The Scout Association is to offer the option of a new “atheist” promise for the first time in its 105-year history, according to a national newspaper.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the movement will introduce an optional oath which has no reference to God, after mounting pressure from atheists.
The Scouting movement was founded by Lord Baden-Powell on Christian principles in 1908.
Currently, Scouts must promise to “do my duty to God” and those of other faiths use alternative wording. The original promise will remain for believers.
The introduction of a separate oath follows a consultation of 15,000 people.
This comes as the Girl Guides recently dropped any reference to God in their oath, in a move criticised for pandering to individualism and secular humanist ideas.
Now the Guides’ promise will see girls pledging to be “true to myself and develop my beliefs”.
New wording for the Scouts promise will be devised by trustees of the association and approved by the entire movement before it is expected to be announced later this year.
Simon Carter, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications for the Association, said “the direction of travel is clear”, despite there being some way to go before the wording is finalised.
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.
More than 100 years ago, Lord Baden-Powell wrote “Rovering for Success”, in which he said: “If you are really to make your way to success – ie happiness – you must not only avoid being sucked in by irreligious humbugs, but you must have a religious basis to your life”.