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What's changed?

Girl Guides change Promise to be inclusive of the non-religious for the first time

The Girl Guides, Rainbows and Brownies are for the first time inclusive of atheists and agnostics after a new Promise comes into force today which is, for the first time, inclusive of atheists and agnostics. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which has worked closely with Girlguiding UK on the formulation of the new Promise, has welcomed the change.

The new Promise reads ‘I promise that I will do my best: to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the (Brownie) Guide Law.’ ‘To be true to myself and develop my beliefs’ replaces ‘to love my God’, which every member of the Guides, Rainbows and Brownies was required to promise, and which consequentially excluded many, many young people and adult volunteers from joining the movement.

The BHA met with Girlguiding UK about the new Promise and responded to the consultation. BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We very much welcome the new Promise coming into force from today, which for the first time means the movement is equally inclusive to all young people and adult volunteers, regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs. Looking forward we will be working with the Guides to encourage our members and supporters to get involved in this fantastic movement.’

Notes

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

Girlguiding was one of the last major secular 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 and since the BHA has 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 change. Read the BHA’s response: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BHA-response-to-the-Girlguiding-UK-promise-consultation.pdf

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.

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