After callously striking any mention of God from the Air Cadet Association back in January, the United Kingdom took one step further down the road to perdition when the British Scouting Association joined in the fun by providing an “alternate” pledge for their members. The edited version, which makes no reference to either God or the Queen, was created to accommodate both those of other religions as well as non-citizens who aren’t considered royal subjects. Of course, for children of religious families who live in the UK, the original pledge is still available so everyone’s happy.
“Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, called it a ‘progressive decision of welcoming non-religious young people and adults of good conscience,’ ” the Huffington Post reported.
The Rt. Rev. Paul Butler of the Church of England said, “I very much welcome this announcement by the Scout movement that God stays in the Promise,” Opposing Views reported.
The Scouting Association’s chief commissioner Wayne Bulpitt emphasized – to those who may too closely associate morality with a biblical upbringing – that the Scouting Association will still be “values based”, even with the new pledge. Exactly what this means in the context of a much more expansive religious demographic, I’m not sure, since they’ll have to spend more time reconciling differing beliefs and how they can all help provide moral guidance along with secular moral philosophy in a pluralistic society.
This change also follows the one made by the British Girl Guides back in June, which removed references to God altogether. Strange how the same thing happened here in the US; the Girl Scouts went secular first, and … well … the BSA is still sorting itself out, but I’m sure it’ll get there.
I think this is a step in the right direction. They didn’t go so far as to get rid of the original pledge, but made one available for other religions and non-citizens. Not only does it make the organization’s member base significantly larger, it reflects an evolving society that doesn’t identify itself as strongly with religion as it did in the past.