The UK Scout Association: Open up scouting to non-believers
  • Petitioned The UK Scout Association

This petition was delivered to:

The UK Scout Association

The UK Scout Association: Open up scouting to non-believers

    1. Petition by

      National Secular Society

We’re calling on The UK Scout Association to make the religious oath in the Scout Promise optional. In its present form, the Scout Promise requires new members to "do their duty by God", which forms a barrier to membership for non-believers. The Scout Association is not a religious charity. It has made efforts to accommodate followers of many different religions, and should now do the same to welcome people of no religion.

The Scout Association is a much admired institution, involving half a million people in the UK. It is therefore unfortunate that the religious element of the oath currently deprives many young people of honest access to scouting activities.

The recent case of George Pratt from Somerset highlights the unfairness of the Scout Association’s position. Despite attending the local Scout troop that meets opposite his home for the past ten months, 11-year old George was barred from full membership because he does not believe in God and didn’t want to make the Scout Promise in its present form. He was told that, in view of his atheism, he would not be welcome to join or even continue attending meetings.

Variations of the Scout Promise are available for different faiths (such as the use of “Allah” to replace “God” for Muslim Scouts) however all the current variations of the Promise recognise the “duty to God” element. Young people who are not religious either have to make a hypocritical and dishonest statement, or risk being refused full membership of the Scouts.

A secular oath already exists, written by Baden-Powell in the 1920s, which makes no reference to god or monarchy. The Scouts could keep within their own traditions by allowing this oath to be used as an alternative to the religious Promise.

Independent research has revealed that two thirds of young people don't regard themselves as belonging to any religion. If the Scouts really do aspire to be an organisation which is equally welcoming to everyone, they need to introduce a secular option of the Promise. This would make scouting inclusive of all young people, regardless of their religious beliefs, or indeed lack of them.

The National Secular Society and the signatories of this petition urge the Scout Association to rethink its religious policy and welcome the increasing number of young people - like George Pratt - who cannot, in good conscience, promise to “do their duty by God”.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 4,000 signatures
    2. Scouts and Guides launch consultation on alternative promise

      Both the Scouts and the Guides have launched consultations to ask their members, and the wider public, whether an alternative non-religious version of the Scout Promise should be developed for those who feel unable to make the existing commitment.

      Take part! http://www.secularism.org.uk/scouts-and-guides--consultation.html

      National Secular Society - Scouts and Guides: consultation on alternative promise

      Both the Scouts and the Guides have launched consultations to ask their members, and the wider public, whether an alternative non-religious version of the Scout Promise should be developed for those who feel unable to make the existing commitment. We have longed campaigned for an end to the exclusion of the non-religious in the Scouts and Guides.

    3. Reached 2,500 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Jacob P OXFORD, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 9 months ago

      I'm a scout, and I don't believe in god.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Lorne Inglis HOLT, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 10 months ago

      Of course this is true, why should such a great society be open only to Believers. I totally agree.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Benny napitupulu JAKARTA, SINGAPORE
      • 10 months ago

      being a scout doesnt have relathion with religy

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Oliver Morris ASHINGTON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 10 months ago

      It is a dying organisation, and should be open to all

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Neil Johnsione KIRKWALL, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 10 months ago

      Have been in Scouts until retirement and now is the time for change in thinking.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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