Scouts agree atheist pledge in bid to demonstrate ‘inclusiveness’

SCOUTS will no longer have to swear to do their duty to God – but the Queen is still included.

From next January youngsters who consider themselves 
atheists will be able to take 
an alternative pledge as they 
make their three-fingered Scout Sign.

Instead of swearing to “do 
my best, To do my duty to 
God and to the Queen”, they 
will be able to promise to “do 
my best, To uphold our Scout 
values, to do my duty to the Queen”.

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The move, which follows a ten-month consultation, has been welcomed by faith leaders and the British Humanist Association as demonstrating “inclusiveness” of the movement to all sections of society.

Scout bosses said membership is higher than ever and the 
new promise should help boost numbers even more.

The Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and the Church’s lead bishop on work with youngsters said he was 
happy God stayed in the main promise.

He said: “In enabling people 
of all faiths and none to affirm their beliefs through an 
additional alternative promise, the Scout movement has 
demonstrated that it is both 
possible, and I would argue preferable, to affirm the importance of spiritual life and not to restrict meaning to arbitrary self-definition.”

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Alternative versions of the Scout promise have been available for nearly 50 years and have been used by Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and those who live in the UK but are not UK citizens.

This weekend a new section of the 1st Heckmondwike Scout Group, the 1st Heckmondwike Ansaar Scout Group is being launched and eight youngsters, from Muslim backgrounds, aged 10 and a half to 14, will swear their oaths of allegiance to God or Allah.

A predominantly Muslim Cubs group has been running for the past three years.

Aref Vacchhiat, a helper with the Cubs, agrees aetheists should not be excluded. He said: “The only difference is we are catering 
for the Muslim children on a Sunday morning, that being the 
only day we can get together. 
We do activities and shared groups together. Anybody and everybody should be able to do scouting regardless of religion and faith.”

Comment: Page 12.

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