Photo Credit: Scout Association
The traditional values espoused by Scouts groups across the globe appear to be eroding. TheBlaze has reported extensively about the Girl Scouts of the USA and its increasing leftist slant. Similarly, this summer we also reported about Australia's Girl Guides, a Girl Scout sister organization that recently decided to remove "God" from its official oath. Now, in a separate move, British boy and girl scouting organizations may take similar actions.
The Guardian has more about the new oaths that may become available for atheist children who wish to participate in scouting organizations without pledging allegiance to a higher power:
Since 1908, when Robert Baden-Powell laid down the rules for his nascent movement in Scouting for Boys, new Scouts and Guides have made the traditional three-finger salute and promised to not just help others but remain loyal to a deity or higher power. Now, for the first time, the self-professed godless could also be welcome.
The Scout Association has launched a consultation to gauge support among members for an alternate atheist Scout promise, removing the invocation of a deity. At the same time, the Guide Association, the parallel movement which began two years later, is to launch a consultation about its very similar promise, with views sought on all parts of the wording from early January.
The current version of 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."
Photo Credit: Guide Association
While there is not currently an atheist pledge, other faiths are accommodated. "God," being a very general term, generally complies with most faith systems and, over the past 40 years, various versions of the oath have existed for Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, among other religious cohorts.
For quite some time, atheists and secularists have pushed for more inclusive pledges that do not include a deity. Up to this point, kids who do not believe in God have been forced to take the oath or have simply not joined the organizations. Regardless of what happens, the Scout Association claims that a belief in a higher power will remain a key portion of the organization's practices.
"We are a values-based movement, and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the scouting programme. That will not change," said Wayne Bulpitt, the association's chief commissioner. "However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK."
The atheist response has been one of intrigue and encouragement. National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson called the plans to examine the oath a "move in the right direction."
"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," Sanderson said, according to Channel 4.
"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 organization."