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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Councillor calls on scouts and guides to drop religious requirements

A town councillor from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in Lancashire has called for youth groups such as Scouts and Guides to become more secular in nature so that they appealed to more children – especially from Asian communities.

Councillor Roy Davies said: “At the moment, a lot of meetings are held in church halls and Asian children won’t go to them because they find it offensive. I think it’s time we broke away from the affiliation with faith and that kind of attitude and developed it more. These organisations give youngsters fantastic opportunities to learn skills, gain friends and go on jamborees all over the place, and we should encourage more to get involved.”

Mick Grime, commissioner of the Darwen District Scout Association, said: “We have promised to promote spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing, and removing faith would undermine what we are about. Roy Davies doesn’t really know what he’s talking about here.”

Coun Salim Mulla, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “Historically, the youth from the Asian and Muslim communities have not had much interest in Scouts, Girl Guides or youth clubs of that nature. They do have their own youth groups, which are more community centre-based.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “Councillor Davies is on the right track here, while Councillor Mulla seems to have a desire to reinforce the segregation that is very apparent in places likeBlackburn. There are, indeed, separate ‘Muslim Scout groups’ which is a very retrograde development. If such organisations just lightened up on the religion they would be doing the whole community a great favour – and encouraging real integration.”

Published Fri, 02 Dec 2011