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Girl Guides ‘no God’ decision flies in the face of growing religious belief. Allegedly.

REACTING with “disappointment” to the news this week that Girl Guides in the UK had decided to erase God from their pledge, the Evangelical Alliance’s Dr Dave Landrum said:

The decision to remove reference to God in their pledge assumes that secularism is somehow morally neutral  – which it obviously isn’t.

Girlguiding revealed that, following a consultation involving nearly 44,000 people, it had decided to update its Promise which asks members to be “true to myself and develop my beliefs”. This replaces the previous phrase “to love my God”.
guidesLandrum, the EA’s Director of Advocacy, added, presumably with a straight face:

Given that faith is growing across the world – while secularism is in decline – the organisation will be out of kilter with the values of the majority of young people in the future.

No doubt the Girls’ Brigade will be the main beneficiary from this erroneous decision, because as the growing popularity of faith schools attests, parents will often seek to provide religious rather than secular humanist values for their children.

Gill Slocombe, Chief Guide, said that young girls need space to explore their values and be true to themselves and that Guiding has always been a way for them to develop their moral framework both within and outside the context of a “formal religion”.

She added:

However, we knew that some people found our Promise confusing on this point and that it discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining us. We hope that the new wording will help us reach out to girls and women who might not have considered Guiding before – so that even more girls can benefit from everything Guiding can offer.

The board of trustees of Girlguiding decided to review the Promise in 2011, leading to the 11th change of the words in the pledge in the organisation’s history.

According to the 2013 Girls’ Attitudes Survey, 37 per cent of girls do not believe in a god, 13 per cent believe in a god at some times but not at others, and 26 per cent currently believe in a god.

Ruth Gilson, Girls’ Brigade’s national director and vice-chair of the Alliance’s board of trustees, said:

Girl Guiding has obviously taken a thought-through step in altering the long-established basis of its promise to encourage girls to ‘love my God’.

While I agree with their assertion that ‘formal religion’ isn’t the only route to develop faith, this step does seem to be an intentional shift away from having any Christian basis at the core of Girl Guiding as a movement.

For Girls’ Brigade, being a part of Church in the local community, committed to being people of Christian faith and providing space for girls and women to discover what this could mean for their lives is what we were founded to be.

We welcome all girls, have lots of fun, are passionate to see girls and women grow, achieve and make a positive difference in their communities and we’re excited to be part of the life and mission of Church.

During the course of the consultation, Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society, said:

The introduction of one secular Promise for all would be a hugely positive and welcome development.Not only are young people more likely to be non-religious, they also appear to be more likely to adopt a secular outlook on life.

Girlguiding UK’s own research into the attitudes and opinions of girls aged 7 to 21 across the UK has found a massive 70 percent of them agree that religious belief should be personal, and should not affect public issues such as education or politics.

This clearly shows that a secular Promise, without reference to religion and belief, and relevant to all young girls and potential leaders, is the most appropriate way forward. We hope as many secularists as possible take part in this consultation to send a very clear signal that girlguiding should be fully inclusive and equally welcoming to all girls.

12 Responses to “Girl Guides ‘no God’ decision flies in the face of growing religious belief. Allegedly.”

  1. David Anderson says:

    An even better way is to join guides and scouts together under one banner to include all gender and beliefs.

    Ruth Gilson is obviously very confused. First she says that the Girls’ Brigade is committed to being of the Christian faith and then says that all girls are welcome. Obviously not Ruth.

  2. Trevor Blake says:

    No doubt the Girls’ Brigade will be the main beneficiary from this erroneous decision, because as the growing popularity of faith schools attests, parents will often seek to provide religious rather than secular humanist values for their children.

    Religious values like Deuteronomy 13:6-10, presumably.

  3. L.Long says:

    ….Given that faith is growing across the world – while secularism is in decline ….Looks like Landrum is an excellent example of ‘liars4Jesus’. Although if you count islame I suppose one could say it is growing….as in believe or die.

  4. Marky Mark says:

    “The decision to remove reference to God in their pledge assumes that secularism is somehow morally neutral – which it obviously isn’t.”
    ..they are worried about loosing future suckers to pay for their free ride in life. Not to mention their supply of children to beat and molest.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Yes, secularists are “morally neutral” – we have no values.

    http://woodcraft.org.uk/

  6. barriejohn says:

    Update on an earlier story:

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/06/21/former-exodus-international-leader-to-start-a-conversation-with-gays-hurt-by-ex-gay-movement/

    Why a “conversation”? What’s the point? These people clearly have issues, so a conversation with their psychiatrists would be more to the point!

  7. Broga says:

    Religious belief looks increasingly worn out and tawdry. Over the centuries it has been a source of obscurantism and cruelty. It depended, and depends, on the cruel suppression of free thinking and any views contrary to those of the believer.

    The BBC and various government ministers, Eric Pickles of the blinkered mind being one, desperately try to present a view that belief is the norm. They do so, of course, by the profligate use of taxes provided largely by non believers.

    Young girls, with lively enquiring minds and access to the wonders of science, are not going to accept the suffocating superstitions of religion.

  8. barriejohn says:

    He may be right about the Girls’ Brigade:

    http://girlsb.org.uk/about-us-_20/

    A membership organisation that specialises in working with churches to provide fun and inspiring local groups (known as companies) where girls and young women can belong, achieve and discover Jesus!

    Why? Where have they hidden him?

  9. barriejohn says:

    This American article is fascinating:

    http://www.concentric.net/~Worgar/boyscouts.htm

    There is no evidence to support the notion that an atheist can not be a good citizen. Atheists vote, get an education, hold responsible positions, have families, are altruistic, and are just as concerned with poverty, abuse, hunger, and peace as any believer. Admittedly, we don’t often identify ourselves as atheists because of harassment that results from attitudes similar to yours. This makes it difficult for you to develop an informed opinion about us but it does not justify your denigrating a minority population that has every right to participate equally in our democracy. If you choose to discriminate, you do not deserve to obtain public support or funds from the United Way.

    As a counselor, I have worked in mental health and substance abuse environments. I see that our clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and prisons are filled with believers. The revolving door of drug and alcohol programs is kept turning by people who mostly believe in a deity or spirit of some sort. I worked for four years as a telephone crisis volunteer, talking to many abused spouses who lived in “God-fearing” homes. The abuse was often hidden under this religious image. The abused individual sometimes refused to leave the home to protect this charade. As an atheist, I have compassion for these people. I realize that we are all simply human beings and are all subject to the same stresses that exist in our society. There is no evidence for the existence of a god or spirit and I see no evidence that being a theist makes anyone a better citizen, immune from problems, or better able to handle life’s problems.

    Moral principles are formed from reason, history, compassion, consequences of behavior, research, and long-term thinking. I will not avoid responsibility for moral behavior by mindlessly accepting some code handed down by individuals who are unwilling to think for themselves. I support democracy and our constitution. I can even join with other religious people to support the separation of church and state because this protects me as well as them.

    Please take this opportunity to learn about that which you fear so much. I would be happy to provide you with information about books and articles on atheism. For a change, read about atheists in material written by an atheist, not a theist. How about a Scout project to learn about the people on this planet who can’t be bribed by fantasies of an afterlife!

  10. JohnMWhite says:

    The decision to remove reference to God in their pledge assumes that secularism is somehow morally neutral – which it obviously isn’t.

    I understand that what is being implied here is simply that god is good and secularism is bad, m’kay, but this simple-minded ignorance is hilariously inept. It is actually true to say that secularism is not morally neutral, because secularism fosters a mode of morality that involves engaging with a human conscience and not looking at old books and stone tablets to decide who to hate. God doesn’t make anybody moral, he either makes them intolerant monsters or he makes them fearful collaborators.

  11. Matt+Westwood says:

    @barriejohn: Well, well, well – Woodcraft folk, eh? I just happened to click on the link when the Reading Woodcraft Folk went past, and I’d not heard of them till now. Neither of the local papers seem to have featured them – whereas the stinking theists cram the bloody pages every time.

    About time that all changed.