*** boys youth organizations uniforms: religious groups

Uniforms of Boys' Youth Groups: Religious Orientation

KSA youth group
Figure 1.--The Belgian KSA looks like a Scout group, but in fact is a non-Scout group afiliated with Catholic schools. The boys wear bright blue shirts and the girls light blue shirts.

The youth group movemnt began primarily in Protestant churches and among protestant youth. Britaun played an especilly important role. Over time Catholics also became involved. And because Baden Powell decided on a more inclusive, ecmrnical movement, Scouting devloped along both religious and secular lines. The British origins helped spread the movement around the globe to many non-European and non-Christin people. This helped orient scouting nto a secular movement. But because many churches spomsored Scout units, there were both scular and religious units. Most youth groups evolved into secuclar movement that promote religion to varying degrees. Even Scout groups organized by secular groups have a religious component, albeit non-sectarian. Scouting becme lrgely secula, but units promoted by churches or other religious groups take on a more religious tone. In recent years, schools and other groups have dropped out of Scouting and religion has becme more important as so many units are now sponsored by churches. This has varied over time and from country to country. Eith the rise of Communism, the Young Pioneers promote atheism. The NAZI Hitler Youth did a wll, but more discretely because most of the boys came from Christian families. There are also some youth groups that have been organized as primarily religious groups or fellowships and are essentially religious in character. This provides some organizational difficulties as most youth groups, except the Communist Young Pioneers and pre-World War II (1939-45) Socialist youth groups, have had a religious component. The larger groups are listed on the major organization page. HBU has listed smaller groups in the nationalist section because these religious groups are primarily associated with specific countries. We thought that as some of the groups are actually more religious than nationalistic in focus that they should be cross referenced on a religion page.


Only a few groups had a no religious conections or active athiest orientations. The primary groupmof course was the Young Pioneers whioch had organizations in every Communist country. There were also Communist youth groups in many countries before the Communists seized power in many European countries. Active protion of athiesm, however, was persued mostly after the Communists had seized power. The European Socialists also had youth groups in the yers before World War II (1939-45). One of the most important was the Falcon in Germany. These groups generally did not ageressively promote atheisn, but they had no religious program.

Minor Religious Orientatiom

Most boys' youth groups had only minor religious orientations. The Scouts are the primary example. One reason for their formation, for example, was to prvide English boys a more secular program than the Boys' Brigade. Today the Scout's religious program varies. The Scout oath involves a commitment to God. Many Scouts units in America are organized by churches or other religious institutions. In Europe there are Scout associations affiliated with specific Christian denominations--usually Catholic. Presumably there are religious conections in countries with Islamic, Hindu, and other religious traditions. In many cases the religious connections are nonminal. This is the case in American Scouting, even though athiests have brough court suits on the issue. Presumably the religious conection is more importabnt in units organized by churches or in European Scout associations affiliated with specific denominations.

Religious Focus

Some youth groups had very strong religious programs. Interestingly these groups are almost mostly national in focus. Even the ones with some international programs have one country where the group is centered. At this time the groups we know of are mostly American or European. Presumably there are also some Asian groups--although HBC has no setails at this time.


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Created: February 6, 2001
Last updated: 10:55 PM 6/21/2023