A KIDDERMINSTER Scout leader says the introduction of an alternative version of the group’s promise, aimed at atheists, will open the movement up to more people.

Mark Woodward, of Kidderminster and District Scouts, wrote on The Shuttle website after it was announced from January next year those without a faith will be able to take the promise without going against their beliefs for the first time in the group’s 106-year history.

Instead of promising “to do my duty to God”, young people will be able to choose to uphold “Scout values”.

Mr Woodward said: “Put simply, it means more people than ever can join Scouting. We are committed to being an inclusive organisation and we have removed barriers that might prevent those who share our values from taking part.”

He added: “Of course those who wish to continue to promise to do their duty to their God can continue to do so. Part of Scouting’s role is to help young people explore their faiths and beliefs.”

The Scouts already offer an alternative promise for those of other faiths, for example Muslims can insert the word “Allah”.

In addition, non-UK citizens do not have to give their allegiance to the Queen.

Mr Woodward added: “This latest move has attracted widespread support both from within as well as outside the movement and is backed by faith leaders.”

Rev Hugh Burton, team rector for Kidderminster East parish, said: “It is more helpful than the route the [Girl] Guides have chosen which is to remove the reference to God altogether. It is a good thing and means the organisation can include all people.”