Behold, Peggy’s petrifying pumpkin!
Michael Sporn has a treat for you this year, a post on the classic Carl Barks Halloween duck comic, Trick or Treat.
Schoolboy ‘banned from Scouts for being an atheist’
Schoolboy George Pratt had attended his local Scout group for ten months, and was expecting to invest in the group along with his friends.
But, after being required to swear the traditional promise, he found himself unable to join as he does not believe in God.
George, 11, said he was “very disappointed” in the decision, calling it “very unfair” and claiming he feels left out from experiences and trips his friends are attending.
His father Nick Pratt, 45, has accused the Scout movement of being “narrow minded” and “intolerant”, saying his son is being “excluded because he doesn’t believe”.
To become a full member of the 1st Midsomer Norton Group in Somerset, which meets in a hall opposite his home, George must take the Scout Promise.
This reads: “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.”
Different versions of the oath are available for different faiths, such as the use of ‘Allah’ to replace ‘God’ for Muslims.
(5) It is not a contravention of this Act for a charity to require members, or persons wishing to become members, to make a statement which asserts or implies membership or acceptance of a religion or belief; and for this purpose restricting the access by members to a benefit, facility or service to those who make such a statement is to be treated as imposing such a requirement.By that means the Scout Promise escaped the Equality Act, but being ‘not a contravention of this Act’ doesn’t mean the promise might not be in breach of some other law. How about the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law? This is the part of the Convention that’s relevant:
(6) Subsection (5) applies only if—
(a) the charity, or an organisation of which it is part, first imposed such a requirement before 18 May 2005, and
(b) the charity or organisation has not ceased since that date to impose such a requirement.
Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religionWhile one could hardly argue that the Scout Promise is a shining example of the spirit of Article 9, it’s not clear that it’s in breach of it either. If one likens the Scouts to a broad church that goes camping, then one could argue that they’re exercising freedom of thought in community. As they are a private organisation not imposing their will on those outside the organisation, they can argue that they’re not limiting non-members’ freedom of belief.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.
1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.