4 Dec 2012

Atheist promise for Scouts?

10:48 pm on 4 December 2012

The Scout movement in Britain is considering a move to allow atheists to become members for the first time.

Currently all Scouts take an oath pledging to do their duty to God, but members will be asked if they would support an alternative promise for non-believers.

The 105-year-old movement is launching a consultation to see if members would back a Scout Promise for those who feel unable to pledge a "duty to God", the BBC reports.

Versions of the oath already exist for the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist faiths, but this is the first time such an adaptation has been considered.

In March, the British National Secular Society said atheist children and potential Scout leaders were being put off.

Membership of the Scouts has increased from 444,936 in 2005 to 525,364 this year.

But the movement needs more volunteers, with more than 35,000 young people on waiting lists.

More than 50 groups catering for young people drawn mainly from Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities have opened in the last 10 years.

The Scout Association says its existing promise, which also contains a vow of allegiance to the Queen, would continue to be used alongside any new version.