NEWS
19/10/2012 08:28 BST | Updated 12/11/2012 10:23 GMT

Scouts Ban Atheist Schoolboy, 11, Who Won't Swear He Believes In God (PICTURES)

An 11-year-old boy has been banned from his local Scout troop - for not being prepared to believe in God.

George Pratt was keen to be an "invested member" of the 1st Midsomer Norton Scouts in Somerset, but is not comfortable making the Scout Promise, where members of the club promise to do their duty to God and the Queen.

The schoolboy has been attending scout meetings at the clubhouse opposite his house for 10 months, and was ready to be invested as a full member, when leaders began discussing with him what the Scout promise would be.

George Pratt: The atheist schoolboy was not comfortable promising to serve God at scouts

His parents told This Is Bath that they respect George’s views.

Father Nick Pratt 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.

“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.”

“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.”

Scouts are asked to promise that they will serve the Queen and God

The Scout Movement's Simon Carter said that all young people were required to make the promise if they wish to be a member, but promises were available for all faiths.

“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.

“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.”