It’s been revealed that the Scout Association is to follow the example of the Girl Guides and allow members to join without promising to do their duty to god.
Last week it was announced that the Girl Guides were to give up promising to “love my god”. From September, the half a million Brownies and Guides will vow instead to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs”.
The change recognises an evolving society and the ways that people now have a variety of faiths and beliefs – the 2011 Census found that more than 14 million people in England and Wales said that they had no religion.
Following a consultation of 15,000 people, the movement now plans to allow those without a faith to become full members, offering them a promise that does not include a reference to god. The original promise will remain for believers.
“We can’t ask the kids to lie,” said Gill Slocombe, the chief guide. “If they are not crystal clear and absolutely sure they can commit to the words of the Promise, then the words have got to be made right.”
The plan is now for new wording to be agreed by the trustees of the Scout Association and approved by the worldwide movement before being announced in the autumn.
It’s been suggested that Scouts without a religious belief will, in future, be asked to promise to do their duty to humanity, or to a “higher ideal”.
The church has predictably come out against the plans for inclusiveness. The Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford, for example, criticised the new form of words as “vacuous nonsense” and said the “meaningless language… opens the door to little Hitlers as well as Snow Whites”.
On the other hand, Devon’s Humanists, who has long campaigned on this issue, welcomed the Guides and Scouts proposals.