The Scouts, a UK based Christian version of the American Boy Scouts, have kicked out an 11-year-old boy from one of their troops for being an atheist. George Pratt, 11, was removed from his local troop when he refused to say the Scout Promise because it includes swearing allegiance to God.
The Scout Promise text reads as follows:
“On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God and to the Queen, To help other people, And to keep the Scout Law.”
Full of weirdly placed letter "U"s and expressions of allegiance to God and Queen (is this the most British slogan ever?), The Scout Promise must be read by every applicant of the Scouts if they wish to become a full member.
As expected, George's father is pretty pissed that his son was kicked out. Nick Pratt, 45, claims that the Christian group is being intolerant of other beliefs:
Christianity is meant to be about being tolerant, forgiving and understanding. You are allowed to join if you are a Christian or a Muslim but you can’t not believe in God. This is regardless of the fact that you are sensitive, generous, kind and genuinely a good person. There are a lot of Christian organisations which do not exclude anybody. It just seems the Scouts in this area isn’t one of them.
Simon Carter, assistant director of communications and marketing for the Scouts, claims that the move to kick George out of the Scouts wasn't religion based, just protocol based:
All young people are required to make the Scout Promise if they wish to become a Scout. Scouting accepts that as they grow into 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.
At the end of the day, this is still a royally (God save the Queen) effed-up situation. I get that the Scouts are a Christian organization and thus have the right to do things as Christian-y as they want. On the reverse side of that, George is just an 11-year-old boy with 11-year-old wants — I don't see why protocol can't be broken here. He isn't making a big statement, he is just uncomfortable doing something he doesn't want to do.
Here is what George had to say on the matter:
We have spoken about it with the Scout Leader but he won’t change his decision, it is very unfair. Everyone is going caving soon and I’ve never been before. It is something I would love to do but I’m not allowed. I’m not going to change my decision though.
First off, Kudos to George for sticking up for his beliefs. Secondly, FOR CHRIST SAKE, LET THE BOY DO SOME CAVIN'! (Side note: I assume that this adventure outing has the title of "Cavin' For Christ!")
Oh, by the way, random fact, Bear Grylls is the Scouts' current chief Scout.