The Scout Association might be forced to stop requiring new entrants to pledge allegiance to god if an amendment to the Equalities Bill proposed by Oxford West & Abingdon MP Evan Harris is adopted.
Harris, a Liberal Democrat, told a parliamentary debate earlier this month that the Scouts was the only organisation that benefited from an exemption in the Equality Act 2006 that permits charities to continue requiring new members to make religious pledges provided they began doing so before May 2005.
The exemption is retained in the new bill. Harris said it should be removed because the Scouts pledge amounted to discrimination against atheists.
His claim that some Scout groups had told people to "just cross your fingers when you say the oath" was questioned by other MPs.
The Scout Association was unable to comment before Third Sector went to press.