Boy, 11, banned from the Scouts after refusing to pledge allegiance to God

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An 11-year-old boy has been banned from the Scouts because he does not believe in God, it has emerged.


George Pratt had attended his Scout group for ten months before being asked to invest in the group with his friends.

But because he is an atheist he refused to take the Scout Promise, pledging his allegiance to God, and was told not to come to any more meetings.

The 11-year-old says the snub is ‘very unfair’ and he is missing out on adventures because of his views.

But he defiantly added: ‘I’m not going to change my decision.’

His furious father, Nick, 45, accused the Scouts of being ‘narrow-minded’.

‘Christianity is meant to be about being tolerant, forgiving and understanding,’ he said. ‘You are allowed to join if you are a Christian or a Muslim but you can’t not believe in God.’

Written By: Hayden Smith
continue to source article at metro.co.uk

76 COMMENTS

  1. Aren’t the Scouts mostly an extension of the mormon church these days?

    Perhaps in a hundred years or so these people who run the Scouts will have a revelation along the lines of those they had in polygamous marriage and African American worthiness.

    In the meantime, a new organization for the modern world needs forming.

  2. On viewing the source article it was good to see the amount of supporting comments George is receiving.

    Attacking comments such as “Scouting requires religious faith, he has none, ergo no entry into the Scouting movement… there is nothing unreasonable about that.” are appearing quite often and starting to show the intolerance of organisations such as this. 

    We live in a society where we are trying to respect human rights. If organisations exist which inherently contain rules that may prejudice individuals, including atheists,  then perhaps something should be done to address this in some way. 

  3. I remember an awkward moment in my childhood when I was 8 years old when my father was filling in my application for the YMCA.  He first put a dash in the religion box, then changed the dash to a G and added AN G LICAN.  I ask what it meant.  He said it was the religion of his childhood.  I was puzzled. “But I am not an Anglican”  He said, “They probably would not let you in if I told the truth”. I was quite puzzled. I had never known my father to lie before.

    The funny thing is, the Young Men’s Christian Association was completely secular at least from the point of view of an eight year old. It later life it was the place for traveling gays to stay on the cheap.

  4. The Boy Scouts have a very Islamic attitude.  Muslims are supposed to avoid socialising with infidels (though they are supposed to treat them fairly) on the grounds conversation might weaken faith.

    Both the Boy Scouts and Islam are explicitly admitting how fragile the nonsense they teach is.

  5. When I was a youngster, the scouts let me be a member, but they didn’t make the experience pleasant. Neither the way I was treated nor the way George is being treated are morally justifiable, but it could be argued he’s getting off easy, which may in any case be precious little consolation right now. The only thing I’m sure of is that their religious concerns alone make them a terrible organisation.

    I’ve never understood the way we treat religion in our society. On the one hand, we let its followers get away with things we otherwise condemn because *they* think they’re acting in an OK way, which to me sounds like we’re saying their beliefs reduce their moral responsibility, like a child’s ignorance. On the other hand, we let things that help religions survive or grow happen, including their followers acting in bad ways such as the aforesaid, because we think religion makes us better people. Firstly, does religion make us more ethical or less? Secondly, we’re making an ethical case for letting people act unethically. Worse, the nature of that ethical case alleges these poorly behaving people are not only our moral superiors, but can somehow make the rest of us better. By “the rest of us”, we mean those of us who let them get away with this stuff. We’re making ourselves worse as part of this self-improvement process. What, is ethics like money where you have to spend it to make it? What does that make religious bigots – fund managers?

  6. There already is a secular version in the UK of the Boy Scouts, called the Woodcraft Folk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W… If Nick Pratt knew of George’s views, he probably shouldn’t have allowed his son to invest so much time and energy in what he, Pratt snr, must have been aware was a religious organisation. And if young George is smart enough to have arrived at the conclusion that God doesn’t exist, then he should have seen this expulsion coming.

    You can’t join a group which holds stupid views, and isn’t shy about expressing them, and then complain if it decides to kick you out when you make it known that you don’t share those views.

    If the Boy Scout Association were playing down its religious affiliation in an effort to recruit non-religious kids and convert them to Christianity, that would be a different matter. But I believe the movement is pretty upfront about its belief system.

  7. The more the religiotards’ panic the more they isolate themselves.

    Brave kid, most would just say…’yea! whatever…lets build a teepee ‘!

    35 years ago I got drummed out the ‘Boy’s Brigade’…which is, or was, very jeebus oriented, although not evangelical.
    I never attended the prayer sessions before or after meetings, but after a new brigade commander was appointed, the old one retired, he noticed my absences, and nearly had a heart attack when I said I was atheist and not interested.
    So three years of BB down the plughole…’I was an unhealthy influence and disruptive’
    I was a little shocked…none of my brigade mates were believers but they went to the prayer sessions you see…
    Most of the guys were mates at school, a year later the Brigade leader was sacked apparently for his domestic situation turns out he was a prolific wife beater  and had a subsequent acrimonious  divorce where some details emerged in the press according to the scuttlebutt.
    I never went back..discovered girls by then!

  8. This comment has just been posted on the Metro site by someone called Chris Ward:

    “This odious and arrogant ban is little different to the Taliban shooting 14 year old girls in the head for wanting to go to school. Shame on you Scouts, shame on you.”

  9. Interesting that you have to believe in god to join. Christians can join by swearing allegiance to the only god that exists. Muslims can join by swearing to the only god that exists. That’s two “only gods” for starters. 

    The muslims don’t believe in the christian one and the christians don’t believe in the muslim one. This boy doesn’t believe in either, so it seems he would fit in better than anyone else.

  10. Yep, the Boy Scouts in the UK are mostly mainline Christian – although they were founded to be ‘spiritual’, hence accepting any religion into their midst. This is in contrast to the Boys Brigade, which is strictly Christian (mostly Anglican) only. Neither likes atheists though…

    As for Mormons in the UK, there are allegedly about 200,000 of them – but you can never trust their figures (the actual number of practising Mor(m)ons is most likely a fraction of that)… Let’s hope you don’t elect one to President in a couple of week’s time…

  11. I was briefly in the Scouts near Glasgow around 1960, where the Boy Scouts were all Protestants, while the Boys Brigade were all Catholics. I was raised non-religious, but was considered a ‘Protestant’ since I didn’t go to Catholic school. When they tried to get me into the church choir, and the leader started getting a bit ‘friendly’, I was out of there pronto….
    Secular clubs are a much better place for children & adolescents to learn about life, the universe, and everything.

  12. Firstly, I speak as a confident atheist (or as close as one can be to ‘atheistic’, if one holds scientific enquiry and the willingness to be proved wrong as one’s guiding light).

    Secondly, I’m a little uncomfortable that this boy is being portrayed as ‘an atheist’, when, if he were to claim he were a practicing Christian, Jew, Muslim, or any adherent to a theism, we would (probably rightly) assume he had undergone a great level of indoctrination by his parents or another controlling body. So it would be an equally safe assumption that he has had a stiff and wholly wrong guiding hand towards his reported atheism, as, even in Richard Dawkins’ excellent book, ‘The God Delusion’, he rightly points out that it is wrong to call a child a ‘Christian child’, ‘Muslim child’ or ‘Jewish child’ (insert any other faith), as she or he has not yet gathered the experiences of life and sufficient information to make a reasoned and balanced judgement for themselves as to exactly what they are or they are not. I see no difference in the case of atheism, which may encourage the charge of being patronizing towards a person who may actually be rather mature and advanced in his thinking. But if we, as a strong body of humanists who ardently believe in non-belief, are to present our position with any integrity, we cannot expect the egg to be cracked in a different way, simply to suit our arguments.
    The question remains at what point can a person be declared no longer a child and now a developing adult who is informed enough to claim such a position.

    Thirdly (and with the above point in-mind), if the parents of this boy are indeed atheists themselves then it is a misguided atheism no different to fundamentalist theism , as they are a) guilty of allowing their son to claim he is something which he is not yet fully equipped to make a reasoned statement and judgement on and b) are hopelessly inept regarding the kind of social organizations they allow their offspring to participate in, as they ought to have initially done their research, as they would have discovered the disgustingly indoctrinating membership caveat which the Scout Organization relies on as a foundational belief. And this ineptitude is no different than the laissez-faire attitude which countless parents employ when blindly allowing their children to join such groups (which are often attached to churches, which gives one a clue).

    It is only right that an issue such as enforced worship and loyalty is debated here. But I cannot help but see cynical reasons for this particular case having made it to the pages of ‘Metro’ in the first place.

    Yours, in humanist unity,

  13. BrownDrew I see your point regarding
    portraying the boy as an atheist; perhaps, as per Richards book, we
    should refer to him as the son of atheist parents.

    Perhaps the time spent as a child
    should somehow be referred to as “the time for gathering life
    experiences” and not be biased towards any particular belief or non
    belief.

    It seems important then, that there
    shouldn’t be any prejudices from organisations to select children
    that have apparently already decided what they believe.

    It is very difficult as a parent when
    your children want to join in with organisations that their friends
    are part of, as most of them will have some sort of religious bias in
    them so the choice is very limited or non-existent. Perhaps they are
    considered trustworthy, or charitable if set up this way. But it does
    seem a shame for children that may have no interest what so ever
    regarding the religious views of the organisation may be penalised.

    Perhaps more non-biased groups for
    children?

  14.  BrownDrew has writen :  “I’m a little uncomfortable that this boy is being portrayed as ‘an
    atheist’, when, if he were to claim he were a practicing Christian, Jew,
     Muslim, or any adherent to a theism, we would (probably rightly) assume
     he had undergone a great level of indoctrination by his parents or
    another controlling body.”

    Precisely, we can then assume he has undergone no indoctrination.

    What if he doesn’t believe in any god ? How do you call such a child ? As far as I remember, I never believed in any god. I was not a secular humanist aged 4, nor an empirical utilitarist aged 4, and certainly not a militant “new” atheist aged 4, but I was definitly a godless child aged 4, potentially ready to believe in any god but never did.

    Atheism is not a belief. It’s exactly a lack of thereof. As a natural born state, it’s a lack of indoctrination. Children are unconvinced by religions until they are not anymore.

    As for joining the scouts, I remember clearly not wanting to go there (when I was about 10) because I got told they had to go to church on sundays. Boy, I was a “thinking” atheist before even knowing it. What’s the point of joining a cult to then ask them to respect your unbelief (apart from taking the piss) ? There are much smarter things to do with your free time than playing christian soldiers when you are 10.

  15. Hi BrownDrew,

    I think you are misunderstanding the definition of atheist.  It is 

    “holds no belief in Gods”

    My boys where born atheists and have remained that way because nobody filled their brains with rubbish.   Obviously I know nothing of this boys upbringing but if it is anything like my boys upbringing then it is quite likely that he calls himself an atheist because he hasn’t   indoctrinated. 

    Michael

  16. The Scouting movement isn’t a religious cult, but, in the UK at least, a lot of the leaders seem to think it should function as one.

    Baden-Powell himself wrote an alternative promise:

    On my honor I promise to do my best:
    To render service to my country;
    To help other people at all times;
    To obey the Scout Law.

    There’s absolutely nothing, other than shameless religious bigotry, stopping the Scouts from using this version, if requested.
    The solution here is not for secularists and atheists to shun the Scouts, but for the Scouts to stop shunning secularists and atheists.

  17. This issue is very similar to that of the Christian B&B owners. The question is whether the organisation / business is public or private. A private entity needs to be free to make its own decisions so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone outside the organisation, this is so that diversity and progress are allowed. If lots of people were allowed to join an organisation who had no interest in the principles and purpose that the organisation was created for, it would cease to have any function.

    It’d be like having loads of trade unionist in the conservative party, and loads of city bankers in the labour party – come election day they’d be no point voting because all the parties would have exactly the same policies, probably involving not doing much at all because no one could agree on anything.

    A public organisation, funded by the taxpayer, is a different case and should be open to all. Faith schools should never be publicly funded, as people who have been forced to pay for them through their taxes are then excluded.

    As for the question of what age you can label someone an atheist, never. It’s a matter of personal choice, and people can change their mind at any age, it really depends on how they choose to identity themselves. There is some evidence that children develop a greater ability for formal abstract thinking around 11 or 12 years, and it’s the age I stopped believe in god after a christian upbringing, yet it might only be after the death of both parents that an authoritarian influence over beliefs subsides, by which time a communal influence is most likely in place.

  18.  

    Ornicar
    What’s the point of joining a cult to then ask them to respect your
    unbelief (apart from taking the piss) ? There are much smarter things to
    do with your free time than playing christian soldiers when you are 10.

    There is usually an issue of limited social group activities for children in small or even larger communities.
    Religious groups often try to monopolise these as a method of recruitment.

  19. It’s disappointing that the Scouts expect children to have formed firm religious opinions and that they choose to discriminate against atheists. I do believe that clubs and societies should have the right to right to discriminate on the basis of religious belief (or political belief) if the matter of such beliefs or views is directly relevant to the purpose of the organisation. I don’t know much about the Scouts, but unless they purport to be a religious organisation and specifically make clear that they have a religious agenda, they should not be allowed to discriminate against the non-religious.

  20. BrownDrew
    Secondly, I’m a little uncomfortable that this boy is being portrayed as ‘an atheist’,

    An 11 year old is likely to be mature enough to be starting to think critically about life’s philosophies.

    .. … ..  as she or he has not yet gathered the experiences of life and sufficient information to make a reasoned and balanced judgement for themselves as to exactly what they are or they are not. I see no difference in the case of atheism, which may encourage the charge of being patronizing towards a person who may actually be rather mature and advanced in his thinking.

    You seem to be confusing the absence of indoctrination with indoctrination.
    While children in more educated countries will have learned about a diversity of religious beliefs, rather than being indoctrinated in one, suggesting children should “pick a religion”, for themselves from the numerous ones available, -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… – seems a bit silly!  Picking a local one is just as silly but is usually presented as “making a reasoned choice of alternatives” by its followers! (Atheism or my pet god – False dichotomy).

  21. I think the challenges to my comments and points therein are fair, if, in the case of George Pratt, he has been previously informed of the irrational theories of supernatural gods, considered them and made a sound judgement on the back of this information and taken a grounded and reasoned atheistic position on its basis…a judgement which would be admirably beyond his years. And with that, my use of the word ‘indoctrination’ in this instance would be a little harsh on his parents and presumptuous towards George, in that there is an erroneous assumption that his age renders him unthinking by default.
    However, I would find it astonishing to believe that a person of such an age has taken such a position on life without some form of nurture or guidance, as a person of mature thought, regardless of age doesn’t simply reject a concept without experience, be that actual or through education. I have never been deep-sea diving and have never ventured to educate myself on the pursuit. So until I do, I hold no position on it. That is the natural, reasoned reflex of the enquiring mind (I hope). A crass comparison, I’ll give. But it’s the only one I could rapidly come up with.

    I think the vast majority of atheists would like to believe we have held a belief that a god/s do/do not exist (I make a strong distinction between ‘a belief’ and ‘faith’ here, to illustrate that I perfectly understand the definition of ‘atheism’) for as long as we can remember, because it gives us comfort and confidence that we have always been able to enquire and process information. However, a child is no more born an atheist than she/he is born a theist. A child is born with a couple of simple, life-supporting demands, none of which require theories regarding our origins. At what point the enquiry of such begins…I could not say; I am not an evolutionary biologist. But what I can say, if my own childhood experiences in the North of England are any rule of thumb, is that the nurture of parents, influential adults and peers is the yardstick of the formative years. There is no escaping that. If that nurture takes the form of a social politeness that there is a god and he must be respected, if not entirely believed in, then that is a grotesque piece of fence-sitting…I’d rather have fundamentalism. But if the nurture takes the form of an encouraged freedom where access to all information is ensured for a developing mind to process and take a position on, then that is an indicator of a healthy world and something positive for the future of secular humanism. And I’d like to think George Pratt has enjoyed, at the behest of his parents, such an early upbringing, giving him the right to call himself a genuine atheist. But I’m also pretty sure what my suspicions would be if an eleven year old boy stated he was a devout Christian.

  22.  if he were to claim he were a practicing Christian, Jew, Muslim,
    What a beautiful use of the imperfect subjunctive!

    . So it would be an equally safe assumption that he has had a stiff and wholly wrong guiding hand towards his reported atheism

    How could this be assumed at all let alone safely?

  23. You begin your post making a reasonable point then seem to descend rapidly into rather murky rationalizations…

    So it would be an equally safe assumption that he has had a stiff and wholly wrong guiding hand towards his reported atheism

    Evidence for that assumption is obviously the atheist ceremonies this child was dragged along to by the stiff and wholly wrong guiding hand of his parents who are probably Satanists by your innuendo!
    And the atheist reliance on the book of Dawkins where scripture can be quoted for any situation to reinforce sacred bigotry at those that are different.
    It would seem that your interpretation of the point that RD made has been somewhat misunderstood.

    But it is your opinion so enjoy…but when your post reaches the third point…

    if the parents of this boy are indeed atheists themselves then it is a misguided atheism no different to fundamentalist theism

    Inanity never better uttered.
    How can atheism be misguided?…oh are you assuming he is a Soviet communist that approves of gulag’s or of the Chinese persuasion that regards human rights as a Western peccadillo that no true communist will have any truck with ?
    Seems both states have a fair number of theist sympathies which are not exactly eradicated by the truth of atheism.

    Misguided atheism..please explain that rather throwaway accusation!

    Then your sights fall on the parents…they are apparently…

    a) guilty of allowing their son to claim he is something which
    he is not yet fully equipped to make a reasoned statement and judgement
    on/blockquote

    He does not believe, at his age, that there is a god and does not have the wish to praise or play sycophantic drooler towards, and that decision, not to play jeebus sunbeam, has resulted in a blatant case of discrimination by being refused entry into a scout club simply because of that one point…
    This attitude does not preclude him from forming a relationship with a figment of his imagination later in life.
    And although you seem unduly upset by the parents in their child rearing techniques that point has nothing to do with them in whatever way.

    and b) are hopelessly inept regarding the kind of social
    organizations they allow their offspring to participate in, as they
    ought to have initially done their research, as they would have
    discovered the disgustingly indoctrinating membership caveat which the
    Scout Organization relies on as a foundational belief

    Which from my own son’s experience is simply balderdash.
    My son is a scout leader in charge of the summer camping holidays at home and abroad and the yearly activity planning and has been one of the chief scouts in the country that act as one of the Dutch scout contingent ambassadors to the yearly Scout jamborees that occur in different countries every year.
    My son is atheist through and through, no doubt the fault of an overbearing father and mother that worship Satan.

    I have never heard of this stipulation in the Dutch Scouting organization…called “De Nederlandse Padvinders”
    And I have been involved in the movement, although admittedly in a secondary capacity, for over 10 years.

    It was originally formed in 1910 in the way of Christian ethos, and the Catholics today hold true to form and have their own version ‘De katholieke Verkenners’
    Apart from the Catholic ones, which my son nor I has not had much dealings with, the atmosphere is anything but theist in tone.
    Although the main Christian commandment is adhered to…’thou shalt not kill’ one which apparently my son finds difficult to obey at times ;-)
    They are a globally affiliated major scouting group.
    But there is no swearing of an allegiance pledge to any god, as long as it is a god, per se in my sons experience.
    Although there is mention of a god in the wording…

    Ik beloof mijn best te doen (met behulp van God) een goede Scout te
    zijn, iedereen te helpen waar ik kan en mij te houden aan de
    Scoutwet. Jullie kunnen op mij rekenen.

    I promise to do my best (with the help of God) to be a good Scout, to
    help everybody whenever I can and to follow the Scout Law. You can
    count on me.

    The words in brackets are apparently optional.

    Sometimes the Dutch scout law is offered as a follow up pledge…

    Een Scout trekt er samen met de anderen op uit om de wereld om zich heen
    te ontdekken, deze meer leefbaar te maken en hij is eerlijk, trouw en
    houdt vol, is spaarzaam en sober en zorgt goed voor de natuur en
    respecteert zichzelf en anderem.

    A Scout explores the world together with others and tries to improve it.
    He is honest, loyal and doesn’t give up easily. Further, aScout is efficient and sober, takes good care for nature and
    respects himself and others.

    My son has admittedly reneges on at least one of those points most weekends when not at scouting of course ;-)

    And he has never heard it mentioned elsewhere or from other troops in the country that a pledge to god is mandatory on pain of refusal to join.
    In fact it is more secular then secular.
    There is no church involved and no pastors to irritate with banality…so where you get your information from needs a little updating.

    And this ineptitude is no different than the laissez-faire attitude which
    countless parents employ when blindly allowing their children to join
    such groups (which are often attached to churches, which gives one a
    clue).

    Bit of a strong condemnation there…blaming the parents for the probably illegal bigotry of others.

  24. It’s actually fairly common for kids this age to reject belief if their parents are not strict about it. I and my siblings all rejected faith at around 9 or 10 because while my parents took us to church and pastors came to school to talk about god and we even had our communion, they did not enforce it.
    As such, we could think for ourselves on the issue, and each of us rejected the idea of faith pretty early.

    It is only in constant reinforcement from other people who say that the faith is correct that children go to believe it, because it is very common to assume that `if everyone says it, it must be right´. It”s only later in life that people learn this is not always true.
    But if you simply give a child all the books without all the reinforcement from outside sources saying it’s true, most will reject it. Hell, most will probably be very confused if you later tell them it’s a true story, because it goes against everything they understand about the world.

  25. This article sounds like bullshit.

    And there was an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit a few years ago about USA Scouts and their purported non-acceptance of atheists. Their conclusion was that it was very much bullshit.

    Having been involved in Scouts as a youth and as a parent I don’t believe it is any more of a religious organisation than the extent community traditions or the idiosyncrasies of any particular adult leaders make it that way. Scouts are usually desperately short of leaders, especially females. So you can make it into whatever you want by just showing up and volunteering, subject to training and screening and conformance with the purpose of the organisation.

    The local Scout group will reflect the people willing to make a contribution within that community. Any personality issues, bullying etc. and there will likely be another group nearby in the adjacent suburb.
    If you live in an area populated by large numbers of religious crackpots, and little other volunteering for community support, then you will get the kind of Scout Leaders you deserve.

  26. Some times I articulate a point well; others I make a complete hash and give the impression I’m part of an unthinking ‘out-group’. Today is evidently one of the latter..
    Apologies for any confusion and please continue to dissect at will.

  27.   And I’d like to think George Pratt has enjoyed, at the behest of his parents, such an early upbringing, giving him the right to call himself a genuine atheist.

     

    A genuine atheist as distinct from what ? What is the right to call yourself a genuine atheist ?

     I repeat my comment that your definition of atheism is too strong.  To be an atheist it is enough to hold no beliefs in gods.  Believing that there are no gods is a stronger matter. 

     to illustrate that I perfectly understand the definition of ‘atheism’

     

    I don’t think you do.  The Oxford Dictionary gives us a choice

     disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

    Why are you insisting on disbelief ? Why are you not content with lack of belief ?

    Michael

  28. I think the challenges to my comments and points therein are fair, if,
    in the case of George Pratt, he has been previously informed of the
    irrational theories of supernatural gods, considered them and made a
    sound judgement on the back of this information and taken a grounded and
    reasoned atheistic position on its basis…a judgement which would be
    admirably beyond his years.

    As others have mentioned, I think you’re completely missing the point here.  You make it sound as if atheism is some sort of positive declaration of belief that can only be made after considering (and rejecting) every other alternative.

    In fact, the exact opposite is true.  Atheism is a default state of non-belief.   Sure, it’s possible to become an atheist after having been exposed to various religious systems and rejecting them, but it’s equally possible to be an atheist simply from lack of exposure to those religious systems.  And a child doesn’t need to be told, “There is no God” by his parents to be an atheist; he simply needs to not be indoctrinated in any particular belief in God (or gods).

    I am an atheist and have a 7-year-old son.  I don’t teach him that there is no God, but I do teach him (as best as I can) to be a critical thinker and to examine the evidence for extraordinary claims before accepting them.  I also teach him that “I don’t know” is a perfectly valid answer to a question and that it’s not OK to claim “God must have done it” (or aliens, or Invisible Pink Unicorns) simply because we don’t know what the real answer is.  The bottom line, though, is that even though I haven’t told him there is no God, neither have t told him that there is a God and therefore he is, by default, an atheist.

  29.  Sure, it’s possible to become an atheist after having been exposed to various religious systems and rejecting them, but it’s equally possible to be an atheist simply from lack of exposure to those religious systems.  

    Exactly.  Like my wife who was raised in a family of non-believers and atheist by default versus myself raised as a Catholic and atheist by thought.    Does that mean that only I have the right to call myself a genuine atheist and she doesn’t ?

    Michael

  30. To get back on the Scouts thing.  Does anyone else think there comes a time when an organisation like Scouts gains such a monopoly and such popularity that it has to stop hiding behind the “we are a private organisation so if you don’t like the rules go somewhere else” line ?

    It’s worth noting that not all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts go in for this nonsense. Girl Guides Australia recently changed their oath to

    I promise that I will do my best

    To be true to myself and develop my beliefs

    To serve my community and Australia

    And live by the Guide Law.

    This got rid of God and Queen in one go.

    Michael

  31. Fair enough BD,

    However, I would find it astonishing to believe that a person of such an
    age has taken such a position on life without some form of nurture or
    guidance, as a person of mature thought, regardless of age doesn’t
    simply reject a concept without experience, be that actual or through
    education.

    I did mainly because I saw no evidence around me…quite a few of my associates have…although several admittedly saw the Wizard of OZ at his manipulations a little later in life but were confirmed atheists in their teens, but it is not really required to study for a degree to form an opinion especially on the truth of the fantastical claims of theists.
    And based on evidence around you an opinion has some validity surely.

    I have two kids…both in their 20′s now…my son we came across in another comment but my daughter also has severe doubts about the efficacy of the god meme.

    Neither were indoctrinated, guided or other.

    My wife and I never went to church…Is that indoctrination?
    We never prayed aloud…is that indoctrination?
    We never made fun of religion…never of Christians…and there were a few among their friends parents, surely that is   indoctrination then?
    We even had two bibles at home, in two languages,  they were rarely opened  but they were there, (My wife was a freelance translator) that must be where the intolerance comes from then?

    It was never discussed until comparatively recently where our indoctrination was mentioned…they thanked us…shows that indoctrination works then!
    Both had opinions that confirmed their atheistic status before both were 10 years old.
    With no input from us!
    And they never asked!

    Apart from our total lack of interest in the nonsense…or is that attitude this indoctrination you mention?

  32. That is the only reason that theists want to get their crud into schools to infect the kids, and the younger the better from their point of view.
    And they try so hard to keep the kids focus front and centre on the alter of ignorance as soon as they snare them.

    “Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man.’

    About as blatant and as sinister as it can get, yet it is an adage boasted of by many theists.
    They have seemingly given up on the older folk, that have no religious affiliation, so much for evangelism to the masses.

    Back to the article, if it is genuine, and I have no information to declare otherwise…I think that Pete H is probably on the money.
    It might be a local bit of flannel that got tacked into the pledge to reflect and massage the leaders attitude of the troop,

    I am unaware if there is a policy forbidding such inclusions in a Scout pledge, but theists rarely bother following policy of others anyway.
    I think that the reason is more a personal bit of intimate reassurance massage from either a scout council or leader in the troop.
    American Scouting is apparently infested with Mormon insanity, but I have not come across theist motivations or indoctrination in either English or European scouting groups as yet…and certainly not to that extent.
    But like most dubious taste and overbearing nonsense that trickles out of America, I have no doubt that a certain flavour of American religious tom foolery would not have attempted to subsume some scouting group somewhere.

    But the betting with it is some individual dingbat imposing his or her version of a scout pledge.
    And that should be stamped on, but the scouting bigwigs are renowned for procrastination and dithering mild mannerly on any aspect of scouting.
    Is not Bear Grylls not some kind of global ambassador for the scouts ?

    He is not exactly stable in mental balance methinks, a promoter of the Alpha course by some reports…probably another Jimmy Savile thinks I.

  33. Well, I suppose I’ve demonstrated one thing (and it’s an ironic turn of phrase): we atheists are a broad church.
    Perhaps I don’t understand definitions; perhaps the atheism I’ve observed for the past 29 years of my life is a corrupted version of a lack of faith in anything other than what is actual and real, with measurable intrinsic value to human-kind. 
    Furthermore, perhaps my own attempts at encouraging my sons to be inquisitive and accepting and embracing according to the persuasiveness of an argument or on the basis of humanist values have been symptoms of failure, harking back to my own upbringing where the ‘don’t-rock-the-boat’ rule was that you simply accepted there was a god; you needn’t worship, but nor should you take his name in vain, etc, etc. I just don’t know and I say this without any sarcastic rancour aimed at those who have correctly challenged my thoughts with more complete and better proportioned arguments.
    What I do know is that since I (wisely) kicked it all (religion) in to touch in my mid-teens, having voluntarily read texts which aimed to couch the theological argument in reasoned terms and which I mistakenly thought may satisfy my enquiries, I’ve been on a pretty pleasant journey in a world which is a much brighter place for my seeing the abundance of diversity which occupies it. And I intend to continue that journey with the hope and humanist unity that I believe is fuelled by an atheist motivation which is as organic and evolving as life itself, enjoying it as I go.

    So, boiled down; if my perception of atheism differs from that of the majority, I can only apologize for my misunderstanding of the contrary stance. No discord was intended.

    Drew

  34. Honestly no discord here…
    And you are correct in stating that Atheism is indeed a broad church(sic)

    Of course one thing it is not is a ‘belief’ system or indeed a ‘faith’…RD is not the pastor in chief and no one holds the ultimate truth…whatever that is!
    There is no ‘wrong’ kind of atheism nor is their a ‘incorrect’ kind or indeed a ‘misguided’ kind!

    Atheism is a strange critter at the best of times, the theists have managed to associate the word with all that we are not which is quite a feat really.
    But in the main they bleat incessantly to media bunnies that with the best will in the world do not have the wit nor will to realise and cogently understand what they write.
    And if they do well they just take their pay check and move on.
    If the theists spent as much time analysing their own contentions as mewling about balderdash and crass reasons to allow them to discriminate we would probably not see the antipathy we do in the world.
    But such is life.

    Atheism can be reached by many paths.
    Some involve questions…some involve books… and some direct evidence,or lack of, in the surroundings.
    Sometimes it is a long process sometimes short.

    There is no assured way except maybe acquiring a analytical mind set.

    But whatever way it is a logical certainty that rational explanation trumps all other.

  35. I agree but  have no ideas as to what could be done. This is from the NSS webpage;

    Terry Sanderson. President of the NSS said:
    “The NSS has challenged the Scouting Association on several occasions over the exclusion of the non-religious and has been rebuffed each time. They are exempt from the Equality Act so there can be no legal challenge against this blatant religious discrimination.

  36. This is from “The Key Policies Of The Scout Association.”

    “Religious Policy
    The Scout Movement includes Members of many
    different forms of religion. The following policy has
    received the approval of the heads of the leading
    religious bodies in the United Kingdom.
    All Members of the Movement are encouraged to:
    • make every effort to progress in the
    understanding and observance of the Promise to
    do their best to do their duty to God
    • belong to some religious body
    • carry into daily practice what they profess.”

    I note it says “encouraged” which must mean it is not compulsory.

    However, for Scout Leaders it is a different story. “Note: With reference to religious belief, the
    avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to
    appointment to a Leadership position.”

    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/li

  37. However, for Scout Leaders it is a different story. “Note: With reference to religious belief, the
    avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to
    appointment to a Leadership position.”

    What do they consider as a leadership position?
    Troop?…Group?…Region?…Land?

    I know in my son’s troop of about 25 kids… it is obviously not a problem for him.
    But this is Holland and it is famous for a liberal almost anarchic attitude to tradition.

    But even so he assures me he has never come across any such rule being applied. but he has no idea what further up the chain of command requires…nothing has ever been mentioned.
    His boss the Group leader…with about 150 kids in several age classes and troop designation is as liberal as to not arise any overt suspicion that he bats for jeebus!
    The question has never been raised apparently, as far as my son knows and he has been at this scout group for 8 yrs!

    It seems the ‘rule’ is only enforced where the religious think they can get away with it.
    Maybe in the more liberal ‘more enlightened’ lands it is not so vigorously enforced!

  38. To get back on the Scouts thing.  Does anyone else think there comes a time when an organisation like Scouts gains such a monopoly and such popularity that it has to stop hiding behind the “we are a private organisation so if you don’t like the rules go somewhere else” line?

    NO!!!

  39. Why don’t secular organizations around the world come together and organize a global youth
    scouting organization that is much more “all inclusive” of all gender and sexual preference types???

    What type of difficult physical labor or other task really remains to be done that couldn’t be accom-
    plashed by youth of either gender, regardless of whatever, if any, sexual preference they had in order to merit
    “a badge of honor”.

    Scouting, in the  U.S.  is still far too reflective of 20th and pre-20th century sociocultural stereotypes.

    In my opinion, it needs an overhaul. It needs to get more sophisticated.

    And that overhaul should be a global one.

    If you can’t join ‘em, run ‘em over!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Katy, I’m afraid only my interest in this web site has brought this to my attention. I spent many a happy time kicking around old village halls and farmers fields in pursuit of scouting. I even stayed at Baden Powel House! Nothing in my cub scout past would have led me to suspect that they every were a bunch of christians, my late father made it to Eagle Scout. 

    Fun times that were not spoiled by christian myths when I was there. If Baden Powel is dead who’s idea was it, and why has it got worse?

  41. I don’t know. I suppose that back in the day, there just wasn’t any need for the Scouts to emphasize they were a Christian organisation because everything was by default Christian. There were no Christian schools, just ‘schools’, because this was the religion of the land. Muslims lived on another continent; Richard Dawkins’ name was unknown; the UK was a cricket-playing, high tea and scones, Jerusalem-singing nirvana. You know, the masturbatory fantasy which sells copies of the Daily Mail to this day.

    I think it’s a good sign that organisations which heretofore didn’t need to remind people they were of a religious bent are now being forced to nail their colors to the mast. Good luck to them, I say. If they insist on remaining religious, in a world which is becoming increasingly secular, then part of me kind of admires that. A completely atheistic planet would be almost as unbearable as one which was entirely God-fearing.

  42. I think one of the ways to see how the Scouts are being marketed is where their meetings are being held.

    In my comment above, when I was briefly a Boy Scout in Scotland, all activities were held in a local Protestant church.  The Boys Brigade held all their activities in a local Catholic Chapel.  There was no doubt or choice as to where your children would go for fun, learning, and sectarian indoctrination.

    My son went to Cubs & Scouts here in Ontario, but all activities were held in a local public school, with no overt theist involvement.  That was 15 years ago, and our national multicultural policies have probably progressed since then.

    The surroundings & sponsors of a Scout Troop make a difference, not just vague god words in the Scout Pledge.

  43.   A completely atheistic planet would be almost as unbearable as one which was entirely God-fearing.

    I feel the same about racism.  Imagine how boring it will be when it is completely gone.

    Michael

  44. The Boy Scouts have been hypocritical about many things for years.  They are closed to gays but more homosexual activity happens on scouting trips than in a gay bar. 

    They demand one to be “morally straight”, but boy scouts have been among the most foul-mouthed young people I have ever met.

    As far as religion, their obstinate intolerance is only typical of so many theists.  So that should be no surprise to anyone.

  45. what would you call a boy who does not believe in god?

    A child.

    Like in the forms at airports and such where there’s a box for “Occupation”, for my children I always write “Child”.   If there was a box for “Religion” I’m sure “Child” is just as appropriate.

  46. Indeed. Imagine a future which has completely dispensed with intolerance; where everyone gets along with everyone else. A world in which the spiritual descendants of Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, etc, don’t need to make any sort of stand because everything is already fine and dandy. Although one doesn’t actually need to imagine it because H.G. Wells already did that for us and foresaw the consequences:

    “We should strive to welcome change and challenges, because they are what help us grow. Without them we grow weak like the Eloi in comfort and security. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves in order to strengthen our character and increase our intelligence.”

    If Darwin and Dawkins and all us Godless heathens are correct, and our basic purpose is to perpetuate our genes, then isn’t it possible that the centuries-long war between religion and human beings has benefited this process? Every other animal on Earth exists in a constant state of conflict: with what it desires to eat, with members of its own species which want to eat the same thing, and with critters that want to eat it. If humanity is the herd of gazelles peacefully grazing on the Serengeti, then couldn’t religion be seen as the hyena clan which keeps its numbers at a manageable level, picking off the weak and the lame, and ensuring that only the swiftest and the brightest survive?

    There are currently, what, about seven billion people on the planet? What would that number be today if we hadn’t come up with religion? Tsetse flies and mosquitoes have done their bit to help us, and even our own bodies give us cancer, hopefully only once we’ve outlived our usefulness. We’re also, as far as I’m aware, the only animal (apart from lemmings, our closest relative in the animal kingdom – that stuff about chimpanzees is nonsense) which commits suicide.

    So, evolution has given our species war, suicide, diseases which come not only from outside sources but are generated by our own bodies. What’s the beef with religion? God love it, says I (Sorry, for some reason I’ve suddenly decided to talk like a pirate). You and I wouldn’t exist without it.

    Jim lad.

  47. Imagine a future which has completely dispensed with intolerance; where everyone gets along with everyone else.

    How do you get from “ending racism” to “everyone gets along with everyone else”. That’s one hell of a leap.

     Although one doesn’t actually need to imagine it because H.G. Wells already did that for us and foresaw the consequences:

     

    I’m sorry but that’s a complete load of rubbish.  We don’t need religion or war or racism or slavery to control population or present us with challenges.  We know how to control population.  As for challenges even in a `utopia’ there will still be disease,  disaster, death, loss, earthquake, tsunami, unrequited love, unfulfilled ambition, new science to discover, new planets to explore, mountains to climb, races to run, elections to win, etc. 

    If Darwin and Dawkins and all us Godless heathens are correct, and our basic purpose is to perpetuate our genes,

    I think you will find Dawkins is not a big fan of the social Darwinism you are proposing here

    4. Now, to the matter of Darwin. The first thing to say is that natural selection is a scientific theory about the way evolution works in fact. It is either true or it is not, and whether or not we like it politically or morally is irrelevant. Scientific theories are not prescriptions for how we should behave. I have many times written (for example in the first chapter of A Devil’s Chaplain) that I am a passionate Darwinian when it comes to the science of how life has actually evolved, but a passionate ANTI-Darwinian when it comes to the politics of how humans ought to behave. I have several times said that a society based on Darwinian principles would be a very unpleasant society in which to live. I have several times said, starting at the beginning of my very first book, The Selfish Gene, that we should learn to understand natural selection, so that we can oppose any tendency to apply it to human politics. Darwin himself said the same thing, in various different ways. So did his great friend and champion Thomas Henry Huxley.

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/

    Michael

  48.  And hurray for car accidents and genocide! (I guess?)

    And don’t forget the Nazi’s and the hardline Communists.  They really knew how to control population and stop their populations from getting weak due to lack of challenges. 

    Michael

  49. Just imagine where we would have been without the helpfulness of the crusades to offer challenges to the west in the aftermath.
    And we still benefit from the echoes of those holy acts to this day!

    How lucky we are that religion decided to kick some eastern butt back then…pity they got their own kicked harder but there ya go!

  50. If we got our butts kicked harder than those eastern butts got kicked; should we not all be pointing those butts in the air five times a day??

    Just like they do?

    In a few more decades maybe we will.

    No more butts please!

    But…Shhhh.!!

  51. If we got our butts kicked harder than those eastern butts got kicked;
    should we not all be pointing those butts in the air five times a day??

    I was referring to the mission goal…which was securing Jerusalem for future generations of jeebus howler’s the Roman way…that never happened in any conclusive way….so mission fail and butts duly kicked!
    But in fact all attempts turned into just a rape and pillage exercise but every crusade that tried their luck, about nine,  got spanked eventually and retired to Europe tails between legs.
    A few made some dosh though…
    Seems the antipathy that it left is as strong today as it was back then, and it was not so much the invasion of their land it was the broken pledges and the barbarity of the offensive that left diplomacy between east and west in the doldrums for years…and still does if the truth be told.
    The upshot was 300 years of total social chaos in Europe, the decimation of the ruling classes, no bad thing I suppose, the subjugation of the jews, and the suffocation of early science, but it left the door open for Christian religion to come strolling in and take up a permanent residence in positions they only dreamt of previously.
    It also established banking…and we all know where that led ;-)…they shall never be forgiven methinks!

    The new order enjoyed themselves for a few years until the black death levelled the playing field a tad.

  52. Camp Quest, has anyone ever looked in to this. It’s a camp for Atheist children. They hold them all over the place. I’ll be signing up and taking my boy to the Camp Quest Northwest this coming summer.

  53. BrownDrew – I get your point, but we’re all born atheists – i.e. no concept of the supernatural. It’s only after being exposed to human beliefs that non-atheistic beliefs start to arise (in some people, at any rate)

  54. “The Boy Scouts have been hypocritical about many things for years.  They are closed to gays but more homosexual activity happens on scouting trips than in a gay bar. “
    Really? I never saw or heard of anything happening and I was in cubs/scouts for years, thanks for making me feel even less desirable.
    Let’s be honest scout trips were for pyromania, getting hold of some beers if possible and continuous lying about your achievements with girls.

  55. I thought that the Scout movement didn’t belong to any religion, so if the boys and girls are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheists or whatever  shouldn’t be the concern of the Scouts. This organization should mind in their own business.

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