Are religious emblem programs the same as religious education?

No.  The religious emblem programs were never designed to be a substitute to religious education.  Every Scout seeking to earn a religious emblem must be enrolled in or have completed a program of religious education.  Examples of qualifying religious education include CCE programs or equivalent parish sponsored education, or attendance of a private or parochial school where Catholic religious education is taught.   Religious emblem programs are structured not as a way or vehicle for earning emblems or patches but as very special way to increase a Scout’s knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ in a personal way.  Many of the activities in these programs are attempts to draw direct parallels between what is done in Scouting and the ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  A Scout is reviewed upon completion of the program to determine if the Scout has increased his or her knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ as person and savior.