No more God for Guiding

>>  Sunday, December 02, 2012

Australian Guiding dropped doing their duty to God from their promise a while ago  but it has taken me a while to come around to the idea.

They also stopped serving the Queen too, as a UK citizen I won't ever agree with that but the Australian's can get all hissy fit about the Queen so I'll leave them alone on that choice.

So back to God.  Sometime back our promise used to be:

I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God,
To serve the Queen
And help other people,
And to keep the (Brownie) Guide Law.
(and to be of service to the community)

This was changed to To love my God about 1980 and has remained this way since.  There is a specific reference as well in our manual  "Where, in a religion, God has a name which is more commonly used, that name may be substituted in order to make the Promise more meaningful to each girl or woman."

So whilst Guiding made a nod to respect the different religions and beliefs, it still rubs those wanting a more secular approach up the wrong way.   Whenever there is an on-line news article about Guiding I will always see at least one comment on the lines of  "do they still pledge allegiance to a great fairy in the sky?" and "I kept my child away from Guides/Scouts because of the promise".  This worries me.

I have a firm faith and I have found that many of the leaders around me also have a religious faith, of varying types.  I think that so many leaders come from a faith background because there is a general religious teaching that community matters and voluntary work is an important part of faith.  But importantly here, that faith is rarely carried into meetings and has no impact at all on the program we carry out.

Yes, we will have a Christmas carol concert but we also had a Diwali night.  That's just a part of cultural awareness.  At the end of our Brownie meetings we have a prayer that we sometimes sing, it's a carry through from years of doing it, it's a great clapping game song.  We could change the lyrics and it would have no's just a 'good night Brownies' routine.  The same as on Pack Holiday we sing grace before meals but this serves more of a purpose for getting everybody together and ready to start a meal together.  The whole process of crowd control and dining manners is of greater relevance than the grace itself these days I think.

Are we now making people feel excluded, so much so they don't want to or feel they can't take part in Guiding because we have carried through faith based traditions that have less relevance to faith than the ethos of Guiding itself.

There was a point where Guiding needed to drop the toadstools and move away from a public perception of what 'outsiders' thought were key points and something to be avoided.  I think it might be time to remove any God from our promise.   This doesn't mean that we need to remove our commitment to help develop girls spiritually from our aim, but it will leave the spiritual side in a balanced program and not weighing down our modern and relevant promise.

The Australians "live with courage and strength".  I think that sums up a lot of of what faith can be about anyway and is something that those without a spiritual belief system involving a god can relate to.

Julie Bentley said she "wants to extend the organisation away from its traditional middle-class milieu and deal with some of the social changes affecting girls today."  Living in an increasingly diverse and often secular society is one of those social changes.  I think this is a change we need to make to stay in step with the world we live in.


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