Much as I value and admire the fantastic opportunities Scouting offers to young people I wholeheartedly support the NSS criticism of Bear Grylls recent declaration that the Scouts “…allow people of all backgrounds to come together …”: when; in the teeth of all the evidence that most young people today are not religious, the Scouting movement continues to insist they will not be welcomed if they do not agree to include a duty to God in their obligatory ‘Promise’.
Many years ago now; we wrestled with the same issues when our daughter was looking to join the Girl Guides. During the conversations one exasperated leader exclaimed “she only has to say it – she doesn’t have to mean it”.
As the NSS point out in an open letter to Mr Grylls, young people either have to make a hypocritical or dishonest statement or risk being refused full membership of the Scouts. And when it comes to recruiting potential Scout leaders the Scouts compound their prejudices by categorically stating ‘The avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to appointment to a leadership position’ … a dubious distinction we non-religious now share with paedophiles.
Mr Grylls and the Scouting hierarchy are well aware that the Scouts applied for and were granted an exemption from equality legislation precisely to be able to continue this discrimination and accept only members with religious beliefs; or who are [at least] prepared to make a promise to a god – so public declarations of allowing “…people of all backgrounds to come together.” are; to say the least, disingenuous.