Revising the Fundamentals of Scouting
I have just completed the questionnaire on the revised Fundamentals. I think that new updated Fundamentals are much more suitable for modern Scouting, especially regarding the big ticket change of “Duty to God” to “we explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes”.
This change means that there now needs to be two other changes, which the survey seeks to consult on:
- Removing the bar to full membership to atheists; and
- Creating an alternative version of the Promise for atheists and agnostics or those who are still seeking.
This is something that has been discussed ad nauseaum on Escouts over the years, and I am pleased that it has now been picked up by HQ. There are always some people who object to any non-religious people being in Scouting, but generally everyone is in favour. The debate more often resolves around exactly what change could/should be made to the Promise than whether or not a change should be made to the rules!
I am fully in favour of this change and whilst I do not think that atheist young people have are excluded (see my previous post on this topic), that is not the same situation with regards to Leaders, and as such there are inevitably atheist Leaders who make the Promise but cross their fingers when the say the “Duty to God” bit – which isn’t exactly helpful.
There should be no bar on anyone joining Scouting based on their own religious or spiritual beliefs, so long as they are able and willing to assist young people in exploring their faith and beliefs, even – and especially – if it is in a different direction to their own beliefs. The current situation bars an atheist who would be willing to do this, but allow in a fundamentalist Christian/Muslim/*insert other religion here* who would not. This is clearly not the right situation.
In order to allow atheists to make the Promise, there needs to be an alternative Promise for them just like for for other religions. And just like them, in my opinion the tone and rhythm of the promise should remain the same to allow us to all be able to make the Promise together, regardless of personal religious beliefs. As such, in my opinion, the non-religious alternative Promise should read should like:
On My Honour, I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to Humanity and to the Queen,
To help other people
And to keep the Scout Law.
Meaning that only one word has changed – “God” to “Humanity” – and the intention and the rhythm of the promise remains unchanged (after all, is the core of any religion not their duty to humanity?).
Hopefully the consultation will reveal that the vast majority of Scouts support this, and the change will soon become finalised. So I urge you to complete the questionnaire and let your voice be heard – the survey is open until 31 January 2013.