Torbay’s Humanists have asked that the Scouts open up their membership to all young people.
This comes after the National Secular Society’s letter to chief scout Bear Grylls challenging his recent claims that scouting is for everyone regardless of their religion, ethnicity or belief.
Following the launch of a new uniform designed especially for Muslim girls, Bear Grylls expressed pride that the Scouts offer ‘an environment for people of all backgrounds to come together and enjoy themselves’.
However, local Humanists have questioned Bear Grylls’ claims that the Scouts are ‘continuing to move with the times’. They point out that today most young people are not religious, but cannot join without making a ‘Promise’ that includes an oath to god.
A spokesman for Torbay’s Humanist said: “The Scouts exclude non religious young people and will also not accept Scout leaders without a religion from membership. Their ‘Equal Opportunities’ Policy states that ‘the avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to appointment to a leadership position’.
“It may have made sense having the Scouts as an exclusively religious organisation when we were all of one faith. However, Devon is now a county of many faiths – and increasingly of none. Around two-thirds of young people say that they are not religious, so excluding them from membership of the Scouts is outdated and discriminatory. Unfortunately, the Scouts’ policies contradict their claims that the Scout Movement is there for all young people.
“Torbay’s Humanists call on the Scout movement to welcome all young people and all appropriate adult volunteers, regardless of their faith or belief.
“The Scouts should open itself up to young people without a faith and make the religious oath optional.”
Further information is at on the National Secular Society site.