British scouts to welcome atheists

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The British scouting movement will soon welcome atheists who are reluctant to join the worldwide organization because they must take an oath to serve God.


Trustees from the Scouting Association — whose patron is Queen Elizabeth II — are preparing to meet next week to approve a new scouting oath for atheists — thus putting them on par with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.

While those with religious affiliations will continue to promise to do their duty to both God and the queen, the new “Atheist Promise” (as it’s being called here) will say something different — although the exact words have not yet been released.

This comes only a week after Girl Guides announced that they would give up their promise to “love my God.” Beginning in September, the 500,000 Brownies and Guides will instead promise to be “true to myself and develop my beliefs.”

The British wing of the scouting organization founded by Lord Robert Baden-Powell in 1907 at Brownsea Island in southern England has agreed to bow to pressure from an increasing number of atheists. It comes at a time when British scouting has experienced buoyant growth — membership increased to 525,000 last year, up from 445,000 in 2005.

Written By: Trevor Grundy
continue to source article at religionnews.com

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  1. If the oath contains reference to the queen, you could still have a problem. She has dual roles as head of state and head of the church of England.

    Britain has an advantage here over other countries is getting the Boy Scouts to behave. The queen is scandal averse. She is not about to throw her weight around to force people to pledge loyalty to her. She can quietly let it be known she is displeased by her name getting dragged in the mud. In a pinch she could withdraw royal patronage.

  2. If true, this is good news. I kept my daughter (7) away from Guides/Rainbows/Brownies pending a secular oath, but am now happy for her to join. That leaves my son in the wilderness until the Scouts catch up.

    Three countries have secular oaths, with the consent of the worldwide body. A fourth (Israel) wrote its own oath unofficially to placate Orthodox Jews.

    But if Britain – as Baden-Powell’s birthplace and the spiritual home of Scouting at Brownsea Island – were to embrace a secular promise, that sends a very strong signal to all other countries, some of them pretty fundamentalist and intolerant, that they should think about doing the same.

  3. “Trustees from the Scouting Association — whose patron is Queen Elizabeth II — are preparing to meet next week to approve a new scouting oath for atheists — THUS PUTTING THEM ON PAR WITH Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.”

    Let me reword that last phrase…
    “… THUS FINALLY RECOGNISING THEY ARE ON PAR WITH …”

    • thus putting them on par with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.

      Muslims are not mentionned. Is it because their religion forbids them to join the boy scouts? Or a simple omission?

  4. When the Guides did this I pointed it out to a friend and colleague who is a scoutmaster and very pious Methodist. He said that if it were to happen to the Scouts he’d resist as long as possible. When he gives in I’ll donate a cheque, but I’m not telling him in advance.

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