The following is the text of an appeal made by one of our elders during the morning service on Sunday 9 December:
Many of you will have a personal connection with Scouting, either through past membership yourself, or through a friend or family member. It is, I believe, an important and valuable organisation which does great work.
You probably know that every boy or girl joining Cubs or Scouts makes the Scout Promise – and that it includes a reference to God. (“On my honour, I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen”). For many years, it has been possible for Muslim and Hindu joiners to replace ‘God’ with their own deity, and the Cub Pack which I run in north London – to take but one example – is a harmonious mixture of Protestants, Catholics, Hindus and Jews. A narrowly-based or sectarian organisation it certainly is not. But we do believe that a child’s upbringing should include a spiritual element.
Or perhaps we no longer do. As you may recently have heard, the Scout Association is considering amending the Promise so as to remove the reference to God. To be precise, the existing Promise would be left untouched – but a new, alternative version would be promulgated.
It’s my belief that it would not be long before the new version squeezed out the old. And I believe that that would be a retrograde step – another step towards the secularization and de-Christianization of our society.
If you agree with me, then I’d like to invite you to participate in the consultation exercise which the Scout Association is currently conducting on the issue. Perhaps oddly, it’s open to all, including those who are not members of the Scout Association. And as you might imagine, the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association are doing all they can to encourage their members to participate.
As we prepare to celebrate the great gift that came to us 2,012 years ago, the gift of a few minutes of your time in this regard is something I’d appreciate hugely.
If you would like to participate in the consultation exercise, a short survey is available on the Scouting website at http://q.scouts.org.uk/s/kU4sBQY9KRfrkPe