Scouts must promise to Obey or they're Out!? The case of George Pratt.


I’m just in the middle of drafting a discussion paper, ‘Where Next for the Campaign?’ Within it I generalise that the voluntary youth sector has held historically to a commitment to a voluntary relationship with young people. My own experience with the Methodist Association of Youth Clubs in the 1960’s was relaxed and informal. There was no pressure to attend chapel in order to be a member of the youth club. Thus I am taken aback by this story of a young man, George Pratt, who in 2012 is told his atheism precludes him from involvement in the Scout Movement. This decision hinges on his failure to vow to do his duty to God and Queen. In passing this means young people of a republican persuasion are also excluded.

Ally Fogg, the blogger on Independent Voices, remarks:

The gross injustice of this is surely self-evident, and it must be noted that in making a courageous, honest, self-sacrificial stance of principle, George has shown considerably stronger adherence to the spirit of the Scout Law than I did 35 years ago, when I held up three fingers and promised obedience to a god I had already long-since disavowed.          

The international scout and guide movement is a loose, informal family. Several other countries have changed their rules to allow non-theistic young people to take a secular ethical oath. But despite many years of pressure from The British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society and other campaigners, the Scout Association UK has stuck rigidly to its demand for religious faith in its members.

Forgive my naivete I thought the Scout Movement had relaxed its position over the years, that it recognised that faith is an arena of diversity and doubt. And my own reading of Baden-Powell is that he was at the very least cautious about the merits of unquestioning obedience. Your thoughts much appreciated.

Read the piece in full here –

George Pratt’s faith in atheism


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