A child can see through it »« Say goodbye

Darn UK show-offs

The Girl Guides, which is the original name for the Girl Scouts, have just made an amendment to their policies to be inclusive to non-believers.

Girlguiding UK has announced a new version of its Promise – ‘the core expression of values and the common standard that brings everyone in guiding together’ – which is inclusive for the first time of those who don’t believe in any god. The British Humanist Association, which responded to Girlguiding consultation and met with Girlguiding in the course of their work to reformulate the Promise, has welcomed it.

The new formulation will have Guides promise to ‘be true to myself and develop my beliefs’, in place of the previous formulation to ‘love God’. It is the twelfth amendment to the Promise in guiding history, but the first version to open guiding up fully to non-religious girls.

It’s not clear in the article whether this change will translate to the American Girl Scouts, although they stopped discriminating against atheist girls 20 years ago — but I think they still have to promise to “serve God”. I know the Boy Scouts had to be dragged with great drama and breast-beating into allowing gay kids to enroll, and still reject atheist boys.

But good work, Girl Guides. Now we just need to fix America.

Comments

  1. Eristae says

    I can’t speak for generalized Girl Scout policies, but when I was in a Girl Scout troup, you could leave out both the “God” part and the “swearing” part.

  2. consciousness razor says

    It’s not clear in the article whether this change will translate to the American Girl Scouts, although they stopped discriminating against atheist girls 20 years ago — but I think they still have to promise to “serve God”.

    Doubtful. They’re part of the same parent organization, which isn’t the one that made the change. There could be a schism brewing in it about whether to recognize the UK member, or whether other members want to leave.

    I know the Boy Scouts had to be dragged with great drama and breast-beating into allowing gay kids to enroll, and still reject atheist boys.

    And they still reject gay adults, as well as atheists of whatever age. It’s fucking useless that, at the age of 18, you’re not allowed to have any role in the organization. Because homosexuality is pedophilia, obviously. Same old shit.

  3. anathema2 says

    The official policy of the Girl Scouts of the USA is that any girl who does not feel comfortable promising that they will try to serve God is allowed to replace the word “God” with something that more accurately reflects their beliefs.

  4. Jessie says

    Too late for my daughter now, years ago she refused to join because the Girl Guides would not let her miss out the ‘God’ part. They suggested she just say the words, even if she didn’t mean it – she refused. Clearly, she has higher principles than the god-botherers. Who would have guessed?

    Of course, the rubbish about serving the Queen is still in there.

  5. scottbelyea says

    Similar to what Guiding in Canada did a few years back. The Promise is now:

    I Promise to do my best,
    To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada
    I will take action for a better world
    And respect the Guiding Law

    As another commenter mentioned, the “God” reference was downplayed for several years before the formal change.

    From what I’ve heard from my wife (a Guide leader for lo these many years), controversy will probably be mostly US-based. The change in Canada passed without much comment, and without public controversy.

  6. Moggie says

    Jessie:

    Too late for my daughter now, years ago she refused to join because the Girl Guides would not let her miss out the ‘God’ part. They suggested she just say the words, even if she didn’t mean it – she refused. Clearly, she has higher principles than the god-botherers. Who would have guessed?

    This. When this change was first mooted, one comment I kept seeing from Christians in online discussions was “what’s the fuss? You don’t have to mean it“. Yeah, that’s a great message to send kids, isn’t it? A promise isn’t important, it’s just a bunch of words you say to sound good. I think we should take every opportunity to emphasise that removal of God from the Promise makes the Guides more ethical, because now all Guides can take the Promise truthfully.

  7. Chie Satonaka says

    They do still pledge to serve God. My niece had her bridge ceremony this past weekend (Daisy to Brownie). When the troops leaders were trying to get them to recite the pledge, they recited the pledge of allegiance instead, saying they do that every morning at school. My eyes nearly rolled right out of my head.

  8. Kate says

    I just want to point out that the Girl Scouts of the United States is NOT part of the same parent organization as the Boy Scouts of America. The GSUSA is completely, and has always been, separate from the BSA.

    While the retention of “Serve God and my Country” is still in the Girl Scout Promise, it was always made clear to me as a scout that either A) I didn’t have to say it or B) I could think of it as a promise to serve my conscience (which is admittedly still a cop out). But the other fact is that we also NEVER said it. Maybe once a year at bridging ceremonies, unlike saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in Public Schools (which as a teacher, gets really old, really fast).

    While the Promise should be rewritten along the lines of the UK’s Girl Guides, the GSUSA has done a LOT to be inclusive of all girls be they homosexual or transgendered (and includes those girls AFTER they have turned 18). I was 15 before I learned that you couldn’t be gay and lead a boy scout troop or BE a boy scout, because I had grown up in Girl Scouting where it was so not an issue that it never occurred to me that anyone would be excluded on account of sexuality. The GSUSA’s policy is to serve all girls. If a child identifies as a girl, she can be a part of girl scouting.

    I hate seeing the Girl Scouts linked with the Boy Scouts. Similar name, totally separate organizations

  9. kevinalexander says

    Of course, the rubbish about serving the Queen is still in there.

    Babysteps. At least the queen exists.
    And I noticed that you capitalized queen. They still have a hold on you. Me too, don’t you hate that?

  10. Trebuchet says

    The GSUSA has always been a far more progressive organization than the Boy Scouts. And based on my mother’s co-workers when she worked there, they’ve been accepting lesbians for at least 50 years.

  11. Erp says

    Doubtful. They’re part of the same parent organization, which isn’t the one that made the change. There could be a schism brewing in it about whether to recognize the UK member, or whether other members want to leave.

    The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) to which both the US Girl Scouts and the UK Girl Guiding belong is unlikely to schism over this. The world organization requires a trio of duties: Duty to God, Duty to others, and Duty to self. However duty to God is interpreted broadly especially since many scouts/guides are Buddhists so the actual wording by the national organization can be quite varied and nontheistic.
    WAGGGS has accepted the very similar promises from Australia and Canada so certainly will not baulk over the UK change (especially since UK Guides is the mother organization).

  12. latsot says

    I went to cub scouts in the UK exactly once. I had to promise to serve god and the queen and salute the Union Flag and “obey the cub scout law”, whatever that is, they didn’t say. There was quite a lot about ‘duty’ and hardly anything about running around like an idiot shouting, which is what I was hoping for.

    I didn’t go back.

  13. chris says

    Girl Scouts did help change my views. It was the big thing at one school where my Army dad was stationed during fifth and sixth grade (kid activities change depending on who is active, at another it was Explorer Scouts, which is part of Boy Scouts of American, and in another it was JETS, Junior Engineering Technical Society).

    During bus trips to our camping site we would sing songs. When we broke out into “They Will Know We are Christians by our Love”, the twin daughters of the school’s art teacher would stand up and loudly sing their version: “They Will Know We are Jewish by our Love.”

    Okay, it is not big atheist, but helped make an eleven year old realize there is more than one “truth.” So later I decided to add “Happy Hanukkah” to my December greetings. I kept being asked if I was Jewish. Which is when I realized many Christians (and recently I discovered, some Jews) did not understand why some people were called “Chris.”

    Oy vey.

    Anyway, it was a beginning of a journey. That was pushed along when I was a college freshman on a plane to be with my family in December sitting next to a teenager who was flying home from her Christian boarding school. She had just figured out why the pilots wished everyone “Happy Holidays”: it was because not everyone is Christian. At least the Girl Scouts were not as sheltered!

  14. Jessie says

    kevinalexander #9

    And I noticed that you capitalized queen. They still have a hold on you. Me too, don’t you hate that?

    Aargh – they’re in my brain!
    At least I have a little more respect for the current incumbent than I do for her eldest son. The national anthem will be through gritted teeth…

  15. Doc Dish says

    @latsot, from http://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/761/register

    The Cub Scout Law:

    Cub Scouts always do their best
    Think of others before themselves
    And do a good turn every day.

    When I was a Cub and in my wife’s current pack, taking the Promise isn’t done until your investiture which usually happens after you’ve been attending for a few weeks.

    As a current Sectional Assistant in the UK Scout Association, I am hoping that they follow Girl Guiding UK’s lead and drop the “duty to God” from the promise too, as it’s the only thing preventing me from being a Scout leader.

    I also was advised to ‘cross my fingers’ and take the promise, which I refused to do. I was also informed that I could take the promise because, as an atheist, money was my god. Fortunately the fool who said that has since been removed.

  16. sisu says

    The GSUSA has always been a far more progressive organization than the Boy Scouts.

    True true. Girl scouts accept trans* girls, as well as lesbians and us awful atheists. ;) The official version of the Girl Scout promise says:

    On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.

    But, there’s a footnote: Members may substitute for the word God in accordance with their own spiritual beliefs. So, it can work for everyone.

  17. javawench says

    I am a girl scout leader and have been for 9 years. As sisu said the serve god comes with an asterisk. It can be replaced with any other word for god you choose or anything else. I’ve had numerous atheist/agnostic/humanist scouts over the years and they’ve replaced god with, the greater good, all humanity, and Cthulhu. Okay the last girl does have a wicked sense of humor. The girl scouts/girl guides are more about encouraging independence in girls. They don’t seem to have the problems boy scouts do.

    javawench

  18. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Well done Guides :) Now if only the Scouts (I used to be one) could follow suit. That’d be fantastic.

  19. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @latsot

    I went to cub scouts in the UK exactly once. I had to promise to serve god and the queen and salute the Union Flag and “obey the cub scout law”, whatever that is, they didn’t say. There was quite a lot about ‘duty’ and hardly anything about running around like an idiot shouting, which is what I was hoping for.

    Really? I was in Beavers, Cubs and Scouts; and while my days in Beavers are somewhat hazy I do remember that my Cub troop mainly ran around shouting, played with fire and learned knots. We also made deep fried Mars bars on one occasion, and tie-dyed T shirts on another.

    My Scout troop (which admittedly was apparently one of least likely to stick to the rulebook) spent all our time playing wide games and burning things. We even had a competition once to see who could come up with the most inventive way to light a fire (my team won. We made a little wooden aeroplane, covered it in flammable stuff, and sent it down a string from a tree. We built the fire in such a way that when the plane hit it, it all collapsed and buried the plane. It was great :D) and our troop leader gave us this stuff he called “Whiffledust”, to use as an accelerant. He would never tell us what it was, but as far as I can tell it was a mixture of petrol and paraffin. He used that stuff a lot.