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Boy, 11, banned from joining Scouts for not believing in God

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

George Pratt, 11, has been banned from joining 1st Midsomer Norton Scouts after he said he did not believe in God

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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 that as George is not able to be invested as a full Scout he can no longer attend the group which meets opposite his home.

George 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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He had been delighted to be asked to join the movement and had been excited about the prospect of becoming a Scout but is disappointed that he cannot continue.

His parents said they have to respect George’s views but are disappointed that the Scouting movement takes such a narrow view.

Dad 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 is surprised that the Scouting movement is not more tolerant.

He said: “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. This is regardless of the fact that you are sensitive, generous, kind and genuinely a good person.”

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 (such as the use of ‘Allah’ to replace ‘God’ for Muslim Scouts), however all the variations of the Promise recognise the ‘Duty to God’ element. Young people are required to show both an understanding (relevant to their age) and an acceptance of the promise before they become a member.

“Young people will not be refused membership solely because of their parents’ beliefs or non-beliefs, however they are required to make the promise as outlined above.

“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.”

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  • zf321  |  September 09 2013, 9:04PM

    That really unfair because You say its ok for people to beleave what they want. but apparently not because they have to beleave god?! Regardless of if god real or not. God would probully want every one to be treated the same way and all people who beleave or not should all have the same rights. This is silly and really doesn't matter because there no evidence that god is real, meaning there no message of god. What happened to the saying where you must except all people beleaves because where all different and not all people are going to think the same way as you do. One more thing I have been doing scout for a year not beleaving god and i'm doing just as well as the people how do beleaving god. My point is that you should let people how do and don't beleaving god join scouts and if can't understand why this is unfair then there's something wrong with this community!

  • crazyfrog  |  October 24 2012, 9:10AM

    If people want to believe in God that's fine, but insisting a non-believer swears allegiance to a supernatural being is a hark-back to medieval times. I find it incredulous that such behaviour is tolerated in modern society, it's nothing short of bullying by religious fanatics. For those Christians who say it's just being picky, how would you feel if the pledge used Vishnu or Jedi or Thor instead of God? Would you still swear allegiance? Perhaps the scouts should allow atheists to use The Flying Spaghetti Monster; it would circumvent the problem whilst gently poking fun at the dinosaurs in charge.

  • Charlespk  |  October 19 2012, 6:51PM

    I PROMISE TO DO MY BEST, TO DO MY DUTY TO GOD AND THE QUEEN, TO KEEP TO THE LAW OF THE WOLF CUB PACK AND TO DO A GOOD TURN FOR SOMEBODY EVERYDAY." You have to be a pretty sad individual or parent to be picking holes in, or complaining about making a promise like that. No wonder the country is in the state it's in. Good night and God Bless. . I have nothing more to say to you.

  • Bonkim2003  |  October 19 2012, 6:45PM

    Charlespk - Not all who shout 'Lord' 'Lord' will inherit the Kingdom of God. Missing the word God does not diminish the oath in any manner. One does not need to follow principles evolved in an earlier era - different social structures, circumstances/environment to be able to be a good citizen striving for your fellow beings, and a good scout. Being different/non-conformist does not necessarily mean one is sad or not a valuable member of society/scouts.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 19 2012, 6:17PM

    "I PROMISE TO DO MY BEST, TO DO MY DUTY TO GOD AND THE QUEEN, TO KEEP TO THE LAW OF THE WOLF CUB PACK AND TO DO A GOOD TURN FOR SOMEBODY EVERYDAY." You have to be a pretty sad individual or parent to be picking holes in, or complaining about making a promise like that. No wonder the country is in the state it's in.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 19 2012, 6:08PM

    Good luck to you, and enjoy your atheism. If you dealt with good Christians always, you'd never need to count your fingers again.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  October 19 2012, 5:37PM

    Charlesspk - if I believed in God within the definitions of any religion or sect, I would want my children, and all others I associate with to belong to my faith. All religions teach theirs is the one and only true roadmap to God. You discount there is one true God or religion in your comment "..........should be taught Christianity (or any religion).............." How about Satanism or pagan rituals involving animal, even human sacrifice and orgies - there religions of the world that practice these. Now the people of the world believe in many Gods and none, some worship money, and material wealth - some crave physical pleasures and pray they get more, some pray for getting cures from disease or disability, some for success in their enterprise, some that God will support their side so they will win. Now which God do you believe in? Which of these should the Scouts see as models to pray to or conduct rituals?

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  • Bonkim2003  |  October 19 2012, 5:24PM

    by Truth_Seeker - Religion and Faith implies you don't need to question the Existence of God - you know he has always been there and will be forever. Is that also not how you define Superstition?

  • Bonkim2003  |  October 19 2012, 5:17PM

    Lord Baden Powell lived in another era when God and religion played an important part in everyday life - surely Lord Powell himself would ask the Scouts to adapt and change with the times - not live in Mowgli's make-believe land.

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  • Matt_22  |  October 19 2012, 3:55PM

    I have been a cub, scout and explorer at this very scout group; 1st Midsomer Norton. I'm now studying Medicine at Nottingham University. I, myself, have mixed feelings about God, terming myself an agnostic. Yet I said the Scout Promise without a blink of the eye, seeing it as a mere formality of joining. I'm pretty sure the scouting movement is currently aimed to be open to all. Those with Islamic faith are allowed to adapt the promise to say 'Allah' in the place of 'God'. However, a non-believer is not allowed to leave the statement about God out all together? This kind of religious discrimination is appalling in today's society. People would not be suspended from scouting events based on the colour of their skin or their race would they? So why should they be suspended based on their faith, or lack of such faith. During my time as a scout, many of my fellow scouts were firm atheists, and never had any trouble because they did not object to the promise. Atheists are effectively being forced to lie so that they can become a scout, pledging an allegiance to a god they don't think exists. I believe the Scouting Association in the UK should rethink their policy in this scenario. Religious discrimination is not acceptable.

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