Nottingham scout group welcomes proposals to scrap promise to 'do duty to God'
FOR more than 100 years, the promise budding Scouts have had to make before being considered full members has been: "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."
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Alternative versions of the promise have been available for more than 40 years – for people of different religions, such as Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, as well as those who live in the UK but are not UK citizens.
But now the Scout Association is asking its members on their views on developing an alternative version of the Scout Promise for potential members who don't believe in God.
Members of the 88th Nottingham Scout and Cubs group have welcomed the proposals.
"I was brought up religiously – I am a Catholic – but some people haven't and I think it will be a good idea to include them too," said Tomas Tekel , nine, of Rossington Road, Sneinton.
Achelya Sag, nine, of Anstey Rise, Sneinton, echoed his view. She said: "I've been member of this group for about three months and I really enjoy it. I think more children should be able to have the same fun, even if they don't believe in God."
Jake Bryant, six, of Ipswich Circus, Sneinton, said: "I think it's unfair that only religious people can make the promise."
Olivia Lawrence, seven, of Swain's Avenue, Bakersfield, also described the current promise as "unfair".
She said: "What if children really want to become Scouts and have dreamt of it for a long time, like me? I don't think it's fair that some of them can't become Scouts just because of their religious beliefs."
Olivia's mother, Sarah Brambley, also welcomed the planned change, which she described as long overdue. She said: "I think it's a really good idea. An alternative promise would involve everybody.
"I think whether you're religious and have a faith or not, you can still be an honest person, and respectful to others.
"We could have a promise that doesn't include God or any other religion or the Queen and just a duty to the country."
Group Scout leader Andy Turner shared Miss Brambley's opinion.
He said: "This change has been long overdue. Anything that will open the doors to more people scouting is a wonderful idea."
Matt Rooney, county commissioner for Notts Scouts, described the consultation as "very positive", adding: "We have a waiting list of around 400 kids on the waiting list in Notts. A new promise, suitable for atheists, could encourage more adult volunteers to get involved which would mean we could start more groups.
"And as Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell said, we're a movement, so let's continue moving."
Whatever the outcome of the consultation, the existing Scout Promise will remain and Scouting will remain a values-based movement with "exploring faith" a core element of its programme.
Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner, said: "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."
Atheist oaths already exist in UK courts, where witnesses can swear by their God or give a Witness Affirmation by which they are asked to "solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth".
Anyone enlisting in the British Army, the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force, are required to attest to an oath to God, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, but also have the option of an equivalent affirmation.
What do you think about the proposed change? Email our letters page at firstname.lastname@example.org