(THE GUARDIAN) — From 1 January next year, atheists yearning to slip on a woggle and embrace the self-reliant yet altruistic philosophy of the Scouts will find the organisation well prepared.

After more than a century, members will no longer have to promise – on their honour – to do their duty to God when they make their pledge to the movement. They will, however, still be required to promise to uphold Scout values, observe its law, do their duty to the Queen and help others.

The introduction of the atheist-friendly pledge comes after the Scout Association, which has almost 537,000 members in the UK, spent 10 months pondering how best to welcome non-believers.

“Throughout its 106-year history, the movement has continued to evolve and today marks an important step in that journey,” said Wayne Bulpitt, UK chief commissioner for the Scouts. “It also signifies the determination to become truly inclusive and relevant to all sections of society that it serves.”

But he added: “We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and beliefs remains a key element of the Scouting programme. That will not change.”

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