are all about patriotism and respect for our country, but we must absolutely not show, or appear to show, any endorsement of or favoritism toward any particular candidate, party or issue.
Photo: Steven Depolo / Creative Commons 2.0