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Scouts introduce atheist opt-out – but keep God in pledge

By John Bingham, Telegraph

The Scouts have achieved the rare distinction of being praised by bishops and atheist groups alike after introducing a new pledge for non-believers – without scrapping references to God.

For the first time in the organisation’s 106-year history, those who do not have a religious faith be able to take an alternative version of its distinctive oath of allegiance without having to go against their beliefs.

The traditional wording in which young people promise “to do my duty to God and to the Queen” will remain the “core” promise for the organisation founded on Christian lines more than a century ago.

But the change means atheists can become full members for the first time, without having to lie about their beliefs.

The move drew favourable comparisons with that taken earlier this year by the Girl Guides which scrapped all mention of both "God" and "country" from its own pledge, requiring members to promise to “be true to myself”.

It was accused of denying girls and Guide leaders a choice and of ditching the Almighty in favour of “consumerist self-help jargon”.

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