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Humanists welcome Girlguiding inclusion of non-religious

Girlguiding UK has announced a new version of its Promise – ‘the core expression of values and the common standard that brings everyone in guiding together’ – which is inclusive for the first time of those who don’t believe in any god. The British Humanist Association, which responded to Girlguiding consultation and met with Girlguiding in the course of their work to reformulate the Promise, has welcomed it.

The new formulation will have Guides promise to ‘be true to myself and develop my beliefs’, in place of the previous formulation to ‘love God’. It is the twelfth amendment to the Promise in guiding history, but the first version to open guiding up fully to non-religious girls.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘We wholeheartedly welcome the progressive step that Girlguiding have taken today of making their movement genuinely open to all, including the large number of girls and young women who don’t believe in any god. We welcome the fact that the new Promise is about personal integrity and ongoing and active self-reflection, both of which sit well alongside a sense of responsibility to others and to the community. Unlike its predecessor, this is a Promise that is inclusive of all girls and young women whether religious or non-religious.

‘Girlguiding is the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK so today’s decision is hugely significant. Their initiative sends out a strong signal that young people who do not see themselves as belonging to any religion have values that are worthy of respect and should be explicitly welcomed and catered for in any activity that seeks to be genuinely inclusive. We were delighted to play our own part in helping to bring this positive change about.’

The new Promise will take effect from September.

Notes

For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07855 380633 or at andrew@humanism.org.uk.

The BHA is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.

Girlguiding was one of the last major non-religious membership organisations in the UK to discriminate on grounds of religion and the ending of this exclusion is a remarkable event.

In 2006 and 2010, the Guides were granted an exemption from the Equality Act in order to allow them to continue to require their members to make a religiously discriminatory Promise excluding non-religious young people not believing in a god. The BHA led the campaign in both years to try to remove this exemption, working with the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.

Before 2006 the BHA had long campaigned in favour of the Guides changing their Promise to be inclusive and requests for help and advice from parents encountering this problem with the Guides have remained one of the largest single categories of correspondence received by the BHA each year.

The BHA responded to the Girlguiding consultation and met with Girlguiding staff leading up to today’s announcement. Read the BHA’s response: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BHA-response-to-the-Girlguiding-UK-promise-consultation.pdf

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