Religion and Spirituality

The Atheist Promise | Modernising Scouts

Scouting is a huge global movement, offering adventure and experiences for people age 6 to 25 years old. Over 450,000 people are part of the movement in the UK and it’s the United Kingdom’s largest mixed youth organisation. Find out more here.


About three weeks after you join one of the sections, you are invested into the group. This includes making the scout promise.


When joining Scouts, (the section for 10 to 14-year-olds) you used to have to make this 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.


But about a year ago in an attempt to become more inclusive and modern, the scouting association created an atheist promise, which should be offered as an alternative to the original Christian promise:


On my honour I promise that I will do my best— To uphold our Scout values, to do my duty to the Queen To help other people and to keep the Scout Law.


It’s great that they brought in an atheist promise! A few years before this promise, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh promises were also introduced.


However, some children are not getting the choice of alternatives, mainly because of leaders not thinking to give the option of a non-religious (or non-Christian) promise, due to Christian privilege in the UK and in the scouting movement.


Both of these are wider problems that I have written about before and I am planning to write more about in the future.


Also, some children are having their promises picked for them by their parents, who are deciding what promises their children are making based on their own religious beliefs and not the beliefs of the child.


It is important to raise awareness about these alternative promises. If you have children in Scouting, make sure they’re making the promise that they believe in! I went through Cub Scouts (age 8 – 10) making a religious promise that I didn’t believe in.


If you know leaders of Scout groups or if you are a Scout leader yourself. Please make sure that young members know there is a range of alternative promises available to them, that correspond with their religious beliefs.


It’s great that the Scouting movement is trying to become more modern and have made alternative promises, however, there is no point in them being there if children don’t know they exist.



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Alex Horsewell

Alex Horsewell

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