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Oct 11 2013

British Scouts Accept Atheists

In contrast to the Boy Scouts of America, the British Scouting Association is welcoming non-believing kids and offering them an alternative pledge that does not require that they promise to do their “duty to God.” I’m sure that will make the wingnuts’ heads explode.

A new “atheist” version of the Scout Promise with no mention of God or faith is to be introduced by the British branch of the organization for children who say they are not religious.

For the first time in its 106-year-history, Britain’s Scouting Association will offer a non-religious alternative to the Scout promise aimed at members and potential members who are “without a faith.”

Generations of young people have pledged: “On my honor, 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”.

A new optional wording would see the first part of the promise tweaked to read: “I promise that I will do my best to uphold our Scout values.”

Of course, a much larger percentage of Brits than Americans are atheists, making this virtually inevitable. As long as atheists remain a small and mostly despised minority, it isn’t likely to happen here.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Modusoperandi

    Plus, for field craft they learn how to survive in the wilderness using only room temperature beer and rain.

  2. 2
    raven

    and offering them an alternative pledge that does not require that they promise to do their “duty to God.”

    I don’t see why this is a problem at all.

    I don’t mind doing my duty to god whatever that means. It’s exactly the same as my duty to Marduk, Thor, fairies, leprechauns, or Tlaloc. And for the same reason.

  3. 3
    d.c.wilson

    Do atheists still have to pledge to kiss the queen’s arse, though?

  4. 4
    raven

    We do know one thing.

    For the BSA, atheists are more scary and despised than the gays.

    Hard to say when they will stop discriminating against atheists though.

    I would favor making it local option by the troops. That way the Mormon troops could refuse to admit atheists. And who in the hell in their right mind would want to join a Mormon troop anyway? I’m sure if you looked at it, the Mormon troops, which are the (mandatory) youth groups of Mormon churches are 100% Mormon as it is right now.

  5. 5
    matty1

    @3 Yeah they should really take that out, though not just for atheists. My Grandad was a staunch republican (in the European sense of opposing monarchy not the US sense of opposing everything) and a devout Methodist. People who think like him should also be welcome in the Scouts.

  6. 6
    Mr Ed

    My sons Weblos den is lead by an atheist. It has only been a month but so far no one has been thrown into a lake of brim stone

  7. 7
    arakasi

    This is why we signed my son up for Navigators USA. Navigators was formed when BSA Troop 103 (chartered by All Souls Unitarian, NYC) decided to break their charter with BSA over their exclusionary policies. The new organization is coed, has no religious component, and is LGBT friendly.

    Navigator’s purpose is to provide the good parts of the scouting experience (outdoor activities, respect for nature, leadership development, team interactions), while eliminating the crap (racism, sexism, lack of gender equality, ties to religion-based morality)

    The organization is still young, but growing rapidly – it has almost doubled in size from 29 to 57 chapters in just about a year. They are still developing their resources, but that is going to be an ongoing process and they have to be careful not to step on BSA`s copyrights.

  8. 8
    raven

    Navigators was formed when BSA Troop 103 (chartered by All Souls Unitarian, NYC) decided to break their charter with BSA over their exclusionary policies.

    The Wiccans did the same thing when the BSA ignored their own policies and refused to charter Wiccan troops.

    They are called the Spiral Scouts. I have no idea what they do but it might include learning some useful spells.

  9. 9
    danrobinson

    I felt hypocritical when reciting the scout pledge, also the “Law” that says a scout is “reverent”. But at the age of 12 I’m sure I never would have recited an alternative that would single me out for all sorts of abuse from the other boys. This is not a solution. A single pledge that leaves out religion is best. Of course BSA was founded as a quasi-religious/military organization so I wouldn’t expect much change there. Not sure about scouting in other nations. I pretty much ignored the minor discomfort and had fun camping and all that other cool stuff we did.

  10. 10
    criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton

    Wingnuts heads are not already exploding over this?

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