Girls wanting to become Guides, Brownies or Rainbows currently promise to “love” God when signing up to the 101-year-old organisation.
However, the association is considering reviewing the wording of its affirmation for new members, to remove religious references.
The NSS says the story is bogus, but taking it as true for the moment…What of it? Why should children have to promise to love “God” in order to join a group that does fun things? Why should even children who do in fact love “God” have to do that? Why should even children of “devout” parents have to do that? Why have a requirement of that kind at all? It seems surplus to requirements. It seems intrusive and bossy.
Atheists don’t make children promise to hate “God,” after all. Atheists don’t make anyone promise to hate “God.” Atheists don’t try to extort emotional commitments of that kind. Why do scouting organizations do so? What’s the attraction?
I suppose the question is otiose, because the promise dates from 1910, so it’s a “why did they” question rather than a “why do they” one, and it’s not really pressing to know why they did. But it ought to be possible to re-think a social practice of that kind, and then why-questions do become relevant. “Why should we keep doing this? Hmmm, can’t really think of a good reason. Let’s bag it.”
The promise is optional but only girls who have taken it can be awarded the movement’s highest badges.
Christian campaigners yesterday warned that the 600,000-member association risks losing its values if it abandons the religious element of the oath.
“It would be terribly sad,” said Mike Judge, spokesman for The Christian Institute.
“The Girl Guides has always embraced all people but has its roots in Christian values, which is what has made it so popular and successful.
“It will be very difficult for it to maintain its values if it removes the ethics from where those ideas spring from. It would change the character of the Guides for the worse.
“Sadly, I think this is symptomatic of a much wider problem in Britain, which stems from a culture of embarrassment about being Christian.”
How would it change the character of the Guides for the worse? It wouldn’t stop anyone from being Christian, or loving “God.” It would just stop requiring a promise to do so, which shouldn’t be its business in any case.