Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Scout pledge opt-out aimed at attracting secularists
SCOUT leaders are embracing the news that from next January atheists keen to slip on a woggle will not need to promise to do their duty to God.
The Scout Association plans to introduce the alternative pledge – which still requires members to vow to uphold scout values, observe its law, do their duty to the Queen and help others – to better welcome non-believers who may be put off by the traditional promise to the movement.
Tony Kilburn, district commissioner for Swindon North, said: “I am happy that they are keeping the original promise and I understand why they want to introduce an alternative.
“The existing promise has been used for more than 100 years and the alternative one won’t replace it but will be an alternative promise that members can ask to make.
“It means that members – including associate members – who didn’t want to make the promise on religious grounds can now do so.”
The introduction of the atheist-friendly pledge comes after 10 months of deliberation on how the Scout Association, which has nearly 537,000 members in the UK, could continue to attract members in a more secular age.
Tony said: “It was going to happen. The Scout Association did a survey about 10 months ago and asked our opinion and the vast majority of the members, particularly the younger people, voted in favour of a change.
“It was the members’ decision, and the vast majority of younger members who voted, voted in favour. And we seem to have got some good responses from the religious community too. I think if they had got rid of the God bit completely there would have been more of an uproar.”
Most members are expected to continue to use the original promise to do their best, to do their duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the scout law on their honour, and non-believers will be able to opt to promise to do their best to uphold scout values, to do their duty to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the scout law.
Wayne Bulpitt, UK chief commissioner for the scouts, said: “Throughout its 106-year history the movement has continued to evolve and today marks an important step in that journey.
“It also signifies the determination to become truly inclusive and relevant to all sections of society that it serves.”
The atheist promise will be available to those aged eight and over. Beaver Scouts, aged six to eight, only have to promise to do their best to be kind and helpful and to love our world.
The move comes four months after the Guide Association dropped the promise to serve God and country from its pledge.
Comments are closed on this article.