View Poll Results: Should Athiests Be Allowed to Be Leaders?

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  • Yes

    43 66.15%
  • No

    19 29.23%
  • Don't Know

    3 4.62%
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Thread: Should Athiests Be Allowed to Be Leaders?

  1. #61
    Senior Member Airobat's Avatar
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    I've always struggled with religion and Scouting and how/what to put across.
    Not long ago Richard posted a link to a Scottish Scout Council publication called God Are You In There. I've lost the link due to a bit of a computer crash but I found it very helpful because it expressed faith in Scouting terms.

  2. #62
    Account Closed weefatbob's Avatar
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    This is also a very good resource

    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/ps/fab/r...lues-watag.pdf
    which underlines the important of faith in Scouting.


    Bob

  3. #63
    Senior Member Biscit's Avatar
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    SAGGA did a "Duty to God" book, which was all about running Scouts owns and keeping them broad and unspecific. They got a bit stuck in publishing it.

  4. #64
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    This debate and poll was started after a report in the Telegraph that the British Humanist Association and National Secular Society had reported the Scout Association to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

    The BHS and NSS reported the SA after it submitted a 9 page document and had subsequent discussions with us about overcoming the discrimination based on religion or belief in our 'equal opportunities policy'.

    The BHS have published their proposal, which was not reported in full in the Telegraph's article, or discussed on either of the threads thus far. In the interest of fairness, here is the proposal from the BHS and NSS: http://www.humanism.org.uk/uploadedF...20-%202007.pdf

    The BHS and NSS also sent a letter to Derek Twine on the 29th January, which it has also published: http://www.humanism.org.uk/uploadedF...02008%2001.pdf

    If the BHS and NSS are to be believed, it is with great sadness that I read the following paragraph in their letter:

    We very much regret your refusal to accept our offer to seek to establish with some kind of poll or questionnaire whether Scouts want their organisation to continue to discriminate against their non-religious comrades. Frankly, we doubt that if asked in a neutral way Scouts would want to do so, and suspect your unwillingness to put it to the test suggests you may feel similarly. Most voluntary organisations are democratic and commendably keen to be responsive to their members’ evolving attitudes. Should you wish to return to test this matter, we would be happy to co-operate with an independently monitored survey.
    Whilst the Escouts poll may not be representative of the Scouting Leadership community, its poll, with an almost 2:1 majority so far, does seem to support the BHS and NSS view. I personally hope that the 'moral guardians' at Gilwell will view this poll, and rather than be discouraged, are encouraged to ask us in a well publisised neutral poll what our views actually are. I find it rather insulting to think that we can't be trusted to be at the very least be consulted.

  5. #65
    Member Doc Dish's Avatar
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    I hope I'm not putting a foot in the lion's den, but here goes...

    I started helping at my local Beavers Colony when my eldest son joined a couple of years ago (he's now in the Cubs) and my youngest is now in 'my' Colony. I started off by waiting around in the Kitchen, cleaning up, making drinks, etc. and gradually got more and more involved. I now help at sleepovers, and have run a couple of evenings activities (which scared me more than anything I have done in a long time!)

    When I enquired with the GSL about becoming a Leader, I was up front about my atheism. He told me that this prevented me from being a Leader, but he was 'fairly sure' that there were plenty of Leaders who just put C of E on the form and say no more (akin to the US Army's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy?). I told him that I was unable to do so, as I would regard that as lying to the Beavers which, to my mind, defeated the whole object!

    We've recently had a change at the (District) top and I had a conversation that went along the lines of "any belief" being sufficient to satisfy the requirement - I'm guessing that the person I was speaking to was more interested in getting motivated helpers than ticking all the boxes, however the GSL put his foot down (rightly in my mind) and said that was not enough.

    I have had the offer of being a Colony Assistant, where the rules aren't so strict, apparently.

    The point of this long ramble is that I would dearly love to be a full Leader, but I'm not willing to compromise my principles to do so. I realise that the SA doesn't want to compromise its principles to let me, and I recognise that too.

    Perhaps, one day, I can get my World Badge (again; I was a Cub once) but, until then, I'll keep doing my bit.

    Doc.

  6. #66
    Senior Member wolfie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Dish View Post
    I hope I'm not putting a foot in the lion's den, but here goes...

    I started helping at my local Beavers Colony when my eldest son joined a couple of years ago (he's now in the Cubs) and my youngest is now in 'my' Colony. I started off by waiting around in the Kitchen, cleaning up, making drinks, etc. and gradually got more and more involved. I now help at sleepovers, and have run a couple of evenings activities (which scared me more than anything I have done in a long time!)

    When I enquired with the GSL about becoming a Leader, I was up front about my atheism. He told me that this prevented me from being a Leader, but he was 'fairly sure' that there were plenty of Leaders who just put C of E on the form and say no more (akin to the US Army's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy?). I told him that I was unable to do so, as I would regard that as lying to the Beavers which, to my mind, defeated the whole object!

    We've recently had a change at the (District) top and I had a conversation that went along the lines of "any belief" being sufficient to satisfy the requirement - I'm guessing that the person I was speaking to was more interested in getting motivated helpers than ticking all the boxes, however the GSL put his foot down (rightly in my mind) and said that was not enough.

    I have had the offer of being a Colony Assistant, where the rules aren't so strict, apparently.

    The point of this long ramble is that I would dearly love to be a full Leader, but I'm not willing to compromise my principles to do so. I realise that the SA doesn't want to compromise its principles to let me, and I recognise that too.

    Perhaps, one day, I can get my World Badge (again; I was a Cub once) but, until then, I'll keep doing my bit.

    Doc.
    You're not putting your foot in it at all - just re-enforcing what many of us know already happens elsewhere, and the "interesting" interpretations that take place.

    I personally find it fascinating that Members of the SA can make such suggestions (and come on folks, we have all probably heard a similar version of "just put X in the box"...) but find the fact they are suggesting people lie in this way is an ok moral principle (and please note that's a general commnet and not aimed at any individual who find themselves having to suggest such a thing to helps ecure warranted leaders)

    I have great admiration for those like yourself who won't "lie" just to tick a box (not just that "box"), and deliver a great balanced programme to local youngsters who would potentially miss out otherwise - and religion doesn't even come into it

    Keep up the good work - and know that you are not alone (although in my case the problem is with the Q word )

    The good news is there is nothing stopping you doing all the training in the meantime... (in the last year I have managed to validate 17 modules and will have the last 2 done by the summer)

    Like many others I can see both sides of the debate has their merits but at the end of the day Scouting was always designed by it's founder to be a movement. If he was living in today's society and starting Scouting now do we not think he would have been a great enough man to have found a way to resolve this one?
    Louise

    GSL 1st Fenstanton & Hilton Scout Group www.scubes.co.uk


    TA - Cromwell District (Cambridgeshire)

    Media Manager - Cubjam2016

    We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
    -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

  7. #67
    Man in a daft hat Hatman's Avatar
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    I recall from my GSL days a person who had helped with the Scouts for many years and who would make an excellent leader. However, he would not make the promise because he had no religious faith. I respected his honesty which is a great thing.
    A relative of mine is a member of a religion which does not allow its members to swear oaths. For this reason she does not allow her son to join the Scouts.
    Speaking personally, I have always regarded the Scouts as a religious organisation and the promise is central to Scouting. Scouting is a wonderful thing, but it not for everyone.

    Nigel
    ABSL 1st Hoveton and Wroxham Sea Scouts
    www.hovetonandwroxhamscouts.org.uk

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatman View Post
    A relative of mine is a member of a religion which does not allow its members to swear oaths. For this reason she does not allow her son to join the Scouts.

    Nigel
    There are alternative versions of the Promise for this sort of situation. Quakers, for example, don't swear oaths, and many Muslims would not either. Buddhists (members of a religion with no god) don't promise to do their duty to god.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatman View Post
    Speaking personally, I have always regarded the Scouts as a religious organisation and the promise is central to Scouting. Scouting is a wonderful thing, but it not for everyone.

    Nigel
    For me, one of the greatest things about Scouting is that it is for everyone - what other organization or movement can bring people of all countries, all races, all backgrounds together to work and play and learn?

  10. #70
    Senior Member Mang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking View Post

    ...its poll, with an almost 2:1 majority so far, does seem to support the BHS and NSS view.
    Yes, I've noted the voting difference with interest too. I've also wondered what possible statement the two organisations mentioned would put out if they decided to look for any threads on this subject and found this.

    Also, what if the UK Scout Association did action this and changed to a more secular (or whatever word you want) promise. If the new badge launch got us a fair bit of media coverage then this certainly would. And what of the worldwide implications, would it set a snowball effect off through all but the most religious of countries?
    The Outdoor Traditionalist (a largely bushcraft blog). Have a look at this how to page for things to try.
    http://austinlill.blogspot.co.uk/

  11. #71
    SL 1st High Lane Scouts JeanieJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Lill View Post
    Yes, I've noted the voting difference with interest too. I've also wondered what possible statement the two organisations mentioned would put out if they decided to look for any threads on this subject and found this.
    Austin, you've got a very good point here. You only have to google 'scout leaders & atheists' to lead you straight to this thread - which is why IMHO, Richard is absolutely right to moderate this thread as he has done. The issue of free speech amongst us 'chattering classes' of Scouters is far less important than any negative spin the press might put on any unregulated content.

  12. #72
    is it senior or very old TRH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeanieJ View Post
    Austin, you've got a very good point here. You only have to google 'scout leaders & atheists' to lead you straight to this thread - which is why IMHO, Richard is absolutely right to moderate this thread as he has done. The issue of free speech amongst us 'chattering classes' of Scouters is far less important than any negative spin the press might put on any unregulated content.
    Or they might just find out how the ordinary foot soldiers feel about the issue and why a sound person like Doc Dish cannot take out a warrant.

  13. #73
    Escouts Founder Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeanieJ View Post
    Austin, you've got a very good point here. You only have to google 'scout leaders & atheists' to lead you straight to this thread - which is why IMHO, Richard is absolutely right to moderate this thread as he has done. The issue of free speech amongst us 'chattering classes' of Scouters is far less important than any negative spin the press might put on any unregulated content.
    Richard moderated the thread as it essentially broke the rules and was deeply offensive, when you get on to indivual religions thats what happens.

    If some journalist takes comments from this board, they are lazy and it is copyrighted material. They should contact the Scout Association and get a comment.

    This thread proves that we do open debate, but Escouts has to draw a line somewhere and that is why the previous thread was removed. As I said earlier on, we are responsible for the content on this board.

    The members views are more important than what a journalist might copy and paste from this board.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Lill View Post
    Yes, I've noted the voting difference with interest too. I've also wondered what possible statement the two organisations mentioned would put out if they decided to look for any threads on this subject and found this.

    Also, what if the UK Scout Association did action this and changed to a more secular (or whatever word you want) promise. If the new badge launch got us a fair bit of media coverage then this certainly would. And what of the worldwide implications, would it set a snowball effect off through all but the most religious of countries?
    Austin, I hope they do read this thread because hopefully it will encourage them to continue with their campaign, which after reading their stuff is only about making us honest and more upfront or open to all - something which I think we can all agree with. I think the press that they got in the Telegraph was really negative, which put their actions across as an attack on Scouting. I look back at that article now and I am horrified by some of the comments made by their readers in so called 'support of us'. No matter what our view point is on atheists, I hope we can all join together in condemning their comments.

    I also hope Austin, that they read your question to the Chief, which can be read here, but I will quote his reply here, for ease of reading:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Duncan
    Austin,

    I read the thread and the emphasis seems to be that in practice scouting is much more flexible than the rules seem to allow. Of the million or so Scouts and Guides in the UK I should think they fairly represent a cross section of society from the devout to the indifferent. Personally I think we should be inclusive of all belief systems. We should not be shy to openly debate this subject with our young people as the world is changing rapidly and whether we are here by design or otherwise all views are relevant.

    rgds,

    Peter
    __________________
    Peter Duncan
    Chief Scout
    The Scout Association

  15. #75
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    PS Happy Darwin Day!

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