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back to article Be prepared... to give heathens a badge: UK Scouts open doors to unbelievers

From next year, British atheists and their offspring will be able to join the Scouting movement without having to lie or breach their Scout's honour, thanks to an amended promise. All Scouts, and Scout leaders, are required to make the promise. The words vary with age group, and alternatives exist for different religions, but …

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Nice to see them catch up with the girls

Girl Guides (wife is a Brownie Leader) have been doing this for years. Nice to see the scouts catching up.

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Silver badge

It's a good start.

There are far many more things than just the Boy Scouts that need to get rid of the Sky Fairy idealogy but this is a good start.

Anyone that swears to a "deity" begins his career with a lie, why would we ever expect them to be honest from that point in.

All we need know is for the Americans to learn that creatonism is myth not fact. In parallel can we please offer the Pope a new job outside of the theater playing role that he currently has. ( The man himself, the Pope that is, is probably a fine human-being but please stop all of this funny hat and dress wearing nonsense - The 1600s are over).

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Anonymous Coward

Slippery slope.

Next they will be swearing allegiance to the Xfactor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

The scouts have done it differently.

The scouts have different promises for different groups so Christians, Muslims...etc each have a different promise.

The Guides have gone for a blanket ban on God.

Given that the last Census shows that 59% of the country is Christian, the Guides have gone for a policy where the minority imposes its will upon the majority, the Scouts have been truly inclusive.

Don't forget that agnosticism is honest because it says "we don't know if there is a God or if there isn't".

Atheism is a religion thats core tenet is that "There is no God" this is a belief as it cannot be scientifically proved.

Atheist have recently started setting up churches (type in "Atheist Church" in google you'll find tons).

The scouts are allowing all religious beliefs, the Guides have come down on the side of one religion that cannot tolerate any other belief but their own (Atheism).

WELL DONE THE SCOUTS :)

PS I have a physics degree and one of my teachers used to say "Physics is about 'How' not 'Why' if you want to know 'Why' go and ask a Philosopher or Theologian" i.e. Physics does not prove or disprove God taking either position is a belief system like it or not :)

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Bronze badge

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

--"Atheism is a religion thats core tenet is that "There is no God" this is a belief as it cannot be scientifically proved."--

As Ricky Gervais once said, saying that not believing in God is a religion is like saying that not skiing is a hobby. "Actually it's my favourite hobby, I do it everyday".

Not believing in something for which there is no evidence, and believing in something for which there is no evidence.... please don't try to pretend these are equivalent. They are not.

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

> Atheism is a religion thats core tenet is that "There is no God" this is a belief as it cannot be scientifically proved.

No, I'd argue that "Atheism" is no more a religion than "Theism" or "Deism" are. It is certainly a belief, but "religion" implies a level of organisation, custom and dogma.

> The scouts are allowing all religious beliefs, the Guides have come down on the side of one religion that cannot tolerate any other belief but their own (Atheism).

What? You mean Guides swear an oath that there is no God or gods? I suspect not. I was under the impression that they just didn't mention religion - just as the Scouts are planning to do.

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"...the Guides have gone for a policy where the minority imposes its will upon the majority, the Scouts have been truly inclusive"

Try looking at it from a different direction. Not referencing any god at all isn't imposing their will on others, it just means they don't care what god (if any) you believe in. I can virtually guarantee that however many different versions of the scout vow there may be, someone somewhere will be excluded as they will have missed some minor religious sect. And who decides what the "valid" religions are that they will have a version of the vow for?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

Can't tolerate any other view than yours?

That is a closed mind.

No-one can prove a deity is a lie that is merely a "Belief System" that must exterminate all other points of view.

Remember that more people have died as a direct result of Atheist governments than all religious wars in history (Nazi Germany, USSR, Communist China) 60-80 million Second world war, 20 million staved to death in the Ukraine alone and 100 million starved to death in China in the 1960's as a result of the "Cultural revolution"

Also remember Cambodia.

Also Atheist Governments reintroduce slavery in the form of forced labour camps...etc.

I for one do not want to live in an Atheist country where I cannot hold any other view than one that is imposed on me by the state and my rights to think freely will be outlawed by statute.

Beware! Learn the lessons of the Twentieth Century!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

idiot.

It is an absence of belief.

What you are saying makes as much sence as adding cold or degrees kelvin

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

Incorrect. The word "Atheism" just like "Asexual" is simply two words mushed together.

The word literally and ONLY means lack of theism. It has no other meaning or connotation.

It cannot be a religion. That would be literally exactly the same as saying because you don't believe in purple monsters that live under your bed, you are an anti-purple monster fanatic.

Simply not true. You simply don't believe in them because there is no reason to do so.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

First your facts are wrong. Nazi germany was Christian.

Second the stated examples had cults of personality / state. Things were done in the name of Dogma just as bad as religeon.

I do resent ifiots who claim that because I do not believe in a sky fairy I am 2 seconds away from eating someones liver.

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

You have a total misunderstanding of the difference between agnostic and atheist. Agnosticism is the belief that the existence of God is fundamentally unknowable; it was largely invented by Thomas Henry Huxley. Probably because at the time, atheism was considered equivalent to satanism, and liable to get you in deep trouble.

An atheist can be absolutely sure that there is no god, or think that there probably isn't one, or just vaguely inclined to believe that there isn't one. It's not a religion because it lacks all the characteristics of one; the idea that anything that cannot be scientifically proven is a religion is silly. You cannot prove that there is not a invisible pink elephant sitting behind you at the moment, nor the non-existence of the Lock Ness monster. Do you consider you believe in the absence of the elephant to be a religion? I think God doesn't exist for the similar reasons -- first no one can make up their mind what "god" means anyway and second there is little evidence. Call this belief if you will, but it's belief in the same way that I believe the sun will rise tomorrow.

Finally, 59% Christian is really not the same thing as saying 59% believe in the Christian god; the census doesn't define what is meant by "Christian". As the old Northern Ireland gag goes "but are you a catholic atheist, or a protestant atheist".

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Byz

Re: It's a good start.

Half my Family lived in the USSR, my Father escaped before the borders were shut.

I visited my Family the USSR in 1990 just as it was crumbling I am pleased to live in a society where I can be myself.

I saw where many churches had been demolished and the only people who went into a church that was standing were women, as men were frightened that they would lose their jobs. It was a very interesting experience that I'll always remember.

True freedom is being able to associate freely with others and hold ideas/beliefs without harassment.

Capitalism isn't ideal but being told what you can or cannot believe or say in a public arena is a very slippery slope and this is slowly happening :(

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"The Guides have gone for a blanket ban on God...

[...]

"The scouts are allowing all religious beliefs, the Guides have come down on the side of one religion that cannot tolerate any other belief but their own (Atheism).

To leap from the Girl Guides having an initiation ceremony which don't directly reference religion to an institutionalized intolerance of religion on their part is a feat of logical gymnastics which both impresses and terrifies me.

If you have any evidence of the GG excluding anyone on the grounds of religious faith then there are any number of newspapers who'd be delighted to hear from you as I imagine would various statutory bodies - if you've got it then it's your public duty to produce it, if you haven't then it's my public duty to point at you and laugh...

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Re: It's a good start.

Atheism IS a belief - in the Standard Model of physics.

But all you atheists out there should be aware that the standard model is far from proven - it can't explain gravity for instance. Which leads us to New Physics - and New Physics has some very strange aspects.

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Silver badge

Re: It's a good start.

"Anyone that swears to a "deity" begins his career with a lie"

It isn't a lie if they believe it to be true

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"True freedom is being able to associate freely with others and hold ideas/beliefs without harassment."

The Orthodox Church in Russia seems keen to re-establish itself as an arm of the State Government. Various discriminatory laws have been passed at its insistence. An organised religion always tends to want to use the political stage to further it own hierarchy's temporal ambitions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"First your facts are wrong. Nazi germany was Christian"

Nazi Germany had Christian's in it but Hitler was not a Christian he believed in Arianism, which was a mystical belief system that they were superior to all others.

Many Christians died in the concentration camps for standing up to the Nazi government.

The Nazis where not Christian, you need to do some reading.

Start with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum you will see that this does not fit with the teaching that "all men are equal"

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Re: It's a good start. @AC 07:55

Apart from your incorrect "facts" (Nazi Germany was most definitely NOT atheist), you are accusing us of not tolerating anyone's view that's different from ours. Aren't you doing exactly that - insisting that scouts MUST believe in one of a specified list of gods.

You're also being rather selective with your evidence. The Crusades - thousands of deaths supposedly in the name of religion. The various church clampdowns on anyone who belonged to a slightly different sect of the SAME religion (not just Christian here). The burning & drowning of witches. All these are examples of either religion as an excuse to invade another country, or to get rid of anyone who wasn't controlled by the church.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start. @Khaptain 05:47

"Anyone that swears to a "deity" begins his career with a lie, why would we ever expect them to be honest from that point in"

It's not a lie if they genuinely believe in God, now is it? And an IT guy complaining about someone's clothing? Really ...

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Re: It's a good start. @Khaptain 05:47

Blimey Godwin already.

Anyway, a few things:

1) 59% saying “Christian” means nothing on the census other than they were born in the west and told by their parents that’s what they are, and they tick the box. How many were Jedi? Does that make Jedi a religion?

2) Atheism by its very definition is not a religion, it is the absence of one.

3) “Got mit uns” – Hitler was a Catholic in at the least the same way all of your 59% are. Even if you now choose to distance yourselves, then why did all the Catholics follow him, surely they would have seen at the time what an evil thing was happening. Or was god too busy to point it all out to them?

The Scouts have done something very correct here dropping the god bit. Of course, they could keep it, in which case I suggest non-religious types head for The Woodcraft Folk. Like Scouts, but no religion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

Ricky Gervais is a comedian though, hardly one of the world's greatest theologians or philosophers. Great for knock around comments, but hardly going to be on the level of someone who actually studied the subject, let alone excels in it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"Nazi germany was Christian."

No, Germany was predominantly Christian, the Nazis and Hitler in particular were in no way Christian. It is said by some that Hitler was Catholic, but there is no evidence of him practising Catholicism at any point after he left home.

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Re: It's a good start.

On every German servicemans' belt buckle was the motto 'Gott mit uns' (I have one that my grand father brought back as a souvenir) so I do think that their society was one that believed in God and specifically a Christian one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start. @AC 07:55

"Apart from your incorrect "facts" (Nazi Germany was most definitely NOT atheist), you are accusing us of not tolerating anyone's view that's different from ours. Aren't you doing exactly that - insisting that scouts MUST believe in one of a specified list of gods."

No just saying Scouts allow you to swear to who you believe in (or not), guides don't give you the option (whereas you used to be able too) so an option has been removed.

Why not do what the scouts have done and give people the option?

Not giving an option imposes one view on everyone else and goes against the ethos of the founders!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

Think Guides only changed their promise about a year or so ago. As for catching up ... Scouting has been open to boys and girls for at least a decade whereas Guides still maintain a segregated girls-only stance .... and this does cause problems in areas where Scout groups are over-subscribed where boys can't get places but some girls are in both Scouts and Guides (and as Scouts and Guides are seperate organisations Scoutings equalities stance means you can't refuse a girl a place because she's already in guides)

Anyway, as a Scout Leader, I'm fairly happy with the way Scouting has done this ... its just another of the multitude of different promise options for people who have problems with the standard one and given that some sense of "spirituality" is still one of the core Scout values then to some extent the new promise doesn't change all the much. And in reality I'd assume virtually everyone will continue to use the standard promise.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start. @Khaptain 05:47

"The Scouts have done something very correct here dropping the god bit."

They haven't dropped the God bit (Unlike the guides) they given you an option to drop it if you (or more likely your Parents) don't want too.

Unfortunately this whole debate has been cause by parents using their children as proxies to change something that their kids don't care about. Political correctness gone mad (9 and 10 year olds aren't interested in religious debates or Atheism).

You join the scouts and guides to be with your friends (as I did and my children do) you don't give a toss about the promise, you just want to go camping.

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Re: It's a good start. @AC 07:55

Oh dear AC, you really don't seem to understand that not even mentioning god - or a list of approved acceptable gods - doesn't IMPOSE anything on anyone. Whether someone believes in a god or gods or not, shouldn't be relevant to their membership of an organisation like the scouts or guides. If you do believe in a god, not having to mention them every time you make a vow or promise isn't imposing anything on you. If you don't happen to believe in any gods then making that person choose from a list chosen by someone else IS imposing a view on them.

Please answer one question - WHY should there be any mention of god in the vow that scouts give? What has someone's personal belief got to do with it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"You cannot prove that there is not a invisible pink elephant sitting behind you at the moment, nor the non-existence of the Lock Ness monster."

I think you're getting your invisible entities confused;

For the purposes of religious debate it should be invisible purple unicorns... pink elephants are more usually associated with drinking to excess.

Although, on second thoughts, you could be right that the person you were replying to had perhaps been over-indulging on the communion wine!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"The scouts have different promises for different groups so Christians, Muslims...etc each have a different promise."

And there is the problem. They don't need any promise to any mythical being. May as well promise to Harry Potter!

Also, it is perfectly possible to be "Agnostic Atheist" right through to "Anti-theist". Atheism is not a religion, it's basing a decision based of the evidence to hand. I can't prove there isn't a teapot in orbit around Mars, but I am not agnostic on the matter.

Without brain-washing, atheism is the default position of any educated person. And by "educated" I mean actually educated with and understanding of critical thought and the scientific method.

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Devil

@Khaptain

Hey that is quite insulting.

Just because you do not believe in a deity, does not mean there isn't one.

People who swear to do their duty to one are not all lying.

And just because most of us Brits know creationism is a Myth, and Evolution is a proven theory does not mean those who do believe in the fallacy are bad people.

I myself do believe there is a higher power, some deity in some form, who or what they are I am not arrogant enough to think I know.

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Painting agnostics as wishy-washy

'Don't forget that agnosticism is honest because it says "we don't know if there is a God or if there isn't".'

That's a wishy-washy interpretation of agnosticism. A better interpretation of agnosticism would be, 'I see no solid evidence for a god so I don't believe in one.'

The 'don't know' part of agnosticism doesn't mean it's a 50-50 thing. I don't know for sure that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, but evidence and reason tells me it will.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Khaptain

"Just because you do not believe in a deity, does not mean there isn't one."

Just because you do believe in a deity, does not mean there is one.

"People who swear to do their duty to one are not all lying."

No, just delusional. Possibly schizophrenic (hearing voices, seeing things that aren't real). Oh yeah, and cannibals (e.g. Christians - if they truly believe they eat Christ's body, what else would you call them?)

"does not mean those who do believe in the fallacy are bad people."

Actually, it does. Religion is child abuse. Religion protects child abusers. Religion causes wars (almost all wars are based on religion - look what we are suffering now). Religion advocates sexism. Religion actively inhibits progress (if we hadn't overthrown many of the Christian shackles, we'd still be blood-letting and trying to pray famine away).

"I myself do believe there is a higher power, some deity in some form, who or what they are I am not arrogant enough to think I know."

That's just a general "There has to be something beyond this" deist-type thought, there may be; there may not be. Acting like a douche in order to get a "better" beyond makes the current "now" a bit shit. As this is what religion teaches people to do, religion is therefore evil by its very nature.

People are perfectly capable of being dicks without some sexually frustrated berk in a fancy hat giving them an excuse to be dicks.

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Bronze badge

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

Yes, you got there before me.

My daughters ( a Guides Young Leader and Patrol Leader respectively) thought the fuss about the Scouts was laughable.

They dropped the God bit ages ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"First your facts are wrong. Nazi germany was Christian.

Second the stated examples had cults of personality / state. Things were done in the name of Dogma just as bad as religeon.

I do resent ifiots who claim that because I do not believe in a sky fairy I am 2 seconds away from eating someones liver."

Nazis were not Christian but Arianist.

The USSR, Communist China, Khmer Rouge and the first French republic were all Atheist governments so come on lets hear your praise of what wonderful governments they were. They imposed Atheism on all their people and all alternate views were crushed.

They all killed millions of people and persecuted people of Faith. This is a historical fact !!!

What this demonstrates is that the Atheist way is not a wonderful utopia instead it makes distopias instead, which in every case become despotic governments, show me an exception if you can?

Human rights go out the window, this is not my view you can read it in any history book.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"....the Guides have gone for a policy where the minority imposes its will upon the majority,"

Er No! Making someone do something is imposing your will.

By not doing something they aren't imposing anything on anyone.

No one is preventng any Girl Guide or boy Scout making a promise to God. Just not as a compulsory part of the Promise

Apart from which, the 59% Christian figure isn't actually referring to active belief, but purely identity. How many of these 59% ever set foot in a church? And It was the parents who were asked, not the kids.

In fact the promise only ever referred to God, not just the Christian god, anyway,

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Bronze badge

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

Phil. Too true. And more. At high school (in Manchester) I got asked was I a protestant or a Catholic.

When I said I was Jewish ( and I didn't even know the difference between Catholics or Protestants at that age) I got asked whether I was Catholic Jewish or. Protestant Jewish.

So it ain't just an old Northern Ireland gag: It's also an old Northern Engand fact.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"Atheism IS a belief - in the Standard Model of physics."

What a load of bol*****s.

I very much doubt that anyone outside a small group of science graduates and maybe amateur readers of New Scientist ( av. circulation around 125,000 and falling according to Wikipaedia) knows or thinks anything whatever about the standard model of physics.

And I'd hazard a guess that both the physicists who accept the standard model and those who mistrust it have the same proportion of religious believers.

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

I think you misunderstand the difference between not swearing by a God and swearing against a God.

In any case, as disputes over infant and adult baptism show, one might question whether a particular child understands an oath or affirmation, without challenging the existence of a God.

What I see is something God-neutral. The new phrase for Guiding is "To be true to myself and develop my beliefs," and I just cannot see how that can be claimed to be a denial of any God. It covers those who believe in a God and, coupled with the rest of the Promise, covers both what and why somebody makes the choices they do.

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"Atheism is a religion thats core tenet is that "There is no God" this is a belief as it cannot be scientifically proved."

"Atheism is a religion..."

And that's where you lost your credibility I'm afraid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"Remember that more people have died as a direct result of Atheist governments than all religious wars in history (Nazi Germany, USSR, Communist China) 60-80 million Second world war, 20 million staved to death in the Ukraine alone and 100 million starved to death in China in the 1960's as a result of the "Cultural revolution" " [citation needed]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good start.

"Nazi Germany had Christian's in it but Hitler was not a Christian he believed in Arianism, which was a mystical belief system that they were superior to all others."

Sounds like the same thing to me!

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Re: It's a good start.

[Atheists] all killed millions of people and persecuted people of Faith. This is a historical fact

Pal, there aren't enough seconds in eternity to list out all the shit that "people of Faith" have done to "people of subtly different Faith".

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Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

"Without brain-washing, atheism is the default position of any educated person. And by "educated" I mean actually educated with and understanding of critical thought and the scientific method."

Id argue that its the default position for EVERYONE not just the educated - whether you remain atheist depends on your upbringing, there has never been a religious baby born (to my knowledge).

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Byz

Re: @Khaptain

"almost all wars are based on religion"

First world war - nope

Second world war - nope

Crimea war - nope

Boer war - nope

Napoleonic Wars - nope

American war of independence - nope

Vietnam war - nope

Korean war - nope

Hundred year war - nope

Franco-prussian war - nope

Indian wars of conquest by the British - nope

The opium war - nope

Roman civil wars - nope

Punic wars - nope

Greco-Persian Wars - nope

Peloponnesian War - nope

...etc

Most wars are caused by grabbing other resources or taking out another power (as with Rome and Carthage).

Also the casualty rate of non-religious wars is far higher as they have been carried out in the industrial age, so there is an industrial rate of killing plus civilians die as well.

Often religion is used as a pretext but that is politicians being cynical to get people on side. Stalin did this in the second world war by re-opening churches, as soon as the war was ended he shut and demolished them.

Unfortunately if you do some digging through history you find out that statements such as "almost all wars are based on religion" don't stand up to scrutiny - nice soundbite but it's an urban myth, so please don't perpetuate it as it is just brain washing.

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@Khaptain: Re: It's a good start.

You do your faith position no favours by insulting the honestly and intelligently held positions of those you disagree with. Christianity or Islam are not synonymous with creationism, though the almost illiterate approach to selective quoting adopted by both Evangelical Atheists and fundies to justify their positions is much the same. As to belief in the 'Sky Fairy' your position can just as easily and offensively be classified as a 'New Testament conspiracy theorist' or 'Koran denialist', lumping yours together with the moon landing conspiracy theorists and AGW denialists who reject out of hand their own chosen and disliked bodies of evidence because it disagrees with their prejudices. I don't doubt that some atheists have sincerely held and considered views - but that position isn't exclusive to atheism and I'm glad the Scout movement is recognising the legitimacy of other faith positions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

This discussion really has attracted a swarm of idiots, hasn't it?

Atheism is not a religion for exactly the same reason that theism is not a religion: there are lots of different beliefs and practices compatible both with believing and with not believing in the existence of a god.

It is possible to be a religious atheist by belonging to an atheistic religion, such as some forms of Buddhism.

It is possible to be a theist without being belonging to a religion: despite what some people might claim, a belief that there is some kind of god doesn't make you a Christian even if you hold that belief while living in a traditionally Christian country. In the UK a huge number of people belong to this "non-religious theist" category; there may be more of them than real Christians though it's hard to tell as some of them will, in some circumstances, call themselves Christians despite never going to church and knowing bugger all about Christian doctrine.

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Re: It's a good start. @Khaptain 05:47

"9 and 10 year olds aren't interested in religious debates or Atheism"

Nonsense. I had to go and see the local Brownies leader after my daughter refused to write a prayer because she didn't believe in God. I doubt she's that rare in having already formed a strong view.

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