British Boy Scouts Welcome Atheists

british scoutsIn an enlightened approach:

The British scouting movement will soon welcome atheists who are reluctant to join the worldwide organization because they must take an oath to serve God.

Anyone paying attention here in the states?

Trustees from the Scouting Association — whose patron is Queen Elizabeth II — are preparing to meet next week to approve a new scouting oath for atheists — thus putting them on par with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.

While those with religious affiliations will continue to promise to do their duty to both God and the queen, the new “Atheist Promise” (as it’s being called here) will say something different — although the exact words have not yet been released.

This comes only a week after Girl Guides announced that they would give up their promise to “love my God.” Beginning in September, the 500,000 Brownies and Guides will instead promise to be “true to myself and develop my beliefs.”

I’m feeling a little gobsmacked. After so much news about how religious we are (whoever we is) I get surprised when I hear the opposite even if it is in another country.

“We do not plan to change the core promise but to offer an option for those who are without faith but who wish to be part of the Scout Movement and are keen to support the movement’s values and developmental work with young people who are drawn from the widest range of cultures, belief systems and communities,” said Chris Foster, media relations officer for the Scouting Association in London.

My grandfather had written communication with Lord Bayden-Powell who developed the Boy Scouts from a military training manual along with influence from Earnest Thomson Seten who added much to the scouts by incorporating American Indian culture and crafts. I was raised on these books in his library  and back then it had absolutely nothing to do with religion, race, or sexuality. The entire issue was contrived by American evangelicals. My grandfather did often talk bigotry but behaved with great generosity, a curious mix, prevalent at the time. You could dislike Jews and  Blacks while helping them–dislike didn’t mean abandonment. Grandfather offered free tuition to those (translate, minorities) who needed it, and while at dinner used derogatory slang would the next day revel in providing inspiring stories and helping them more. Perhaps, it was because he believed in the power of education and community.

Some have contended Powell was a closet homosexual, or platonic gay. Evangelicals would die if they really knew Powell.

Tim Jeal, who wrote the biography Baden-Powell, argued that Baden-Powell’s distrust of communism led to his implicit support, through naïveté, of fascism. In 1939 Baden-Powell noted in his diary: “Lay up all day. Read Mein Kampf. A wonderful book, with good ideas on education, health, propaganda, organisation etc. – and ideals which Hitler does not practise himself.”[7]:550 Baden-Powell admired Benito Mussolini early in the Italian fascist leader’s career.

With the rampant purity of thought movement going on, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a liberal or conservative you’re supposed to speak and side appropriately and consistently. I hope this ideology works as I fear it’s more like balkanizing discussions. It used to be we respected complicated people. Now, we insist on pure forms, and beat up their morality for any transgression.

Jim Newman, bright and well

About Jim Newman

Jim Newman is a philosopher. When I was young I wondered what was the ultimate truth. How should I behave? What makes it all work? I was intensely curious to know what it all means. It was enlightening to realize there is no ultimate truth, but nevertheless sufficient and necessary turth, and that meaning was a meta analysis of living one’s life. In this sense my work has been living large. Living and experiencing life has made me learn many things. Building boats, motors, houses, electronics. Raising animals. Teaching. Writing. Photography. Drawing. Knitting. Sewing. Cooking. Music. Painting. Hiking. Aboriginal living skills. All material aspects of reality that seem irrelevant until you realize they allow you to experience more. My epiphany came when I read Christopher Hitchen’s “Letters to a Young Contrarian” and I felt vindicated in my many meals of sacred cow.
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One Response to British Boy Scouts Welcome Atheists

  1. tracieh says:

    >thus putting [atheists] on par with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus…

    Wow. I’m on par with other human beings now. Makes me feel like I actually count as a person or something now?

    Seriously–about time. And good on them for wrapping their brains around the idea that an atheist can be a decent person, with whom it’s OK to associate.

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