Ask the Chairman - Should ceremonies be conducted shirtless?

Q. Ray,
What are your thoughts on OA ceremonies being conducted shirtless? I personally find it distasteful and disrespectful - at the very least to those the may be being inducted or those watching the ceremony. I understand that it is hot in the summers in many parts of the country, but some of our brothers' church affiliations would find such immodesty embarrassing. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for your consideration of my concerns.
A Concerned Adviser

A. Thank you for bringing your concern to my attention. My team and I have done a thorough review of our Scouting and OA literature, to include the Guide to Safe Scouting, Guide to Inductions, Guide for Officers and Advisers, Field Operations Guide, etc. Therein, we were unable to find a specific prohibition or even recommendation against "shirtless" OA ceremonies. However, to examine the issue from another perspective, performing a shirtless OA ceremony exhibits a similar level of modesty to what Scouts and Scouters experience at a typical Scout camp waterfront or aquatics area, and thus far we have not seen objections from any religious organizations to that portion of our Scouting program.

As with all parts of Scouting, local policy can be more (but not less) restrictive than national guidelines. If you continue to have a concern, please feel free to reach out your local Scout Executive or their designee, the OA staff adviser.

Thanks for all you do for Scouting and the Order.

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