Scouts exclude schoolboy for not believing in God
An 11-year-old Midsomer Norton boy has been banned from joining his local Scout troop because he says he does not believe in God.
Because of his strong views, George Pratt said he is not able to make the Scout Promise which requires Scouts to promise to do their duty to God and the Queen.
This means George cannot be invested as a full Scout and can no longer attend the group which meets opposite his home.
The youngster had been going to Scouts for ten months when he was asked whether he wanted to be invested in the group, and his strong stand came to light when he and Scout leaders were discussing the Scout law and promise.
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His parents said they have to respect George’s views but are disappointed that the Scouting movement takes such a narrow view.
His father Nick said: “As a family we neither promote nor dismiss any religion and hold no firm views on God in any form, and have always let our children make up their own mind as and when they feel they can make an informed choice.”
Mr Pratt said he was surprised that the Scouting movement is not more tolerant: “George had the guts to stand up and admit his view and I believe the Scouts are being narrow minded when we are supposed to be tolerant.”
Mr Pratt said George had been brought up to be courteous, kind and considerate and able to contribute in a constructive manner.
He said: “To be invested into the Scouts you have to believe in a God, it does not say which religion that God is from, so you can be Muslim or Buddhist, but if you have the courage to stand up and admit that you do not believe in any God, then look out because you are not welcome into the Scout community."
Assistant director of media relations for the Scout Movement, Simon Carter, said: “All young people are required to make the Scout Promise if they wish to become a Scout. Variations of the Scout Promise are available for different faiths, however all the variations of the Promise recognise the ‘Duty to God’ element.
“Furthermore, Scouting accepts that as they grow into independent adults, some young people may question or doubt the existence of God as they develop their personal spiritual understanding. Scouting believes that young people going through this process should be able to remain a Scout.”
George’s story follows concerns from the National Secular Society earlier in the year, that atheist children were being excluded from the movement.
At the time the Scout Association responded by saying that, as a membership organisation, they were entitled to set certain criteria for joining.