Boy Scouts' Inspiration May Accommodate Atheists
The United Kingdom's Scout Association, which inspired the Boy Scouts of America, has announced that it will consider welcoming atheists into membership, drafting a new pledge for boys and girls who do not wish to reference God when they become members.
The Scout Association is now considering whether or not to offer an alternative membership pledge for atheists and non-believers, just as it offers pledges tailored for Muslim and Hindu members. The organization would not do away with its existing pledge, and still would offer non-believing students only "associate" membership.
"This isn't a cosmetic exercise; it's a real consultation, without foregone conclusions," said CEO Derek Twine. "It would take the best part of a year to implement, if that's what members want."
The Scout Association was founded in the early 20th century by Lord Baden-Powell, who originally required all members to take the Scout Promise: "On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law."
Yet, following reports that an 11-year-old atheist schoolboy felt he had been "banned" from the Scouts for refusing to take the oath, the Scouts announced that the organization would consult whether or not to revise the existing pledge for non-believers.