The Scout Association has announced an alternative atheist pledge, for the first time in its 106-year history.
From January next year, children will be able to promise either to “uphold our Scout values” or “do my duty to God”.
The Scouting movement was founded by Lord Baden-Powell on Christian principles in 1908.
But secularist pressure group the National Secular Society (NSS) said the alternative promise did not go far enough.
NSS president Terry Sanderson said the Scouts should have followed the “infinitely superior” example set by the Guides, who dropped God from their oath altogether earlier this year.
Commentators accused Girlguiding UK of “secular totalitarianism” and said the wording of the new promise was ‘individualistic jargon’.
The Scouts’ alternative pledge came after a 10-month consultation within and outside The Scout Association.
The new promise comes in stark contrast to the views of the movement’s founder, Lord Baden-Powell.
He ranked atheism alongside gambling, swearing and drunkenness in a handbook for boys.
Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner for The Scout Association said the new promise, “signifies the determination to become truly inclusive and relevant to all sections of society that it serves”.
He added: “We are a values-based Movement and exploring faith and beliefs remains a key element of the Scouting Programme”.
Following a consultation, Girlguiding UK replaced “to love my God” with “to be true to myself” in its new pledge.
Bishop Nazir-Ali gave his backing to one group of Girl Guides who said they were planning to continue to offer the previous promise.