Scout promise overhall for athiests and republicans


REFERENCES to God and the Queen could be removed from the Scout Promise, the organisation’s Scottish leader has revealed.

Graham Haddock, who is the Scout’s chief commissioner in Scotland, said the group was taking a “hard look” at the oath in order to make them more inclusive.

Atheists and republicans could be given their own version of the pledge, which currently urges members to “do [their] duty to God and to the Queen”.

Robert Baden-Powell started the scouts in 1907

Mr Haddock, who works as a paediatrician at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, admitted that a “significant minority” felt the movement was not inclusive enough.

He said: “As an organisation, we could do better at being inclusive.

“It is important that we have the maturity and courage to look at these things.

“If the conclusion is to maintain the status quo then we have at least reflected on the debate. If we maintain God and the Queen bits of the promise, that will upset some people, and if we decide to remove them from the promise, which would clearly be a fundamental step, then we’ll upset a whole pile of other people. It’s not exactly a win-win situation but never the less we do have a responsibility to reflect.

“If 90% of members say we should extend the option of an alternative promise that expresses statehood in a different way, then fine, but we have to bear in mind that the Queen is our patron.”

Mr Haddock also revealed that Tricia Marwick, the MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes, had raised the issue of the promise with him following a complaint from a constituent.

But Scout bosses in London insisted there was “no plans” to change the oath, which is taken by the organisations 525,000 members, and would not say wheter it was under review.

But Mr Haddock said the pledge was being looked at on a national level, and a result was expected next summer.

He said: “We are currently in the throes of a review. The first stage is complete, and the issue for next summer is pretty much the oath, what we call the promise. It’s being considered at the current time.”

Currently all members swear “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.”

However foreign nationals are allowed to swear allegiance to “the county in which I am now living” and non-Christians can change “God” to be appropriate for their religion.

The revelation will raise hopes of a more adaptable oath, with an opt-out for those who disagree with monarchism or who have no religious feeling.

Last week the National Secular Society wrote to the UK’s chief Scout, adventurer Bear Grylls, to ask him to back a more inclusive version of the oath.

They said many children form atheist families are discriminated against.

The Scout movement started in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell and had more than 41,000 members in Scotland and a worldwide membership of 31 million.

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  1. Moan, moan, moan… if you don’t like it then get off your backside and create another scout association that reflects your values. Some countries have several scout associations, each reflecting their beliefs. Even in the UK we have the Scout Assoc, the B-P Scout Assoc and the British Boy Scouts.

    • What a wonderful example you must set, James…”Don’t question or challenge outdated, narrow-minded bigotry – just slink of and live in a ghetto”. Let me tell you that this atheist Scout leader is staying in and will continue to fight for change from within. Get used to it.

  2. James, but the scouts claim to be an inclusive organisation when they blatantly aren’t. They should either be honest that they are an exclusive organisation, or become inclusive. In countries such as Holland and France they allow a secular oath, but not in the UK. What possible justification can there be for that?

  3. About time too – lets hope this is a step in the right direction to ensure the scouting movement continues to help lead our young people to an embracing, cohesive and tolerant world view.

  4. The Scout Association has made it perfectly clear that they “absolutely no plans to make changes to our Scout Promise”.

    Not sure why the Chief Commissioner for Scotland seems to be taking an opposite view to the Chief Commissioner for the United Kingdom.

    You can read the statement from The Scout Association at:

  5. There is no such thing as the Scout Oath it is a Promise not an oath and there is an important difference between the two things as the first is an oath to God or similar and the latter is a promise which Scouts make ‘on their honour’ not to a God or similar.

  6. I am an Explorer in Scotland and i have a few opinions in the matter:
    1. surely atheists should have no problem with making a promise to a being they believe does not exist and therefore it would be a false promise and wouldn’t count.(if god doesn’t exit then why be worried about saying a promise to him or her)
    2. i see it very childish that a some atheist zealots can stop their children from joining this great organisation because to get in you have to promise to a religion and the queen, and seeing at though the scout country of origin Britain is a christian, mainly protestant, country and our head or state(and the scout patron)is her majesty the queen the i just don’t see how it is an issue.
    3. its been for for the past 105 year so why should it change? people should keep their noses out of other peoples business

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