Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Need to Believe

I'm pondering over the story of the young man who's been rejected for the Scouts because he doesn't believe in God.

It's a real irony, isn't it? If the definition of Church membership is baptism, you can be a member of the Church without believing in God - without, indeed, believing in anything at all. Somebody else can make your promises when you're little and that's it - you're in. But the Scouts - which I'm pretty sure isn't a kind of inner sanctum, like the Jesuits or the Knights Templar - that's another matter.

I can't help thinking the Scouts, as a kind of Church-lite organisation, are missing a trick here. The young man concerned seems just the kind of intelligent, earnest chap the Scouts should be looking out for - indeed, scouting for. And once inside, by the provision of suitable religious-based activities and occasional Church parades, there's a possibility his position might change.

Part of me wants to suggest that Scouts should be allowed to make just the parts of the Promise they agree with, and skip the rest. But on reflection, maybe there would be unforeseen circumstances. Sure, some republican, atheist Scouts would just say "I promise I will do my best." But in other walks of life, if the same principle were adopted, the Nicene Creed might become a Three Minutes' Silence in some Anglican churches. And the song "Trust and Obey", if we only sang what we agreed with, would be just those three words.

Maybe best left as it is.

(Thanks to @robinsons on The Twitter for the tip-off).


  1. Elitist organisations perpetuated by the indoctrination of young people, it'll never catch on..

  2. The boy was not rejected for not believing in God but for being honest about it.
    Does anyone really think that the hundred thousands of scouts and guides all have a burning Christian faith? Or even that most of their guiders/scout leaders do?

    It would be so much better if we could be glad that they want to join and then show them what Christian faith is about simply by living it ourselves.

  3. I never became a scout for exactly that reason 37 years ago. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it never made the newspapers.

  4. There was a time I got all worked up over private organizations making their own rules about who could belong. I don't think it was Boy Scouts and religion back then, but I do remember being rightously indignant with a relative who disagreed with me.

    Now, I can't say I get really worked up about the issue. If the Scouts want to only admit Christians, so be it. It's not my decision. Never was, actually, and although I was a Girl Guide sometimes back in the Dark Ages, I don't recall religion being much of an issue, except of course the Protestant Guides and the Catholic Guides were in different packs or troops or whatever they were called.


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