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Humanist welcome for Scouting inclusion of non-religious

The UK Scout Association has announced a new additional alternative Promise that for the first time would allow young people and adults who don’t believe in any god or religion to join the movement. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which has long advocated this change and which worked with the Scout Association in formulating the new Promise, has welcomed the announcement.

Instead of promising to ‘love God’, Beaver Scouts will have the option to promise to love ‘our world’ and instead of promising to ‘do my duty to God’, Scouts, Explorer Scouts and adults will have the option to promise to ‘uphold our Scout values’. The new Promise comes into force on 1 January.

The Scouts and Guides were the last major non-religious membership organisations in the UK to discriminate on grounds of religion and the ending of this is a remarkable event.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘Scouting is an enormously significant youth organisation and in some parts of the country offers the only activities young people have. In taking the progressive step of welcoming non-religious people of good conscience, they have shown that they genuinely wish to be a movement open to all. Their initiative sends out a strong signal that the vast majority of 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.

‘The humanist values that are in practice held by many thoughtful and ethical non-religious young people and adults have a transformative effect to contribute to any movement and the wider aim of a cooperative and cohesive shared society. Scouting will only be strengthened by their participation.’


For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07855 380633 or at

Read the Scout values:

Read the Scout Association’s statement:

In 2006 and 2010, the Scouts 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 Scouts changing their Promise to be inclusive and requests for help and advice from parents encountering this problem with the Scouts have remained one of the largest single categories of correspondence received by the BHA each year.

The BHA responded to the Scout Association consultation and met with Scout Association staff leading up to today’s change. Read the BHA’s response:

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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