Throughout the 105-year history of the organisation, scouts have pledge their allegience to God and to the monarch of the day. It’s a promise that recalls a more innocent time when ‘scouting for boys’ wasn't the ambiguous activity that it is today. But times change, and children of other faiths - or with no faith at all - are to be welcomed into the new-look scouting movement, now being re-branded as the paramilitary wing of the Woodcraft Folk.
Derek Hubbins, Publicity Officer of the Scout Association, said that diversity was the watchword in 2012. “We’ve already integrated most Christian faiths: Baptists, Anabaptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Lutherans, Unitarians and Pentecostals and members of some of the less ludicrous Evangelical groups as well, as long as they leave their tambourines at home. We’ve even introduced a new badge - “knocking on doors and annoying people” - specifically for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“We’re reaching out the hand of friendship to Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews, and feel confident that everyone will play nicely together. We’ve made tentative arrangements to bring the Satanists on board, by stressing the health benefits for those who exorcise regularly. There are limits to religious tolerance, though, and we’ve drawn the line at handling snakes and speaking in tongues. Handling snakes became an animal welfare issue, when scouts started tying them in knots. The people who speak in tongues seemed upset about being excluded from scouts, but, frankly, we don’t know what they’re talking about. And we've heard nothing from the Trappists at all.
“We’re happy to accept atheists as scouts. Within the movement we have a way of describing what happens when kids abandon silly superstitions and irrational beliefs. We call it ‘growing up’.
“To meet all these various needs, we’ve drawn up different versions of the Scout’s promise, from “God save the Queen” to “Death to the infidel”. And we’ll be expanding our range of scouting activities to take account of religious and cultural sensibilities. Next week, for example, the cubs will be drawing cartoons of Mohammed and the scouts will be debating the Muslims' fabled sense of humour”...