Thursday, October 10, 2013

British Scouts will still do 'their duty to God': Leaders decide recruits will make religious promise unless they ask for atheist version

The Scout movement is to preserve the historic promise by its members that they will do their duty to God, its leaders said yesterday.

They bowed to pressure from secular lobbyists and offered boys and girls from atheist families the chance to make a special non-religious pledge when they sign up as Scouts.

But new recruits will continue to make the religious promise unless they ask for the atheist version.

The decision opens a gulf between the Scouts and the Guides, who earlier this year dropped all references to God and religion from the promises girls are asked to make when they join.

It was welcomed by church leaders, who praised the Scouts for ‘affirming the importance of spiritual life.’

The Scout choice to keep God in its main membership pledge follows months of argument over whether the country’s two biggest youth movements should continue to honour religion as one of their central principles.

Guide leaders said in June that their organisation’s longstanding demand that girls who sign up should promise to ‘love my God’ was ‘confusing’ about belief and ‘discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining us.’  Instead new Guides now pledge ‘to be true to myself’ and ‘to serve my community’.

But Scout officials said yesterday that following a 10-month consultation ‘the core Scout Promise remains in place and scouting remains fully committed as a movement that explores faith and religion as a core element of its programme.’

The decision opens up a new element of competition for recruits between the two organisations.

Although the Guides remain an all-female group, Scouts have accepted girls as members since the 1970s and now have more than 77,000 girls among 537,000 members.

The Scout Promise, which dates from the foundation of the movement in 1907, requires that new members declare: ‘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.’

Different versions for the use of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have been available since 1960, although all have included a religious reference.

There are also versions for foreign members which allow them to pledge duty ‘to the country in which I am now living’ rather than to the Queen.

The new wording for atheists says: ‘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.’

Scout Chief Commissioner Wayne Bulpitt said yesterday: ‘Throughout its 106-year history the movement has continued to evolve and today marks an important step in that journey.

'It also signifies the determination to become truly inclusive and relevant to all sections of society that it serves.

‘We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and beliefs remains a key element of the Scouting Programme. That will not change.’

Churchmen from the main denominations welcomed the move.

The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Church of England Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said: ‘As the recent national census demonstrated, we remain a faithful nation where the majority of families find identity and meaning in religious belief.

‘In enabling people of all faiths and none to affirm their beliefs Scouting has demonstrated that it is both possible, and I would argue preferable, to affirm the importance of spiritual life and not to restrict meaning to arbitrary self-definition.’

Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society welcomed the decision but said: ‘We think the Guides’ response to this issue was infinitely superior. They introduced a secular oath for everyone.

'This approach relieves young people of having to make a decision about what they believe at a time in their lives when maybe they haven’t decided.’


Press regulation is only to "protect toffs", says Rupert Murdoch

Newspapers will be gagged “to protect toffs” if plans by the Press to regulate themselves are thrown out by politicians this week, Rupert Murdoch has said.

The media tycoon, who owns The Times, Sunday Times and Sun newspapers, also attacked the BBC for being a “taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian”.

The comments from Mr Murdoch are thought to be his first comments since Mr Murdoch was dragged in front of MPs at the height of the phone hacking scandal last year.

In an entry on Twitter, Mr Murdoch wrote: “BBC massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian. Meanwhile print media about to be gagged to protect toffs.”

That came shortly after another entry on his Twitter feed: “Huge lack of balance in UK media with 8000 BBC left wing journalists far outnumbering all national print journalists.”

The timing of Mr Murdoch’s remarks come a day before a group of politicians on the Privy Council is set to decide whether to accept a proposal for self-regulation by newspapers.

Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that the decision would not be affected by the row over the Daily Mail’s articles about Ed Miliband’s father Ralph.

He suggested the Council’s sub-committee looking at Press regulation had already made its decision.  He told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme: “I guess the judgement made by the sub-committee that has been looking at this press proposed charter will have come to their view before the latest row because they will have been looking at this over the summer.”


A threat to press freedom in Britain

Britain's  politicians are proposing to bring back statutory press control for the first time in more than 300 years. This is unacceptable

A free press is one that is free from government or political interference. Our politicians maintain that they are defenders of a free press in this country and yet they persist in wanting to impose legal constraints upon it. Ever since the Leveson report was published last November, the newspaper industry has endeavoured to draw up a new regulatory structure that would be both robust and independent.

Overseen by a Royal Charter, it would be the toughest form of self-regulation in the democratic world – and be paid for by the industry. It would provide the same safeguards and opportunities for redress that MPs want to see, with the added virtue of being completely free of political control. But this is not good enough for our politicians, who appear to take their lead from the pressure group Hacked Off.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, told the Commons yesterday that a committee of the Privy Council had rejected the newspaper industry’s petition for the granting of a Royal Charter “because it falls short of government policy on the self-regulation of the press, based on the Leveson report”.

The politicians have devised their own structures, also to be enshrined in Royal Charter, but one that they seek to impose upon the press.

This is the first time it has been proposed that an industry should be forced to sign up to a Royal Charter rather than voluntarily accede to one. Moreover, the cross-party charter – cobbled together without any discussion with the industry – would be underpinned by legislation, thereby giving it the very statutory basis that David Cameron rightly said would be “crossing the Rubicon”.

For all their protestations to the contrary, our politicians are proposing to bring back statutory press control for the first time in more than 300 years. This is unacceptable.


British police tell children it's a 'crime' to play in street

Police sent flyers to families in a Surrey town warning them it was a crime for children to play football and go on skateboards in the street.

The leaflet said police wanted to remind parents of their “legal and social responsibilities” about playing games in the road, and also warned: “Ignore the law and you may be liable to prosecution.”

Parents reacted angrily to the flyer, saying their children had benefitted from being able to play outside.

Posting on the About Thames Ditton facebook page, Colin Harrison wrote: "I have 3 children who have been playing in Southville Road ..... yep guilty as charged ....they have been playing on scooters and skateboards, making new friends and having fun and I can assure you their safety is paramount!

"I actually had to tell my kids this week that the police and certain residents of our community want you back indoors in front of tvs and computers."

Teresa Templeton also wrote: "And the next complaint will be about the children getting obese, and how lazy and rude they are.

 Playing together nurtures social skills, it encourages healthy living, the same people agreeing to keeping the kids off the streets will be the same people complaining that their tax money is being used to fund surgeries for the overweight adults they may become."

Inspector David Hollingworth apologised to all residents in Southville Road in Thames Ditton who received the leaflet from the Surrey force, the BBC reported.

Speaking about the leaflet, he said: "It correctly identified that playing games such as football on the highway may be unlawful in some circumstances; however this would not in any way be criminal behaviour.”  He added: “Please accept my apologies for the way in which the leaflet put this message across and for any offence it may have caused."

The leaflet referred to recent complaints about young people roller skating and skateboarding in the street. It said: “Playing football or other sports in the street is a criminal offence, particularly if someone is affected, such as being involved in an accident, or where the activity has caused them annoyance, alarm or distress.”

Residents said children started to go outside to play after the road was resurfaced a week ago.

Catriona Riddell also posted: "I can't tell you how much this has affected our poor kids - some won't even go out on their scooters on the pavement now for fear of being told off. A very sad state of affairs!"

Tom Muir, a resident, described it as a “knee jerk” reaction to complaints of cars being hit by footballs.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.



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