Scouts consult on oath for atheists

The Scouts are consulting their members on whether to introduce an alternative oath for atheists.

Members joining the 105-year-old movement are required to make the Scout Promise, which includes reference to their "duty to God".

Alternative promises have existed for over forty years for people of the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist faiths.

Now the UK Scout Association has launched a survey asking members whether an alternative version should be created for those who feel unable to make the existing commitment.

The association said that the revision "would enable the movement to increase its diversity and embrace more communities than ever before".

The consultation comes on the back of considerable membership growth over the last seven years, rising from just under 445,000 in 2005 to over 525,000 this year.

The movement as a whole now attracts twice as many teenage members as it did a decade ago, going from 18,500 in 2002 to 39,000 in 2012. Female membership has increased by 69% in the same period.

Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner explained: "We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting programme. That will not change.

"However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK."

He added: "We do that by regularly seeking the views of our members and we will use the information gathered by the consultation to help shape the future of Scouting for the coming years."