Scouts consider removing 'God' from promise
The UK Scouts Association has launched a public consultation on whether an alternative non-religious pledge should be introduced for atheists.
The existing 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."
But the National Secular Society wrote to the Scouts in March to say that atheist children and potential leaders were being excluded because of the reference to God.
The Scouting movement is 105 years old but numbers of children joining are on the increase. Membership is up from 444,936 in 2005 to 525,364 this year. There are a further 35,000 young people on waiting lists.
Despite the popularity of the movement as it is, UK Scout Chief Commissioner Wayne Bulpitt suggested it needed 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."
Chief Executive of Christian Concern Andrea Williams said: “It’s a shame that pressure from a small atheist minority can cause an institution to revise its founding principles.
“The Scout Promise and Law are the fruits of a Christian outlook. Values like serving others, being loyal and being part of a worldwide family are clearly taught in the Bible. Revising the promise simply dilutes the ethos of the movement and makes it less distinctive.
“It’s surprising that the Scout movement is considering removing God from its promise at a time when so many children are keen to join. It is clearly an inclusive movement if so many children from different backgrounds are joining up.
“Including a duty to God helps children consider where values come from and why we should do certain things and not others; it provides a basis for belief and behaviour”.
Girlguiding UK, which was set up two years after the Scouts, has also announced its intention to consult the public on a similar change.