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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  1. Rick Leeming

    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.

    1. Khaptain 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).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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"

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              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!

            3. Anonymous Coward
              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.

              And you think that Nazism is not a religion?

              It ticks all the boxes: unswerving belief in one ideal despite what others might say, deifying an individual, the purging of the unbelievers.

              Not all religions are to do with a supernatural deity. The issue is the behaviour that ensues and the mindless violence that inevitably follows.

            4. Michael Dunn
              Headmaster

              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."

              I think you're a little mixed up here - the Nazi theoreticians believed that the _Aryans_ were superior to all others; I doubt if any of them could even have explained the Arian heresy, let alone have followed it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              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.

            2. P. Lee Silver badge

              Re: It's a good start.

              > 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.

              On the other hand, the evidence for him practising the philosophy of Friedrich "God is dead" Nietzsche is relatively plentiful.

              However, the issue is not, "who has the worst record in the past," but (if you want to be pragmatic), "What is the logical conclusion of your belief?" Are the principles which govern your behaviour logical or irrational, based on something you made up? Is a "contract with society" something which you would break if you thought you could get away with it? If not, why not?

              These things are important because although individuals may be irrational in ways which disadvantage and/or benefit others, society in general will tend to the logical conclusion of the common belief. I'm happy to be corrected, but the *logical* conclusion of atheism appears to be hedonism and/or existential nihilism. I'm not sure if the New Atheists know how much amusement they offer the rest of us as we contemplate their militant nihilism, or at least it would if they weren't so wretchedly intent on force-feeding it to our children from age five.

              I see little evidence of man improving in the move away from God. Having freed the slaves in the (very religious) 19th century, the rise of globalism has seen their reinstatement. We keep them out of sight (like our wars), moving the "downstairs" to China, the Philippines and Bangladesh, but that's just a longer staircase. We used to use gun-boats to enforce trade, now we use the IMF and WTO. StarTrek is a lie. We are not better people, we are not evolving. We have better tools and technology but greed and pride remain. Knowledge has increased, we can run to and fro across the whole earth but we are the same as always. Our liberal democracies rush headlong down the path of illiberalism, seeking to control all aspects of life; even redefining vocabulary where words imply values stubbornly resistant to the government-sanctioned morality. 1984 was supposed to be a parody, not a prophecy.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: It's a good start.

                > These things are important because although individuals may be irrational in ways which disadvantage and/or benefit others, society in general will tend to the logical conclusion of the common belief.

                The truth of the matter is, getting your morality from holy books has proved to be a terrible way to run a society. In the past, people have had their skin ripped off, were hanged, were castrated, were stoned, were ostracised, were stolen from all *because* a religion told people to do those things. Those things were specifically in the Bible as recommendations.

                Now, in the west, we have seen a marked decline in religious belief (or at least a decline in the radical pursuit of it even if we pay lip service to it) which coincides with the phasing out of these things. In the east, where religious belief is still practiced devoutly, we see that these evil practices in abundance.

                Whether there is a direct correlation or not, I feel inadequate to prove or disprove this with real figures, but ti certainly makes a lot of sense to me.

                With or without religion, we still have criminals and the fact that we have individuals that wish to rail against societies rules is an aspect of human life that we may never be rid of. I actually don't think that religion plays any part in this.

                > I see little evidence of man improving in the move away from God. Having freed the slaves in the (very religious) 19th century, the rise of globalism has seen their reinstatement. We keep them out of sight (like our wars), moving the "downstairs" to China, the Philippines and Bangladesh, but that's just a longer staircase.

                You may be right, but they are not religious slaves in the theistic sense. They are slaves of a new elite but we should recognise them as what they are, rich, powerful and in control. They are the new tyrants. They are just a lot less obvious about it.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: It's a good start.

                > I'm not sure if the New Atheists know how much amusement they offer the rest of us as we contemplate their militant nihilism, or at least it would if they weren't so wretchedly intent on force-feeding it to our children from age five.

                Well I'm an atheist and I don't feel the slightest bit militant and certainly not nihilist. I just don't believe that God exists. I don't see the relationship. I think that you are confusing different issues that are unrelated to each other.

                For instance, the US is one of the most openly religious countries in the western world and they are one of the key militant drivers of the 20th century both in terms of armed conflict and in economic terms. And it is practically suicide to mention the word atheist in large swathes in the US.

                For myself, I would much rather force feed my children with rationality and an active quest for truth rather than dogmatic indoctrination of a fairy tale.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              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".

            2. AbelSoul

              Re: It's a good start.

              > Nazis were not Christian but Arianist.

              You really need to learn to use a search engine. One very simple example from a pool of many:

              Hitler wrote: "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.."

              > This is a historical fact !!!

              Shit! My apologies; the three exclamation marks rule declares you the winner of this debate.

              1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

                Re: It's a good start.

                Hm. Well I truly believe that I'm the King of Persia and that I can fly on a magic carpet.

                Never mind the evidence, I am...

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It's a good start.

              > 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.

              Those governments might have been secular, if that's what you mean, but they didn't do their oppression in the name of atheism. They were just bastards. Anti-religion didn't really figure in it, apart from perhaps China which oppresses everyone equally for just about any reason they can think of.

              The Chinese government also suppresses followers of Falun Gong, which isn't a theist religion at all. It just teaches a philosophy different to that of the government, so the government feels threatened about it.

              The key difference here is that religious wars in the past were done *because* of religion. Moors were killed by Christians in the crusades *because* they were muslim. Secular oppressors do not do their oppression in the name of atheism, they do it because they are power-hungry bastards.

        2. 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 :(

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Fogcat

            Re: It's a good start.

            "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 :("

            I don't get where this Christian sense of persecution is coming from (yes I realise I'm making an assumption it was written from that point of view). It seems to be coming more and more commonly voiced and I'm not sure if this is some organised tactic or believers are getting upset that they no longer have the same influence when telling other believer or non-believers that they're wrong.

          4. Sandra Greer

            Russia land of religious freedom

            Yeah yeah yeah, now that the old Orthodox church is back in business, you can go to jail for blasphemy and for discussing homosexuality in public. Previously, Jewish citizens' papers were marked "Zhid" -- I wonder if they still are! It wasn't atheism that made Stalin what he was, it was Stalin. The habit of absolute belief made it easier for him to rule, is all.

        3. Corinne

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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!

            1. Corinne

              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?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

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

              > 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.

              They're not saying that you can't swear your allegiance to God.

              They just don't insist on it. There is a difference.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          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]

        5. M7S
          Mushroom

          Re: "more people have died as a direct result of Atheist governments than all religious wars"

          Only because the machinery was there to enable it. That's technological progress, nothing to do with fanaticism, or the lack thereof.

          I'm sure if various of the current religious nutters could get hold of them, they'd be popping nukes off in as many major centres of population as they could. To save our souls of course. I'd suspect "ours" would have done the same centuries ago in sandier parts of the world had this been possible, for the same spurious reaons. There are those who think that given the chance some of "our" dodgier mates remain inclined so to do.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a good start.

          [Implied FAIL Icon]

          "Remember that more people have died as a direct result of Atheist governments than all religious wars in history"

          You're ignoring the centuries of religious crusades which preceded modern history. By head of capita I'd wager they're right up there with any modern atrocity.

        7. stu 4

          Re: It's a good start.

          class. when Dawkins made fun of this argument I have to admit I'd never heard it and thought - who on earth would be stupid enough to bring it up...

          congratulations AC.

        8. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a good start.

          Nazi Germany was Catholic / Christian, Hitler references Christianity and gods work many times. e.g. Nazi soldiers belt buckle had "GOD WITH US" on it.

          1. Intractable Potsherd

            Re: It's a good start.

            I'm an agnostic atheist - I don't *know* whether there is/are a god/gods, but on full consideration of probabilities I believe there isn't/aren't and act in accordance with that belief. In that, I believe in one one less god than a Muslim, and one or three (I never could understand the idea of the "Holy Trinity", just like almost all Christians) than a Christian. Despite my lack of belief, I have never committed an atrocity or felt that it is time for a war to cleanse the world of people who do believe in gods. However, I do think there is a very nasty hypocrisy in some people who claim to have sensations that guide their actions being elevated to positions of power and respect in society *because of those beliefs* , and others being forcibly detained and medicated.

        9. paulll

          Re: It's a good start.

          " (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" "

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

          Lessons such as, it's much easier to kill lots of people when you have mass transit, machine guns, chemical weapons, high-order explosives and a greater-than-ever abundance of potential victims?

      2. bailey86

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. bailey86

            Re: It's a good start.

            You're probably right - atheism is more a belief in Newtonian physics for most people. I.e. the universe is just a bunch of stuff floating about. The problem is that people are lead to believe that we've reached the end of physics - when we have much more to find out still.

        2. Fogcat

          Re: It's a good start.

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

          In the cheesy words of Mr Cleese "Explain pray the logic underlying that statement"

      3. James Micallef 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

        1. AbelSoul

          Re: It's a good start.

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

          Indeed but how many of them actually do?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        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 ...

        1. Yet Another Commentard

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. birchanger_toper

              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.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

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

              > 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).

              Exactly, so why bring God into it at all?

              The biggest crime is indoctrinating kids into religion dogma in the first place. Saying to your kids that you don't mind one way or the other and that they should make up their own mind is the sensible thing to do.

              If a kid previously was not religious, they were forced to swear allegiance to one God or another to join the scouts. It's wrong. I personally side with the Guides and think that religion should stay well out of something that has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Blimey Godwin already"

            Blimey, somebody invoking Godwin already.

        2. Steve Renouf

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

          Or maybe he meant they were lying about their intentions rather than their belief!?! As it usually turns out that they ARE, IN FACT, ALL LIERS

      5. MrXavia
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. 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.

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: @Khaptain

              Most wars might not be about religion, but the winners of wars invariably assert their religion over the vanquished. Its not two armies having a go at each other, but "plague of the firstborn" is pretty religious.

              BTW, lots of your "non religious wars" have strong religious elements. The Korean war was between the largely Christian, western backed south, and the largely irreligious/personality cult north, where Christians are persecuted.

              Rome and Carthage fought many wars, the later ones involving the Vandal Kingdom of Carthage and Rome where largely fought over the Arian Christian Vandals oppressing the Roman Catholic locals. The whole of Roman Africa and the Levant were overran with the Muslim expansion, a strongly religious war.

              Muslims and Christians have been fighting over the Balkans and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. Ottomans go forward, they go back ,they go forward.

              Face it, since man could think he has been justifying killing other people because their sky fairies aren't his sky fairies. The justification for going and taking your neighbours stuff is not that it you want it, it's that you want it and he isn't of your (religious) tribe.

      6. PyLETS

        @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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

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

          "intelligently held positions"

          Just LOL. Belief in religion in the 21st century is simply a demonstration of backwards cultural influences, and / or gullibility and weak mindedness.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's a good start.

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

        You can prove God doesn't exist? Wow! All this arguing over nothing. Who are you, eminent genius? The worl must be told!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a good start.

          "You can prove God doesn't exist?"

          One doesn't have to prove that god doesn't exist, it's up to the *THEIST TO PROVE* that God exists.

          Of course the atheist can easily start poking holes in the "god" thing. Beginning with the fact that the Christian god is illogical. "God is omniscient" - "God is omnipotent". So can their god commit and act which it can't know about? Whichever way to answer it, one of the preceding claims is invalidated.

          If people stopped worrying so much about currying favour in the (almost certainly non-existent) after-life and getting on with fixing this life by helping each other; the world would be a much, MUCH better place.

          But no - they'd rather shoot schoolgirls in the face or rape young boys. Go figure.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Slippery slope.

      Next they will be swearing allegiance to the Xfactor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They should have stayed Christian only at least in principle - it kept out the riff raff.

        Recent imports can join the Jihad corps, etc. where they will likely feel more at home:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/7121945/Police-warn-of-Jihad-training-for-children.html

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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 :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

            Sounds a lot like the Courtier's Reply (i.e. telling a non-believer that he should study theology before he can properly discuss whether a god exists is like telling the child in the fable to study haute couture before he can properly discuss whether the Emperor is naked.)

            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_Reply

          2. DPWDC

            Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

            "Ricky Gervais is a comedian though"

            And I'm a programmer, I can also drive a car, walk, talk, watch TV and cook!

            Amazing eh?

            Stop pigeon holing people!

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

            "Ricky Gervais is a comedian though"

            ...and Brian Cox OBE is just some drummer.

            ...and Brian May CBE is just some guitarist.

            Even Dara Ó Briain, a comedian, seems to have a decent grasp of science.

            (He attended University College Dublin (UCD), where he studied mathematics and theoretical physics.)

            Now, having made an attempt to adjust your preconceptions for you, let's have a look at Ricky Gervais.

            Excert from Wikipedia: "moved on to University College London in 1980.[13] He arrived to study biology but changed to philosophy after only two weeks,[14] and earned an upper second-class honours degree in the subject"

            So, an upper second in Philosophy? That probably gives him a little more credibility to comment on religion than your average ElReg commentard.

        2. paulll

          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."--"

          B.S. To believe that god does not exist based on the abject lack of evidence for his existence requires no more a leap of faith than to believe that Mongolia exists having never been there.

      2. Raumkraut

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

      3. Corinne

        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?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

          "It is an absence of belief."

          No, that would be Nehilism.

      5. Piro

        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.

        1. Anomalous Cowshed

          Re: Atheism is not a religion

          It depends on your definition of 'religion'

          If religion is belief in a god or in something else that 'doesn't exist' or whose existence cannot be proven scientifically, then atheism is not a religion, it is more a denial of the legitimacy of religion.

          If on the other hand, 'religion' is a belief in anything in particular to an extent which transcends the bounds of rationality, then fervent atheism can indeed be considered a 'religion'. I suppose it depends on the person and the extent of their conviction or obsession.

          You will note that as people become more 'rational', there are many other things that appear to be taking the place of traditional religions, some of which are quite strange: global warming; Apple the company, etc. But the anger with which some people defend their position on these matters surely causes them to become a virtual religion...to the people in question.

          A better test of religion is this: whether your belief allows for the possibility and legitimacy of contrary views and opinions.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Atheism is not a religion

            > If on the other hand, 'religion' is a belief in anything in particular to an extent which transcends the bounds of rationality, then fervent atheism can indeed be considered a 'religion'. I suppose it depends on the person and the extent of their conviction or obsession.

            No, atheism is an absence of belief in theism. It says nothing about them.

            Atheists can be rude, or not.

            Atheists can be funny, or not.

            It really has nothing to say about people other than they are not theists.

      6. Phil Lord

        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".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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!

          1. Euripides Pants Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

            "pink elephants are more usually associated with drinking to excess"

            Yes, which is why I believe in spirits - I purchase them at the liquor store....

            Mine's the one with the Sterno in the pocket.

        2. Terry 6 Silver 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.

      7. Jonathon Green

        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...

      8. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. David Barrett Silver badge

          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).

      9. albaleo

        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.

      10. Anonymous Coward
        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,

      11. Dave Bell

        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.

      12. David Barrett Silver 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."

        "Atheism is a religion..."

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

      13. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

        "Given that the last Census shows that 59% of the country is Christian"

        I was raised CofE. I very much DO NOT believe, and after debacle following debacle, I don't want to know.

        However, that is the box that I tick as there is nothing else that comes close to describing what I think, and the other categories apply even less.

        Before you say that so many people are Christian, let's start with - how many actually go to church?

        1. fuzzyfelt

          Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls @heyrick

          "I was raised CofE. I very much DO NOT believe, and after debacle following debacle, I don't want to know.

          However, that is the box that I tick as there is nothing else that comes close to describing what I think, and the other categories apply even less.

          Before you say that so many people are Christian, let's start with - how many actually go to church?"

          @heyrick, if you don't believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he rose from the dead for your sins then you're not a Christian. I'm sorry to break it to you like this ;)

          By ticking the Christian box in surveys and censuses, you're sustaining the debacles by giving them support and credibility. Otherwise, I'm not quite sure under what conditions you'd need to identify as Christian over admitting that you're an agnostic atheist/weak atheist/5 or 6 on the Dawkins scale. Or perhaps you're a deist or polytheist, but this still means you're not a Christian.

          Censuses are often used by policy makers, both locally and nationally to justify policy or allocate resources. The tick in the Christian box, ultimately supports Christian and religious privilege, such as the unproportional representation of Bishops in the House of Lords, or the justification to close large shops on Sundays.

      14. rh587

        Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

        "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)."

        The Guides are not atheist, they're secular. There is not-so-subtle difference and it's kind of important you understand it if you want to contribute sensibly to such discussions!

        The Brownie/Guide promise reads thusly:

        I promise that I will do my best;

        To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,

        To serve the Queen and my community,

        To help other people and

        To keep the (Brownie) Guide Law.

        Not including overtly religious statements in a promise does not imply Atheism. If I run a community youth scheme that does not involve the local church that doesn't make it an atheist scheme, it just doesn't happen to involve religion - not everything has to!

        The Guides aren't swearing off religion and making declarations of atheism, they just decided not to swear a promise to God (and then have to provide alternatives to whatever God is called in your particular book). That doesn't make it atheistic. Secular, but not atheist.

        That said, well done the Scouts. Now people like me don't have to lie during their leader interview.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

          > If I run a community youth scheme that does not involve the local church that doesn't make it an atheist scheme, it just doesn't happen to involve religion - not everything has to!

          I think that this is the key point. Christians in the UK have, for so long, been used to their religion being an integrated aspect to all aspects of life.

          To see so many parts of daily life just not caring one way or the other about their religion seems to them like being stabbed in the back.

          To all the Christians out there: please believe what you bloody well like. We just don't really care. Keep your religion to yourself. We're just not interested.

        2. Christopher Blackmore

          Leader interview

          Have they actually changed the strict rule they had for leaders? That kept me from volunteering a couple of years back.

          1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Leader interview

            I suspect that was down to the pack or troop, my interview consisted of being in the hall on the right day so it obviously varies.

            I did have to promise to a god though, which almost put me off and is why I was so interested in reporting this story.

            Bill.

            aka Baloo, Balintore 1st (I wanted to be a wolf, I got comedy bear)

      15. I am the liquor

        Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

        Anonymous Coward @07:23 is of course correct that atheism and religion are more or less the same.

        It has been estimated that there are 3000 distinct religions being practised on this planet. The atheist believes that all 3000 of them are wrong. The religious person believes that 2999 of them are wrong. The beliefs of the religious person and the atheist are identical to 3 places of decimals.

      16. grammarpolice

        Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

        [quote]Given that the last Census shows that 59% of the country is Christian[/quote]

        ...given a census with the following multiple guess options:

        1. Christian good next door neighbour

        2. Mujahideen terrorist*

        3. Om chanting unwashed hippy*

        4. Atheism is not a religion, we'll just put you down as Christian

        5. Something else*

        *by selecting this option you give permission for jackbooted police to kick down your door

      17. Rick Leeming

        Re: Nice to see them catch up with the girls

        Most people I know who identify as "Christian" do so by default, and have been in church less than I have in the past 10 years. I'm politely described as "Apostate Catholic", or Atheist. Al

        As for removing Relgion totally, that's rubbish. They changed "Love My God" to "to be true to myself and develop my beliefs". Which allows ALL religions or none depending on the person. It's far more inclusive than before, and it IS about time the scouts caught up.

        Also as you skirted round, Science cannot prove something doesn't exist. In fact scientists will tell you they can't prove anything beyond doubt. I don't think god exists, because I've seen no proof. I can however look at the evidence for the theories of Evolution and The Big Bang and say that is a fact. I mean, Gravity is only a theory, and nobody argues with that.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    5. Terry 6 Silver 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.

  2. Grogan

    That's like in court, they make us swear on the Bible. (I'm in Canada... I don't know if they do that in the U.K.) It's only symbolic, but to me, that's utterly ridiculous. Do they mean, I'm going to Hell if I lie to the court? Wow, I'm so afraid. A pompous ass wearing a wig not only wields the power to have me clapped in irons, but he just condemned me to eternal damnation. Reminds me of the church. But you just have to accept it, for its neither the time nor place.

    If they said something as simple as "you swear on your honour" that would mean more to me than a book, or threats of perjury. (Don't get me wrong... it's not that I would never lie, if I had to, I'd just feel more guilty about it lol. It doesn't feel good to lie, but show me a man who says they'd never do it under any circumstances and I'll either show you a liar or a fool)

    But any atheist should know that sometimes you just have to accept some customary speech that's derived from religion. So something like "God" in a pledge can be taken with a grain of salt. The real act of pledging should be on your honour. You'd have to be some kind of an asshole not to celebrate Christmas in some way if you have children growing up in our societies too.

    I'm an atheist and I very much dislike religion, but I try not to be one of those people who need to get over themselves and I try to tolerate the customs of others when it does not impose on me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Swearing on your honour, when up in front of the court, you don't see a potential problem?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The potential problem is that people who believe in the bible aren't allowed to swear on it - it says so in the bible.

    2. Richard 26

      "That's like in court, they make us swear on the Bible. (I'm in Canada... I don't know if they do that in the U.K.)"

      Not since 1695, according to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmation_in_law

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "You'd have to be some kind of an asshole not to celebrate Christmas in some way if you have children growing up in our societies too."

      Christmas and Easter are a set of customs of the northern latitudes that mostly go back long before Christianity. It was important to our ancient ancestors to anticipate seasonal changes. The Winter Solstice was therefore an important marker meriting a celebration of the prospect of Spring and the return of fertility to the land.

      Christianity itself is largely founded on the earlier myths of sun worship. They appropriated existing Pagan seasonal festivals and temples. The archaeology of Banias in the Middle East is a typical catalogue of such changes.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the UK you have the option to 'affirm', which is a non-religious statement, although the religious oath is still used.

  3. Homer 1 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    OK, so that's the fictional deity out of the picture

    But what about the imperialist dictator, are we expected to continue swearing allegiance to that too?

    1. auburnman

      Re: OK, so that's the fictional deity out of the picture

      One step at a time...

    2. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: to do my duty to the Queen

      Duty is open to interpretation :D

  4. Fizzl

    eh?

    I was a scout in the 90's and don't remember religion having anything to do with it.

    Mostly climbing trees and seeing who could build the biggest fire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eh?

      Yep, The biggest fire with the nerdiest one in the troop tied to a pole in the middle. sounds about right. Far too many 'C' class Westerns on at Saturday morning Pictures for our own good.

      My Scoutmaster was as gay as they come. But no one batted an eyelid as his interest was clearly in lithe 20 something men rather than little boys in shorts.

      Now Arkela was a different beast altogether. She hated men with a passion (or so it seemed to a 10yr old)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eh?

      "I was a scout in the 90's and don't remember religion having anything to do with it."

      In England in the 1950s many Scout Troops were established round churches. Religious apartheid was practised in that the CofE had their troops and the RCC had theirs - all in the same catchment area. Our Cubs' meetings always had a prayer - and Church Parade was one of the formal occasions.

      1. rh587

        Re: eh?

        As a cub/scout in the 90s I remember a prayer at the end of each meeting (based in the village hall). Only other religious connotations was the Remembrance Day and St Georges Day Parades which both led to the church for a service.

        On that not, I do find it unfortunate that atheists have a lack of options when it comes to attending an organised Act of Remembrance, as they're invariably centred around the local church. I just tend to go to a service and hope the hymn selection is one that represents memorial and thanksgiving to the fallen, and focus on the act of giving thanks rather than the bible bashing about how we must love one another because of God's love. No, we must love one another because napalming each other is brutal and nasty.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: eh?

          " I just tend to go to a service and hope the hymn selection is one that represents memorial and thanksgiving to the fallen, and focus on the act of giving thanks rather than the bible bashing about how we must love one another because of God's love."

          In the 1960s our non-denominational secondary boys' school had a long-standing "school hymn" taken from the standard schools' Songs of Praise book. It was well liked and the music teacher made sure that the whole school could give a decent rendering on special occasions - with the choir trebles adding the fancy descant.

          It lauded peace, self-reliance, mutual help, community, and advances in the arts and sciences. Like many hymns it was written in the 19th century and re-scored in the early 20th.

          Then one day a visiting bishop publicly denounced it as "too humanist" as it had no mention of God or Christ. It immediately disappeared from the repetoire. It was replaced by a paean that mentioned God nearly twenty times - and wallowed in sentiments of our subservience and helplessness.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We would find it unlikely that someone who truly identified as a Satanist would be able to honestly sign up to the values of Scouting."

    Weren't Satanists comfortable with the previous oath? Same company, different team manager.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I predict a sensible, well balanced discussion...

  7. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    An overdue change

    As an atheist and a former Cub Scout Leader in London in the late '80s, I made the mistake of being honest in the warrant application form. The interview with the senior District leaders concentrated on this, they sent the District Chaplin for a followup. She was very nice, and we had a long discussion. She classified me (IIRC) as a non-deist humanist, and everyone was happy. As another leader pointed out to me afterwards, it was a lot simpler to tick CofE, and there would be no searching questions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An overdue change

      "[...] it was a lot simpler to tick CofE, and there would be no searching questions."

      There was a time when "CofE" was a useful catch-all for official registration forms in many countries. It is only comparatively recently that anything denoting unbelief has been a commonly available option.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: An overdue change

      Where I grew up Scouts were CofE only.

      Kids from the Catholic school didn't go to scouts - for pretty much the same reason that kids from Eaton didn't go to watch Celtic

  8. rcorrect
    Pint

    Here we go again

    The problem is as always with both sides. Since the late 90's I supported gay marriage even though I didn't and still don't understand it. Frankly I probably never will. But how would I feel if someone took away my rights just because? So telling others how to live is a sword I prefer not to die by. I am not bothered by religion because it is a part of this our history, some of it good and some bad. The only complaint I have is that I have to wait until noon to buy myself a beer on Sunday. Here is to everyone getting along at some point in the future. As for the boy scouts, they should go with what they feel is the truth, whatever that may be.

  9. Richard 26

    Nort since 1695, according to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmation_in_law

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So the Quakers could say

      "do declare in the Presence of Almighty God the Witnesse of the Truth of what I say"

      (since their tenet was to be truthful at all times, not just in courts of law)

      but the three letter word was still in the statement.

  10. Amorous Cowherder
    Happy

    Call the Police!

    "Surely the Police should investigate the recruiting of kids into this junior pro-Christian para-military training organisation, purely on the grounds of anti-terrorism!", I jokingly said to my wife when our daughter joined Beavers. I just got the rolling eyes from my wife and a blank look from my daughter! Ha ha!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call the Police!

      That description is more applicable to the Girls/Boys Brigade rather than the Scouts.

  11. wolfetone Silver badge

    Would sooner have had the pledge to the Queen dropped than religion. Republicanism FTW.

    1. MrXavia

      Never!

      I would much rather we have a monarchy than a president, I just wish the monarchs had a little more guts and stood up for their people more, but then again the queen is too old and needs replacing with her grandson soon! He has lived in the world I grew up in, he needs to be the new Monarch and soon! Why cant QE2 step down and let her grandson take up the reigns?

      1. Fogcat

        IF she did step down it wouldn't be her grandson who took over, but her son. You don't seem to have grasped one of the fundamental principles of monarchy: the subjects don't get to decide who the monarch is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "the subjects don't get to decide who the monarch is."

          Who cares - we don't directly get to decide who the Prime Minister is either.

          My view is that as long as the royal Family continue to bring in far more in tourist revenue and taxes than they cost us, they can carry on doing whatever it is that they do when not opening parliament / buildings, launching ships and killing terrorists / Muslims in Afghanistan via Apache helicopter...

    2. Gav

      Drawing the line at republicans

      Me too.

      A pledge to an entity you don't believe in are just empty words. A pledge to the Queen, on the other hand, actually means something (however notional and unlikely to be called upon). So the Scouts remain far more discriminatory to republicans than they ever were to athiests.

      This is not a "Discrimination!" plea. As far as I'm concerned the Scouts can insist on a pledge to whatever they like. But it does seem odd that they're worried about atheists membership, but don't care about republicans.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Drawing the line at republicans

        The Scout promise in (most?) other countries replaces "the Queen" with "my Country".

        I would suggest that, as Scouting is a non-political organisation, the point is doing the right thing for your Society, so, in context, the duty of a true republican to the Queen is to overthrow the monarchy as soon as possible. The removal of duty to the non-elected power that appoints monarchs (God) allows republicans in too.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No expert, but my guess is a satanist...

    ..might try to sign up *dishonestly* ?

    Not trying to cast aspersions on the satanist community or anything

  13. Beaufin

    Scout Law?

    Is this the scout equivalent of Sharia law?

    Are they setting up there own courts and bypassing proper judicial proceedings?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About bloody time!

    Get the knuckle-dragging, anti-science, God-botherer's out.

    Next up, Lords Spiritual and the de-funding of all faith schools.

    (I can dream, can't I?)

    Please note: If an adult wishes to accept a fairytale as true; that is their prerogative. What I don't want to see is children being brain-washed into believing such nonsense (i.e. faith schools)

    1. Fogcat

      Re: About bloody time!

      "the de-funding of all faith schools"

      I'd give you more up votes if I could. I'm for banning all religious "education" for under 16s. I know you couldn't do anything about in the home, but Sunday schools etc. could go and school RE lessons could stay as comparative theology at the secondary school level.

  15. Reue

    Finally

    As an atheist and anti-royalist, I always felt very uncomfortable during various services and sayings whilst in Cubs/Scouts.

    1. Sordid Details

      Re: Finally

      Which begs the question, why on earth did you join?

  16. David Harper 1

    And the IT angle is?

    Curious to know why El Reg now has a theology correspondent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the IT angle is?

      > Curious to know why El Reg now has a theology correspondent.

      Don't you mean an atheology correspondent?

      The story is principally about atheism rather than religion per se.

  17. Velv Silver badge

    No sane person would choose from birth to believe in a deity.

    Belief in Religion is an indoctrination by parents (or guardians) in their belief system. It is training the mind of children not to challenge or question their life or their surroundings.

    Don't believe me - try setting up your own new religion as an adult. At best you'll be ridiculed (David Ike). At worst you'll be locked up (in the slightly free world) or executed (in the not so free world).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try setting up your own religion as an adult??

      Heaven forbid, scientology was bad enough, god alone knows what I would come up with... Damn, i didn't mean to say god. Oh noes, I said 'damn' and that has overtones of being 'dammed' which implies a belief in hell.

      As for the people who say no child should be 'indoctrinated' into a religion by their parents, does that apply to any and all other beliefs and values too? I refuse to enforce society's outmoded concepts of decency and therefore have told my child that it doesn't matter how they behave.

      Some people need or want their religious belief as a crutch to help them through life, just because I don't need that crutch I do not have the right to kick theirs away.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Try setting up your own religion as an adult??

        "I refuse to enforce society's outmoded concepts of decency and therefore have told my child that it doesn't matter how they behave."

        So you subscribe to the beliefs and Tenents of the Church of Chav then? Wearing "joggers" and worshipping at the Temple of Greggs (Give us this day our daily pasty etc)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Try setting up your own religion as an adult??

        > I refuse to enforce society's outmoded concepts of decency and therefore have told my child that it doesn't matter how they behave.

        Ah, yes that old chestnut that if you don't have a religion, then you can't know how to behave in a civilised society.

        Let's see:

        - flogging of homosexuals to "correct" their behaviour

        - stoning of unbelievers

        - death to blasphemers

        - beating of those that have the temerity to so something other than reading the bible on a Sunday

        - ... need I say more?

        What? We don't do all that these days? Why not? Oh, yes because we sort of realised that it was not the proper way to behave. Something in our gut told us that it was all wrong.

        Tell you what, I'd trust my gut before I would trust any of that shite that it says in your holy book.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          Re: Try setting up your own religion as an adult??

          "Tell you what, I'd trust my gut before I would trust any of that shite that it says in your holy book."

          Indeed, as the saying goes, "You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "try setting up your own new religion as an adult"

      Rob Hubbard did quite well as did Mohammed.

      Both invented a new religion by copying existing things and then changing the bits they didn't like.

      Rob based his on science fiction.

      Mohammed based his on Christianity - minus a lot of the morality based stuff, so he could marry a nine year old, have multiple wives, etc, etc....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's Ron by the way, not Rob.

        > Rob based his on science fiction.

        Actually, L. Ron Hubbard made up a load of shite and called it scientology. I'm not sure if he actually believed any of it, if it was just a money-making scam or a social experiment, but there certainly isn't anything remotely scientific it about it, fiction or otherwise.

        Either way, it is an excellent demonstration of how religion makes people do stupid things.

  18. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Still has the queen in it

    Refusing to swear to her was how I finally stopped going to the play-football-in-a-hall rather than learn something club and was finally able to watch Tomorrows World on a Thursday evening. :)

  19. Ben Bonsall

    I'm with the Simulationists; Eventually, games like sim city or the sims (or whatever comes after...) will reach the point where the simulation is as complex as reality, and the agents will start to wonder if there is a higher power directing their lives...

  20. Keep Refrigerated

    I guess I'm the only one...

    Who would prefer to swear to God, but not to Queen?

    ---

    “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one."

  21. Byz

    history will teach us...

    Quite a lot :o

    Having read through this their is a lot of "soundbites" which don't stand up to historical examination.

    I like Mark Twains comment that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes"

    What we have to watch in society is we are going through another 1930's where people are slowly being indoctrinated into secularism and hatred for different people in society (they get blamed for all societies ills), if you read George Orwell "Animal Farm" you will see how this happens.

    George Orwell is really interesting to read as 1984 is the inevitable consequence.

    I remember being told in the 1970's by an old man I knew who lived through both World Wars that the most important thing we learnt was "Tolerance" over the last 40 years I've seen this being eroded by the state.

    It is so sad that the lessons my grandparents and parents (all dead now) learned through the bitter experience living through many horrors and man's inhumanity to man is being so easily forgotten and being dressed up as equality, whereas it is actually not that at all :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: history will teach us...

      > What we have to watch in society is we are going through another 1930's where people are slowly being indoctrinated into secularism and hatred for different people in society (they get blamed for all societies ills), if you read George Orwell "Animal Farm" you will see how this happens.

      Again, where are you getting this "hatred" from?

      Us atheists really don't care one way or another what theists believe. What we do care about is it impacting our lives directly, that is what gets us irate.

      The scouts, as they currently stand, have *nothing whatsoever* to do with religion. It is not a religious organisation, they do not perform religious acts. God, Allah, whatever just isn't really involved at all.

      You are so used to having a token involvement in all things English, you see it as a slight that the rest of us don't want to have anything to do with it.

      Honestly, we don't really care about your religion. I don't even care if you wear a big cross or a funny hat to indicate your faith. It doesn't interest me. So don't require me to swear any kind of allegiance to any deity.

      I don't believe in them.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    Valuable experience

    These poor kids are going to miss out on an important early experience of lying. I was a Sixer and we used to cross our fingers when we took the oath, marvelling at at how bright we were for hoodwinking the Arkela.

    Growing up it has proved to be useful skill, why just this morning I told my boss what a great idea he had.

    And while I think of it I must say that the register commentards are an especially clever, insightful and thoughtful bunch of folk.

  23. Connor

    Why Bother?

    I was in the Scouts many, many years ago and despite not being a believer in God I took the oath, after all what did it matter? I think atheists these days have found another pseudo-religion, despising religion in all its forms with an almost fanatical hate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why Bother?

      Quite. If you don't believe in God, then it's an empty promise in the first place, so not really an issue.

      Sixer in the Seventies. Unbeliever then and now. Never bothered me.

      1. Sordid Details

        Re: Why Bother?

        This is the point a lot of people miss. Scouts are not making the promise TO God or TO the Queen. They are making the promise to themselves and to their fellow Scouts.

        If you don't believe in God then duty to God means nothing to you, so you can hardly be at risk of breaking your promise. Duty to the Queen is a little trickier since we are citizens of this country and bound to her by its laws and the currency in our pockets, but the subtleties of that will be lost on most 8-year olds. They don't give a shit, they just want to have fun with their friends. Quite right too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why Bother?

          > If you don't believe in God then duty to God means nothing to you, so you can hardly be at risk of breaking your promise.

          I believe one of the key tenets of scouthood and guidehood is that you always tell the truth.

          Telling a lie in your oath is not really a very good start, is it?

  24. poohbear

    What about the elephant?

    So many people debating atheism, no one sees the elephant: what is the Queen still doing in the oath? What duty does anyone think they have to her?

    1. grammarpolice

      Re: What about the elephant?

      The Queen is just a symbol representing the country; it's exactly the same situation when you take a commission in the military.

      It's a bit like putting your hand on your heart when you say "I solemnly swear..." - nobody is actually claiming that the heart is actually the centre of honesty and probity in the body, it's just a representative symbol of such.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the elephant?

      The Queen is just a representation of all Queens. Such as the one most probably leading your scout troup.

    3. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: What about the elephant?

      In Aus in the early 70's I was given the choice of Queen/ no Queen versions of the oath. (Primarily to accomodate people with grandparents who where Irish). I noticed that particularly, because technically I lost citizenship of my country of origin when I swore duty to the Queen of Aus.

    4. cortland

      Re: What about the elephant?

      Nothing -- outside the UK.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Polytheistic?

    There's a typo: "Hindus (who can be a little polytheistic)". Should read: "Hindus and Christians who believe in the Holy Trinity (who can be a little polytheistic)".

    1. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: Polytheistic?

      Grow up. If you want to ask questions about religous beliefs, ask a preacher. I you want to tell/correct people what they believe, go somewhere else.

  27. Gavin McMenemy

    I wonder when they'll finally get rid of the feudal element of the oath too.

  28. Lamont Cranston

    Positive story (inclusiveness),

    same old shitty comments. Although I'm quite impressed that both atheists and Christians have been compared to Hitler quite so swiftly.

  29. tony2heads
    Childcatcher

    Scouting

    As an old friend said - never trust that paramilitary organization

    Icon - scoutmasters

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone is focused on reiligion & missing the really cool bit

    Which is that their FAQ manages to get in a serious, straight-faced reference to Satanists.

    Respect. And A/C because I work for an organisation that's so frightened of its own shadow there'd be no way we'd ever get away with mentioning Satanists on our website.

  31. Ramon Zarat

    F*ck god, f*ck all religions and f*ck irrational faith.

    Those are poison of the mind, critical thinking killer, enemy of reason and cancer of empirical knowledge. No proof, no credibility, no discussion, end of story. This is the 21st century for f*ck sake, time to take the trash out once and for all.

    And all of you brain damaged Neanderthals with your mythical belief from the Neolithic, just go back to your dark ages cave to pray your imaginary friend. Drown to death in your delusional conjectures, pure speculations and unsubstantiated opinions that defy logic and reality itself.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      pure speculations and unsubstantiated opinions that defy logic and reality itself.

      Are you talking about string theory again? :-)

    2. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      Wow, the quality of debate really is improving around here. If we really all were just chemicals and water I doubt you'd care that much.

  32. Splatcat

    Personally I'm not too happy with the scouts doing this. Asking their members to shove themselves into a little predefined box with all the associated peer pressure, mickey taking etc... prefer the Girl Guide approach.

  33. Martin Budden
    Trollface

    Jedi?

    What is the oath for those who identify as Jedi?

  34. MrDamage

    What about us Pastafarians?

    Are we allowed to swear by His Noodly Appendage?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about us Pastafarians?

      HOUSE!

      ... sorry for shouting. I was playing ElReg Comments religion bingo and yours was the final predictable comment on my card.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Halfway there

    The Queen's still a deal breaker.

  36. HFoster

    What about republicans

    Scouts still swear allegiance to the Crown. That's problematic to me.

    I don't see the Crown and the nation as one. You can serve your nation without serving the Crown, and vice-versa.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about republicans

      "You can serve your nation without serving the Crown, and vice-versa."

      As the queen is head of state, you can't. Despite the fact that in reality she controls nothing, she is still the figure head.

  37. Mostor Astrakan

    Look...

    Can we please stop doing religious discussions among the uneducated? Little baby sheep and calves are sleeping on the cold hard concrete because all the straw has been shipped out to make straw men!

    In the interest of at least getting your terms right:

    THEISM: "I Believe There Is Some Kind Of God" (Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Vikings etc.)

    ATHEISM: "I Do Not Believe There Is A God" (Note: absence of BELIEF, not absence of GOD).

    ANTITHEISM: "I Believe That There Is No God."

    AGNOSTICISM: "The Evidence Does Not Support A Firm Statement On The Existence Of A God"

    APATHEISM: "I Don't Know If There Is A God And I Can't Be Arsed To Find Out"

    ATHIEST: "I Resemble Most The Creature Known As Ath" (No bearing on anything divine, present or absent).

  38. cortland

    However, technically...

    Atheists aren't heathens, at least according to http://voices.yahoo.com/what-heathen-7305350.html.

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