Blog | Interfaith Week
This week is Inter Faith Week, which aims to strengthen and build relationships between people of different faiths and beliefs. Of course, this happens year-round, but the aim of this week is to bring the idea to the forefront of people’s minds.
To mark the week, Jenny, an Inclusion Adviser, and Damian, a Specialist Adviser for Inclusion and Diversity and Explorer Scout Leader, discuss alternative versions of the Promise.
The Scout Association has had multiple versions of the Promise for many years, enabling young people and adults to make a Promise appropriate to them, using wording which is meaningful. We believe this approach is inclusive. Celebrating and understanding difference, including difference in faiths and beliefs, is an important aspect of the educational and development side of Scouting.
On making your Promise, and becoming a member of Scouting, individuals make a commitment to live by the values of Scouting - integrity, respect, care, belief and cooperation. As Scouts, we all share this set of values and promise to live by them. Incorporating integrity and respect in what we say, the things we do and the way we act demonstrating care in your support and encouragement of the young people in your Section and supporting those young people to learn about cooperation via activities, are all everyday parts of Scouting. However, in an increasingly inter-faith, inter-cultural and globalised society, ‘belief’ may appear more challenging, more sensitive, or more confusing to explore.
The core value of belief, helps Scouts to learn from different faiths and to continue on their personal journey of spiritual development.. All Scouts are open and willing to explore faiths whether established or defined or not. Learning about faiths, beliefs and attitudes can help to make the world a more tolerant and less frightening place. In the current global political climate, mutual understanding and tolerance become even more important.
There are many ways to incorporate spiritual development into your Programme. During Inter Faith Week 2015, why not take some time to reflect on the various wordings of the Scout Promise and find out more about the faiths and beliefs of the groups that each Promise is meaningful for. This is also a great way to kick start the World Faiths Badge for Cubs and the World Faiths Badge for Scouts. Some activity ideas are listed under the different versions of the Promise below.
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to my Dharma and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.
- Explore Ratha Yatra, the chariot festival and challenge your Sections to an inter-patrol chariot race – here’s some ideas.
- Explore Holi, the spring festival of colours and get the Section moving having your very own Holi colour fight.
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficial and the Most Merciful, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.
For Humanists, Atheists and those with no defined faith
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to uphold our Scout values, to do my duty to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.
- Explore the Values of Scouting and use the activities within Rise to the Challenge into the Programme.
For Christians, Jews and Sikhs
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.
- Explore the Jewish festival of Tu b’Shevat, the new year of trees, and host an exotic fruit tasting night- try olives, figs, and pomegranate.
- Explore the Christian festival of Easter, get out of the meeting place, find a hill and have an egg rolling race.
Explore the Sikh festival which marks Guru Nanaks’ birthday. Traditionally, a meal is served in the Sikh Gurdwara, so give making campfire chapattis a go and share what you have made with others.
Promises...We all made one when we joined, and however old you were when you made it, hopefully you feel, like I do, that the Promise you made was important to you and that you want to keep it.
Sometimes those of us who've been around a little longer forget that we have many variations of The Scout Promise, and sometimes in a rush we tend to push our new members towards using the ‘traditional’ Promise that we've grown up with, especially as it's so much easier to do repeat-after-me with a Promise already committed to memory.
I started to consider this in more detail recently, as over the summer I had a conversation with a new Leader, who was thoroughly enjoying his time with his new Group, but felt upset that he'd felt he had to make a Promise that he was uncomfortable with as he didn't want to ruffle feathers at his new Group.
Obviously we all, as existing members, know that even in sponsored groups the choice of Promise is up to the individual, but without us remembering to tell new members, how are they to know?
Reviewing my own failings in this space, I recently made another promise to my colleagues within the Inclusion Team.
I promised that when I was investing young people and adults I would make sure that I offered and explained to them all variations of our Promise.
In practice this has meant no extra effort when discussing the Promise, other than showing the young people the different variations, explaining why they are different and letting them choose the one that they wanted to use.
Making our Scout Promise is an important part of belonging to the Movement.Encouraging new members to make a Promise that is meaningful to them as an individual makes them feel part of us as a full member rather than an outsider.
So I'd like to ask you all to make that same promise:
To offer all variations of our Promise to new members as equally valid options and encourage them to choose and take ownership of the Promise that feels right for them.
More information about the Scout Promise is available here.