Paul Trout, a 15-year-old West Virginian, was readmitted to the Boy Scouts of America after the organization decided to remove language from its literature that defines God as a Supreme Being and to instruct local troops not to question boys on their specific religious beliefs.
Paul, who was forced out of the Boy Scouts in April after stating that he did not believe in God, was reinstated Thursday during a meeting at his boarding school near Charlottesville. The meeting was attended by an official from the Boy Scouts' national headquarters in Irving, Tex.
Paul also was granted a promotion to Life Scout. The rank, scouting's second highest, had been denied him at the instruction of national Boy Scout officials after he told his local review board that, although he respected the religious beliefs of others, he did not believe in God or a Supreme Being.
"We're delighted that they've taken this position," said Anita Trout, the boy's mother. She added that, "Paul's beliefs definitely have not changed."
At a meeting in Texas on Thursday, the national executive board of the Boy Scouts passed a resolution reaffirming the Boy Scout Oath, which requires duty to God, according to Boy Scout spokesman Raul Chavez. At the same time, it decided to remove the definition of God as a Supreme Being from Scouting literature.
The resolution reads: "While not intending to define what constitutes belief in God, the Boy Scouts of America is proud to reaffirm the Scout Oath and its declaration of duty to God."
Chavez said that on Thursday, "Paul was asked if he could subscribe to the Scout Oath and Law and he said he could. He is now a Life Scout."
Anita Trout said the more liberal interpretation of God that the Scouts now allow made it possible for Paul to take the Scout Oath in good conscience.
Chavez maintained yesterday that Paul had never in fact been forced out of the Boy Scouts at all. "He has always been a member as far as we are concerned," Chavez said.
However, Albert Magahee, the scoutmaster of Troop 105, which is based at Paul's school, the Miller School of Albermarle, told The Washington Post in July that he had revoked Paul's membership in the troop last spring, acting on the instructions of correspondence from the Boy Scouts national headquarters.
Moreover, in June, Ben H. Love, chief executive of the Boy Scouts, sent Paul's parents a letter saying: "If a person does not have belief in a Supreme Being, then they cannot be a member of the Boy Scouts of America."
Paul's case attracted widespread attention following a report of the Boy Scouts' action, and Chavez said that mail at the national headquarters was running heavily against the Boy Scouts' position.
"Most people thought it was a raw deal," Chavez said.
Magahee said in July that he considered Paul to be one of the most disciplined and enthusiastic scouts in his troop.
Paul, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, vowed last July that if he was allowed back in scouting, he would earn the rank of Eagle Scout.