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Church of England welcomes Scouts alternative promise

Scouts will continue to promise to do their duty to God, however a new vow is being created for atheists. The UK Scouts Association has agreed a new alternative which gives members the option to make a promise to love "our world". It'll still ask them to do their best to uphold scout values and do their "duty" to the Queen. It follows a 10-month consultation involving 15-thousand people, and has been welcomed by the Church of England.  Volunteer Scout Leader Erin Billington was on the working group that formulated the alternative pledge. She told Premier's Victoria Laurence on the News Hour that it's about making the Scouts even more inclusive while remaining true to its core values:

Rt Revd. Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, is the Church of England's lead Bishop on work with Young People.

He said:

"I very much welcome this announcement by the Scout movement that God stays in the Promise. 

"In enabling people of all faiths and none to affirm their beliefs through an additional alternative promise the Scout movement has demonstrated that it is both possible, and I would argue preferable, to affirm the importance of spiritual life and not to restrict meaning to arbitrary self-definition.  

"As the last census demonstrated we remain a faithful nation where the majority of families and individuals find identity, affiliation and meaning in religious belief."

Speaking to Premier is Very Revd Stephen Lake - the Dean of Gloucester and a Trustee of the Scouts Association:

Different promises for different faiths have existed in the Scouts for nearly 50 years.

Hindus and Buddhists are currently allowed to refer to "my Dharma" in the promise, while Muslims can refer to "Allah". However, the National Secular Society has said the Girl Guides' response to the issue was "infinitely superior".

In September this year Girlguiding UK replaced its religious promise, which included the line "to love my God", with a single secular oath for all Guides. Over the last decade, female youth membership has increased from 29,200 to 77,500 (an increase of 165%), and in the last 10 years, over 50 Scout Groups have been opened that cater for young people who are drawn mainly from the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities.

Not only is the Movement growing in these new areas, but it is said to be increasingly popular amongst teenagers; attracting twice as many teenage members as it did in 2002 (18,000 in 2002 compared to 40,000 in 2013).

The core Scout Promise:

"On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law".

The alternative Scout Promise:

"On my honour I promise that I will do my best to uphold our Scout values, to do my duty to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law".

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