Scouts ready to broaden their church and admit atheists
Tuesday 04 December 2012
Atheists could be welcomed into the Scout movement for the first time in 105 years, the association has said.
The movement, led by TV adventurer Bear Grylls, is launching a consultation to see if members would support an alternative Scout Promise for those who feel unable to pledge a "duty to God".
For more than 40 years, versions of the oath have existed for faith groups including Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, but this is the first time Scouts have considered an adaptation for atheists.
The proposed changes are designed to increase diversity in the movement and enable more young people and adults to join.
Leaders insist the existing Scout Promise - which also contains a vow of allegiance to the Queen - would continue to be used alongside alternative versions.
Wayne Bulpitt, the association's chief commissioner in the UK, said: "We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting programme. That will not change.
"However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK.
"We do that by regularly seeking the views of our members and we will use the information gathered by the consultation to help shape the future of scouting for the coming years."
Membership of the Scouts has risen during the past seven years from 444,936 in 2005 to 525,364 this year, figures released by the association show.
Since 2002, the number of girls taking part has increased by 69% while more than 50 scout groups catering for young people drawn mainly from Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities have opened in the last ten years.
The Scout Promise reads: "On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law."
Alternative versions allow Hindus and Buddhists to use the word "my Dharma" while Muslims can use the word "Allah".
Non UK citizens are permitted to replace the phrase "duty to the Queen" with "duty to the country in which I am now living".
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said the consultation was a "move in the right direction" and would put an end to "unpleasant confrontations" such as that of 11-year-old George Pratt, from Midsomer Norton in Somerset, who was excluded because he did not want to make the Scout Promise in its present form.
"By adjusting their promise to include people without a religious belief, the Scouts will bring themselves in line with the reality of 21st-century Britain, where more than two-thirds of young people say they have no religious belief," he said.
"If the Scouts decide to change the promise, it would relieve many young people of having to lie about what they believe in order to be part of this great organisation."
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...