Guides consider atheists oath

The Girl Guides Association is launching a consultation to see if its members would support an alternative oath for those who feel unable to pledge a "duty to God". A similar consultation was launched by the Scouts a month ago.

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Guide leaders 'struggle' with religious oath

The Girl Guiding Association says that the online consultation on the future of the organisation's oath of allegiance will allow them to match their members needs better.

The Promise is guiding's beating heart - it is the core expression of values and the common standard that brings everyone in guiding together.

Over the past few years we have heard from more and more girls and leaders who struggle with the wording, particularly in interpreting what it really means to girls today.

Girlguiding UK is committed to retaining a Promise that is in line with its original principles, but we know it is crucial that girls and young women understand and believe in the words they say.

– Girlguiding UK statement


National Secular Society welcomes Scouts atheist consultation

The president of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson, said the Scouts' consultation on an alternative oath for atheists was a "move in the right direction".

He also said it would put an end to "unpleasant confrontations" such as that of 11-year-old George Pratt, from Midsomer Norton in Somerset, who was excluded because he did not want to make the Scout Promise in its present form.

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.

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 organisation.

– Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society

Membership of the Scouts on the rise

Membership of the Scouts has risen during the past seven years from 444,936 in 2005 to 525,364 this year, figures released by the association show.

Since 2002, the number of girls taking part has increased by 69% while more than 50 scout groups catering for young people drawn mainly from Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities have opened in the last ten years.

Adventurer and Chief Scout Bear Grylls with young Scouts Credit: Martyn Milner/The Scout Association/PA Wire

Existing Scout Promise includes a 'duty to God' pledge

The existing Scout Promise contains a vow of allegiance to the God and the Queen .

It 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."

Alternative versions allow Hindus and Buddhists to use the word "my Dharma" while Muslims can use the word "Allah".

Non UK citizens are permitted to replace the phrase "duty to the Queen" with "duty to the country in which I am now living".

Scouts commissioner: 'We have continued to evolve'

We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting programme. That will not change.

However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK.

We do that by regularly seeking the views of our members and we will use the information gathered by the consultation to help shape the future of scouting for the coming years."

– Wayne Bulpitt, The Scout Association's chief commissioner in the UK


Scouts consider move to welcome Atheists

Atheists could be welcomed into the Scout movement for the first time in 105 years, the Scout Association has said.

The movement, led by TV adventurer Bear Grylls, is launching a consultation to see if members would support an alternative Scout Promise for those who feel unable to pledge a "duty to God".

A consultation has been launched to see if Atheists could be welcomed into the Scout movement Credit: PA Wire

For more than 40 years, versions of the oath have existed for faith groups including Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, but this is the first time Scouts have considered an adaptation for atheists.

The proposed changes are designed to increase diversity in the movement and enable more young people and adults to join.

Leaders insist the existing Scout Promise - which also contains a vow of allegiance to the Queen - would continue to be used alongside alternative versions.

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